Artis, zoo of Amsterdam

by Rob on

Yesterday Marissa, Marion and I visited Artis. Artis is a zoo located in the city of Amsterdam. The weather yesterday was extreme nice, which added greatly to the mood of our visit. Because of the good weather it was also quite busy at Artis, but luckily not too crowded. It was very nice to wander all over the zoo, sitting down at some places to enjoy a certain view. Have something to drink at the right moments. Or a ice cream or a nice snack.
The ladies gave me a compliment that managed to share my attention between them and my camera in a good balanced way. At time when I have my camera with my I tend to focus to much on my camera. I think that the recent trips to Greece helped to find the correct balance in this.

On this page you can read about the history of Artis, which is a interesting read as Artis is old zoo. When you look around during a walk over the zoo you can see that the zoo is an older zoo. But luckily it is also very visible that they are very busy to change a lot to to the benefit of the animals.

I think I made some nice photo’s during our visit to the zoo. Please find below the photo’s I like best. You can click on the photo’s to see a larger version of the photo.





(Credit photo’s: Marissa & Rob)

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“Berlin”, Ellen ten Damme

by Rob on

Some time ago I was informed that Ellen ten Damme would give a special concert. There were two reasons for this concert to be special: All the songs would be in German. And concert would be used to make a new CD. So I bought tickets for the best available seats. The concert would be at “Het Concertgebouw”, Amsterdam.

The idea was to have somewhere dinner before the concert and, if time would allow it, to have something to drink before catching the last train back to Heemskerk. Well, at least that was what Marion thought…

Next to “Het Concertgebouw” is a very good place to eat located: “Brasserie Keyzers”. We have been there before and decided to go there today again. They serve mainly seafood, which is fine by me as it is of very good quality.

The concert was called “Berlin”, which refers to the German songs or as Ellen ten Damme said: “She was looking for the way to Berlin”. The performance was awesome. Again Ellen ten Damme showed that she has great musical skills and knows how to set an performance, all with great humour. The songs were a mixture of well known German songs, as song written by Ellen herself.
I hear often people say that German is hard and harsh language. During the show I saw again confirmed that this is not correct. It sounded wonderful.

As said, there was a recording for a CD at this concert. And at the end of the show it turned out that the recording of some songs were not perfect, so they had to be done again. Which was not a punishment at all. Marion already said that we would stay to the end of it all, skip the planned drinks after the show and go directly to catch the train back to Heemskerk. I just nodded..

When all was done there was in opportunity to register to get the recorded CD to a very nice price. Of course I registered.

Outside again I think Marion started to suspect something, because I didn’t hurry in a single way to get to the station to get the last train. And she was right, already weeks before I reserved a room at the hotel Weber (and early in the morning I already brought the things we would need for the night to the hotel).
Hotel Weber is not a big hotel, but is surely a very nice hotel with wonderful rooms with lots of luxury.
At the wonderful and very comfortable room we enjoyed some very nice wine and chatted a long time, before showering and going to sleep.

In the morning we had breakfast on our room. Around 11:00 we checked out and went home. Both of us feeling good. It was indeed a wonderful evening that I will remember with great pleasure.

Marion loves this kind of surprises and I love it to be able to give her this to her.

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Valentijnkade Amsterdam

by Rob on

Recently I have talked with some of my family (my fathers side of the family) about the Valentijnkade in Amsterdam. The reason we talked about this street is rather simple, it is the street where my grandparents lived and where my father grew up. Pictures from long ago showed up, which was wonderful to see them.

Some years ago I visited the Valentijnkade, but that was just a short visit to have a look around. But now, after all the new information I got and the pictures I have seen, I waited to go there again and have a better look around. Make pictures and such.
I had not planned anything for this yet, but when two weekends ago Marion heard that the weather would be very nice for the time of the year, she suggested to go there that weekend. A grand idea and so we went to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is one of those cities you really don’t want to go to by car. We took a train from Heemskerk to the Amsterdam Muiderpoort rail road station. The idea was to hire there bicycles. Although the sun was shining brightly, the wind was strong. And all of a sudden I had visions of bicycle wheels stuck in tram rails (something that happened to me some years ago). So we decided not for bicycles, but we took the bus. Just a short ride of two bus stops.

When you walk from the Molukken Street onto the Valentijnkade first thing you will notice is the Hartmanbridge (in Dutch “De Hartmanbrug”).

The Hartman Bridge was named in the past “Bridge 109”. But in 2007 it was renamed to the “Hartmanburg” after André Hartman, who was the owner of the cigarette shop on the corner of the Valentijnkade and the Molukkenstreet and who died in 1993 by a robbery of his shop.

My grandfather lived at the Valentijnkade 32, 1 floor (European way, for American people he lived at the second floor). It is also the place where my father (and the others of my grandparents family) lived.

On the picture above almost the complete family of my grandfather (only one uncle and my grandfather himself of course are missing).

And here another picture made of the family on the Hartmanburg or Brigde 109 as it was called at that time.

One thing I am very happy about it that the houses at the Valentijnkade have almost not changed over the years. Of course they have been modernized to nowadays standards, but from the outside they are almost not changed, very unlike what happened to the street where my mother grew up.

It was very nice to wander around. We sat for the longest time on the Hartmanburg, enjoying the sun and chatting a bit which other. So many stories about my father that I still needed to share with Marion. There were so many things buried in my memories and visiting this place brought them all back up…

It really was a very nice and enjoyable day!

ps. The names of the people in the older pictures are known to me, but I found no use in it to tag all the names in this article.

Here some more pictures I made around the Valentijnkade:

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Yesterday Marion and I planned to visit Amsterdam. Not with a specific goal, but just to enjoy the city again. When Sanne heard this, she told that she would love to come along with us. And as Sanne is good company, why not. We agreed that we would meet at the “Amsterdam Centraal” (the main railroad station of Amsterdam). At the restaurant we drank some coffee and cake before going into the city.

One thing I really like about cities as Amsterdam is that typical old stone streets. The old buildings… the narrow streets. You can almost taste and feel the history there. I love to walk through that kind of streets. And it was very clear that I was not only one who enjoyed it.

At Dam-square we sat for nice long time on terrace. The sun was nice (as we were sitting out of the wind). While enjoying beer, wine and some snacks the conversations were nice. And of course it is always fun to see all those people wander by. It is fun to observe them. There are strange people walking this earth, that is for sure (and maybe I am the strangest of them all :P).

Of course the two ladies wanted to visit “De Bijenkorf”. “De Bijenkorf” is a very big luxury store that offers a wide range of items (clothes, cosmetics, books, movies, toys and much more). There I bought for Marion a nice bottle of parfum (“Rose The One” by Dolce & Gabbana). I also bought two CD’s (Genesis “Foxtrot” and one with the best hits of Earth & Fire).

And then happened what I was a bit afraid of… Sanne and Marion wandered on to the department for women’s clothing. I showed character and stayed for 30 minutes with them. After that I decided to go somewhere else (all of course normally talk though with them). And to be honest, I think they were happy that I left them alone there.

I went to the other side of the street to the Kentucky Fried Chicken and had some chicken wings while waiting on the ladies. It was more then an hour before they arrived and both of them were carrying a big bag with things they bought. We had together dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken… all three of us just love that place!

Afterwards we walking without any hurry back to station and made our way back to Heemskerk. Sanne came along with us (she stayed for the night with us. You can sleep very well on my couch).

Tired as walking most of the afternoon we decided to take it easy for the evening and we thought that watching a movie would be a good idea. Just that day I received two BluRays that I had ordered… “Green Lantern” and “I, Robot”. We decided on “Green Lantern”, a movie with great special effects. The audio effects of that movie are just awesome. And of course was made it even more nice, was that the Green Lantern was one of those superhero comics that I just loved to read when I was younger.

All with all a nice day again…

With this post I am also trying what Kristin (a colleague of mine) suggested for the name change of my blog (I wrote about that recently). I will look for some time if I like the the titles of the articles in this way. And if I do, I will rename my blog to “Life is there to…” :)

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Yesterday evening Marion and I have been to a concert of Ellen ten Damme. I don’t think that it will be a big surprise for anyone who knows me (or reads my weblog regularly) that I really like the music and shows of Ellen. She has a great voice and a very good sense of humour. Plays different instruments as the guitar, violin and piano very well. Really knows how to make a good show. And yes, I won’t deny, she is also a very attractive woman to see.
So every time Ellen has a new show or a new CD (or what ever) I will try to visit one of her performances. I heard very good things about her performance with the Scapino Ballet. So when I heard that she and the Scapino Ballet would come to Amsterdam, I ordered directly tickets for Marion and me.

Because I know Marion really likes it, I put on my fine black pantolon, a black blouse and a my brown suede blazer. And of course, as always, Marion looked marvellous. She was wearing a very nice black/white dress with dark stockings and high heels.

The performance was at “Het Concertgebouw” in the city of Amsterdam. Now Amsterdam is not the city you want to drive to by car on a Saturday evening. So we went by train.
When we arrived at the train station “Amsterdam Centraal” it was raining. But when we saw the huge crowd of people waiting for the tram that would take us to the area of “Het Concertgebouw”, Marion and I looked at each other and as if we could read each other minds we said at the same time “Taxi?”.
Luckily we had very fast a taxi that took us to “Het Concertgebouw” (showing to a Taxi-driver that you know your way around in Amsterdam prevents unwanted and unneeded d-tours :P).

We had a table reserved at the brasserie “Keyzer”, which is right next to “Het Concertgebouw”. I really enjoyed the dinner we had there. The food and wine we had there was very good. The people very kind and polite (I find this just as important as the quality of the food and the wine). The atmosphere was enjoyable and I liked it how they combined classic and modern styles in the building.

To reach “Het Concertgebouw” we just had to cross one street, but it was nice that it stopped raining.

For me it was the first time that I visited “Het Concertgebouw”. Marion told me she had been there twice before.
“Het Concertgebouw” was gifted by the notables of Amsterdam in 1881. The building has a neoclassical architecture and it is known for its great acoustics. I love old buildings and it is always a pleasure to visit a new one.

The concert of Ellen ten Damme? It was wonderful again. Her strong voice and the great acoustics combined very well. I loved it. She performed some of the numbers of her album “Durf jij” and some in a complete new way. There were also some songs that I had not heard before, this may mean that a new CD is on its way.
The Scapino Ballet added a complete new dimension to the show. It was very nice. And no, I am not surprised that Ellen flawlessly was part of their acts.
The guiding band was called “Wereldband”, four persons who can handle a broad area of instruments. I liked them. They were good.
All with a all a great show again.

When I visit an concert I always like to buy something… a CD, a t-shirt, a poster or something like that. And I like it when an artist signs CD’s and alike after the concert. To all concert of Ellen I have been to, she signed afterwards and I think that is really great. More artists really should do this. This also means that quite a part of my collection of signed CD’s are signed by Ellen ten Damme.
I looked quickly at the CD’s that were available, but I already had those. But there was also a vinyl version of the “Durf jij”-album. I am still capable of playing vinyl records at home and the fact that vinyl records are becoming rare, made me decide to buy the vinyl record and have that signed by Ellen.

When I returned to Marion, who waited aside the huge crowd that wanted to have something signed by Ellen, she had to laugh. This was typical something for me to buy and I think she is right with that. And the vinyl record looks good in the display case with all the other signed CD from all kind of artists I have.

Luckily it was still not raining again when we started to go home again. The train journey went fast and before we knew it we were home again. Before going to bed we talked about the very nice evening with some wine for Marion and I some of my beloved whisky. A great evening that we both enjoyed a lot.

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Yesterday we had with a number of direct colleagues a nice get-together again. One of us had the very great idea if visiting a café in Amsterdam called “De Gollem”. What made this place very attractive was that it has over 200 different kinds of beers on stock and that they served some very promising food.

We all found our way there and at the begin of the evening we all met at “De Gollem”. Almost everyone there belonged to the Back Office-team. Only exception was Natashja, but she has been often at our team-events.
But it would be very nice to have other people we are dealing often with at the company joining at our events. I think it would be very good to meet them in a more relaxed and nice environment as well.

There were some very nice beers. I really loved the one beer that was called “Hel en Verdoemenis”. A very strong beer, but a joy to taste. And even liked the glass it was served in more….

It was a very great evening again. I like to get to know the persons with who I spend so much time together at work a lot better. This kind of events help a lot with that. So for me it was good spend time!!!

As said the food was good and so was the beer. There was a lot of laughter going around. And there was even some time for some nice talks. And that is exactly how I enjoy this kind of evenings.

I really like “De Gollem”. Any time soon I will take Marion along to there. I am pretty sure she will enjoy it very much as well.

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Suzanne Vega

by Rob on

A time ago Patrick claimed that he would do lot to visit a concert of Suzanne Vega (including travelling a lot and paying a lot for a ticket). Well, that was all not needed as he discovered some time ago that Suzanne Vega would come to The Netherlands. He asked me if wanted to come along and of course I did.

So yesterday we went to “De Melkweg” in the city of Amsterdam where the concert would be. It was a rainy wet day, but we managed to arrived there mostly dry. The concert started a bit later because Suzanne was tied somewhere up in the traffic. But Patrick and I managed to let the time pass by with some beers.

But those beers made the time go fast and after a little the concert started. And what a concert it was. I like the music and style of Suzanne a lot. She has a very good sense of humour. I will not easily forget the very funny story about the cat of her parents and its Viking funeral that she told as introduction to her song Tombstone (about which she claims it is her most happy and optimistic song :P).

I really have to say that the guitarist who played along with Suzanne was awesome (sadly I only remember his first name… Jerry). He played the guitar in a way I have not seen very much before. Really good.

As said, a very good show that I enjoyed a lot. And at least Suzanne really understands the concept of a bonus performance :).

Back at my home Patrick and I had some beers and some snacks while chatting a bit. For me it was a well spend evening. Also it was for me the first time in “De Melkweg”, which is quit famous in over here. Also I will make sure that I will get some more music of Suzanne on my iPod (already saw that iTunes sells rather a lot of her music).

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Amstedam Sex-Museum

by Rob on

Beware: This posting holds some light erotic pictures. If you don’t want to see these, then please skip this posting. If you decide to read it, then please don’t come complaining. I have warned you.

Edit: Someone suggested that I should make this posting private. I disagree with that. The pictures shown are “light erotic” at most in my opinion. If it would be about heavy pornographic material I would agree, but this is not the case.

For today Marion and I had decided to spend some nice time in Amsterdam. So while we were walking through the city we ended up on street called “Het Damrak”. I went there with a reason. On “Het Damrak” is a establishment of Kentucky Fried Chicken… and that happens to be my all time favourite fastfood restaurant.

On “Het Damrak” we walked by the Sex-museum that is located there. And as I pointed to it, I heard to my surprise that Marion never has been there. So I suggested to have a look at it. After some moments of pondering she agreed (after I convinced her it is a “sex-museum” and not a “porno-museum”).

Everybody who knows me a bit, knows that I am kinda free minded concerning sex. As long there all involved are 100% in agreement and there will be no (permanent) damage or hurt caused, a lot should be possible. Concerning this I am thinking not in the way the Catholic Church, as example, expects from us, far from that even (only my opinions on condoms and masturbation makes that already very clear).

Knowing Marion, she holds generally spoken the same views as me on this matter.

What I really like is the many old objects the museum has. It shows that sex was already throughout ages that what kept people busy. And that is not strange of course. Apart from that sex is needed for reproduction, it is something wonderful that can give great pleasure, specially when partners are dared to each other and feel completely open to each other.

As said, I really like the historical things they display in the museum. Even in these modern times sexuality, and everything belonging to it, is something for many less or more a taboo. Something you do not talked about freely. And still there was always a desire to express ones interest in sexuality. The museum displays many old items that have hidden sexual content or have sexual content in a way that you don’t see it right away.

The museum also holds a rather large collection of photographs with the subject sex. It is kinda nice to see how over the years this kind of photography changes. But the collection shows clearly that almost from the moment photography was discovered there were sexual photographs made. Really nothing new under the sun.

Aside from photographs the museum also has a rather big collection of paintings and sculptures. Some I like, some I don’t. Some are just “too much”, other I just don’t like the way they were made. But some I could even consider as art displayed in a home (bedroom for example). Some examples of the paintings and sculptures the museum displays…

Also there are some old “picture machines” on display. Of course are the pictures these machines display naughty. In a way the predecessor of the sex movie as we know it today. And how far did we come :)
Anyway, I assume that these machines made a nice amount of money…

Very nice are of course also the small scenes the museum has as of the Red Light District.

Our visit to the sex-museum was one of laughter, “Oh’s” and having fun.

Afterwards we went to the Kentucky Fried Chicken to have our well earned dinner. And as I said, KFC is one of my favourites. Soon we will return to Amsterdam to do the shopping and wandering around that we planned to do. Now we wanted to go home…

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Hortus Botanicus of Amsterdam

by Rob on

Yesterday we brought Marion to the airport of Dortmund for her travel back to US. It was way easier for me travel directly from Dortmund to Amsterdam, instead of first going back to Haaksbergen and then today back to Amsterdam. The later journey would have taken a lot more in total. So I already arrived yesterday in Amsterdam.

Now it was of course not the idea to stay all Sunday at my room in Amsterdam. So I thought of something fun to do. There was still this one place I wanted to go… The Hortus Botanicus of Amsterdam. My mother often mentioned how beautiful it was there. Maybe the winter is not the best time to go, but after checking their website I still decided to go there.

The gardens outside had at the moment not very much to offer, apart from some very nice frozen snow sights. BUt the greenhouses were awesome.
Today I just wandered around enjoyed everything and made nice pictures. But some day soon I will return and I make pictures and store the information about the plants, so I can use that and the pictures for my photo-site. Maybe it is even a good idea to go there more often during the different times of the year.

After spending there a wonderful afternoon, I had a very nice rib-eye at Chicano’s (near the “Leidscheplein”).

Here some pictures to give an impression of what I saw today…

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