rock werchter 2017
Travel

Arguably Abroad: Amsterdam and Rock Werchter 2017

Well, here we are again. Another travel blog. Hush – don’t look at the ridiculous amount of shopping I did, and ignore the packets of waffles and other Dutch treats next to me. Definitely don’t pay any attention to the two bags I didn’t need that I bought from duty free on the way back. Okay you can look, but don’t judge. I can explain.

Towards the end of last month, I set off for a week-and-a-half long holiday to Amsterdam (my second visit) and Belgium for Rock Werchter – a music festival I’ve been dying to hit for the last two or three years. I like things to be a little organised, so let’s break this down by location, okay?

Amsterdam

This was my first time visiting Amsterdam in summer, and it was absolutely stunning. Vondelpark was transformed from a quiet park made up of greys and earthy tones into a lively hub filled with lush, green grass and countless people relaxing in the sun or cycling around. We spent a couple of hours wandering around and having lunch there and I would 100% recommend you do that too.

vondelpark amsterdam

On our first day, we hit a place called Body Worlds. How do I begin to explain the strange beauty that is Body Worlds? Well, it’s an exhibit about ‘the secrets of happiness and its effects on the body’ – but using real human bodies that have been peeled back a few layers and posed doing normal human things. I feel like I’m not doing a great job selling this one, but trust me – if you’re into the weird and wonderful, then this is a cool alternative to your typical sightseeing.

Oh yeah – and if you want to go to the next level of ‘weird’ (and if you’re not squeamish at all) hit the Museum Vrolik Academic Medical Centre, just a short train ride away from the city centre. Here’s the low-down: this museum is made up of the private collection of…interesting…specimens curated and brought together by a super important Dutch scientist called Gerardus Vrolik (1755 – 1859) and his son, Willem Vrolik. You’ll find roughly 5000 different, um, “specimens”, including (but not limited to) loads of different skeletons, sliced brains, male and female reproductive systems, and various creatures (human and not) preserved in big jars. Moving on…

vrolik museum amsterdam

I’d wanted to visit the Rijksmuseum for ages, and had already spent a good chunk of time exploring the Van Gogh Museum (go – seriously). While the rest of my friends hit the Heineken Experience, I spent around three hours wandering around this huge space filled with century upon century of incredible art, completely in awe of everything. Rembrandt was a definite highlight, and they even had one of Van Gogh‘s self-portraits.

Rock Werchter (Belgium)

After a few days exploring Amsterdam, we set off on the journey to Rock Werchter. Two trains, a bus ride, and a fair few hours (and not enough coffees) later, we made it to the camping grounds – that, I’ll have to say, was not fun. I’m not a good or happy camper, and I especially don’t like queuing to find a decent spot to pitch my tent. Then there’s the actual camping – ugh. I’m already too impatient to queue for long – add the fact that I’m queuing for showers and toilets is just a little too much.

travel blog

I will admit that it was nice to wake up to the sound of rain drops hitting the tent one morning – but that’s all the positive feedback you’ll get about camping from this house-cat right here. Forget about all that – the music is what we were there for anyway! The lineup was pretty strong, but my must-sees were Imagine Dragons, Kings of Leon, Blink-182, Linkin Park, and Alt-J – you obviously can’t hope to see every single act at a festival. I was quite happy to enjoy the rest of the acts sitting down on the grass and being quite possibly more relaxed than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What else can I say? Travelling to see some of your favourite, most inspiring bands and artists live is something else. You can’t compare the feeling you get when you’re right in front of your idols, watching them play songs both old and new. I’m going to try and hit a music festival once a year – where to next?

Which music festival do you recommend? Leave a comment to help me choose my 2018 spot! 

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Travel

Arguably Abroad: Amsterdam

As a woman decidedly set on a mission to travel as much of the world as possible, it is without shame or shyness that I present yet another Arguably Abroad post. Ready? Great. I hope you have a cup of tea ready. 

The start of my Amsterdam adventure really wasn’t a great one – I was basically stuck on a coach for at least 2 hours because of a multiple-car pile up on a highway in Utrecht. Not exactly what you want after a 5:00 am wake up call and 3 hour flight. But I survived (and mostly napped), eventually making it to central Amsterdam. The sight of row upon row of adorable canal boats was the first thing to catch my eye as the coach from hell pulled in to its last stop, but I was entirely too dazed to snap a photo of it.

After a quick (late) lunch and with the help of a really lovely public transport representative, I eventually made it to the AirBnb apartment near Rembrandtpark in Slotervaart (tip: avoid Easter period if you’re looking to visit – accommodation is a pain to sort out otherwise). 

 

Rembrandtpark Amsterdam

Rembrandtpark

The 2 hour delay meant I didn’t really have enough time or energy to do much, but on Sunday morning I woke up early and set out for breakfast at a place called Buurtboerderij Ons Genoegen. The quaint little working farm is a fair bit away form the city centre, but worth the short bus ride or cycle if you’re interested in a hearty meal and friendly faces. The food was tasty and fresh (and exactly what my body needed on a cold March morning), but one of my favourite things about the place was the pitcher of water packed with fresh mint and juicy red strawberries available to customers at the bar. Points.

Food Amsterdam

Yes, these are both mine

Later that day the following things happened in rather rapid succession:

  • Went to The American Book Center
  • Bought 2 super geeky t shirts and a Fallout sweatshirt
  • Rented a bicycle
  • Had hot chocolate
  • Got lost

Yes, ladies and gentlemen – I got lost. On a bike. In the rain. In a foreign country.

With a dead battery. 

As the 21st century tech-junkie that I am started to panic, the inner 90s kid rallied and remembered that I had a map, a bicycle, and a sense of direction. To cut an excessively long bike-ride short, I eventually arrived back at  the apartment drenched, cold, and wary of ever cycling again. Can someone please invent windscreen wipers for specs? Oh, and at this point I need to mention just how kind and friendly people are in Amsterdam. One guy just thought I looked a bit lost (I did) and asked me if I needed directions. More points to Amsterdam!

cycling in amsterdam

Monday meant meeting the lovely Luz Cubas for a few hours at the Van Gogh museum (followed by breakfast at the ‘T Blauwe Theehuis in Vondelpark). Being an arts-lover, I knew this would be one of the highlights of the trip; the sense of awe you feel when you’re face to face with a piece of art that you’ve only seen in films or online is tough to beat. The relationship between Vincent and his brother, Theo, was incredibly interesting, so I’ll definitely need to buy a book of their letters to each other.

After an early night and a morning of casual sightseeing, I popped over to stunning SkyLounge Amsterdam for some oysters with a view before making my way to Luz’s art exhibition.

She’s a photographer and visual artist (and make up artist, and hair stylist…) who was exhibiting her work in print production at the Amsterdam Grafisch Atelier. Here’s her Behance, just in case you were wondering!

 

the artist at amsterdam grafisch atelier

The artist with her work!

The remainder of my short time in Amsterdam basically involved

  • Packing
  • Praying that my suitcase could handle everything I’d bought
  • Checking and re-checking bus routes and train times
  • Sleep
  • Waking up at 4:00 am to start the journey back home

Hurrah!

Until the next post.

-Kelly

 

 

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