On a rainy Sunday, I headed to explore this little forest, which I only recently discovered despite having lived in my current neighbourhood for the better part of a decade.
Koffie met appeltaartje was delightful despite the crowded restaurant, which I nibbled while sitting at the bar, as that was the only spot available.
It was loud with noise from the nearby motorway and railway tracks, but it was quiet and quaint. The damp weather elevated the saturated green grass tones, making it stand out against the muddy grounds.
These trees reminded me of Speulderbos – Forest of dancing trees. It also reminded me to consider getting back onto road biking, which I fell off seven years ago after that bike went missing.
It brings me great joy to see well-behaved dogs, off-leash, merrily exploring around, occasionally waiting for their owners to catch up to them.
Photographing dry reeds is always fun, and all appear just as same as they are different.
A bridge emerged from the foilage, and I had to go up for a peek.
It was a relaxed 45 walk, though the trails website described it as a 2-hour circuit. It is close if you were herding a few restless kids and a dog or two with every step you take.
After a hiatus from travelling, I paid a visit to London. For a change, this was more of a people-meeting trip than a travelling trip. Since I didn’t get a chance to travel to the US in the last few years, I ended up visiting London to meet a close friend there.
It was the first time I took the Eurostar train from Amsterdam. I enjoyed how unceremonious the whole security, immigration and boarding process was.
“The sprawl” that’s the word which resonates the most when I try to describe the place. Every spot in this sprawling city has a unique look and feel – unlike Amsterdam, where it took me a few years to tell neighbourhoods apart. A microcosm of dwellers, businesses and people going in between them through loud tube trains keeps the city humming. At times it felt very New-York-esque, cleaner, more expensive and sparser in garbage bins, and devoid of the egregious tipping culture.
Here are some pictures that I managed to capture on my strolls. I stayed at a hotel on this street with my friend. The juxtaposition of old victorian style buildings against a backdrop of tall skyscrapers is fascinating and even a little dystopian.
Long lines dissuaded me from visiting the Natural History Museum 5 years ago. Being here during the week helped me get in without too much trouble this time. The fact that museums are free blows my mind. I still have good memories from my visit to the RAF Museum in London 5 years ago.
There is something quite impressive about the bridges in London. They are dramatic in their standing in contrast to the quaint ones I am used to in Amsterdam.
I walked around the Thames for a while, and when I reached a dead end, I spotted a service ladder and helped myself back onto the streets.
Once back up, I loitered around, searching for a spot to catch some sunshine. This particular spot had a very Assassins-creed vibe. I enjoyed contemplating where the hidden hay mound would lay as I waited for my colleague to join me for an impromptu coffee.
The ubiquity of tube transport never ceases to amaze me. However, such large projects don’t get planned or built any more as the political climate clings to the present gains rather than envisioning the future. Using a phone to tap in and out was a refreshing change. I no longer have to fumble getting a card, funding it regularly and keeping it topped up. For someone who is just a visitor, it made exploring the city more accessible.
The frequency of trains could put a lot of cities to shame. That alone compensates for the unpleasantness of how loud it is in the underground. On average, the noise levels reached 82db, and my watch kept throwing alerts about that fact.
One cannot not talk about how the red buses stand out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t spot enough of the iconic red telephone boxes, which, when I did, weren’t in great shape.
To wrap up the trip, I spent some time at a cafe with a lovely friend. The place’s name, “Kaffeine”, triggered a nostalgia I couldn’t place at that moment. Which later turned out to be this KDE/Linux thing (i.e. Kaffeine media player) from my college days, where I spent quite some time trying to get music to play on various Linux distros. And in the Netherlands, the drink is spelt Koffie, which also played a part.
Airportsare one of my favouriteplaces. Getting on a flight after three years was both never wracking and exciting. And I promptly fell asleep after devouring a quesadilla that I sneaked onto the plane from the airport.
It’s been yet another strange year. It was filled with fewer dramatic shocks but with more sustained anxiety levels. I can confidently say I wasn’t alone in that, at least not outwardly. The internal ruminations were more active than ever, partly attributed to shit tons of therapy. Yet another lockdown (I’ve lost count) was imposed in the country around Christmas time. This is the time enjoy the festive vibes that other people give, more than celebrating it (which I don’t). So all I wanted to do was just sit in a cosy cafe or a bar and see people. Luckily, some close friends agreed to jump on a drive towards Brugge.
I’ve been to Brugge probably a dozen times; the town was pretty as ever and quiet as never. It was a shame that most cafes were closed. And I enjoyed it just the same. After a long hiatus from the camera, I managed to take some pictures and had moderate success shooting my favourite freelensing style.
We started by walking along the cobblestone streets.
The square at the center was devoid of loud parties and only had people casually strolling about.
The lights suspended the place in time and space, or so I felt. However the daylight proceeded to wane past us oblivious to my feelings.
Lit Christmas trees transforming into surreal bokeh in the pictures had me feeling nostalgic.
A note “A world without covid-19” hung on a wish-tree gave us a chuckle.
We sat by a cafe for some hot drinks as the night dawned and the winter chills took hold. 5:30pm felt like it was 9pm as we slowly started our long drive back to Amsterdam
Call it hilarious circumstances or maybe strange coincidence, I ended up in Utrecht after a long time. “Quaint” was the word that slipped off my tongue as we strolled through the streets, just as the city slowly lit up to a backdrop of dusky-blue skies. Calm canals stringed alongside with parked bicycles, old buildings and sleepy cobblestone streets paint the picture of a quintessential dutch town.
Or perhaps it was just the vibe along the route I was taken on by someone who knew the lay of the land. The quaintness (is that even a word) of the place left me wishing I had taken more pictures.
After being cooped up in the city for far too long than I am used to, as the travel restrictions started being eased my confidence in travel picked up. Just as a heatwave started engulfing the entire continent, a friend and I decided to make a break for the mountains.
As our plan to drive towards Denmark fell apart due to travel restrictions, on a streak of inspiration, we changed destinations towards the Chamonix and the French alps via Switzerland. In the same spirit of spontaneity, we ended up making another impromptu detour towards Lake Como in Italy before heading back.
The Bob Ross-esque view of the mountains with happy little trees blew me away after being stuck in the flat country for what seemed to be forever.
The trip also ticked off an item from my bucket list – to see the milky way with the naked eye and shoot it. At first, I had thought it was cloud formation; however, a quick reference proved otherwise. I suppose I have been living in cities for far too long.
As we neared our destination, the views just kept getting better and better. We were forced to make a stop and walk along-side the cold glacial melt and admire the hard work of driving 12 hours straight payoff.
The Chamonix Valley was just as beautiful as I had seen it 5 years ago
Making a detour into Italy was an expensive affair, as crossing Mont-Blanc Tunnel cost us more than twice the toll we paid for entire Switzerland and all its innumerable tunnels.
The change in landscape and the weather was nothing short of dramatic. Looking back towards the mountains we were leaving behind, the views just seemed so Ansel Adam-esque.
The mountains slowly receded to appear no more majestic than cardboard cutouts.
The sky was no longer studded with stars, but the wine and panoramic views were nothing we could complain about.
We got down our perch and moved towards Lake Como in hunt of a beach.
Coffee was in order before we could jump in. One of my regrets was forgetting to get some of that deliciousness back.
I was looking forward for my first ever open water swim.
After debating exploring more places, we decided to save on some time and money and just drive through the night, stopping only for fuel and restroom breaks.