Computers & Pyrates

We live in curious times

This morning we went to Maarssen, about 30 KM away, to the local Commodore 64 computer club.

This bunch of people collect, repair and modify old computers to make them do interesting things. From browsing the web with “modern” browser to making beautiful music and pictures.

There were Commodore 64s, Amigas (both old and new) a couple of Ataris and some old game consoles. I’ve met some people on previous visits, it was nice to meet a Pyrate this time. He is the manager of The Pyrates; a pirate style folk band. Their description not mine.

We talked about his computer, a new Amiga running Firefox and about the band.

Pyrates! – Drunken Sailor – (live at the Effenaar)

I tried to get them to do a Canadian tour, we can hope! 🙂

The afternoon took a turn to the strange, odd, bizarre…

Mark, my host, is taking a ski course, so he went skiing. a beautiful June afternoon we went off to Skicentrum Soesterberg an artificial ski hill so he could practice his…skiing!

Mark Skied and I took some pictures and enjoyed the sun for a couple of hours.


EYE WERF you were here

Eye Film Institute

The new Eye film Institute replaces the old film museum, just off Vondelpark. The building is new and very different; as are many new buildings in the Netherlands. The Eye is more than a museum it is an archive of film both Dutch and international films.

Although the primary exhibition was not open, there is a free exhibit in the basement.

Panorama, Pods and a Playground
As you walk into the Panorama you are subjected to 4 walls of movie clips, various genres from different countries and periods. The fun begins when you step up to a podium and select a clip or three. Each podium is a specific type of film, from blockbuster to animation. Each clip includes a note with information.

The pods provide a more private experience, the focus (pun intended) is primarily on Dutch films and actors but there is the chance to watch more full length films either by type or historical significance. This is where I found the Little Dutch Mill, and animation with a really cool special effect, for it’s time.

(Hint, look at the windmill)
More information here:

The Playground was a group of interactive installations. The most interesting was a “vending machine” that played a movie that you could record on your smart phone. Start recording a movie, put your phone on the small conveyor belt then push a button. Your phone with vanish for a minute then pop out. you could watch the movie on your phone or upload it for other people to enjoy. Here are the 2 films.

Eye 1 from Stacey on Vimeo. Eye 2 from Stacey on Vimeo.

MDSM werf
one of Amsterdam’s old shipyards has become an incubator for creativity. It has become a site for parties and lots of other creative pursuits. It is the location of the Botel, a hotel on a boat flanked by a Greenpeace boat a lightboat and an old Russian sub.


Panorama from the MDSM werf
The lightboad on the left, red, thr Greenpeace boat and the Botel on the right

I got a quick lunch, cheese on raisin bread, I think there was some bread between the raisins, and a beer (all for 5€) and then a ferry ride back to Centraal Station.

A ferry ride you ask? Right behind Centraal Station you can find 4 ferries, the fast ferry towards Zandam (paid), and 3 free ferries to the northern suburbs of Amsterdam. The ferry towards the MDSM werf is the best, in my opinion, it’s about 15 minutes long and you get some great views of Amsterdam along the river. the other two ferries just cross the river and are about 5 minutes each. All 3 are worth taking.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ (“The IJ Brewery”)
brouwerij 't IjThe Netherlands and Belgium are both famous for their beer, that’s not news. Sometimes you make a discovery, and Brouwerij ‘t IJ  was one of those discoveries. This is a tiny brewery with a small collection of beers, 5 regular and a growing collection of seasonal beers. The draw was the brewery tour and tasting. Unlike the Heineken Experience, this isn’t a museum but a tour of a working brewery.  Informative and fun, and well worth the trek.

If you can find their beer, buy it!

Antwerp tornado (me)

I had the chance to Visit the Jewish Quarter of Antwerp. Only 2.5 hours away and only 30€ I also wanted some kosher meat or a reasonable facsimile.

My host and tour guide, Cindy, guided me around the various sections, one section for each Chassidic sect, with its own synagogues, grocery stores and schools. There were lots of women and children around and I guessed that most of the men were at work, selling diamonds, or running a business.

We took a short walk around one of Antwerp’s many parks then headed for dinner, We choose a dairy restaurant based on price, 10 – 15 € seemed reasonable. I had a wonderful omelet with salad and fries, Cindy had a croquemadame, I would have been happy to dring a big glass or tap water but was told it wasn’t allowed, I have  o idea why. We enjoyed our slightly rushed dinner. When it was time to pay I was told to put my money away! Cindy paid with me adding the change.

In the section I saw, Antwerp seemed to be a collection of old and new buildings with a few from after the war. And for the record, I was not planning on buying any diamonds, I just wanted to roll around in a tub of them and keep any that stuck. That didn’t happen.

I did get some kosher meat, salami and sliced roast.

I didn’t do anything of note on Thursday, so don’t expect me to tell you about it, except that I had some yummy herring!

A final note, While walking through the neighbourhood; For hundreds or maybe thousands of years we were forced to live in ghettos and we struggled to get out. Now as we have our freedom to live anywhere we want we put ourselves back into ghettos.

Art in all its glory and not so much

Good day everyone, are we ready for some excitement? No? well, get ready!!

Here it is Tuesday and I’m on my way to the Van Gogh Museum to visit with Vincent and his brother Theo. The museum is displays the art as a progression of Van Gogh’s style not just in the order he painted them. let me try  to explain. In previous years the are was presented as itself, all wonderful with some information about his life and where he was at the time. Now the paintings are grouped, in order, but with more emphasis on how he worked, his technique, where he was living and in some cases why.

It is hard to not admire him and his work, his use of colour and the way he used paint to convey his message.

When you look at his work, it seems as though he was being lazy, adding lots of detail to the background and very little to the foreground; he wasn’t lazy he was in fact not just painting the grass or trees but painting the feeling and movement of the grass or trees. Think about a young child “draws” a rabbit hopping across the page. there is no rabbit but a series of arches showing the rabbit’s movement. This is what Vincent was doing. He wanted us to be involved with the image.

I think Helene Kröller-Müller of the Kröller-Müller Museum (My earlier post) saw too.

In the Van Gogh’s gift shop a couple of young ladies were talking about not being able to find anything Canadian. I had to speak up, I said in fact there was Canadian stuff there, ME! we chatted for a bit, they were on a European trip of their own and only had a couple of days in Amsterdam.

I also bumped into quite a few Canadians at the Van Gogh, everyone being surprised and impressed with our good taste in art.

The Stedelijk is a modern art and design museum. filled with all nature of things. Although modern art does not move me, sometimes I just don’t get it, I am not one to deny calling anything art; if Marcel Duchamp can do it, then anything goes.

Part of the museum I did find interesting was the collection of Dutch design,seeing the progression over the years.

Now for the excitement!!

As I’m watching a film THE alarm goes off, horns blaring and a multilingual message telling everyone to leave the museum. Security guards escort us to  the nearest exit all while talking with someone over the radio. we make our way into a back-room filled with a huge shipping crate, then towards the exit.

I made a comment to the other visitors that the alarm added a bit of excitement to a museum visit, that got a few laughs.

As we start climbing the stairs, the guard gets an All-Clear message, we didn’t have to leave and could go look at the art again,

We were locked in limbo, in the room with the shipping crate. I amused myself by reading the notes on the box; size and weight of the case and contents, stuff like that.

A couple of minutes later the guard let us back into the gallery, where I watched him and the other guards reopening the security doors.

I stopped at Maoz for a Falafel then leisurely walk back to Centraal Station for my train ride home.

In all, another good day in Amsterdam.


I go to the Amsterdam Maritime Museum & hunt for food

Monday’s plan was simple, head towards the Amsterdam Maritime Museum or het Scheepvaartmuseum and see what there is to see. I saw what there was to see.

The museum reopened last year after a 10 year renovation, the building’s systems had been modernized and a roof put over the courtyard, giving the museum more open space. They have done a great job.

The most interesting exhibition for me was the Golden Age. Aside from the artifacts there were short videos introducing “people” from the time and telling their stories. These videos used famous artworks to help tell the stories; Vermeer’s The Kitchen Maid was used to tell the story of slavery. Using famous art connects the maritime history to Dutch art and to the Netherlands broader history.

Other galleries in the museum contain a huge collection of artifacts; navigational aids, globes and a nice collection of maritime art.

The museum has a tall ship the Amsterdam an East Indiaman, a copy of a ship used by the VOC or the Dutch East India Company
Pictures to come

My hunt for food brought me to the heart of deepest darkest residential Amsterdam. Two subway rides and 25 minutes later I was at an Albert Hijen, an Albert Hijen that was supposed to have a huge kosher section.

This HUGE kosher section consisted of 4 shelves in a fridge with Israeli salad; not what I had hoped for. I bought a bottle of water then headed home.

There`s more excitement onTuesday!

Kampen & Utrecht

For anyone wondering where I have been, there are a couple of you out there, I was in Kampen Friday and Saturday then in Utrecht today.


I was in Kampen for their Full Color Festival; billed as  A multicultural festival of, for and by many Kampen. It was!

Lots of food, community service groups, local shops, activities for kids and of course beer.

I really went to Kampen to visit with a friend, Sander hosted my over night. His apartment was small but cozy and of course on the 3rd floor, more crazy dutch stairs!

I got a tour of the old city a windmill, still producing ground grains for local bakers and the chance to see another dutch city or would that be town. The town has been around since the middle ages. The gate houses have been around since the thirteenth century, almost 800 years…something like that anyway.

I think there are as many churches in tiny Kampen as there are in all of Montreal.

There was also a small but active Jewish community in Kampen, unfortunately the community was destroyed during the war. The synagogue is all that remains. As in other Dutch cities, the synagogue has been recommissioned, here as a gallary space, but the building remains as a memorial.

We also walked to Kampen’s war memorial. It was simple and not overly decorated; until  you get a bit closer…have a look for yourself (This was NOT my doing)


kampen War Memorial


Kampen War Memorial


Kampen War Memorial

I had a good time in Kampen!


This morning the was cold and grey out, I was also a bit tired. I had hoped/planned to go to the Van Gogh Museum today, that was not going to happen.

Utrecht is a large city and there should be something open, either a shopping mall or some shops in the old part of the city. I was right.
Utrecht is about 30 minutes away and I had enough money in coins for the train.

No museums today, it was just a relaxed day in Utrecht

I did make a couple of discoveries today:


Golf is a man’s game


Aliens seem to be in charge, hasn’t anyone noticed?

The Domtorren is still tall – pictures later, maybe

This evenings entertainment included a visit with Mark’s brother-in-law and his 2 massive dogs and cat, then a drive through the countryside


A monument to the prince of Orange from the people of the Netherlands for his helping to defeat Napoleon at Waterloo

The endless farmland

The endless farmland

That’s all for now, more tomorrow or something!

The Rijksmuseum, the Kröller-Müller Museum, 9 Streets – Boy are my feet sore!

It has been a busy 2 days here! Yesterday I met with a friend, Sico, He presented me with a gift, an Amsterdam Museum card


Dam Square Panorama

 It is wonderful it gives you “free” admission to most of Amsterdam’s and the Netherlands museums. The card is about 45 € and will pay for itself after you have been to 3 museums.

With nothing really planned and there being so much to do, we decided to wander through De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets. A small area of amsterdam consisting of…9 streets with small trendy  (read expensive) shops. we wandered through most of the 9 streets till we were thirsty and hungry. An Albert Heijn lunch was in order, some cheese, bread and something to drink; water if you need to know. A short walk to Vondelpark to eat. I should mention that the weather was wonderful, around 20c and not a cloud in the sky.

Having had lunch and digesting, we discussed what to do, the Rijksmuseum was nearby and thought it would be a good thing to see. It wasn’t. We had both been walking quite a bit already and the museum, newly reopened, was huge! I lasted another hour and a bit, Sico left before me. I have a museum card, so I will go back 🙂

Today I went to the Kröller-Müller Museum, the second largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and drawings in the world. I just looked at the paintings!! What else could I have done, there were security guards everywhere 🙂

A true peasant painting ought to ‘smell of bacon, smoke, potato steam’ ~Vincent Van Gogh

On the way out of the museum, after I replaced the bicycle (free to use in the park) Did I mention that the museum is in the middle of a national park, it is, and there are free bicycles to use. I was amazed at the bird songs.

Birds singing at the Kröller-Müller Museum from Stacey on Vimeo.

The bus ride to the train station was uneventful, but there was a perk, free Wi-Fi. Eveyone was free to use it, no signup or limited time offer it was just there.

free wifi

Free Wi-Fi

I gotta get ready for bed…almost midnight here.

Till next time!!

I have arrived!

I am arrived!!

I got in yesterday morning, the flight was mostly uneventful. The passenger in the row next to me got violently ill, the cabin crew took care of  him and his mess.

The flight seemed much shorter than usual. I think watching a 3 hour movie has something to do with that. Django Unchained is a pretty good movie.

The name of the blog is a reference to my blocked ear after the flight. It took most of the day for my right ear to unblock, it is also a bit of reference to Vincent, whose art I am looking forward to seeing (again)

View through the window on the rear exit door

View through the window on the rear exit door, the wing, winglet and a sliver of sunlight are visible

As for typos and spelling errors, please remember that this blog is a natural product and as such sometimes there will be errors and defects.