Month: May 2013

Carnival of Culture and other Colours…

While my cousin was here, we made an attempt to throw as many loud and colourful things at her as possible. The first weekend: Holi Festival of Colours, the second: Karneval der Kulturen in Kreuzberg.

The day started off with forced labour: I made our houseguest cook everyone breakfast.

I’m fairly certain that we don’t have this in Australia- my certainty in this case stems from the belief that my sister and I would be all over it if we did.

In Germany, they have these little ‘authentic french’ croissants, and right next to them, also in tubes, Sonntag Brötchen (Sunday Bread Rolls). I’m assuming these are ‘a thing’, because in Germany, the concept of going a single day without fresh bread is akin to a violation of human rights (I’m pretty sure the ‘right to awesome fresh bread’ is on the German Constitution), and the supermarkets are closed on Sundays. Although the bakeries and the flowershops seem to be the two things that are perpetually open, so maybe it’s just emergency bread to keep in your handbag for when you feel peckish and happen by an oven.

Anyway, you follow the instructions and peel back the card….

… and at a certain time, the whole thing just… *POPS*

And then you must free your dough, unroll it, and roll it up into roughly-croissant shaped beings:

And then bake.

I wasn’t super happy with the way the croissants came out. I like my croissants to be flakey and airy, and these were more of a ‘buttery but solid’ on the outside with a chewy inside.

So my ultimate decision was that I’d probably rather just buy them ready-made from the bakery.. but that this would make a mighty-fine crust for a rich goulash-y pie!

Anyway, on Sunday Morning Ashleigh made chocolate croissants, which followed a very similar procedure but produced nicer results (what can I say, they had chocolate inside!)

After a small amount of face-stuffing, we headed into Berlin.

Ashleigh wanted to check out the Dorotheenstadt cemetery, situated near the Natural History Museum. It turned out to be absolutely beautiful: all the spring flowers in bloom with dapples of shade and sun. I’m personally pro the whole being burned thing, but this took me as a very nice place to take your final rest.

Of course, all that contemplation of life and its meaning left us feeling hungry, so we stopped off for some pretty decent Asian food (I’m not going to try to classify it, all the restaurants seem to just be a fusion of everything that might seem vaguely oriental).

And then slowly made our way to Kreuzberg, via Alexanderplatz…

I’ll admit, we didn’t play the festival very well. We started at the same end that the floats started from, which meant we were walking with the tide. Although they were moving very slowly, what with the crowds, and stopping for drinks and food and to look at the shops, we ended up going at a similar pace, and as such saw the same three or four floats in perpetuity.

In addition to that, our friends had started at the other end of the parade, and we thought that the ‘walking towards eachother’ would work. Unfortunately this plan was thwarted by the thousands and thousands of mobile users gathered in the same spot, which made the networks drop in and out. At a certain stage we realized that we had switched positions: they were now behind us, so we gave up.

Ultimately, it was fun to watch the people, and look at the stalls, and drink the bubble tea and so on. I think Germans are generally really great at throwing outdoor events. They know how to have big crowds, and even have large amounts of alcohol circulating in these crowds, and not have it get agitated or angry. I’m not sure if our society has matured to that level yet in Australia.

Next year, we’ll try to play it better- see more of the floats, and check out some stages playing music- which we didn’t even know existed.

But it was a nice first attempt.

And all that they could seeseesee

Day Three: In Which Things Can Only Get Better

By the morning I still wasn’t totally convinced of this whole ‘eating’ concept, but after a few dry things went down and stayed, I soon got back into the swing- and in no time had resumed my normal shoving of large fistfuls of cake into my mouth.

In the six hours of horror, we had somehow made our way from Palma (pictured below, above Alvaro’s head), to Sa Rapita (near his stage-right shoulder).

(Photo from Marta)
I think the map makes the city look larger and more important than it seemed in real life- the town was way less touristy and much less ‘happenin” than most of the others we ended up seeing on the way, and all the people seemed to be Siesta-ing for…. all the hours we were there. Still, it was very nice to get off the boat and walk on non-wobbly land.

To be honest, once I was off the boat, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go back on. People kept offering advice and helpful suggestions like ‘you know, if you try to not vomit, then you won’t feel like vomiting too much’-which….. well, it was very kind and well meaning, but not really what I wanted to hear.
Plus, I think motion sickness is impossible to explain to people who don’t have it, and it’s really hard to have non sufferers tell you that if you just followed some simple rules, like ‘looking at the horizon’, it’ll all go away. Even though I know it’s not meant to be, it sounds like something between being patronised, and being told that I’m effectively causing this stupid physical reaction my body is having by not following the little rules, and I may, due to certain past events, be slightly sensitive about people telling me that I am sick by my own cause. So I may have been a bit of a moody little ingrate that day. I apologise. And thank Marta for getting me to pharmacist and trying to get me to the doctor.
Anyway, Andy mentioned that at the time when it was particularly wave-y the day before, he had felt motion sick for the first time in his life… but he seemed to have been examining the feeling almost scientifically and objectively, as opposed to the ‘completely in incapacitated and vomiting violently’ way that I had experienced it. 
I’ve experienced motion sickness since I was very young.. although this was by far the worst. The second worst was probably when  we went on this crazy winding road up a mountain in Indonesia when I was about 10, to see the sunrise over Mt Bromo… but I’ll admit that I’ve come to the ‘I need to get off’ stage multiple times…. and sometimes over stupid things: once I managed to make myself sea sick just by snorkelling.
Nonetheless, I’ve definitely ‘grown out of it’ to some degree. I take public transport now everyday, and can read on trains, and sometimes even buses if the distance is short and the road smooth and the air not too hot.  Which is my way of explaining that I didn’t think it was entirely unreasonable that I could survive on the boat for a week without pain and death.
Plus I had PILLS. 
And I am a firm believer in Science.
The lady at the Farmacia we arrived at clearly was not.
She tried to sell us some sort of homoeopathic crap with caffeine in it, and then tried to flog those pressure points wristbands. Marta, via Alvaro, kindly told the lady where she could put here caffeine lollies, and we eventually beat some anti-vertigo pills out of her.
I was spared going to the doctor by the fact that the bus only ran from the small town to the slightly larger nearby town twice a day, and then only if you rang and booked the bus 24 hours in advance.

When we had bought some supplies we headed back to the boat, where the Cap’n assured me that there was no wind, and very little waves. We would sail along the coast- for only a few hours if I could take no longer, or further if I was doing fine. I took a quantity of pills that will only be described as ‘multiple’, and was allowed to drive the boat.
Check out my concentration:
(Photo from Alvaro)
And I didn’t even feel sick!
(Well, only a tiny bit- a two on the one-to-vomit scale)
Although after a while I did feel a bit bored with the steering. 
And sleepy.
Seasickness pills make you very very sleepy.
So I went down below, and slept my way to the next port.
So it wasn’t perfect. But it was one hell of an improvement.

It’s a short post. It was a very very very very very long day.

Day 2: I don’t feel so…..

I have photographic evidence that the day started off just fine.

Here is me, being a poser on the boat….

(This and the one beneath from Marta)

 … and looking relatively happy.

Some of these photos I even took myself.

We sleep in:

 then started our day with our new Mediterranean diet- Spanish bread, Jamon, tomatoes, cheese

And then our Captain set sail. It was a little bit cold, there were hints of rain.


That’s the last photo I have of the day.

The pharmacist told me that I couldn’t take the sea-sickness tablets before I felt sick- that I had to wait.

It was too late.

I spent the next 6 or so hours vomiting over the side of the boat. Intermittent time spent clinging to the side of the boat with my eyes closed, perched in the most uncomfortable position imaginable. Moving, opening my eyes, lying down, looking at anything, made me vomit. About two hours in I started begging Andy to stop the boat. About three hours in they made an executive decision to tie me to the boat so that I wouldn’t fall over the side on one of my repeated trips to the edge.

The Captain kept saying ‘Wheeee’ when we went over a particularly big wave. I did not appreciate this.

After about 5 hours, I was so exhausted that, following a few extra vomits for good value, I was able to move my head onto Andy’s lap and cling to him for the remaining hour.

When the boat finally stopped I poured my self into my bed, drank half a cup of tea on the insistence of the crew, and refused to move.

I’m told that everyone else had a lovely dinner of calamari at a local restaurant.

Some Sailors went to SeaSeaSea

It’s gonna be slow my friends. There were eight people with DLSRs (or the equivalent) taking, if we go on Marta’s count, something close to 1000 photos each. I’m going to use primarily my own stuff, but I have to say it was nice to have someone else taking some photos and thus be included in some of the shots- so there’s going to be some degree of integration. Sometimes I give my camera to Andy, and sometimes it works, but often the mere fact of him holding it seems to make my nose beaky(er), my hair oilier and all of me much more awkward. So thanks Marta for some pretty shots, and all the awesome group photos!

Day 1: They Wanted To Escape The German Grey (Palma)

I’m not sure if I told you all yet, but we headed off to Mallorca/Majorca a couple of weeks back. Our friend from work, Marta, came into my office one day and asked if Andy and I felt like sailing around an island for a week. Seeming like something we would never do by ourselves, and possibly never have an opportunity to do again, we jumped on it.

I’ll save you some google-ing. This is Mallorca:

So we had a plan- get a boat, sail around an island. We had, thanks to the organisation of people who were not us, a boat. We had a destination- which Germans joke about as being the last state of Deutschland in the same way Aussies joke about New Zealand and Americans joke about… probably everywhere. And we had 5 Polish people, a Chilean, a somewhat-Polish, somewhat-German Australian, and another Aussie, who was convinced that her somewhat-Spanish heritage would lead to Natural Adaptation and prevent any possible seasickness*. 
*Spoiler Alert: It did not. 
Out plane to Palma de Majorca (the capital) flew Early, with a capital E, and, due to the train schedule (the earliest was at 4 am), and all of us being too cheap to get a taxi, we arrived at the airport rather too late for comfort. Our Polish comrades had decided to ‘start the party early’, had barely slept, and almost missed the train due to Someone’s decision to take a long bath even after failing to hear the alarm and waking up half an hour late. But it seemed to work. The German holidayers were just as disorganised as us- everyone was late, so the poor airport staff had to shuffle around, call out priority groups, and managed to get everyone to their respective gate somewhat on time.
The reason that Mallorca is the German equivalent of Bali to Aussies, is that it is everything Deutschland is not. Primarily in that it it always sunny. Winter had been long my friends. We needed some sun!
We arrived. 
It was raining. 
We took a bus to the port to find our boat. It continued to rain. We wandered around the port, lost, and were told that due to a boat show in the coming week, the boat-hire company had moved to ‘somewhere else’. More rain. We searched, we got wet, our baggage got soaked. We finally decided to take refuge in a restaurant and eat some food while our Captain went forth into the world, and managed to find our boat.
Meet Marcin. Nationality: Polish. Occupation: Judge. Character: very funny!
(This photo is stolen from Marta).
We went to the boat, as the rain magically stopped and the sun contemplated emergence. 
This is the Pravda, and she is beautiful.

I’ll have some better photos later on I think… but this is a taster.

After stashing our stuff, the six of us (minus the Captain and his girl), headed into Palma to do so sight seeing.

I got quite excited by the sheer number of cats on the island. Germany just doesn’t seem to have any cats- I guess it’s possible that the ones that are here just never leave the warmth of the heated apartment- but it’s also possible that there just isn’t a high enough (read any) availability of fresh fish for them here.

Anyway- check out the size of that gull relative to the size of that cat. Terrifying!

Palma is very pretty, especially in the centre where the old buildings and churches are. It’s amazing how different the architecture is from that of Berlin/Potsdam- and in fact how everything makes you aware that you ain’t in Kansas anymore.

That’s pretty much the ugliest looking bird I’ve ever seen!

The other thing that really caught our attention, especially when we travelled a bit along the coast and away from the ‘big’ city, was the plants, and the smell. I recently discussed this with a German girl at work who also just went to Spain with her Australian boyfriend, and she said that he agreed- Spain smells like home. She mentioned that the Spanish got really into Eucalypts for a while, because of how fast they grow, and now they’ve become a bit of a pest (and a problem, because they burn-baby-burn). But I drank it in: Mallorca has that Mediterranean climate, and these beautiful oily plants that perfume the air.

The old city centre of Palma has the highest density of churches I’ve ever seen. There are at least 11 within a couple of km raidus, and all are ancient and stony and magnificent looking.

Did I mention that the cherry-blossoms are out?
(I know these might not be actual cherries, but they all look like sakura to me)

And that there is beautiful, intricately detailed stonework everywhere?

We spent a good few hours wandering around- with Marta guiding us down the oldest and smallest streets she could find- checking out trees and architecture and marvelling and photographing and posing.

Time to meet two more team members. Marta, our friend from work, and Kuba, her friend from Poland.

This one you know already:

Because I was good, I was allowed icecream!

 (This one stolen from Marta)

Marta had this great quality of occasionally crying ‘GRUPPENFOTO’, and we’d all rush behind Marcin (only Marcin could do it right) and try to cram into the background. All the gruppenfotos shown are from her:

(Left to Right: Marcin, Marta, Andy, Kuba, Me)

Apart from the churches, Palma also has a really high density of sculptures. These guys I found to be particularly cool:

We stepped into a small, very local bar- which seemed to be the front room of an actual house. We chose a few Bocadillos, which were very tasty, very cheap (2 euro or something), and came with a healthy amount of much-better-than-the-german-ones olives. We could work out most of the fillings, but one of the options translated on Andy’s dictionary as something like ‘Wide Openings’, we went with it to get an answer.

Tiny, pickled, very tasty fish.

We also got a couple with Calamari. I’m pretty sure that as a group we ate our way through at least 20 squid on the trip- with a large contribution by Marta, who I’m pretty sure would sell her grandma for some good calamari.

 (Above photo also from Marta)

One of these churches is not like the others!

The view from the other side: looking back down to the marina.

 As it became darker, we headed to meet up with Rafa, a friend of a friend from the institute. Rafa is pretty much the kindest, most generous person I’ve ever met- he joyfully agreed to meet up with a bunch of strangers and, with some of his close friends, took us on a wonderful tour of some of the best eating and drinking in Palma, not only on the first night, but also the last two days of our visit.

Here’s the group of us at Bar Espana- which has some pretty killer Tapas!

(Photo from Marta)

Some new faces! On the far left- Carmen, a friend of Rafa’s, Then Marta, Andy, myself and Kuba, and our Chilean group member, who was smart enough to take an afternoon flight: Alvaro. Rafa is on the right.

I look pensive. Probably contemplating how I can fit a whole Tapas sandwich into my mouth in one go.

I think we must’ve been terrible company, although I do remember being amazed at Marta’s ability to be lively and social after a hard night of drinking, less than two hours of sleep, a flight and a very long day, so it might have just been me who was nearly fell asleep on top of her Jamon. 
So we headed back to the boat, at a time when I supposed most Mallorcans were just beginning their evening, and melted into our beds.

Holi Festival of Colours

Facebook, in my opinion, has become a little presumptuous with their advertising and recommendation of pages… I’m not entirely sure which of my activities they’ve been tracking that they now find it necessary to promote ‘Whiskers Germany’ and ‘Cat Playhouse’ or something on my page… I’m not THAT obvious about the CrazyCatLady thing right??

But they did well with recommending the Holi festival- which popped up in the sidebar of my newsfeed a few months back.

The Holi Festival was started in Berlin only last year, in an imitation of the colour festivals of India. There’s live music- mostly electric- and lots of throwing around of paint powder. The experience is supposed to celebrate not only the coming of spring, but also the colours and joy of life, and, I guess by ‘painting them all green in the sunshine’, eliminate personal differences of wealth, class, colour and so on. (If you want to know more you can read/googletranslate about the history here:
Andy, my cousin Ashleigh, and I, headed out at about 3 pm, followed the mass of white-wearing people to the old Olympic Stadium.
We then spent a happy afternoon/evening frolicking in the sun, listening to music, eating wurst, chasing each other down with colour-attacks and, every hour on-the-hour, joining in in the creation of a massive mushroom cloud of colour with the thousands of other people there.
I think I’m going to let the pictures pretty much do the talking from here on out. For those of you who don’t like picture heavy posts, and get bored by multiple photos of the same people, you might want to gracefully exit here- it’s pretty much a progression of the three of us getting more and more colourful, plus a few bonus shots of powder throwing, nuclear-esque dust clouds and other bright and shiny things/people I could point a lens at.
And so our tale begins, with the first coordinated colour throw: which we watched from the sidelines, and with three fairly clean looking, white-wearing people… who very rapidly got colourful.


I feel lazy today, and not in a very write-y mood. In my defence, I just spend 2 days (16+ hours) in a ‘professional presence’ workshop, learning how to express myself verbally in front of large audience. I think it has killed, or at least momentarily stunned, my Mojo.
But I do want to say: the colours festival was cool! It was one of those Bucket-listy things that I think you should try, even if you don’t immediately recognise it as something that you’d like to do. 
Personally, I’m not so into electronic-y “music”, and, as anyone who’s known me for more than 10 minutes will know, I rapidly panic if my hands become dry and powdery (thus the omnipresent tub of hand cream). I also have lung problems, and I’ll admit that the moment when everything went black as the colourpowder blotted out the sun was probably not the most comfortable I’ve felt in my life.
But on the other hand, I love colour. And I really love throwing things. And this was so different and chaotic and joyful. So if you think you’re someone who can approach spending the next week blowing pink stuff out of your nose as ‘a little bit of excitement added to an otherwise boring task’, I’d recommend you try this out at least once. If you’re in Perth, I can recommend a somewhat similar, but much stickier alternative happening at the end of the year- the Throwing of the Grape. Check it out.

Last day of Amsterdam…

This is the last one.

I promise.
Then maybe we can talk about Majorca. And spring. And sunburn.
Our last day in Amsterdam was a bit of a half-day. We had to get to the plane by about six, and still wanted to check out NeMo- a sciencey place (being the nerds we are), and the Amsterdam Museum. So PowerWalking was required. 
We PowerWalked through check-out of our dreadful hotel.
We PowerWalked to the Central Station to drop off our bags.
We PowerWalked across the bridge towards NeMo.

And then we realised that Andy’s stomach was making increasingly angry sounds, so we slowed it all down and took in a massive and leisurely breakfast. Which included these delights:

… and which was undertaken in a suitably hipster location, with seriously cool Alien-esque light fittings 

To the NeMo!- the National Centre for Science and Technology on the (R)Oosterdok (I told you it’s a funny language).

As you probably guessed, NeMo is like Scitech.
But on speed.
Squared or to the power of eight or something!

I was stunned and amazed and in love with the sheer volume of science they were pushing at these kids, plus the incredible level of interactivity they managed for every exhibit, even when it came to trickier subjects like DNA and genetics.

I cannot think of a better way to ignite your kid’s passion for science. Everyone needs to go there now. If I ever have children, I will deposit them in this place and not let them come out until they have a PhD.

It is super!

Here are some of the cool things they had going on:

This one I think had a lot of science history, and described basic discoveries, such as the fact that meat cannot spontaneously generate maggots.

They had a specimen room, showing siamese twin monkey babies:

 and cow foetuses complete with placentae:

They had this awesome thing where kids had to concentrate beams of light onto little light-powered planes to make them fly around:

They had a massive water feature for the learning of hydro-power (and damning- very important for the Dutch!):

They had a Huge wall filled with different things and you had to guess if they were animal, vegetable or mineral. It included all these fossil-like, calcareous sea creatures and worms and their tubings… I had a go at a few and was incredibly bad at it:

They had this absolutely stunning game, which Andy attached himself onto and refused to let go of. It involved Making A Protein! You get given little chips with amino acid structures on them. When the chips contact the screen their amino acid appears and vibrates and twists. If you take the correct amino acid shown as the one required to build the protein, and move it to the terminus of your amino acid chain, the two ends react, and your chain grows!

If I was more articulate I could express how incredibly impressed I am that they made something like this interactive and fun.

They had a teenage area, which talked about pimples and hormones and sex and moodiness, and which included this creepy display in which you could put your arm into the tongue and french kiss a partner:

 Plus everything you needed to know about sex, and how to have fun doing it without getting pregnant:

 They had an interactive lab, running workshops starting every hour or so:

 And a cool ‘electrical’ section, which had this fancy glowing dress, which I covet deeply:

(You could change the led lights to make different colours and patterns. Plus it could flash!)

… and also an electric car, and explanations of the effect of usage on the environments, and suggestions about how to minimise waste:

And many, many, many more crazy-interesting-amazing-spectacular things. 
I can only say, if you’ve even heard of science, you should go. 
If you have children, you should go. 
If you have an inner-child, you should go. 
If you think you are all serious and adulty and know everything there is to know about science, you should go. 
(and you are wrong)
Alternatively, if you like going to the tops of tall buildings and checking out spectacular views, You Should Go!
NeMo looks like this from the outside:
(photo from wiki)
Which, a) is awesome architecture, especially for a science museum, and b) means you can sit in the restaurant on the roof, drinking hot chocolate, and staring out over Amsterdam.

Amster-DAHyum! (tehee)

We also headed to the Amsterdam museum. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time, so really had to run through. It’s primarily about the history of Amsterdam, and looked fairly interesting if you’re into that sort of thing. A lot or reading and information though, so not really something you can do in just over an hour.

Because of the rush I didn’t take many photos, unless something really stood out.
As we turned the corner to go into a certain room, I noted to Andy that something smelled fishy.
I mean, literally, fishy.

I’m sure some of you have seen the work of Hendrik Kersten before, and his photos of his daughter Paula, but if not, you should go and check them out online. Very, very cool.

If you’re into that, there’s a similar (slightly wackier and less polished) version by Nina Katchadourian- ‘Lavatory self portraits in the Flemish style’.
You can find them here: 

And this kid just has awesome style:

So that’s it for the Amsterdam museum. I can’t say much about it- you guys will just have to go and check it out for yourselves- and then get back to me on its level of awesomeness.

So we got ready to head to the airport, but not before we made the most of the food:

Yeah. I’m pretty sure there was at least one Oliebol in there too… probably I snaffled it before it could be photographed.

Goodbye Amsterdam!

And stuff..

I think this month is going to be crazy. We just got back from a week sailing around Majorca, my cousin has rocked up on our doorstep, we have the festival of colours, it’s the Kreuzberg Culture Carnival, there are a couple of public holidays ripe for the frolicking, there’s an ‘Institute Day’ and Summer Party plus the world is going mad getting it’s Spring On!

So let me finish telling you about last month.

Back to Amsterdam:

Day Three, and Andy and I headed to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam’s answer to the Tate Modern.

They had some pretty amazing stuff there, including a room of ‘Scandinavian Art’ which was pretty much the prototypes of every single item Ikea has ever sold, plus a room just full of awesome and funky chairs- which made us think of Mr J. Russel and his soon-to-be chair fame.

They had this, which reminded me a little of Mondrian:

 and, low and behold- some actual Mondrians:

Did I ever tell you that I’m passionately in love with Mondrian? 
Two years ago I sewed myself a replica of the YSL Mondrian dress and wore it on Christmas day, and when we went to the Tate in 2009 I spent 20 minutes just gazing at one of his trees. I really love how you can see across time the progression of his art from the more exact to the more abstract, I think the simultaneous flow and boldness of his lines is beautiful, and I’ve always had my heart sold on that red-black-white combinations.
Of course there were many different art flavours for all you unique little butterflies out there.
I imagine if I had a lot of money I would put this in my guest room:
And I supposed if I didn’t have a lot I could imitate a garden with something like this (which I think was fairly unoriginally named as ‘california garden’ or something). Andy’s look says it all. Silly, silly modern art.
And, for the man who has everything. A paperweight! 

 With which he can reflect upon his magnificence.

This next piece Assaulted me as I turned a corner. I immediately knew the devil for what it was, and thousands of repressed memories flooded back.

In 2009, Ashlee and Lauren and I visited Versailles, one of the most beautiful and renowned palaces in the world. We were excited to behold the historic wonder. There was supposed to be gaping and gasping and oohing and aahing after all the treasures and richness and antiquities.

Instead, we got ‘Jeff Koons in Versailles’.

It featured such modern art atrocities as: a vacuum cleaner (I believe in Marie Antoinette’s bedroom), a giant inflatable pool lobster (hanging from the ceiling of course), and a life size gold statue of Michael Jackson reclining with his pet monkey bubbles.

I suspect we have never collectively hated something so much.

(Although there was a rather funny moment when our audio guide explained to us that a certain room contained the most precious gift ever given to Louis, and we all turned around and pointed at the massive Balloon Dog statue standing behind us –


Thankfully only the one that I could be nauseated by.

Oh and there was a Warhol. And a group of people who suddenly saw a name they recognised and became instantaneously contemplative.




 Also this:

(Although I may have thought it was just a really cool wall decoration for a modern art museum to have, and not an actual exhibit, and may have been rather curtly told off by one of the security guards for getting too close. It’s almost as if they don’t appreciate my appreciation).

 More in the black and white theme:

Something beautiful that Andy and I both rather loved (it’s a bit Starry Night-ish)

And this, which I think was taking the piss. I was convinced that they were phallic, and was quite shocked to see that the thing actually owned up to it, instead of being all coy.

 Ah, I just hate it when I have the ‘boat full of penises’ dream.

 And now, for something a little more Yonic:

 Something ugly that my cat could make:

 And something absolutely fabulous, which could have come out of the imagination of Chas Adam’s and Hayao Miyazaki’s lovechild:

I guess it’s just a matter of taste.

Some people clearly don’t have any.

The featured exhibition at the time was Mike Kelley (, a man who rather obviously had a somewhat screwy youth. Many of his exhibits involved toys or dolls or children, but always made warped or disfigured or unnerving.

One display contained TVs with static, which would occasionally flash on with short Youtube clips showing some kid or another being traumatised in small ways. It wasn’t really for me- but some of his stuff with lights and colours was interesting:

Krypton from Superman. (Also known as ‘just another phallus’)

 These two images kept on switching between the two screens- you can check it out in the movie on the page I linked.

There was also a very creepy video of him dressed in a dress and girl face mask and dragging himself around the floor. Andy was convinced it was going to get better. I was convinced I was ready to leave.


But before we leave the museum- a final beautiful thing- there was a long corridor, filled with rainbow faces and their famous words:

Cool huh? Maybe I’ll have this for the spare room instead of the ink.

Once again, the day was getting on a bit, so we didn’t have time to visit another museum. So instead we headed to the Apple, a very tiny little gallery, that contains this shiny treat:

A wall (and part of the ceiling), containing thousands of glowing orbs that fluctuated through oranges, pinks and purpled-blues, imitating a perpetual sunset.

That evening we went on the Red Light District tour, which gives a fairly interesting insight into how the area became what it is today (how the district co-evolved with the religious and business parts of the city), how the operations are run (for the maximum health and safety of the girls)
and also looks into the future, and the possible repercussions of the Amsterdam governments currently underway initiative to ‘buy out’ and transform many of the windows.

Fun times, and a good chance to have a quick look at the sex trade if you’re not really into indulging in that side of things. Plus, as always, the view is quite lovely.

In fact, we were blessed with slightly more view than we’d expected- egged on by his friends, one guy stripped to his boxers, dove into the canal, and swam to the other side.


I am shocked he didn’t get impaled, tetanus, or hypothermia.

After the tour, we treated ourselves to some much deserved dinner at Umami.

The food was frankly delicious. We ordered a kind of semi-degustation, which allowed us to pick two-each of the dishes for each course, plus rice and noodles.

 It was fabulous-  we bathed our tastebuds in the many things that we had not eaten for months in Germany: seafood, lamb, beef, curries, and it was all as tender and succulent and umami-filled as you could ever hope for! Can you not see the glazed look of satisfaction in Andy’s face?

A pretty great way to end the day!