Dunkirk

Posted on by Brandon Green in Europe | Leave a comment

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So Dunkirk has some pretty amazing bunkers the Nazis built as a coastal battery. The bunkers are all covered in art (graffiti if you want to call it that), but this was my favorite. The whole bunker was encrusted with mirrors. Combined with the fact that it’s half-buried in the sand, the refinishing turned the ruin into something surreal.

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Some Days are Better than Others (Western Europe Road Trip Fall 2015, Day 1)

Posted on by Brandon Green in Belgium, Europe, Road Trip | Leave a comment

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I don’t want to sugar-coat full-time travel and only write about the fun stuff, so here’s an example of a pretty mediocre day. Nothing too bad like getting robbed or cheated, just a bit of a setback.

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M.C. Escher in The Hague

Posted on by Brandon Green in Europe, The Netherlands, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunshine Autumn HagueStill in The Hague.

Had to skip writing yesterday because I was running on 4.5 hours of sleep and just couldn’t pull it together. Sometimes changing hotel rooms every few days catches up with you.

Great fun yesterday as we checked out the M.C. Escher museum here in Den Haag. I’ve been a big fan of Escher since childhood, so I was surprised to find a number of prints and sketches I’d never seen before. The whole first floor of the museum is dedicated to his earlier work, before he started with all the imaginary mindscapes.

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Autumn in The Hague

Posted on by Brandon Green in Europe, The Netherlands | Leave a comment

So, today we’re in The Hague.The Hague in Autumn

We took the train from Amsterdam – it was about 20 minutes and 8 euros each. It was over so quickly that I didn’t want to get up when we arrived because I was comfortable.

We walked to the hotel because it was only 20 minutes away (11 minutes by tram) and I didn’t feel like figuring out the public transport with our bags.

We’re staying at a place called EasyHotel, which I guess is part of the EasyJet brand, and operates pretty similarly. There’s a comfortable double bed in the room, a television, a very small place to hang clothes, a normal but small bathroom, and not much else. The whole room is probably about 130 square feet, and I love it.

In EasyJet fashion, you don’t get any extras you don’t pay for. The room is clean when you arrive, and cleaned after you leave, of course, but if you want the maids to come during your stay, they charge 15 euros. I think this is brilliant, as we normally send the maids away anyway, because we are adults and don’t need someone to make our bed for us. If we need more towels, they’re available for free at the front desk.

We can pay reasonable amounts for late check-out and things like that. There aren’t any things designed to be obtrusive just so we’ll pay for them or annoying ads (I’m looking at you, Air Canada), it’s just a perfect utilitarian room in a great location.

The Hague is beautiful. Home to a number of international courts, the architecture here really appeals to me, especially during the cold and rainy fall weather we had today. There’s a lot of black, gold, and crimson that makes you feel like you’re in a medieval fantasy world, but without all the bloodshed.

Even the modern buildings are fun to walk through, as we found out when we stumbled into what we thought might be a mall when looking for shelter from the rain. It turned out to be a convention center, and we took a quick look at some model trains before continuing to the Binnenhof, the oldest house of parliament still in use.

One thing that has stood out to me so far about The Netherlands is the incredible number of bicycles. I love biking myself, and it’s my favorite means of transport (paragliding just doesn’t cut it for the commute), but I haven’t been able to do it very often, as Houston drivers seem to combine ignorance of traffic laws with misguided aggression, making a simple ride to the park a harrowing experience.

This visit to Amsterdam and The Hague is the first place where I’ve felt the same thing with cyclists. Let me first say that the cyclists have been respectful and careful, things that drivers are not. What I’ve found here, however, is that it’s tough to navigate as a pedestrian, because not only are there cars to deal with, but bike lanes and tram tracks. When you add in the fact that we’re not familiar with the rules for crossing the road, things get pretty confusing. What you have to do to cross in some countries will get you run over in others, so I usually just stand behind a local with the assumption that drivers won’t try to hit someone from their own country.

These new sources of stimulus and danger come to a head when we walk from a pedestrian piazza to a 3-way intersection and suddenly have to navigate 3 kinds of traffic going in 6 different directions.

Copenhagen, of course, is famous for having even more cyclists than here, and I’m excited to see it.

Tomorrow morning we’re checking out the Escher Museum here in the Hague, potentially followed by a screening of The Last Witch Hunter. Ah, the perks of dating a film critic.