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Entries about culture

Under The Sea

North Holland

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On Friday afternoon (12th April) where I took a nice break from studying to go and visit my friends Roel and Sandy after a long time. Flying into Amsterdam Airport once again I was (eventually) met by Sandy to take me to her village in North Holland, lying 1 metre below sea level, where I met her lovely family who were so kind to let me stay for the weekend.

Windmill under sea level

Windmill under sea level

On Saturday we took the car to visit a windmill, close to a dike behind the Markermeer - part of the inland lake system in the centre of the country. We then visited Sandy's sister in the café next to the mill before heading back to the house and preparing for the main event of the weekend, Eurovision In Concert in Amsterdam. Taking the bus into Amsterdam, we met up with Roel and his two Belgian friends, before taking a mini-tour of the city (including the Red Light District) and followed by a meal at a restaurant. Afterwards we made our way to Melkweg where we joined the queue to enter the concert.

Finland

Finland

At the event, me and Sandy nabbed spots pretty close to the stage, where we saw over half of the acts who will perform at the contest next month, as well as special guest - Carola, who had won the contest 22 years ago. We also met up with many Eurovision friends from across Europe, before making our way to the after party, where after an entertaining night made our way back to Sandy's village in the early hours.

Carola

Carola

The following day we travelled to Volendam (via Edam, where the cheese is from), a traditional Dutch port town on the Markermeer, and involved seeing all the typical Dutch attractions - Clogs, Tulips, Bikes, Dikes, and all-round flatness. This was my final full day in the country, and the next day I took my flight home to carry on with my final round of studying (and recover from my sore throat due to talking Dutch!)

Wearing Clogs at Volendam

Wearing Clogs at Volendam

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Tagged culture friends party eurovision Comments (0)

Espanish Culture

Espain - Guadix


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The next day we took the trip to the northern slopes of Sierra Nevada to the mining village of Alquife, to see the remnants of the industry that had previously employed much of the village. It was whilst walking around the village that Saman decided she would great the locals by saying "¡Hola!". It was however when the lady then greeted back by replying "¡Hola!, ¿Buenos Dias?" that Saman's proudest achievement in the Spanish language came - when she exclaimed "Ah! I don't speak Spanish!", leaving a bewildered old Spanish lady.

La Calahorra

La Calahorra

Leaving Alquife, we visited the town of La Calahorra, which is home to the huge Castle, one of the first Italian Renaissance pieces outside Italy - where stunning views of the local countryside can be seen backdropped by the Sierra Nevada. After this we went to Guadix, where we again visited cave homes, before walking past a shop named "Kevin" and grabbing some food.

Alhambra by night

Alhambra by night

In the evening we were taken by minibus to Flamenco. However we were led to believe that we would be the only ones on the minibus - so when we clambered aboard, every one of us was shocked to discover two Chinese sitting in the front seat. This minibus would then take us to the Albayzín area that we had visited on the second day - however we were to discover that the windy hilly streets that we had believed were pedestrian only, were infact open to local vehicles - despite there being as little as 10cm leeway either side of the road with the minibus in the middle. Eventually making it we were entertained to some stunning Flamenco performances!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Spain Tagged culture cave castle uni flamenco espain Comments (0)

Turkish Delight

Istanbul

sunny 21 °C
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As you all know, last week I went to visit Onur in Istanbul, the furthest place away from home I have been (although Athens was further south, and Kyiv further east). Although a short trip of just 3½ days, it was jam packed with things to do and see.

After visiting Athens in March and from what I had seen and heard before, I was expecting Istanbul to be full of old buildings, but also rather dirty and feel very foreign...but actually I was completely wrong, the city was very clean and welcoming and felt very European (bar the Mosques scattered everywhere). It was rather shocking to find that in a Muslim country, there were much less people in Burkas than can be found in Bury Park in Luton.

View of the Bosphorus

View of the Bosphorus

On the first day, I got up at 3:45am to get to the airport for my 6:30am flight - unfortunately making me very tired all day, but on the good side, it did mean I had the whole afternoon and evening to see Istanbul, after arriving in the city centre at 2:30pm. The first place we visited was Taksim square, the centre of Istanbul, where they have a monument to Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and the biggest flag I have ever seen. After that we walked down the main shopping street to Galata tower, where views of the whole city can be seen. After this we went down to the Bosphorus and boarded a boat that travels up and down both sides of the strait for an hour.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

On the second day, we went to Dolmabahçe Palace, the newer Sultan's palace in the city, wherein the deathbed of Atatürk and the biggest chandelier in Turkey are located. Later on we went to the oldest part of the city of Istanbul, and visited the Blue Mosque followed by the Spice Bazaar, a real touch of the east. In the evening I tried a Döner, and then at home we called Camilla on Skype and spent more than an hour catching up.

Topkapı Palace

Topkapı Palace

On my final full day, we went to visit Topkapı Palace - the old home of the Sultans, where hair and teeth of the Prophet Mohammed are stored (if you ask me, that was quite stalkerish) followed by a visit to the most famous sight of the city, the Hagia Sofia, formally a church and then mosque, and now a museum.

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

In the evening we went to watch the football game of Galatasaray and Manchester United - although not being much of a football fan, it was hard to support a Turkish team against an winning English one, even when surrounded by Turks and wearing a football scarf. Meeting one of Onur's friends at the match we went back to Onur's flat, where I met his other housemate - all of whom were very welcoming and friendly, and even the mosquitoes wanted to say hello!

The next morning I took the coach at 9:00am to take me to the Asian side's airport, which would take me back home after flying over Eastern Europe. All in all I can say that Istanbul is a very exciting city, with a lot to see. The fact that it has so much eastern culture whilst being a very modern city makes it ideal for those who don't wish to be without too many home comforts.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Turkey Tagged culture history city friends Comments (0)

Poland

Eastern European Kinda Fun - Warsaw & Krakow

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The coach to Warsaw (which was going onwards to Minsk) took 12½ hours and crossed the Czech-Polish border through the Krkonoše mountain range (where despite being 20˚C and in the sun, snow and frozen lakes were still easily seen), and then across the Polish countryside and through the cities of Łódź and Wrocław before finally reaching the Polish capital. Whilst at the border, our passports were checked (despite both countries being in Schengen) and a Belarussian without an EU visa was found, searched and deported.

Warsaw Old Town

Warsaw Old Town

At the coach station in Warsaw, I was met by Halina, another friend from The Party House last semester, and I was taken back to her house where I was staying for the next few days. Whilst Prague had felt very Central European and rather modern, Warsaw on the other hand felt like it was very much behind the Iron Curtain.

Stadion Narodowy

Stadion Narodowy

The next day we walked around much of the city, seeing the football stadium which is due to hold the opening match of Euro 2012, the Old Town, the Parliament and the city park, finishing off by eating dinner in the Złote Tarasy shopping centre, which felt rather like being inside the Eden Project.

Palace of Science & Culture

Palace of Science & Culture

On the second day we went to see the Palace of Culture & Science - a Soviet style building that overlooks the entire city. And then took a bus to see Wilanów Palace - second home to many Polish kings, followed by a walk in the evening down the river to see all the lit up bridges.

Wilanow Palace

Wilanow Palace

Having seen everything already, we decided to go to Krakow before taking the coach to Ukraine, and so took the train and spent the next day walking around the Old Town and the castle, which houses Pope John Paul II's former Cathedral.

Krakow Old Town

Krakow Old Town

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Poland Tagged culture history palace city poland&ukraine Comments (0)

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