Sunday, May 24, 2009

Work trip to Italy, Milan

Recently I got an opportunity to go to Milan in Italy for work. It was a great time to check out a bit of the city. Here a few pictures I took while there. Enjoy.

Matt














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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Queens Birthday in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Hey Everyone,

Just dropping a line to update you all on what's news over here in Holland.

Recently (2 days ago in fact) it was the Queens birthday public holiday here in Holland. I don't think I have ever seen a country go so crazy over a Queens birthday.

The whole nation dresses themselves in Orange (the national colour) and they then take to the streets. There are street markets everywhere with people selling their second hand junk on every square inch of pavement. In between all the junk are children doing tricks, singing, playing instruments and selling home made food.

I live in Amsterdams which holds the largest celebration in the whole country. Close to 800,000 people packed the streets (and they are small streets) of the city. Each plein (park) was filled with people dancing to live music that was cranked to full volume.

I walked through Leidseplein, Museumplein and Vondelpark to get a small taste of the way the Dutch celebrate this day. A crowd of Orange people continually flowed through Leidselplein like a river. People singing, shouting and drinking!! There was a small stage but the main attraction was the cafes and resturants with their outdoor dining.

I dove into this stream of people and made my way to Museumplein which is perhaps the most popular place to be. A crowd of 100,000 people packed the park. There was a MASSIVE stage that cranked out all the typical Dutch songs (it's alot different to Aussie music). After about an hour of just taking it all I decided to make my way to the famous Vondelpark.

On the Queens birthday Vondelpark becomes the "childrens park". Kids fill every corner of the park selling their second hand junk, singing, doing circus tricks and pretty much trying to get your to give them 1 euro. Parents lovingly support them as the try and do the latest pop song justice or fumble their way through some classical piece of music. Either way it is cute and entertaining and I am sure some of them will grow to be great performers, musicians or singers.

After getting sick of the massive crowd I took a side exit out of the park and found myself on a street near my house (ta da ... it was amazing). I still couldn't escape the children who were still selling second hand goods, singing, dancing and playing music instruments. A couple of young girls approached me and offered to paint my hair orange. I didn't agree to it (I am mean i know) but gave them 1 euro and told them to paint the next two peoples hair for free.

I finally made it home and switched on the TV while I ate lunch. I found out that some made Dutchman had attempted to attack the royal family in his small car. He missed the royal family but plowed through the crowed and killed 6 people and injured about 14 others. It was really sickening and really ruined a great day. Crazy how one messed up individual can ruin a whole day for a nation. The celebrations closed early as people dealt with the initial shock.

But all in all I must admit the day was a great celebration. If you are ever in Holland on April 30 I encourage you to check it out.

Hope this blog finds you all well, until next time

Later

Matt





















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