Saturday, July 21, 2007

Urban spaces in Den Haag

Den Haag (The Hague) is about 30 minutes away from Amsterdam by train, and very quiet and relaxing. Den Haag is a mix of modern and historic buildings, and lots of little streets and alleys like this one, with a little pub and in the distance a large church.

Right in this area of Den Haag, there's a really great pub/cafe next to an old church. This was our favorite place for coffee and appeltart. From here, we could sit under this great old tree, on the brick plaza, under the watch of a big brick church, and just meters from the trolley. There was something really intersting about all of the spaces between the wall of the pub and the wall of the building on the other many spaces. the chairs, the tree, the brick, then a walking surface, then bicycle lanes, then the trolley lines, then bicycle lanes, then walking surface, then the sidewalk. A whole series of spaces delineated by the ground. Anyway we liked this cafe.

At first we were thinking "hmmmm....doesnt it seem kind of odd that a pub rents a part of a church." Later we found out that historically, many churches had pubs attached or around, as a sponsor. Also, we found out that the same tradition was true in Romania, that monasteries used to have inns attached. So, that will probably be a subject for a future blogpost.

The other thing of course that makes this cafe so the trolleys! The trolleys in Netherlands are like historic art on wheels, literally.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Catching up........

A bridge in Amsterdam

I'm hoping to have in this blog a series of sketches and photos, to try and show places we've been, and things we've seen. Not only do I need the sketching practice, but also I just like the quality of's sometimes difficult to capture the quality of spaces in photographs, but sometimes interseting to try to capture the quality of the space in a sketch.

Amsterdam is great for dogs..... there are parks, and people are friendly, and other dogs are friendly, and all the water, and all the fish...just alot for dogs to look at and explore.

The bridges are small suspension structures with a very simple raising and lowering technique to allow boats to pass.

As we were walking around, and stopping at places for food and good beer, we found out that Febe just loves to hang out with people at cafes. She managed to find supremely comfortable places on the cool brick plazas of Amsterdam while we had lunch or dinner. While we were there, it was Queen's Day weekend, so the plaza here was full of music and people.

After all the walking and discovering in Netherlands, we really needed some new shoes before heading to Romania, so we managed to find a good pair of red Holland shoes. Perfect for a tough day at the office, or just relaxing on the weekend. Here Diana tries to tell me, "John, really.......I think they're just too big." Anyway, we may have to go back to Amsterdam for trying on more shoes. Apparently, even though they're made of wood, the story is that the longer a person wears them, they become perfectly fitted for the foot. I guess we'll have to see.