Tag Archives: friends

One last day in Den Haag

Den Haag (The Netherlands), 21/11/12: 24 hours left in Den Haag – time to take in some sights.

Starting in John & Marie’s apartment, I got to have a closer look at Marie’s recently acquired fortepiano, currently undergoing service but still playable.

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It’s a very groovy instrument. Piano-like sound but with a much lighter touch and of course the inverse white-black keyboard is quite stylish.

We headed into town and met John, Marie and Zoe for our dim sum banquet (mentioned previously) and the took to the galleries with touristic zeal.

First stop was the Mesdag Panorama. Back in the late 19th century, panorama paintings (that is large-scale, 360° paintings that surround the viewer) were the attraction de jour – as it was explained to us, they once occupied a similar place in the spectrum of entertainments that cinemas do today.

There was a Belgian company that commisioned panoramas around Europe, often in purpose-built buildings. Since it was a commercial enterprise and panorama’s are typically only viewed from a distance, they did not tend to employ renowned or established painters, but Mr Mesdag was an exception, making this panorama quite unique.

The other thing that makes the Mesdag Panorama unique is that it still exists in its original location – after the Belgian company went bust, Mesdag purchased the building containing his work and it has been preserved ever since.

To be honest, not knowing what to expect, I wasn’t super-excited to see it but once we emerged from up the stairs to the viewing platform we were quite struck. First of all, it’s big – 40m in diameter to be precise. Secondly, it is a beach and town scene as seen from a pagoda on a sand-dune (the viewing platform) so the room it filled with sand which hides the bottom edge of the canvas and the pagoda roof hides the top so it is seamless to the viewer. This, plus the natural lighting creates a convincing illusion of depth so that you can’t quite judge the distance of the wall. Only the absence of parallax as you move around betrays the effect (though this does give you a neat, woozy sensation).

The building hosts a regular gallery too, which was worth a slow, hands-clasped-behind-your-back stroll through.

Next stop was the museum of one of Den Haag’s favourite sons MC Escher, and here’s the proof:

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Hint: look just behind me

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I came here on my last visit but Nicole hadn’t been and it’s worth a second look. Besides originals of his well-known pieces it also features many less famous prints and some of his graphic design / poster work.

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It also sports some fancy chandeliers – a different one in each room.

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Tall shot of the foyer

By closing time at Escher it was time to get back to the apartment and get our affairs in order for an early start and long train trip the next day.

Thanks Den Haag and massive thanks to John, Marie & baby Zoe for having us!

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Living the dream in Leiden

Leiden (the Netherlands), 20/11/12: On Tuesday we travelled to the neighbouring university town of Leiden to visit Vikki & Kyl, friends from Perth who upped stumps and relocated here a couple of years ago.

Like so many other places we’ve visited, Leiden is an old city with an interesting history. It once rivalled Amsterdam in terms of size but these days appears more modest, yet it has retained many of the qualities of a big Dutch city from centuries ago. In short, it’s a beautiful place to live.

Before we met with K&V, we did some light touristing of our own around Leiden.

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Not tilting at so much as reclining near windmills

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Gurning at canals

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According to the Nicole clock, it's about a quarter to 5. Not too far off the money actually.

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We got in there for a closer look too. Pretty interesting and, for me, pleasingly not very OH&S compliant. In a good wind those sails really move. I wonder how many tourists they claim each year? Very few I'd suggest.

We caught K&V after office hours and, to kick things off, got a bit of a tour of the dream they’re living.

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The back verandah. Great view of everyone else's back verandah's and vice versa.

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The local parish

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The local pet shop featured the usual bunnies and kitties but also African spiders, large tortoises, exotic reptiles and tropical birds. Quite awesome - no need for a local zoo. Almost certainly legit but still felt a little back-room.

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The view out the front window to the canal below. Freezing now but in summer, just open the place up. Bewdiful. Winter does have the advantage of pretty lights and, when it gets really cold, ice skating down the canal. Now THAT'S commuting.

Further to the pleasure of their company, we were also treated to a very nice Dutch dinner (previously documented) before heading back to Den Haag with the definite impression that this place offers a lifestyle choice that you could really get used to. Thanks Kyl & Vikki!

Scrotch

Melbourne, 11/11/12: Question: How do you follow up a BBQ and fine wine? Answer: That’s a meaningless question, but we went to Nic and Yeshe’s place for a BBQ and fine whiskys.

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Oh and fine beer too. Here you can see Nicole interfacing with the formerly shy black cat, Bei. Seems that, in his case, with age has come backbone, if not guile.

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Several rebutted attempts to board the table to requisition our sausages resulted in him laying a protest poo in the nearby cat tray. This briefly stalled the meal but he was spared banishment by being SO CUTE.

So anyway, then we hit the scotch. Nic & Yeshe like scotch.
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I gladly helped them drain their Tallisker 25, which they’re not so keen on despite its reputation (read:price). In fact, the whisky bar we visited the other night does a thing called a boilermaker, where they pair a fine whisky with a fine beer. I thought I’d give this a go.
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Turns out Young’s Double Chocolate Stout goes better with Lagavulin 16 Year Old. Less diesely.

Tram, home, bed, the end.

Oh, for balance, here’s a pic of their other cat, Keiko. She’s very pretty but has a personality disorder.
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Persons of interest

Melbourne. If photos were all I had to go on, it would look like all we’re doing here is eating and drinking. Not too far from the truth, but also I enjoy stories about food & beverage more than ones about that time I bought a blue business shirt.
After a holiday start we opened with a meal betwixt brunch and lunch at Stone Ground, Richmond.

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Really nice muesli & yoghurt plus coffee for me and Nicole enjoyed her BLT. Oh and cheap! Not to labour the point but it was half of what I would expect to pay in the two-speed economy of Perth.
A short tram ride found us in Melbourne town where we picked over a couple of Japanese $2 (approx) shops – Tokuya and Daiso. Nicole did well to limit herself to about 10 or 15 items but she was in cute overload.
Then in keeping with the theme, light lunch at Yoyogi.

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*boring shopping expedition goes here*
The evening saw us first at Josie Bones, Collingwood with cousin Mikey.

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I got word of this place back in perth and indeed their selection of beers was at once intimidating, delicious and boozey.
Back into town to meet the ever-affable Anton & Felicity along with lovely Liz. Kokoro Ramen was in our future but the agreed meeting spot was the nearby Mai Tai bar, where happy hour is all the hours.

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But the main event was two doors down.

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Liz, Felicity, Anton, Nicole. I wish i was still eating that ramen.

It was a good, greasy ramen. The stock was thick and rich, good quality noodles were used and the eggs were just right. If I had to choose a last meal, a good ramen would right up there.
But like all good things it had to end. As luck would have it however, we were just round the corner from celebrated whisky bar Chez Regine and so for the second time that evening we were confronted with an impressive and boozey directory. I settled on a Linlithgow 1982, foreshadowing adventures to come. I think the picture says it all.

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