Welcome to Uitmarkt, running from August 27-29:

The Uitmarkt is the national opening of the cultural season and the largest cultural festival in the Netherlands. Over the years, the Uitmarkt has evolved into a festival attracting 500,000 visitors and featuring 2,000 performers at more than 30 venues. And it's all free!

Sounds great! As soon as the rain stops and winter leaves, I'll be sure to check it out...

It's been discussed by more than one person recently that were it not for the weather, Amsterdam would be the best city in the world.

I would concur - it offers a ton of cultural, artistic, leisurely, active, and intellectual pursuits. It's close to dozens of other countries, and home to so many different nationalities.

Unfortunately, it's such an inconsistent, wet, chilly climate that experiencing many of these pursuits (and festivals such as Uitmarkt) are only for the heartiest of locals and determined tourists.

And pity the poor souls who, months in advance, fork over 50-100+ Euros for some of the bigger (non-free) festivals, only to be completely drenched and chilled come showtime (recent washouts included Dancevalley for the young kids and an epic music/arts weekend called Lowlands).

Hopefully reporting to you soon from Uitmarkt... now where's my winter gear?

Moving Day


August 24, 2010

The Full Moon in your 11th House of Social Networking lures you away from your tunnel vision to get a glimpse of the outside world. And although you are normally happy to remain exactly where you are, today you're just as eager to see where things could lead. Take a chance and reach farther than you have in the past. The future is waiting for you if you are ready for it.

And really, who am I, who are any of us, to mess with the stars when the 11th house of Social Networking has a Full Moon?

As such, I am off to Lisbon in a few weeks to live, at least temporarily. Amsterdam will remain a close and fondly thought of friend, with a few more blog posts still coming from here. Otherwise it's Lisboa fo shoa.

This doesn't mean much different for this blog - simply new sights, impressions, and images from a different part of Europe.

And if all 8 of you who read this on a regular basis have any tips, contacts, and general recommendations for Lisbon, please feel free to send them my way.

Did You Know?


Some updated facts about life in Amsterdam and Holland. Did you know that:

  • The above photo is of the Netherlands' (soon-to-be-ex) Prime Minister Jan Pieter Balkenende? Awesome, I say. It's highly unlikely that you would see Obama, Harper, Sarkozy, or Berlusconi (ok, maybe Berlusconi) wearing a similar t-shirt or toting a can of beer.
  • Asking for ketchup at McDonald's will cost you .45 Euros? I'm not sure if this is the only country in the world that has its McD's charge for ketchup, but it must be. It's also been suggested that copper wire was invented when two Dutch people fought relentlessly over a penny.
  • Many private establishments (bars, restaurants, cafes) will charge patrons to use the bathroom? Not a lot mind you - maybe 20-50 cents - but, well, enough to piss you off (literally).
  • Incongruously, and perhaps to counterbalance the stinginess mentioned above, many of the excellent festivals here are entirely free? Uitmarkt (culture/arts), Pluk de Nacht (film), Sail (previous post), Appelsap (hip hop), Queen's Day (mayhem) and many others won't cost you a cent (unless you need to use the bathroom of course).
  • The most popular national weather forecast website actually provides a "korte rokjes (short skirts)" forecast? Not as in "A 60 percent chance you will see short skirts today" unfortunately, but rather just a friendly service to the ladies to help them plan their wardrobe for the day.

  • You are much more likely to find a guy named "Taco" than an actual taco in Amsterdam? "Remco", "Eelco" and "Dico" are also fairly common Dutch names.
  • It is expressly forbidden to wear bathing suits in the majority of Dutch coed saunas?
  • Many zucchinis, cucumbers, fennel bulbs, bunches of bananas, and other assorted fruits and vegetables come individually wrapped in plastic in supermarkets? I thought nature provided its own wrapper for these items.