Quad4x

I mean, if we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something.

Eurotrip 2013 – Day 9 – Amsterdam 2

Posted by Jason Wu on June 3, 2013

Day 9 we were taken by the family friend’s local Dutch husband to a learning area that included windmills, cheese, and of course wooden clogs. The windmills were functional and my brother bought some mustard, still made by being ground by the windmill.

The rest of the finally sunny Monday we spent in the newly reopened Rijksmuseum. It was big but it still wasn’t the Louvre. The afternoon was spent in the different displays including the Rembrandt area. The museum has wifi and an app you can download for an audio tour you can play on your phone.

For dinner we took a cab to a hip dining spot. It was on the outskirts of town in an old warehouse. So the restaurant was huge, not only for Amsterdam standards but big even for someone from Texas. The clientele was more young professionals as it was suggested by our family friend’s model daughter. The dinning experience was excellent and the Monday special was lobster. The bathroom was unisex and included a dj stand that I assumed would be spinning if it was the end of the week.

We took an early flight out of Amsterdam the next morning, a direct flight to Houston.

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Eurotrip 2013 – Day 8 – Amsterdam 1

Posted by Jason Wu on June 3, 2013

Day 8 we disembarked and took a cab towards the airport where our hotel for the next couple days was at. It was a little inconvenient to be out of town, but we just took a train back into town and transferred to a tram to get around the city.

We tried to avoid the lines at the main Rijksmuseum on a Sunday by going to the Van Gogh museum. The Van Gogh museum let’s you buy tickets in advance that have specific time slots to enter. So we skipped the line there and enjoyed the small collection of paintings and history.

We visited another diamond cutting place and I enjoyed a street waffle filled with some type of caramel. It was delicious.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroopwafel

Afterwards we unknowingly rode a tram for free farther towards the center of town and stopped at an art fair. Apparently they have a person on the tram you can buy the ticket from, but we just hopped on and off, having not seen a ticket dispenser at the stops, oops.
For dinner we met a family friend from Taiwan who moved to Amsterdam with her second husband. We met at a Chinese restaurant floating in the larger bay close to the city center. Dinner took a really long time and we caught a late train from the central station back to the airport.

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Eurotrip 2013 – Day 7 – Amsterdam

Posted by Jason Wu on June 3, 2013

Day 7 we arrived in Amsterdam for our last day on the boat. We began with a canal tour through the city, seeing the history of Amsterdam and the cramped city center. The tour ended by dropping us off at Gassan diamonds, where they did a quick overview of how they process diamonds before trying to sell us some jewelry.

After lunch we went north and visited a windmill and fishing village. The windmill was very interesting to see. I learned that the windmill could actually turn so that it always faced the direction with the best wind. It seemed impossible that such a large structure could rotate its top.

The fish village stop included a stop in a small town where we saw locals enjoying the weekend and then a stop into a more tourist area by the water, where I partook in the famous french fries and mayo combo.

In the evening my brother and I ventured into the city to see the local coffee shops and people in the windows. The smell of weed was very strong, even just walking down the narrow streets. We did find the creme filled strawberry topped pastry that my brother was raving about on his last visit to Amsterdam.

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Eurotrip 2013 – Day 6 – Cologne

Posted by Jason Wu on June 3, 2013

Day 6 was a stop in Cologne, like Eau De Cologne. I was a little surprised they didn’t take us to some perfume shop and try to sell us cologne. We did the normal city tour and saw how a larger city like Cologne had many very modern parts and ideas. The city hall, where we chanced upon a few weddings, included a large model layout of the entire city. It had the plans for what the city had planned for its future.

Even though it is a modern city, the most memorable building in the city was of course a church. The church in Cologne was huge. It was a dark color and towered above everything around. It was impressive to just stand next to it and look up into the complex towers. The church also claims to have the relics of the Magi.

After roaming the church for quite some time, we ventured into the modern part of town and walked through the shopping area.

At this point in the trip, I was enjoying three scoops of ice cream at lunch and any ice cream dessert options for dinner too.

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Eurotrip 2013 – Day 5 – Gorge/Koblenz

Posted by Jason Wu on June 2, 2013

The day started with a cruise through a part of the Rhine that had a lot of castles on the coasts.  It was great to just sail down river and be able to see all the little towns and castles along the way.  The day was cold and overcast so it wasn’t too fun to sit out on the deck, but pictures through the windows would just not do.  We also passed a narrow part of the Rhine that was at one time very dangerous to navigate.  That is how the legend of Lorelei came to be.  “The Lorelei (German: Loreley, German pronunciation: [loːʁəˈlaɪ]) is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine near St. Goarshausen, Germany, which soars some 120 metres above the waterline. It marks the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea, and is the most famous feature of the Rhine Gorge, a 65 km section of the river between Koblenz and Bingen that was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in June 2002. A very strong current and rocks below the waterline have caused many boat accidents there.”

Later in the day, we stopped in Coblenz.  As you can see, a lot of the cities have different spellings.  I guess since it is in a different language, the translation differs.  We stopped in on Sayn Castle.  Sadly the first part of the tour was in a butterfly sanctuary, so I skipped that and sat in a coffee shop.  The castle was very modernized and we were greeted by the ‘prince’.  I’m still unsure how he is a prince, but his lineage makes it so.  He was a fun guy and he had a great personality.  It was just a short trip so this was almost like a rest day in the trip.

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Eurotrip 2013 – Day 4 – Mainz/Rudesheim

Posted by Jason Wu on May 31, 2013

The fourth day began with a trip into Mainz.  Mainz has the Gutenberg museum.  Gutenberg is credited with creating the moveable type printing press.  It was a big step in publishing to be able to not only make many copies of something, but many copies of different things.  The museum didn’t allow photography so I don’t have any pictures from inside the museum.  They had 3 versions of the famous Gutenberg Bible in a vault there.  If you get a chance, UT’s Ransom center in Austin has a copy of the Gutenberg Bible as well.

It was in Mainz that I realized how far north Europe is.  The city has a marker for the 50th parallel.  So at this point, we were already in the North American equivalent of Vancouver, already north of the United States mainland on the west coast.  Of course, it wasn’t the reason for the cold winter weather, but it surely didn’t help.

The afternoon included a quick trip down the river during lunch to Rudesheim.  Here we rode a ‘train’ (really just a car with multiple cabins shaped like a train) up into town.  There we visited a mechanical music cabinet museum.  It was another creepy feeling place.  Basically it was all types of boxes or machines that played music.  It was pretty neat how innovative the mechanics were, especially the machine that played the violin, a much more complicated endeavor than just a piano.  Afterwards we tasted some of the regions schnapps which was in a ‘coffee’ drink.  The region was also known for their wines, especially the riesling wine.  We decided to get a pre-dinner meal and taste some of the local flavor.  We may have picked a mediocre restaurant, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the local German food.  I like sausage and sauerkraut but there are better foods in the world.

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Eurotrip 2013 Day 3 – Speyer/Heidelberg

Posted by Jason Wu on May 30, 2013

The days start to blur together during Day 3.  We woke up and immediately set off for the ‘Technical Museum’ in Speyer.  It is sort of like a mechanical museum with cars, planes, and even u-boats.  The first building with all the cars was really creepy.  It had mannequins placed around the displays and since it was 9am the place was mostly empty.  It was cool to see everything though.  The full size planes were a treat and my brother rode a slide down from the displayed 747.  The u-boat was interesting and it was amazing how small the living space in it is.

We then immediately walked into the city of Speyer, a relatively small town with…you guessed it…a church.  We tasted some local food for lunch, though I did return to the boat for some lunch time ice cream.

After lunch we traveled to Heidelberg, a city with a world famous university and a castle.  It was a beautiful city on the river, with the castle up on the hillside.  We saw a lot of the outside of the castle and not enough of the inside.   We did see a giant wine barrel, big enough you could walk on top of.  Either way, the views were amazing and the weather cleared up a little to let some sunshine out.

We also saw a car with a longhorn emblem, hook’em all over the world.

 

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EuroTrip 2013 Day 2 – Strasbourg/Black Forest

Posted by Jason Wu on May 30, 2013

Since I was still on Texas time, I woke up around 430am. Luckily the ship was equipped with free wifi. It was satellite based so download speeds were equivalent to a good 3g cell phone connection while upload speeds were non existent.  After surfing the web and killing time watching the various satellite tv channels it was finally time for breakfast.

Breakfast was served in the same fancy dining area. They had an earlier and later continental type breakfast but I love breakfast buffets.  It had everything you would expect. All types if juices, pastry, eggs, an omelet station, and cold cereals.  I filled up, knowing eating my meals at the right times would help with jet lag.

The morning included a trip into Strasbourg. While it was in France, it clearly had plenty of German history and influence.  We saw a large church, something every city would have. With the rich Catholic and then Lutheran history of Germany, we saw plenty of churches.  We walked around the small town a bit and enjoyed the old architecture of the city before returning to the ship for a buffet lunch, that included some leftover pistachio ice cream.  The afternoon would be a trip into the Black Forrest of Germany. Even though we spent the morning in France, we would only have to cross the Rhine by bus into Germany to see the Black Forest.  They took us to a rather touristy spot where an old German guy made coo-coo clocks. It was at least in a nice area surrounded by very thick woods. The Black Forest isn’t like going to see the Redwoods in California where you drive through trees. The Black Forest is just an area, with roads, highways, shops, and other non forest things.

The next stop was a farming museum. It had traditional German farming homes with large floor plans, low roofs, and smoke charred walls. The large area was used to store all the people, tools, and even animals indoors during the snowy winters.

My brother chose to skip walking around the farm museum and walked to a summer toboggan place. It was a steel track with a cart on top. He took a video on his phone that was worth watching.

The evening was much the same, with a fancy dinner and an early bed time.

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EuroTrip 2013 Day 1 – Zurich/Basel

Posted by Jason Wu on May 30, 2013

We arrived in Zurich and were immediately impressed by the clear glass airplane jet ways. A little groggy we cleared quickly through customs and looked for the Avalon representative in the airport. After finding her,  she escorted us to the hotel shuttle. The hotel was a central meeting point for our group before transferring to the boat.  Since it was still morning, we had two optional excursions to choose from while we were in Zurich. My parents went into the Swiss mountainside for a glimpse of the Alps off in the distance. My brother and I decided on the shorter city tour. We had a couple hours to kill so we hung around the hotel, sleepy with no bed. They had coffee and tea in a hospitality area. The hotel also had computers with internet access but using wifi on personal devices was not free.  After choosing not to partake in the expensive Dim Sum place in the hotel,we set off on our city tour.  The bus ride took us around town while she explained the history and various sites.  We eventually stopped next to the river in the city and we grabbed some sausage to hold us over until dinner.  The tour was a nice quick overview of the city, including a nice view from a university situated on the side of the mountain looking down into Zurich. Here you get to see how, even Zurich, a modern city known for its importance to the financial world, was still a mix of very old buildings.  It is hard to grasp, as an American, how old some of these European cities are.  After the quick tour we returned to the hotel to catch another bus to the boat, located in Basel.

We arrived at our docked vessel in Basel. It was impressive. It was just the right size that it wasn’t over crowded and big enough to feel like it would command the river.

We would be sailing down the river, which is actually north up the map towards the Netherlands. The rooms were luxurious but small.  It wasn’t small enough to bother me and the large panoramic windows really opened up the room. The bathrooms were modern and big enough for me to move about comfortably.  The lounge area was nice and welcoming.  The dining area was equally exquisite and dinner always consisted of multiple courses with multiple choices in dishes.  My favorite dish during the first few meals was a pistachio flavored ice cream. Normally the flavor of the nut is too strong and a little artificial. In this case, it was more than a hint but not overpowering.

The first night of sleep would be the hardest. We were in a relatively narrow part of the Rhine. It also had many locks. Locks are used between parts of the river at different heights. Think of a lock as an elevator for boats. You go into a lock and water either goes out or comes in to drop or raise a boat.  We would be traveling from Basel to Strasbourg France over night. That meant having to go through multiple locks overnight. While not overly noisy, it wasn’t a smooth sail like much of the rest of the nights.

Jet lag helped the initial slumber into Day 2, with only one of the locks waking me up.

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House Warming

Posted by Jason Wu on April 16, 2012

I wanted to thank everyone for coming to the house warming. I had fun and I hope you did too. Thanks for the gifts that were not required.

Thanks Young for the traditional Korean gift of detergent and the gift card.

Thanks Jenny and Vanhdy for the gift card.

Thanks Jing Jenny Douglas Katnip for the glasses that survived the night and the kitchen towels that were immediately used.

Thanks Andrew and Marg for the UT cups. Can’t wait until football season.

Thanks Helen and Sunny for the gift card and setting up the kitchen.

Thanks Ken for the contribution to the couch.

Thanks Kelvin for the Henny.

Thanks Alan, Sungjin for beer.

Thanks Adam and Stephanie for the ice cream, it was a hit.

Thanks Cary Lai for all the shrimp goodness. Thanks Ken for helping with the prep work. Also thanks Cary for coming over most weekends to make the house less lonely.

Thanks CK for cleaning up the mess. It was indeed spotless. Also thanks for representing ACS.

Thanks Hoang for showing us how to party hard.

Thanks Viet for the score keeping.

Thanks Jessica, Fung, Myco, Cynthia for making it a party.

Thanks Asif for coming to the early soft opening even though you couldn’t make the official party.

Thanks Liem and Annette for a lot of random things around the house, like the xbox and cushy floor mats. Also for helping me move in.

Thanks to my sister Elaine for random kitchen items like the non plastic silverware and bottle opener.

Thanks to my parents for providing a house to begin with.

I am almost certain I forgot somebody or something. It is a good problem to have so many friends that you may have left somebody off the thank you list. Special thanks to you!

Hope everyone had a good time. My home is always open to you all.

Pictures:

of the house: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quad4x/sets/72157629816850697/

of the party: http://flickr.com/gp/quad4x/s51027/

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