Friday, April 22, 2011


This week has been both busy and beautiful. What weather we are having! Mid summer would be hard put to equal this week's continuous sunshine, mid twenties temperatures and cloudless blue skies. I'm slightly worried this is going to be it for the year though. The last few years have delivered the best weather a tad too early for us to really benefit from it in the usual holiday period.

Anyhow, the start of this week took me to Amsterdam. I've been going there quite frequently recently as I've been giving what is known as blended learning Academic Writing courses for the University of Amsterdam. This type of programme involves a combination of face to face and online teaching, although for the courses I've been giving, there are only two face to face sessions in the eight week programme. I'm not sorry about this as going to Amsterdam for a two hour session uses up pretty much an entire day. It takes me two hours to get where I have to go, two (and some) to give the class, and then another two (and a bit more) to get home again. Nearly 7 hours.

Still, I enjoy these excursions into the heart of the country's capital, the place where the intelligentsia and the tourists congregate. The vibe is so different from Rotterdam. Amsterdam feels like a city of poets, artists and literature. It feels like the city of intellectuals. Rotterdam, by contrast, is the city of action. It revels in its soaring modern architecture, its industrial buzz and reputation for keeping the pulse of the country beating. Two totally different cultures, often at odds with each other, but equally exciting to me.

That being said, this last Monday was glorious and I took my camera with me to capture some of what gives Amsterdam that special something. Here, then, are the results:


  1. Hi Val,

    How terrific having Amsterdam so close and the joy of going for work.

    I have been to Amsterdam, just once, and I loved it.

    Enjoyed your photos.


  2. Hi Val, lucky you to just be 2 hours away from that great city. I love the vibe there too- it's where we went to chill out after my father's German funeral, and just a lovely walking city. I'm like you, anywhere near water is good.

    Enjoy the great weather- we're still in single digits, but at least it's sunny today.


  3. I am SO glad you are writing again, a glimpse into worlds unknown for some of us and great description/photography as well!

  4. I first went to Amsterdam when I was 16 and it seemed the most exotic place in the world, I fell in love with it straight away. I have been back many, many times and still get the same thrill. Funnily enough my boys obviously still feel the same, as they get over there as often as they can. Hope you are enjoying this glorious weather and not working too hard xxx

  5. Grace, Anne Marie and Fran, it's taken me a while to think of Amsterdam as anything other than a tourist destination. I've always preferred Rotterdam, but being around the university and the grachten is changing my mind, and yes...I like it now.

  6. String, thank you. Your comment has really touched me.

  7. Glad you found some good in Amsterdam other than a tourist destination :)

  8. Ha, Grace, it is a beautiful city, but my early visits were marked by the constant fight through crowds of tourists, and I don't remember hearing much Dutch spoken at all. Around the university, though, it is a different world. Lovely.

  9. Oh, wonderful Val!
    In my opinion this is more like summer :)
    Here everything is still brown and grey but the snow has completely disappeared from our backyard and I'm busy continuing working on the greenhouse project now. You will be updated at Ingelas blog!
    The whole weekend was fabulous, lots of sun and the temperature was rising to 18 C here!
    I'm on "winter" holidays now until May 2.
    Can't believe that it is one year since we were stuck in London because of the effing volcano and nearly one year since you visited us here! Time flies...

  10. Aha! A tale of two cities...

    What's interesting is the only facts I have regarding Amsterdam are that it's a pot-smoking den of iniquity!
    It's nice to see a fresh view through a local's eyes - and lens.
    It appears that bicycles are a rather ubiquitous sight throughout The Netherlands, to say the least.
    I love your take on the handlebars!


  11. Hans, I'm so pleased to know you are also having good temperatures up north there. I well remember how cold it was last year on 1 May! The sea was still frozen!! Good to see you here, tho' :-)

    Dale, Amsterdam is many things to may people, not least of which the organised crime capital of the country. But it is also what I show here, and definitely has that arts and intellect buzz about it. It grows on me, that's for sure. Hugs to you over there xxx

  12. bicycles! bridges! yes, I love how you describe Amsterdam. I recall being there and going to the van gogh museum. Was a wonderful day to which I traveled from Maastricht on the train. Was late Feb or early March, so the weather was cold. I still have the sweater I wore those years ago, a green jumper, and I won't ever get rid of it because I saw van gogh's paintings while wearing it.

    so yes literature and art. yes.

    lovely pictures. good for you to be enrolled in courses at the University of Amsterdam. very neat indeed.

  13. We're back in Amsterdam to at the moment (house sitting for a friend). You're right about the city having a different feel. It's best when the weather is warm like this.

  14. Great pictures of bicycles Val :) Shame on me to say so but I have never been to either of the two cities - yet there is always hope that we might venture one day.
    The sun is shining here too and we haven't had a decent drop of rain for weeks.

  15. I would imagine around the University, it would be most Dutch spoken as most likely the students are residents there.
    I remember when I was there, it was just a few months after 9/11. And these young men who obviously were from the middle east went running through the town square, chanting happily about Osama Bin Laden, and something about I gathered...death to Americans. It was a bit frightening, I kept my accent and talking down to a very minimum. But besides that, it was a great city. ah,the Tulips, I stayed at The Grand, the converted Monestary - it was a very cool place to stay.

  16. Wow Grace, I've only just seen this. You were here when we were on our way south to Lille on Koos's barge. So glad you didn't let them put you off completely.


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