This weekend, Johannes and Solveig invited me and Sabine, a friend of theirs, to come along on a hike into the Tararua Forest region near Wellington. After a 2-hour drive through perfect weather, we were off to a good start. Our track went through beautiful temperate rainforest with lots of ferns and curious plants I had never seen before. Just before the bushline, the forest appeared to be from a fairytale, as all trees were completely covered with thick moss and lichen.
By the end of the day, we made it to a comfy hut and met some other hikers, who had conveniently already started an oven fire. We had some delicious dinner and stayed there overnight during heavy winds gusts. On the next morning, we had originally planned to follow a mountain ridge for several hours, which would eventually have led back to where we started. The heavy wind unfortunately made this too dangerous; nobody felt like getting blown off the mountain on that particular day, so it was finally decided to return along the same track we had used on the previous day. See below for a video of the winds and and some pictures.
Today was the last day of my vacation, which I spent in Amsterdam. I only had a little bit of time to walk through the Grachtengordel (canals) past the Bloemenmarkt (flower market). One can buy all sorts of specialty flower bulbs there.
On the way, I came across a specialized store which basically just sells three different types of gouda: young, medium, and extra-old. What a great idea! Of course I immediately fell for it and left with a noticeably heavier bag.
I finally ended up in Amsterdam’s shady corner, which was certainly interesting. As predicted by Olesya, I saw several school classes exploring the area. Crazy!
On Thursday, I took the train to Bruges in the topmost corner of Belgium. This gem of a city was once a very rich and thriving trade outpost. Almost all of the medieval architecture in Bruges is intact to this day, which seems unbelievable. It is truly gorgeous — I had trouble deciding where to point my camera.
This place of course attracts many visitors. I would not recommend going there on the weekend.
I did a quick day-trip to Brussels on Monday. It was unfortunately quite rainy, but I still took some pictures. The square with the pretty buildings is the famous “Grote Markt”, whose current architecture is from around 1400. Nearby, there was an shop with beautifully arranged arabic sweets.
Over the weekend, I had some time to walk around in Maastricht (where the fair is located). It’s a cute little town with a well-preserved old city core and many churches. There are so many of them, that two were repurposed: Maastricht has a famous church bookstore and a church hotel. Some pictures:
It’s currently spring break at Cornell, and I decided to take some time off to visit my fiancée and family in Europe. The timing was meticulous, since the break coincides with TEFAF, a great art fair in Maastricht, Netherlands. My parents have a stand to showcase their jewelry at the fair, and Olesya is also there to help.
Though it’s not required for admission, one should better dress up for such an event, and as you can see I was ready to go
Thursday was the official opening day, which was by invitation only. I was luckily able to get in and captured some impressions of this first day:
Closeup of the rose arrangement
A typical hallway inside of the fair
The fair is in NL, so there are lots of tulips everywhere..
Hallways are named after well-known streets
The opening day is very crowded!
Some of the best art galleries in the world are represented here, who invite their very expecting customers — hence much work is done to ensure that this is an absolutely top-notch event. There is lots of free food and wine; towards the afternoon, one starts to notice people who might have had a little too much of the latter. Coincidentally this is also where some of the really big purchases happen..
My father is one of only a few jewelers on this fair, which has its main focus on paintings (classic and modern), sculptures, and antiques. I took a few photographs from the stand during the course of the day.
The stand from outside
Otto filling the display cases
Olesya and Veronika
Otto in discussion with visitors
There were many other exciting things to see. If you ever wanted that Picasso or Warhol, you can probably get it here :). The fair is like a big museum with an odd mixture of old and new. Everything can theoretically be bought, though for “normal people” most is unfortunately well out of reach.. Below is an unordered list of some things I liked or found crazy:
At the beginning of this month, I was visiting Cornell’s former synchrotron CHESS (a particle collider). Having been replaced by the LHC and other projects days, it’s not used for high-energy particle physics these days. However, other projects involving the creation of very pure x-ray sources still use the existing machinery. Some obligatory pictures:
To say that it’s been pretty quiet on this blog would be a severe understatement, the latest post being from almost a year ago! A small portion of the blame can be put on the software that used to run this blog, which made it extremely tedious to post an article containing many images.
Well, no more excuses — I switched to a much nicer software (WordPress) and managed to move all of the old articles. I also decided to write future posts in English, since all of my friends and family can all read that, which is less when I write in German.