Archive for April, 2008

Taiwan photos

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Apparently, Ted spent some of his time while I was gone taking photos, of the bridges in Taipei and of the Ferris Wheel at the mall near our house. There are a lot of good ones that are very similar so they were hard to choose among. They’re best seen larger, so I will post thumbnails – click to see larger images.

Netherlands photos

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I’m finally home! We get a day off after international travel. so I’ve even had time to upload photos.

We had more snow this trip than I saw there all of last winter. It’s kind of bizarre to get snow after the daffodils are out:

This is the view over the center of Eindhoven from my hotel window:

And a few pictures from my Rotterdam trip. first the cubic houses and then looking over the city from the Euromast:


Monday, April 21st, 2008

On Sunday, my friend Grada (frequent commenter here) was being confirmed in the Anglican Church; since I was still in-country, it seemed only appropriate to attend – not only as myself, but as a representative of our online discussion group. Rather than just going to Rotterdam for Sunday evening, I decided to go earlier and make an afternoon of it. My plans went through a few iterations (I’d already been there twice and seen some of the obvious tourist things); finally, I decided to rent a bike. This was a great success; it gave me the freedom of the city and a chance to take any detour I wanted, much better than just going between metro or tram stops. It cost only 6.50 euros and as is common in Dutch cities, the bikes could be rented right next to the central train station. I began at the Cubic Houses (): I’d seen some in another city, but Rotterdam has one you can go into. Verdict: you could definitely live in it … but I’d rather not, given a choice. It’s cozy, but not entirey practical.

It was a gorgeous day, the nicest one this year so far, and I had several hours left, so I decided to fritter them away by the water. In fact it was so nice I wanted to be *on* the water, and so I took a water-taxi over to the island where the Hotel New York stands, remembering a similar trip with Squirrel last year. There are boat tours of the harbor, and I considered one, but those boats are so big you don’t really feel like you’re on the water; on those little boat taxis, you *feel* the waves! All of the outside tables were full, so instead I found a bench by the water, occupying myself with my knitting and with watching a sailing ship that had just docked and the foot fetishist on the other end of my bench. (Somewhat scruffy man, very nice Canon camera, taking pictures of the shoes of women walking by. Not my sensible and scuffed ones, though!)

I took the taxi back and meandered over to the Euromast next, staying by the water, stopping for a Coke and then pausing to observe a tall ship used to train Norwegian naval cadets. I’d been up the Euromast before, but on a cloudy day. The view was much nicer this time. I wasn’t very hungry, but had some time left and knew I probably wouldn’t have a chance to eat later so I had a very nice appetizer at the fancy restaurant there, shrimp tempura with tiny melon balls.

The church wasn’t far from there, and I got to it with only one involuntary detour (I’d figured out where it was from atop the tower, but of course things look different at ground level and the harbor’s shape and an intervening tunnel meant it wasn’t a straight shot there. It was still half an hour or so early when I got there but people were starting to go into the hall next door, and when I asked about getting into the church a kind man took me there through the hall. It seemed inappropriate to knit in the church itself, so I sat in a back pew and occupied myself with reading the Bible there – Exodus, as it was the second day of Passover. (One nice thing about churches and synagogues: you always have something to read. I attribute my cultural literacy on Biblical matters largely to boring services in my youth.) Eventually people started to come in. I kept reading and watching them alternately, until I saw Grada standing near the front – I must have had my head down when she came in. I walked over and said hello; she was clearly very pleased to have a representative piffler there and had me sit with Twin (the confirmands all sat in front, of course). Twin and I talked a bit about the symblism of the Bishop’s mitre (flame sof the Holy Spirit, as he himself mentioned later) and the differences among religions and denominations. Never try telling a historian that a tradition only a hundred or so years old is ‘not really all that new’ (I was speaking of Bat Mitzvot).

The service was in English and so were all the prayerbooks (pity: I was sort of looking forward to trying to figure out some old-fashioned Dutch!). St. Mary’s was built, just three hundred years ago, for the Expat English community in Rotterdam. Judging by people’s accents, it still serves that purpose though there were plenty of Dutch people there too. It was amusingly reminiscent of the old British consulate I toured in Danshui, Taiwan. Those Brits, clearly big on building a home away from home 🙂

The Bishop was respendant early on in a purple robe, then for the service he put a gold one over that, wore his mitre and carried a crozier – the very picture of a modern model Bishop. He talked kindly of how he enjoyed confirmations and how unique each one is, and his sermon was personal, direct, and also kindly – I strongly suspect he is quite a nice man. The confirmation itself seemed very Christian to me – well, obviously, but I mean that it’s clear how this ritual with the anointing of holy oils and the laying on of hands is a reminder of Christianity’s oldest stories, and the Bishop made that connection clear as well.

Most of the confirmands were young’uns, 18 or 20 or so. The one young man whose face I saw as he came back to his seat was smiling, happy but I think also relieved to have this milestone over. Not Grada, though; her face was shockingly sober and serious and anyone who had seen it out of context would have immediately known that she had just taken a major, irrevocable step in her life. Later in the Church hall, though, she was joyous, and I think a few times on the verge of tears. I stayed for tea and an excellent almond cookie, and to talk to Grada a bit, then had to head to the station so I wouldn’t get home and to bed too late.

After returning my bike, I had a while to wait for the train so just to further conflate holidays I called my mom to get an account of their Passover meal (to which my little brother brought his new girlfriend!). She and my uncle were cautiously approving. The Seder itself wasn’t as pleasant as it could have been, though, because Dad’s still in the hospital (getting therapy for a suspect stroke or TIA). I got back to Eindhoven to see the remains of a very different sort of celebration: PSV has won the Dutch football (soccer) championships. It must have been a wild party; there were so many discarded plastic cups everywhere that cars driving by the station were going crunchcrunchcrunch.

And next Saturday I finally get to go home to Taiwan. It will be so nice not living out of a suitcase!

the sporting report

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

The current sonic background includes a very loud but Undifferentiated roar set against announcements I can’t quite make out, occasionally punctuated by churchbells and some guy yelling about Jesus. (Despite what you’d think, the latter two are not connected.)

It sounds more like Taipei but I’m still in Eindhoven. After rowing yesterday I coxed a quad at noon. When I got back to the hotel, I found people in PSV (the local soccer team) colors crowding into the city Centrum. Apparently the game today determines the Dutch championship.

After starting a load of laundry (the hotel, it turns out, *does* have a roomful of washers and dryers for guests to use) I needed to go get some food. Someone told me that it was impossible to get into any of the restaurants, but I figured the crowd would be provided with stands selling food and drink. I headed first toward the Stratumseind, where are the bars are, and found the crowd not too bad. Confetti and streamers on the ground told me there had been a pregame rally, but now there were stalls in front of several bars selling beer but no crowd there. I stopped at one to buy a bratwurst, which was excellent though it would have been even better with mustard instead of the ubiquitous mayonnaise.

I followed the noise to the Stadhuisplein, where a crowd was gathered to watch the game on a big-screen TV. After finishing the brat, I walked over to get a beer. I was surprised to be handed a bottle instead of a glass and a bit worried whether I’d be allowed back into the square with it, but the bottle turned out to be plastic, not glass. Smart.

After watching for a while I walked back up to the Market Square. This was where the real crowd had gathered, in much greater numbers. It didn’t look possible to get through that crowd at all. Also by then my foot was hurtin a bit (I still can’t run on it and it still hurts a little if I walk for a long time) so I headed back to the hotel. The game’s not on TV, but with the window open I can hear the crowd very clearly; I think I’ll be able to tell what happens.

(A few minutes ago they were singing and a couple of firecrackers went off – must have been a goal.)

on my own again

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Well, Ted’s gone back home – we weren’t sure until yesterday whether he’d end up staying another week, but they couldn’t get him a flight out then. The best case is that he’ll be back in two weeks to share my last week here, or he may stay in Taiwan, in which case I’ll see him when I go home in three weeks. The worst case is that hell have to come back here but the trip will be delated, so that we’ll pass in the air and not see each other for an extra week or two.

I’d gotten so used to being on my own that the hotel room actually felt crowded when he got here, but now I’ve had his company for three weeks it’s seeming very quiet and lonely here. Fortunately I have several rowing sessions and a few other meet-ups with friends planned for the rest of my time in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, in Ted’s usual Hoover packing style, a few things got sucked into his suitcase there weren’t supposed to go back to Taiwan, like a book I borrowed from a friend here. So that’s another reason to hope he comes back before I leave.

The other good news is that his cold is just about gone, so the flight back won’t be too awful.

We were planning to go back to the Keukenhof this weekend but the weather didn’t cooperate, so we just had a lazt day. Tomorrow morning I’ll go row, so I’m hop[ing the weather improves a bit.