A Travellerspoint blog

July 2012


Final days, weeks, and taking another look

My time in the Netherlands is coming to a close. No doubt I will be homesick for some things here, such as my runs next to the canal and riding a bike with little fear of being hit by a car. I will miss the friends I have made here as well, they have truly ensured I have had a positive experience here. I can only hope one day they will all come visit me in the States and that I may have the opportunity to return to Europe and visit them wherever it is they are originally from.

I was supposed to go to see more of the Netherlands this past weekend, but the sun was so bright and beautiful I didn't want to get on a train and I wanted to relax a bit before I begin nonstop traveling this upcoming Wednesday. Upcoming travel plans are Berlin by myself from August 1st-August 4th then my mom arrives August 5th and she I and I do some traveling to Paris, France; Nice, France; and Amsterdam, Netherlands before my return home on August 15th.

Before those entries can be made you may want to see a bit more of Nijmegen, Netherlands and a bit of Arnhem, Netherlands

I must admit that I took a bit of time off work on Thursday because the day was too beautiful to be inside and I knew I could catch up on my final projects later in the weekend when the weather was supposed to be terrible (I got lucky and it was nice almost the whole weekend!).
So, I went with a couple of friends to this big park where they have a little lake.

On this lake they had a pully system going all the way across with cables so people could water ski and wakeboard but without a boat! It looked like the tow lines you find on some ski lifts where you hold the bar and the cable line drags you. I thought it looked like a lot of fun, but I did not participate and instead laid on the beach lazily watching people do tricks on their wake boards. It felt like summer.

This same day I went with the same friends to a soccer match, which is of course called football here, in Arnhem Netherlands. Vitesse vs Loko or the Arnhem football team versus the Locomotives, a Bulgarian team (one of my friends is Bulgarian). The mascot for Vitesse is some kind of hawk/falcon/eagle and they have the actual bird which they have fly through the stadium. No cheerleaders and fireworks, but loud music and a giant bird. The match was very fun though the Bulgarian team was unfortunately not playing their best and lost the match- they need a new goalie and more active defenders. The stadium was pretty fairly large, but nothing in comparison to the stadiums of Houston,Tx. In the arena they also have a special section behind thick glass for the away-team-supporters. The Bulgarians were lively with their shirts off while singing and chanting throughout the match. At one point the rest of the stadium was quiet except for the Bulgarian section, then the home-team-supporters at the other end of the field began to sing back a chant. In the end the Bulgarian supporters still looked to be having fun and the song always look on the bright side of life was played at the end where some whimsical dancing took place...probably not the full monty python version I have linked you to.

After the game we had a look around Arnhem and had a couple drinks in the town square. One of my friends will have to get me a picture of this awesome graffiti piece that my camera refused to take a picture of - cheapest digital camera at the store so I suppose that's what I get.

Side note: Thursday was my younger brother's 16th birthday and I got to talk to him while I was at the game!

Friday the 27th
Went with my friends from the game and lake to hang out in some local park and then my Bulgarian friend and myself went for a bicycle ride along a dike when our Italian counterpart had to go to work.

The park

Onward to the dike!

After riding for quite a while on the dike in the hot sun we turned off and found this sort of castle/chateau which appeared closed so I only got a picture of the outside.

On our journey back we happened by this farm store where I thought it looked like they sold ice cream and with all the heat and sun we were riding in, I wanted some ice cream. They had cheese, kitchy farm store stuff, pear liquor (it was a pear farm) and ice cream!
you will notice in some of the photos I took pictures of how they bind the trees together to make them grow into a flat roof of sorts. They control the trees so they grow in this really nice canopy.

Riding back towards town

We rode past a bridge being built where my friend told me about the famous bridge in Arnhem that is the bridge from operation Market-Garden in WWII, though we were thinking this new bridge may have been a recreation of another bridge destroyed during WWII that may be confirmed by this photo where the soldiers have an American flag in the procession. I think now I'd like to see the film "A Bridge Too Far."

We stopped at the beach/sand bank where I took some photos of graffiti (pictures of the beach can be found in an earlier blog post) and then sat on the bridge for a bit

The bridge photos may have been from later in the weekend as I have stopped by there on Saturday and Sunday as well.

Saturday I went to see the new Batman flick and now understand the whole Bane thing from the weird Romney picture I posted last. Also, they pause movies in the middle here - every movie there is a pause, or intermission as we might call it. The seats in the theatre are also way more comfortable than the ones at home I think - thick, red, and plush. It was fun to read Dutch subtitles of the movie, but I think you can save your money and rent the flick at a later point in time if you want to see it.

No pictures of it, but on Friday night into early Saturday morning three of my friends and I got caught in a massive downpour that was almost like a Houston flash flood - we rode our bicycles home in rivers of water with little visibility, after such a beautiful day it was comical though cold and wet.

Sunday morning I watched the sun rise after staying up all night to do so, something I haven't done in a long time and it was beautiful listening to owls and seeing a couple across the tree tops as they presumably flew to their nests. Other birds were waking and chattering while the leaves rustled in the wind throwing rain drops and dew to the ground. No pictures of this scene as I attempted to take it all in.

This is some graffiti I saw in town last night after sitting on the bridge to watch the sun set, had some wonderful fresh hot mint tea, and before watching an Italian flick "Habemus Papam" with some friends.

I cannot say whether or not I will have any further Nijmegen photos or Netherlands photos posted. I cannot even say whether or not I'll find any time to post photos of my travels to Berlin and of travels with my mom until after we are both safe and sound back in the States.

Today and tomorrow are my last days at my internship where I have learned a great deal about the content I've worked with and a great deal about how I have no interest in a Ph.D. at this time.
Shameless plug in job search/interest: I need a job with people and it would be sweet to get involved in international development/aid sooooooo if anyone reading this knows of any opportunities available in 2013 for a freshly minted MPH, i'm all ears (especially if the job is in Hawai'i, West Coast, Colorado, Houston, Austin, Asheville, D.C., or somewhere in Latin America).

Posted by PlanetMEP 05:16 Archived in Netherlands Tagged nijmegen arnhem




I took a trip this past weekend to meet up with some friends I hadn't seen in quite a while and got to see Norway. Fortunately the weather was lovely and I was told it wasn't usually so sunny, though flying in at 9:15 in the evening, in the plane it looked like it could be noon. Dusk was around 11:30pm and it probably wasn't completely dark until around midnight. Interestingly my flight was delayed an hour and on the airplane in one of the magazines found in the seat pocket in front of me was a magazine that proclaimed proudly that Scandinavian Airlines had won awards for being the most punctual airline...an hour delay I think will mean missing out on another award. Too bad for them. They also were out of water so were unable to serve coffee and tea, but orange juice was free - everything else was for purchase. I bought nothing and waited for my arrival. Still, an hour and a half plane flight with only an hour and a half train commute to Amsterdam from Nijmegen sure beats a 27 hour train ride from Amsterdam to Oslo. Also, I was a bit relieved at the late departure seeing as there were no direct trains from Nijmegen to Amsterdam airport when I left because of all the walking festivities going on in Nijmegen. The train took a bit more time and I had to transfer in Utrecht. I thought I might miss my flight.
It is important for me to note that the agents working security at Amsterdam airport and at Oslo airport are WAY friendlier than at any airport I've been to in the U.S. and the protocol to me are far more reasonable. Everyone does not remove their shoes, only boots and heels or if you set off the machine do you have to remove them. Also, no naked machines as far as I could see though potentially they have them for special use. My belt buckle looked like a knife at Amsterdam airport apparently so they had to check that out, but the most amazing thing was my return trip from Oslo. I had some souvenires in my backpack that I did not put in my checked luggage and I forgot that one of the items I purchased was a wine bottle opener, I sighed and realized as I approached screening that they would take it away so I let the gentleman know I had it and he asked and I was permitted to keep it! Imagine being able to reason that I would most likely not be able to do anything too devastating with a wine bottle opener. Coming from the U.S. where even nail clippers are the most dangerous of weapons on an airplane I was surprised and relieved for this. It also left something to be desired in my own home-town country.
Enough blabber and onto some photos!

On the train on my way to Amsterdam airport I saw this interesting photo in the paper that I cannot explain other than it is Romney in some sort of mask that is in the newest Batman flick. I turned to the page it stated for further information, but there were only advertisements for the new flick and no words to help me better understand how Bane Capital and Romney are related to Batman...

The money used in Norway is the Krone $1.00 equals roughly 6 Norwegian Krone. It looks like a lot of money so when I went to the atm I felt like a baller carrying around this.
However, it also feels like you are spending a ton of money all the time there because the numbers themselves are so large and I wasn't much a fan of this.

I took the shuttle to meet up with my friends and I pretty much passed out as soon as I got in.
The next day though, the only full day I was in Oslo I took lots of pretty pictures including where I was staying.

There are parks all over Oslo and I spent some time in them in the sun after all the sight seeing. All women who read this, prepare to be jealous - the society is set up for family way better than our country (as are most of the European countries whose healthcare systems I am aware of) and in Norway you get to take the first year of your child's life off of work with full compensation. Men, you also get to take the time off. We could learn some family values from the Norwegians I think. Anyway, this was very evident with the families out and about even on the weekend.


We were not interested in spending money to go in the museum, but here is a picture of the painting that the line forming outside was waiting to see...i'm sure it's much better than the printed poster outside.
AND I probably wouldn't have been allowed to take a pic of the real one for you all anyway.


I didn't eat here, but I thought it was interesting there was a "Texas burger joint" in Oslo.

speaking of the food, my vegetarian/vegan friends made and showed me the best food I've had in Europe. Seriously. Primarily vegan stuff and incredibly delicious. I would have eaten completely vegan if it weren't for the spicy marinated feta. no pictures, just my teasing words to let you know that the food was wonderful.


These next photos are my favorite - city hall with awesomely old wood carvings going through Scandanavian folklore - I really felt like I got in touch with my Norwegian roots by looking over these, or maybe I just love mythology. Here is where I told the city hi for my mom who asked me to say hello to the land of our ancestors. It didn't say hi back, obviously.

A few final photos of touristy stuff before my friends and I just went to hang out.

graffiti art I saw on Sunday before leaving to catch my plane back.

I definitely hope to return to Oslo, but I think only in the summer months. It was good to see my friends and hang out with them and enjoy some sunshine! Although, my return to the Netherlands has had me pleasantly surprised with sunshine this week thus far. Will keep my fingers crossed the sun keeps coming and the rain clouds stay away. Only three weeks left in Europe and I'd prefer the weather do things my way (if only I had that much control).

Posted by PlanetMEP 15:41 Archived in Norway Tagged oslo


International Four Days Marches

53 °F

I spend most of my weekends getting to know a lot of other countries outside of The Netherlands. This last weekend I intended to change that, but the weather was miserable and so I spent most of my time in my teeny tiny little room sleeping, working out, reading, and finishing up the Mad Men series. This week however, the weather has not been nearly as bad as it was predicted to be and the International Four Days Marches are going on. Wikipedia info on the Marches
Official Website
Official Festivities Website
During this week the town goes from a population of 160,000 or so according to wikitravel to a population of somewhere around 1 million (this last number is what everyone keeps telling me so it must be accurate). The normal calm streets are filled with people and they set up stages all over the city. The idea kind of reminds me of the Westheimer Street Festival aka West Fest, only more successful because the city is so much smaller and compact. There is quite the range of music playing and it is something else to hear so many different languages being spoken all around you. Many soldiers do the walking and so there are soldiers from all over Europe here walking (a few U.S. soldiers too I hear). I have tried to take pictures of places around Nijmegen during the festival.

The first night I went.

By the way, they have castles here! (real ones)
Where they keep pet deer.....

the street all lit up

Please note this ride is called the "American Wipp" ➔ the misspelling and the drawings to me indicate how many in this world see us. I face-palm at the idea of it.

There is a big church in the middle I should really go take pictures of during the day sometime.

talk about bicycles!!!1DSCN0409.jpg
one last look for the evening1DSCN0410.jpg

I wanted to go another night but instead this is what I did...something I do quite a lot of

[u]Thursday Night and into the wee hours of Friday[u]


this is a bicycle museum I really want to check out when my mom comes to visit.

these are me taking pictures that won't come out of a castle in the distance that for some reason i am just now really seeing - far more impressive the the castle-like pictures I showed you earlier

The night was finished by going to an amazing headphones party. yes, a headphones party. There is a DJ and everyone is dancing to their own beat wearing wireless headphones. Someone needs to jump on this and do it in Houston because if you are not wearing headphones it is absolutely hilarious and if you are wearing headphones you dance to the same beat as your friends maybe and some strangers and it is truly an interesting experience - maybe like dancing alone in your room, but so is everyone else.

I might add that riding on the back of the bicycle on the luggage rack, like so many people do here, is very fun and I recall riding my friends around on the back of my bicycle on the luggage rack when I was young - though I wasn't supposed to, this better prepared me for these experiences. *winking at you dad

Next place to explore will be Oslo, but as I am meeting up with friends I am not too sure there will be many touristy photos to share, but no worries, I will make more adventures for sharing on future dates. Only a couple weeks left of my internship and then it's non-stop travel time for two weeks and then I am home to Houston, Texas.

I nearly forgot - fresh stroopwaffles are deliciousa picture of someone else's stroopwafel that i got off the interwebs

a picture of someone else's stroopwafel that i got off the interwebs

Posted by PlanetMEP 18:52 Archived in Netherlands Tagged night nijmegen

A Day and A Half of Summer

Vienna, Austria


Thursday, July 5th I head to Vienna to escape the rainy Netherlands. The journey was long by train which provided plenty of time to sleep, sit and think, read, and stare out the window. I thought about that saying that it's about the journey, not the destination, and i'm not certain I agree that my trip is wholly about spending 15 hours on a train in one direction and 10 hours on the way back. I waited Thursday evening for my night train, where I would again be in a 6 bunk cabin.
It was peaceful sitting at the train station so I took some shots of the Arnhem train station.

The bunks this time were filled with all males, 4 teenage boys, and gentlemen in his 50s or 60s (I would guess) that slept directly above my bottom, right-hand-side bunk. Two of the boys were going glacier skiing and I was jealous, the other two were headed on a bicycle tour of the countryside. One of the boys reminded me so much of my brother it was freaky. I have been amazed at the number of people I see that look so much like people at home - I know where all the white people come from now and why some might say all white people look the same. The gentleman who slept above me was headed to Italy and had a much longer travel time than the rest of us. 15 hours on the train, most of it spent looking out the window or reading, with some light sleep on the side.
I did managed to take a few photos on the way there.
After looking at those photos and then the photos from my actual time in Vienna, i think the readers may agree that in this instance, it is more about the destination than the journey...unless you are evaluating based on the amount of introspection gained and then I think the saying works just fine.

I arrive!

I forgot to explain that going to Vienna, I was going because my love has some friends from high school who live there and so they were kind enough to invite me in for the weekend. I hope that one day I get to return the favor for them in Texas or wherever it is I'm living that they may want to visit.
The man in the tourist office was helpful enough to give me a map - the subway map on the wall was different than the one in my hands and then once i looked thoroughly at the one in my hands I figured out how to get where I needed to be for meeting with one of Gabe's friends.

At the meeting place.

Upon meeting with Gabe's friend we ran a couple errands on foot and then went back to his place with big wide open rooms and lighting - it was a lovely house. Multiple guys lived there and all from Spanish speaking countries so although a lot of the time I didn't completely understand what was going on, I felt at home listening to Spanish. I need to practice more often.
There I met Gabe's other friend and his sister who were actually leaving for Croatia later that day (Friday) so I could sleep in his bed during his absence.

The four of us (Gabe's two friends, and the sister) went to Schönbrunn Palace, this was apparently a summer home. For more information you can visit this website: Schoenbrunn Palace

After the palace we left to grab some gelato, which was amazing. On the way I snapped a couple photos.

Gabe's friend and his sister then had to leave so his other friend and I continued on the tour.
First place we went was the Hundertwasser House: Hundertwasser Info

After that awesomely artistic house we went walking to a canal where graffiti artists can legally spray their art. I am a huge fan of graffiti art, which is art created not for monetary purposes (usually), but for art's sake. The political graffiti I like because it says something about what the undercurrent of society is dissatisfied with and shows there is art and political passion mixing - though sometimes the political scrawls aren't done artistically. It is amazing how so much of the discontent scrawled here can also be found scrawled on unseen walls in the U.S. In addition to the graffiti art, I took a picture of a boat that had been burned 6 months prior and the swimming pool that is floating in the canal, because i always think that is funny when a clean swimming hole is placed next to or inside a body of water.

Onward we went walking toward the university. Forgive me, as I do not recall all the places I took pictures of on the way.

After the university we headed to see where the government works and there was a film festival going on so we were fortunate to see a live classical music performance, which was absolutely lovely in a city renown for its classical music. live classical music

Next we went to the museum square.

Then my camera died. We went to this open area near the museum square, the museumsquartier, where they have all these red plastic forms for sitting and laying on. A google search of this will turn of lots of photos of the place where we sat for a bit. We then went back to where home and all our stuff was and prepared for having some friends over. I had brought some arepa flour from the international market below where I live and we all ate some arepas. The night was spent talking a mix of español and english and was nice and relaxing.

Saturday, July 7th

This day felt like summer. In the morning Gabe's friend and myself went to a park by the Danube River where we met with a couple of his friends before heading to his girlfriend's sister's birthday party. If you think that sounds like a mouthful, just imagine when everyone was asking me how I came to be there and it was a constant, "he is a friend of my boyfriend's from high school in Venezuela." "where is your boyfriend" "Texas."
Before all that though we went to the Danube where there were a few ladies sunbathing topless, but mostly everyone kept their suit on. We laid in the sun and I swam across the Danube twice. After the first time Gabe's friend was surprised I swam across as he had never done do in the three years he'd been living there, so we swam across it together the second time. I wish I could have had a camera with me in the water as there was nothing like the view from the middle of the river. The water smelled like river water and brought back memories with a flood of swimming in the hill country those summers I went to camp there. The hot sun and summer days spent in the river water = a divine feeling of being alive and well.

On to the pool party! The parents' house of the birthday girl and her sister was lovely and had a garden I could only dream of having one day. The little pool house was adorable. Gabe's friend's girlfriend and her sister are half Armenian and so there was an eclectic cultural mishmash of people. Armenians from multiple countries, Venezuelans, Austrians, Germans, and me, from the U.S. The night was filled with good conversation, laughter, swimming, trampoline jumping, kicking the ball around, shooting hoops, a wonderful picture slide show all accompanying a lovely dinner, and too many pieces of tiramisu.

Sunday, July 8th

Back to being on the train tracks with my own thoughts.

Posted by PlanetMEP 12:08 Archived in Austria Tagged vienna

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