Paris and Amsterdam

DSC_013828/03/2013 – 2/4/2013  – On Thursday after the firm visit to Kortijk Steve and I went to Paris to meet up with his aunt and parents for Easter weekend.  Since we had already been to Paris we showed them around the city but we also got to see a few new things as well.  We saw the Sacre Cure, Moulin Rouge (something that we did not see the first time), and walked along the Champs Eyleses to the Arc de Triomphe.  We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower(we were glad that we did it that night because on Saturday the area was evacuated due to a bomb threat).

Saturday we saw the Notre Dame, and then went to have fondue at the same place we ate at the first time.  We walked across the love lock bridge and then went to the Lafayette shopping center which was a very opulent building.  On Monday we travelled back to Antwerp and showed Steve’s aunt and parents around the city.  We went to the top of the Maas Museum to see the panoramic view of the city.  Tuesday, Steve’s family and I went to Cologne, Germany for the day.  We went into the Cologne Cathedral, got pretzels, went to the Birkenstock store, and ate at Gaffel em Dom for dinner (a Germany Brew House).

3/4/2013 –  Wednesday Steve and I said goodbye to his family.  We had a work day at school and got prepared to leave for Amsterdam in the morning.

Poezenboot4/4/2013 – We travelled to Amsterdam in the morning and got there around noon.  We locked up our luggage in the train station since we could not check into the hotel until later in the afternoon.  We ate lunch at an Italian restaurant for lunch then we started to explore the city.  Paul led us to the Puizenboot (Cat Boat) where cats are brought if they are stray, or cannot be taken care of by their owners anymore.  Some of the cats were up for adoption and some of them have a permanent residency in the boat.

DSC_0542After walking around the city a little more and looking in a few souvenir shops we headed back to the train station to pick up our luggage and check into the hotel.  For dinner we went to an Argentinian steak house where we had a friendly server, and after met up with a sister of Tyler’s friends’.

 
 
 
 

DSC_05555/4/2013 – On Friday we met Paul in front of the tourist office outside of central station.  We took the ferry to the Eye Film Museum, a new building that opened in April 2012.

DSC_0564There were a lot of interactive exhibits one of which you can make your own flip book that can be purchased in the gift shop.  A camera records any movement for 5 seconds then takes each frame to make a page in the book.  Heather, Karissa and I did the.  After spending a couple hours in the film museum we took a ferry to the NDSM-Werf which is an abandoned port containing unused boats.  There have been many new buildings constructed in this area in efforts to revitalize the port.  Paul toured us around the area and we saw an old port building that was turned into offices.  He also took us by student housing that is constructed out of shipping containers.  We took the ferry back to central station and walked to the Nemo science museum, designed by Renzo Piano.  We spent about an hour and a half exploring the exhibits and roof terrace of the building.  Following the science museum we walked to the new library and Jakob entertained us by playing a song on the piano.

DSC_06716/4/2013 – Saturday we met Paul in Wester Market and he told us a bit about the traditional architecture in Amsterdam.  We hopped on the tram to Mercator Plein and went to a new community center that contains a pool, fitness center, banquet hall, and a KFC.  The building was unique because it had green walls.  The community did not want the green space to be eliminated so the design solution was to make living walls and roofs.  Hopping aboard the tram again our next destination was to get a

DSC_0741tour of Het Schip (the ship).  Het Schip is an apartment building, meeting hall and post office. The guided tour informed us about the interesting shape of the building.  We toured the post office and a dwelling unit.After the tour we had lunch in the cafe and then took the tram to Steiger Island, the newer part of Amsterdam.  The housing community was beautiful and unique.  First we walked around a modern house boat community.  All of the houses were afloat and were connected by a network of docks.  We crossed the street and walked along new row houses, all of which were different in design.  After we took the tram back to the city center and walked through the red light district.  Paul had made reservations for dinner at Restaurant Du Lac for all of us so we ended the evening with a nice group dinner.

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7/4/2013 – On Sunday we went to the Anne Frank house.  The tour was very intriguing because we walked from the main house through the bookcase to the area that was used for hiding.  Since we were unable to take pictures inside of the house on the tour I purchased a post card of Anne Frank’s diary.  The part of the tour that impacted me the most was Otto Frank’s (Anne Frank’s father) interview about his daughter and the publishing of her diary.  Since it was a sunny day, for part of the afternoon we DSC_0801rented bikes and made a large loop around the city.  We were searching for the I Amsterdam sign so while looking at a map a friendly local asked where we were going, and he took us all the way to the sign!  After we saw the sign we biked through Vondelpark enjoying the nice day.  We took the train home in the evening back to Antwerp.

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8/4/2013 – Monday which also was my birthday I spent the morning working on the project.  In the afternoon Karissa Steve and I got lunch and after I walked around the city with Steve.  For dinner we ate at the Bistro which was very delicious.  I enjoyed a nice filet of steak and creme brûlée for dessert.

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Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome & Barcelona

Hello!

The past week we were on spring break and made a big trek through Italy and then to Barcelona.  It would take me quite a long time to explain everything I did but here are some pictures and few explanations!  We flew from Brussels to Milan and spent a night there on the 8th.  On March 9th we took the train to Venice. Image

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On the 10th we took a train to Florence.  It was a very beautiful city.  The buildings were brightly colored and it felt like we were now in the Mediterranean. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageFlorence city view

 

We took a train on the 11th to Rome.  ImageImage

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ImageSpanish Steps

ImageSt. Peter’s Basilica at night.ImageTrevi Fountain

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Silly fountain guy in front of the PantheonImage Interior of the Pantheon

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Creepy dolls…

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Interior of Colosseum

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ImageIn the afternoon on the 13th we went inside of St. Peter’s Basilica.  There were a lot of people in St. Peter’s Square awaiting news from the conclave.ImageImageImage

ImageThe Sistine Seagull hehe.

I am happy to say that I was in the square that evening to witness the white smoke!  The crowd went crazy for the historical event.Image

Awaiting the new pope!

On the 14th we flew to Barcelona and the weather was better than Rome.  We couldn’t swim in the ocean since it was chilly, but it was lovely to be on the beach.Image

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These little guys were everywhere!

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageThe Sagrada Familia was one of my favorite buildings on my whole trip so far.  There was so much thought put into the design, everything has a meaning.  In 2010 the pope changed this building from a cathedral to a basilica because of it’s level of detail.  The back of the basilica represents the passion of the Christ.  However I couldn’t get a great picture since it is still under construction.Image

ImageImageImageThis side represents the nativity of Christ.ImageImage

We went to Park Guell on the 16th.ImageImageImageImageImageImage

The last day we visited the Magic fountain of Montjuic.

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I am having an amazing trip so far I’m sad that it’s half over, but I can’t wait to share stories when I see you!

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Köln (Cologne) 2/31-3/2

Over the weekend we went to Köln, and Essen Germany.  We went to Essen (an hour train ride from Köln) and toured an old coal mine site.  The buildings on the site have been renovated for various functions such as museums and school buildings.  The first building we visited had a really long orange escalator and it served as a museum for coal mining. 

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One of the buildings was the largest contemporary design museum with modern products.  There were these interesting guys hanging from the ceiling.Image

The next day was our tour of Köln.  I learned from my professor that this city was completely destroyed except the cathedral in World War II.

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The Kolumba museum covers the remains of a church that was destroyed in World War II designed by Peter Zumthor.Image

 

 

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ImageWe all bought Birkenstocks!

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Voting ballot in the Nazi Documentation museum, people only had one person to vote for…

ImagePrison in the Nazi Documentation center.  It was in the basement.  This is where people were held for questioning.

ImageAfternoon photo of the cathedral.

 

 

 

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Gent

Steve and I went to Gent in Belgium on February 23 for the day.  It is a beautiful city.  Gent is the typical flemish city with stepped facades and cobblestone streets.  Here are a few pictures from the trip! 

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ImageSteve being silly on the sheep.

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Tiny doors.ImageWe stumbled upon a graffiti alley where artists are actively working on new paintings.

ImageBeautiful picture at night.

 

 

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Paris

A few things I saw while in Paris.

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Paris

We were in Paris from February 6th to the 10th.  We took the high speed train from Antwerp which was about a 2 hour ride.  When we arrived at the train station we walked about 15 minutes to the hotel, checked in and dropped off our bags.  We decided to go to the Louvre.

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To enter the museum we entered in the pyramid and went down a flight of stairs into a main foyer.  The art itself is in the building surrounding the pyramid, the old building of which used to be King Louis’.

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We saw the infamous Mona Lisa.  The museum was so large that we got an overload of art and artifacts that we left and started walking towards the Eiffel Tower.  On the way we stopped at a restaurant and I got a banana nutella crepe.

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We saw the tower light up and walked around.  Although I didn’t get any pictures there were a whole bunch of rats running around by the pond, I had to think of Ratatouille.  We took the metro back to our hotel for the night.

Thursday we met in front of Notre Dame.  There was a lot of ornate details and beautiful stained glass.

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ImageMy Professor took us to the school that the term “charrette” originated.  The architecture students would work furiously up until the deadline and then a charrette (french word for cart) would be wheeled among students to pick up their work.  The room is also created in the Beaux arts style.

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Next we walked along the love lock bridge, were couples can write their names on a lock, attach it to the bridge and throw the keys in the river.

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The Arc de Triomphe was the next on our tour.  We went to the top and got to see the streets array out from the central point.

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The stairs we walked up to get to the top.

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View from the top of the arc.  We then hopped on the metro to go to the “new” part of Paris.

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I have to say this part was not as intriguing as the heart of Paris.  There were plenty of skyscrapers filled with office spaces and it felt very empty.  It didn’t have the same charm as the older area.  

Steve Karissa and I took the metro to to Pere Lachaise cemetery, which holdsImage the grave of Jim Morrison.  This cemetery was a site to see.  There were so many grave stones and crypts and not much space was between each one.  Not to mention the cemetery was HUGE!

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Peculiar that these stones and objects were strategically placed on this grave…

On Friday we made the trek to the top of the hill to see the cathedral

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The Catacombs was an experience unlike any other.  It was overwhelming yet awing to see all of the bones at once from over 6 million people.Image

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On Saturday we visited the palace of Versailles.  This was one of my highlights of the whole trip.  Versailles isn’t located in Paris since it was the King’s summer palace, so we had to take about a 45 minute train ride out of the city.

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The palace was massive, and the amount of land was enormous.  The palace defines opulence. Every detail from macro to micro scale was amazing.  Outside the palace was the well known sculpted hedges and grass forms.

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But my favorite part had to be Marie Antoinette’s estate which consisted of the Grand Trianon, Petite Trianon and her gardens.  The gardens were designed in the English style and expanded past the Petite Trianon.  Small meandering paths would lead you to various features for example the rock grotto below.  

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Walking deeper into the garden we stumbled upon a small English style village.  Yes a village within an estate.  There were multiple buildings surrounding the pond.  Horses, cows and sheep were nearby in the gated off pastures.  I couldn’t believe how much land Versailles sits upon, and I really didn’t know how large it would be until I went there myself.

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On Sunday we went to the Parc de Villette.  The park features numerous red installations that have various functions.Image

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A large sphere also in the park that blends in to the sky.  We hopped on the Metro and to our surprise when we got off there was a festival with a large parade, Carnival du Paris.

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At around 6 it was time for us to catch the train back to Antwerp.  It was another great weekend!

 

 

 

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London

London was great! I was there from February 1st to the 4th. We traveled by train, and for a portion of the ride we were underneath the english channel in a tunnel.  When we arrived it was a very hustle bustle place in the train station.  We got tickets for the tube (underground train) to a stop close to our hotel.  We got dinner at Taylor Walkers english pub (I had a steak and ale pie which was delicious!) and after we walked around the area near our hotel which was very close to Big Ben and the London Eye.

The next day (Friday) consisted of sight seeing.  We went to the Tate Britain an art museum that was free for most exhibitions.  While walking towards Big Ben we saw the pedestrian pier below.Image

Big Ben was well.. Big! The detail on the building was very intricateImage

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The pigeons were quite funny lined up on the railing in St. James park.

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Here I am infront of Buckingham Palace.  We saw the guards marching but they were wearing grey uniforms instead of red because of the winter months.

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Steve and I infront of the large statue outside of the gates of Buckingham Palace

DSC_0166Here is a view of Trafalgar Square which is right in-front of the National Museum.  After walking to the square we went into the museum to see a lot of classical art.

Saturday consisted of a lot of sight seeing again!

We saw the Shard which is the tallest skyscraper in England, and the building happened to be opening the same day.  We wanted to go to the observation deck but it cost 30 pounds to go to the top (about $50) which seemed really expensive, but the tickets were sold out for the day anyway.

 

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DSC_0227 Here is St. Pauls Cathedral.

DSC_0235  I got to see the Swiss Re!  I did a structural model study last semester on this building so it was exciting to see it in real life.

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After seeing the Swiss Re we walked to Tower Bridge, and since the sun was setting we got to see it at night!

DSC_0260 Tower Bridge was phenomenal.  We walked along the river then across the bridge to see the London Tower.

DSC_0290 This is the fortress by Tower Bridge that used to have a moat surrounding it.  I guess that there were lions as well that were used by the gates as protection.

On Sunday we started in Regents Park

DSC_0294 Even though it is winter, the grass is still green so there was plenty to see!

DSC_0305 I enjoyed seeing this sign with a hedgehog letting people know that piles of leaves and small bushes are homes for the little guys.

We exited on the North side of the park and decided to find a train station.  While looking for a train station we stumbled upon the largest market we have ever seen!  Camden Lock was a pleasant surprise which had a lot of international food vendors, and shops selling arrays of items from clothing to games.

DSC_0340      DSC_0319 We couldn’t resist the donuts, so we purchased one.

DSC_0323 This picture doesn’t even do justice for understanding how large the market is!

DSC_0328DSC_0336DSC_0335 Steve and I enjoyed a delicious Polish sausage.

 

 

After the market we took the tube to King’s Cross station DSC_0363

We saw platform 9 and 3/4!

On Monday we took the train back to Antwerp in the morning.

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