Friday, July 15, 2011

Delft and the illegal bbq

Dear readers

Last saturday was a pretty packed and awesome day. We had planned to go sailing in Kaag again, however it seemed the weather was not cooperating with us, nevertheless we gave sailing a chance and departed to Kaag at about 1100, we got there and hopped on the 40 sec ferry again.

In the sailing club conditions for sailing were amazing! It was sunny and we had constant 16-17 knot winds with gusts up to 20-22. Handling the main sheet was a real workout. I think the most interesting new thing we saw was a pizza boat floating in the middle of the lake system, sort of like a drive-in (sail-in) pizza restaurant.

After Kaag, we decided to go to Delft to get some beers and walk around the city centre. We went into an Albert Heijn (the Dutch equivalent of Shaw's) and one of my coworkers spotted a "disposable bbq" (it is basically a tray with charcoal and wood…super convenient!) So we decided to do a bbq in the middle of the street, we knew it was probably not permitted but we figured we should give it a chance.

We found a nice cozy spot near the central city square and started the fire. We had some burgers (btw dutch hamburger meat sucks) and some sausages and we started off some drumsticks. People in the street kept staring at us and smiling and old woman actually came close and told us that our bbq was an amazing idea.

After about 45min of bbq this police car drove by and stopped. They stayed their for about a minute and then drove off, we thought he was going to come stop our fun but apparently not (that's what we thought). Then about 10 minutes later this bum stops by and starts talking to us. This guy was a hyperactive bum and very sketchy looking (ripped clothes and a drugged look on his face). He also told us what we were doing is "PEEEERRRRRFECT" and we offered him a sausage so he would leave, he said we were "blessed" after that he posed for the camera and then we offered him a beer and then he finally left.

Then another 10 min later the cops show up again and this time they take no prisoners (ok… that probably sounded too dramatic) but yeah… they stopped by and told us a bbq in the street was not permitted and we should stop. They let us go with a warning only after we put off the bbq with dirty canal water. After that the cops left and we walked around the city centre. We found some cool swings as well as other nice stuff. After that we headed back home and went to bed because the next day we were going to AMSTERDAM!

Monday, July 11, 2011


hey my avid readers!

I deeply apologize for my lack of blog posts over the last week. Stuff is getting busy here in Rotterdam plus I have finally started travelling around! (exciting!)

As I stated in the last chapter of my adventure, after spending a beautiful and windy Saturday sailing in Kaag, me and my friend Francois decided to visit brussels! We woke up early and got to the station, some agent told us something misleading and we ended up taking a train to Paris (ooops...) the condutor was kinda pissed and charged us extra, however luckily the train had a stop in Brussels and actually got us there a little faster.

We started off Brussels looking for the "Grand Place" (pronounced in French) this is a little square in the middle of the old town of belgium, its super nice and has lots of very nice buildings! Some pics:

After walking around for a little bit, we looked for "delices et caprices" this is a beer tasting shop that my friend recommended, we went there but unfortunately it was closed (and remained closed for the rest of the day). Then we took a long walk to this small plaza near the EU Parliament, there we had the "best fries in the world" and a mitraillette (means machine gun), it was basically a subway with lots of fries and the meat and sauce you want. I got Pita and "mosterd" , it was pretty good! We also had some beer that we got in the supermarker, we got a beer called "La Chouffe" this is a pretty famous beer, not famous in the way Heineken, Sam Adams and Guinness are famous but its famous for being a really good quality Belgian beer. It had a soft sweet taste and it was a good beer for a sunny day. After that we went back to the city centre and had some more beers.

We went to the Delirium bar, this bar is pretty famous and actually holds the Guinness World record of beer variety, they have 2004 different beers available. We tried many different beers including a mango beer, mango beer was actually very good but did not taste like beer at all! However my favorite beer was "triple karmelite", after tasting this beer all other beers you have in Holland taste like water! A cool thing they had in the bar was that tourists sign bills (bank notes) from their native country and stick them to the wall. I saw bills from Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil and a lot of American dollars, also curiously we saw a lot of bills from Boston. Many of them were marked "go red sox", here are some pics:

Its funny how in Brussels they are obsessed with "manneken pis" also know as "the statue of the little boy peeing", all over the city you see souvenirs, decorations and all sorts of stuff modelled after this famous statue, just before leaving Brussels, we were lucky that we ran into the original "manneken pis"! It is a very small statue (only 61cm, 24in high)! Here are some pics of the all the manneken paraphernalia:

Yep, so thats all I have to say on my day in Belgium! I'll leave you guys with some pictures of funny stuff we saw in Brussels!

In case you dont get it: the picture of the chalkboard was of a restaurant with live music, they said they had espectaculos en vivo" but the way they divided the world "espectaculos" made it seem it said "culos en vivo".

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Valk and the Ketchup Bicycle

Hey guys!

Sorry for not updating since wednesday, but today's entry will have lots of pictures and lots of stuff to make up for my brief absence!

Thursday and Friday were really good days at work, these last couple of days I have been more dedicated to the naval architecture of the project so I have been learning lots and lots of naval arch. and looking up many many boats to inspire the Protei design. But what made these days awesome was that we started playing football after work! One of the guys that just arrived to the place is also a football fan so we organized little 2 on 2 or 2 on 3 games in a little space outside our workspace. Playing football was amazing! I felt so alive after the games and playing with your coworkers is a great motivator!

However what made my week was today! Today we went to the island of Kaag to a sailing club there and took some boats out!

Let me give you a narrative about the day. So my day started at 3am when I woke up to watch Argentina-Bolivia (result was 1-1), I was super disappointed and I can't remember seeing Argentina play that bad in a while, hopefully the coach fixes up the team for the next couple of games. At 5am i took a 3 hour nap and then at 8am we took the sketchy white van to Kaag. The funny thing about Kaag is that the only access to the island is this "ferry" which you drive your car on and it moves you like 7 meters to the island, its super ridiculous that there is no bridge! (they also charge for the ferry ride, so that might explain why they don't build a bridge!) Here some pictures of the "ferry".

After the ferry we went into Kaag, this is a super cute island where the roads are super narrow and it resembles the whitest of the white suburbs you can imagine. I'm sure they were worried when they saw me walking on their streets. These are some pics of the island:

After some introductions to the friendly club staff they gave us two boats to go out sailing. What was super funny was that the manager gave us these 6m boats without even checking if we could sail or anything, (this would never happen at MIT). We rigged up our "valks" (means falcon in dutch), I skippered one of the boats and had a crew of two, while the other four took the other valk. We set off for adventure!

Remember that map of Kaag I showed at the start of the post? Do you see all that water? ALL that water is space where we can sail, they don't constrain us to any single region and there is so much to explore in this canal-lake system! We got used to the boat pretty fast and we starting going in the canals and enjoying the landscapes full of windmills. One of my favorite part when we sailed was when we went into this "residential canal" where people live in floating houses! They have docks in their back yard and we would pass with the boat and we could see them having dinner inside and they would wave at us, it was so cool! We even saw some cows in this mini-farm right next to the water. After exiting the canal we had some fun with wing-on-wing sailing. We also had some fun looking at the people on the other boat, one of them actually jumped into the river to retrieve his cap. In total we sailed about 5-6 hours (with a small lunch break in the middle). It was so amaaaaaazing!

Also we got super lucky with the sailing club, the club is sponsoring our project so they are letting us sail for free on saturdays as well as test our prototypes with their help. The club itself is super nice! They have an amazing lobby, dining room, terrace, even a game room with ping pong. Also the people that work there are super cool! It is a family owned business so that makes it even more special!

Here are some pics of sailing! Look at my facebook for all the pics of Kaag!

A surreal thing about sailing in Kaag is that the water is actually at a higher level than the countryside! Its so weird to look at! Here are some pics that try to show it (they don't do it justice though).

And at the end of the day I spotted this! A heinz ketchup bicycle!

Today was probably the best day I have had in the Netherlands so far... I think I finally found a place here that I would love to live in! Imagine having a canal in your backyard! And tomorrow I am going to BRUSSELS!!! Time to drink some good quality beer (im tired of Heineken...) and of course some belgian chocolate!