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: Sziget Festival

One of the top 3 things on my to-do list for 2016 was ‘go to my first music festival’ – and I’m beyond happy to say that my friends and I hit Budapest, Hungary, for the 7-day music bonanza known as Sziget (10 – 17 August 2016).

The festival actually takes up an entire island (Obudai Island to be precise), where the brave (i.e. not me) can pitch their tents, roll out a bed, and camp for however long they wish to be there for. I’m absolutely terrible at camping in any way, shape, or form – add my insane allergies to that and you’ll have one very cranky, sneezy, puffy-eyed excuse for a festival-goer. Trust me when I say no one deserves to deal with that. I stayed at a boat hotel just a short taxi ride away.

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Me after 1 day of camping.

Getting to the festival was a bit of a mess thanks to a ridiculous train delay that left us stuck in Vienna for a few hours. When we finally stepped out of Keleti Station in Budapest, we were just desperate for a quick shower before getting a taxi to the festival and meeting the rest of the (massive) group.

Taxi Top Tip: Download the City Taxi app to make booking your taxi super straightforward. It’s perfect for the tourist who can’t pronounce anything Hungarian, because you can send them your location via GPS.

When we picked up our  Sziget Passport and walked into the festival for the first time, it was like stepping into some sort of Alice in Wonderland-type setup, with more fairy lights than an 18 year old girl’s dorm room.

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I would have been so lost without this.

 

On the first night, our priority was to rendezvous with the rest of the group and hit Tale of Us for some serious partying. The rest of the festival was essentially a non-stop party from dawn until dusk and beyond, with anything from techno or foam parties to daily yoga sessions, massages, guided sleep sessions, capoeira classes, TED talks, and impromptu dance parties in this little square we christened ‘Il-Pjazza’ (‘The Square’) near the main stage. There was something to do at literally any hour of the day or night to fill the gaps between acts.

The first major act I saw was Rihanna – but I have to say I wasn’t very impressed. She seemed a little bored, and turned up ridiculously late only to give a half-hearted performance. Not to worry – Muse, Bastille, The Neighborhood, Tinie Tempah, Sia, and The Lumineers more than made up for it.

If, like me, you see food as a top priority, you’ll be glad to know that Sziget caters to practically any taste or dietary requirement under the sun. Staying on the healthy side of things was a bit of a challenge, but if you look hard enough you’ll be alright. The streets are filled with food stalls offering fruit, corn on the cob, pasta, pizza, vegan dishes, burgers, wraps, piadinas, smoothies, gourmet (and not-so-gourmet) burgers, and even some pastries or ice cream for dessert.

Tasty Top Tip: Leave your food conscience at home. Seriously. 

I could write about Sziget all day, but the most important thing I could do is urge you to get a ticket to the next Sziget Festival. Next year is actually the festival’s 25th birthday, so I expect the organizers will have something pretty damn special in store for us all.

 

Want to know anything else about this incredible experience? Just leave a comment below! 

Kelly

 

 

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