Dutch Weekends

Guys, I’ve made it three weeks without leaving the country. It’s my record here. As much as I love traveling it’s been really nice to chill out at home, and now that I have an apartment I’m actually planning on staying in for the rest of the year, I’m finally starting to feel settled and like I know the city more. Plus, I found a market that sells dried mangos like they have in South Africa (DON’T ADD SUGAR TO MANGOES, THEY’RE THE MOST GLORIOUS FRUIT IN THE WORLD AND NEED NOTHING), so I now essentially have everything I could ever need. And even though I haven’t been ‘traveling’ these past three weeks, I have definitely been exploring the area around Den Haag!

View of Den Haag from the Penthouse bar

Last weekend, a few of us went to Utrecht, roughly 40 minutes away by train. It is home to the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, the Dom Tower, which stands at 112.5m in height. That is one and a half metres higher than my bungee jump at Victoria Falls.

It looked higher when I was about to jump off the bridge.

Trust me, it looked and felt a lot higher when I was about to jump off the bridge.

The tower was built as part of the Cathedral of St. Martin in the 1300s, but the church was never properly completed due to lack of funds, and in the 1600s the nave was destroyed in a tornado (which I didn’t know were a thing in the Netherlands), so the tower stands separate from the current cathedral.

Walking through the tower to the square where the nave used to stand, with a view of the current cathedral.

Walking through the tower to the square where the nave used to stand, with a view of the current cathedral. I kind of love the lighting of this shot.

Fun historic fact: the tower stands in the spot where the city of Utrecht was founded nearly 2 000 years ago.

View of the tower from the streets of Utrecht

View of the tower from the streets of Utrecht

The cathedral is fairly impressive as well. Its construction was initiated in 1254, but continued into the 1600s. Dutch church-goers, not the most efficient bunch.

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Like the tower, the construction of the church was hampered by financial issues… but it seems like it turned out pretty nice, regardless.

Obviously, when you see a tall building, you have to climb it, so we went up to the top of the tower (via 465 stairs, what up crosstraining)! It was a great view, and we were lucky to have clear skies (allegedly, you can see Rotterdam and Amsterdam from the tower, but neither city has a distinct enough skyline for me to know whether or not I saw them).

View of the cathedral from the tower

View of the cathedral from the tower

Utrecht views

Utrecht views – the Academiegebouw, headquarters of Utrecht University

Utrecht views - the building on the right is the City Hall

Utrecht views – the building on the right with the two towers is the City Hall

Maybe Amsterdam is that way?

Maybe Amsterdam is that way?

I mostly liked seeing the kayakers in the canals

I mostly liked seeing the kayakers in the canals

On our way to the top, we got to see the bells of the tower. In total, the fourteen bells weigh 32,000kg – the largest bell on its own, the Salvatore, weighs 8 200kg.

Salvatore, with children for perspective. (Photo 1 in my upcoming series, "Children! They're occasionally useful!")

Salvatore, with children for perspective. (Photo 1 in my upcoming series, “Children! They’re occasionally useful!”)

The bells still ring today, and it is pretty cool to hear!

Utrecht also has several museums, so I went to Centraal (I have a Museumkaart, which allows you free entrance into the majority of museums in the Netherlands for a year – I would highly recommend it if you are staying in the country for a while and plan on visiting a couple museums), which was hosting an exhibit of Miffy, the famous Dutch cartoon bunny created by Dick Bruna. Miffy celebrated her 60th birthday this year, so the exhibit was set up as her birthday party. Since I am a child, I really wanted to see this.

Miffy!

Miffy! (Or, in Dutch, Nijntje!)

I thought the entire exhibit was delightful. I was the oldest person there without a child, obviously.

Miffy made of butterflies!

Miffy made of butterflies!

A FOREST PLAYGROUND!

A FOREST PLAYGROUND!

Colourful Miffys!

Colourful Miffys!

Miffy and Supperguppie! (Superguppie is another Dutch children's book character)

Miffy and Supperguppie! (Superguppie is another Dutch children’s book character)

"Lara Barrymore as Miffy" - I loved how weird this one was. The artists work in diptych or triptychs, so they made a triptych of Miffy using her ears, head and body. The ears, of a floral still-life, the face, of Lara Stone (a Dutch model), and, best of all, Drew Barrymore's body, which was described by the artists as 'androgynous.'  Not a word I would have ever selected for Drew Barrymore, but ok!

“Lara Barrymore as Miffy” – I loved how weird this one was. These particular artists work in diptych or triptychs, so they made a triptych of Miffy using her ears, head and body. The ears, of a floral still-life, the face, of Lara Stone (a Dutch model), and, best of all, the body was that of Drew Barrymore, who was described by the artists as ‘androgynous.’ Not a word I would have ever selected for Drew Barrymore, but ok!

One great thing about living in the Netherlands is that there is always something going on. I think it’s a law in the country that there has to be at least one festival every weekend. Honestly, it’s frustrating at times because there is so much I want to do!

Den Haag jazz festival along the canals – the musicians played on boats that traveled down the canals

Scheveningen Firework Festival

More fireworks in Scheveningen

Yesterday, though, I went to what may be the best festival I will ever attend in my life, Mysteryland! It’s the oldest dance music festival in the Netherlands, and guys, I don’t even have words. THERE WERE SEVENTEEN DIFFERENT STAGES.

The hill overlooking the Q-Dance stage

Q-Dance Stage – note that this is NOT the main stage

Sarah heading for a mystery

Main Stage – home to Alesso

It was incredible. I mean, it’s a massive festival with so many different acts to choose from, but there’s also so much put into organizing cultural venues, art installations, you name it. It was one of the cleanest festivals I’ve ever been to, and was so well-run. I think the longest I waited for a bathroom was five minutes, which is unheard of. Truly, one day is not enough, Mysteryland.

Mysteryladies

Flag art installation

THIS IS MADE ENTIRELY OF PAPER. HOW!!!???

Obviously had to hit the Bollywood stage

Yes…. just, yes.

Chinese cat brings good fortune to the festival goers by way of sunshine

Mermaids!

Looking out over our kingdom for the day…

…and then looking back up at it.

Grandpas gotta get weird too

And, man. THE MUSIC. What a lineup. It was so overwhelming. We kind of limited the people we really needed to see, and spent a lot of time wandering from stage to stage to experience the different acts.

But clearly, a necessary act to hit was DJ Jazzy Jeff, who is now 50. Times sure have changed since he and the Fresh Prince were maxin relaxin in Bel Air.

The one and only DJ Jazzy Jeff! Philly represent!

You can all rest easy – Jazz DELIVERED! He incorporated some of his old hits with the Fresh Prince, some Jackson 5, and most excitingly (because Sarah and I literally had a conversation in which we wished he would play this song), HE MASHED UP PONY BY GINUWINE!!!!! GINUWINE!!!!!!! Kris Kross followed him, and was also fantastic, but we had to leave his set early to head to Alesso!!!

Alesso with angel wings BECAUSE HE IS AN ANGEL

This set. Oh boy. My mind is still blown.

We could be heroes

It was unreal. Sarah and I managed to shimmy our way front and centre; it was just wild.

errrrrmaaagerrrd I love you

Front and centre at Alesso, ain’t no thang

And I now obviously have festival withdrawal and have zero motivation to go to work tomorrow. But, we have Major Lazer in Brussels to look forward to!

Stay weird, friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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