Thursday, June 6, 2013

Water Cities (Part 1)

My blog which is suppose to highlight my musings and wonderings in Europe had been quiet. So before I finally head home soon, I hope to post randomly on whatever I can think of.

To give an urban development student edge, let me feature some of the cities I have been that captured my (erm, not heart) attention and worth coming back if I have more time or if someone special wants to visit this place again with me.
Travel Date: August 21 to 23, 2012

A few day stop in Amsterdam, after visiting Brussels and the Flanders. I couchsurfed at Faryel and Maarten's flat along the old buildings in the city of Amsterdam.

I cannot imagine how many hordes of bikes I had seen everywhere - especially near the main train station! Bikes after bikes after bikes. I am glad I had experienced biking the city and just got lost all around the old amazing canal system of Amsterdam. The city planners had done great job, no fear of flooding.

Need to pose on the famous I AMsterdam display! One of the many canals in a bright sunny summer.
A bit lost where I was but I did enjoy the night view of the water city!

Chicken BBQ with satay sauce, Stroopwafel, Fried mussels with garlic dip and freshly-pressed orange juice

There are so much to see in Amsterdam and my three-day stay was not enough. But one must not miss a walk along Albert Cuypstraat - a market stretch for literally anything. I had a food trip below €10 - the chicken with satay sauce tells of the historic relation of Indonesia and the Dutch, the big stroopwafel was hot and freshly made with caramel-like syrup oozing in every bite, and the fried seafood and dip of your choice paired with fresh orange juice. Satisfying for a weary traveler on a budget!


Travel dates: February 8-9, August 26, 2012

The first time I was in Hamburg was during our German Tour in class. It was the coldest week of the year, and the coldest week in my whole life (so far)! We spent a lot of time visiting city planners, looking at model cities and practices, and walking outside the cold! In the Philippines, we had the death march where prisoners of war were forced to walk over 120 kilometers under the scorching heat. And i felt we had the death march under the freezing cold of -18°C. Brrrr.

Hamburg in winter. The town hall in green. And that's ice baby! Look closer and take some plunge!
The Alster Lake froze and was open to the public when we were there in winter! I was so adrenalized when we were able to convince our German professor to let us drop by even just for 15 minutes to the frozen lake! They told us that the lake had not been frozen and opened to the public during the past 10-15 days. History in the making and I was there!

Anyway, the cold issue did not stop me from adoring Hamburg! In fact, I made another short visit in the summer of the same year. Just the smell of the sea and the view of the port made me feel closer home, what more if I can have a taste of fresh seafood!
Alster Lake in winter and summer!
It's summer after all, treading the 19th century store houses and the HafenCity
Should I let you know that Hamburg is my Lieblingsstadt (favorite city) in Germany. After knowing their city planning and development initiatives (e.g., participatory and community-based planning, flood mitigation strategies, energy efficiency), I just enjoy Hamburg.


Travel Date: October 26 to 28, 2012

My trip to Venice came as a big challenge to keep my expenses low to the minimum possible. This is one of the most expensive cities I had been in Italy. Couchsurfing in Italy proved to be really hard if one chooses to be picky on their hosts. So i ended up booking on a cheap hostel and then transferred to a better single room the other day. Yeah, I know, it was a bit hassle, but I must look at my budget.

First impressions on Venice is the city's cleanliness! After living in Rome for quite sometime, I am happy that this city is much scrubbed and eye-pleasing as a tourist-magnet. I also enjoyed seeing a more 'organized' and seemingly functioning bike lane and transportation system. Well, that's what I pay for higher prices!

Ponte di Rialto and the lover's Gondola
Ok, so here I am in a wonderful and romantic city without the love of my life. Gideon and I tried to establish a video call, but it didn't work out. So i just took photo of the gondola where we can eventually sit down together and navigate through Venice's water ways and kiss under the bridge!

Quaint water scenes and Piazza San Marco
How to go around Venice? I got lost in and around the Venetian streets and small alleys. Directions to the main places and squares will lead you, don't worry. If you want to shell out more money, you can try getting into one of the vaporetti (plural of vaporetto or Venice water bus) and cruise along Venice or nearby Murano and Burano islands.
Eat sumptuously even on a budget!
As this trip was a budget challenge, I was able to manage, of course!
Day 1, I arrived very, very late from Rome, food not an option but I still got some cookies.
Day 2, I went to the Venezia Marathon house where they served free ice cream and foodies. I also bought some bread, butter, tomatoes and apples to supply my budget tummy which cost about €6.00. I had panino and white house wine (late lunch/ snacks) for €5.00. Seashell pasta in white wine sauce (dinner) for € 12.00. 
Day 3 breakfast was still supplied by the bread and apples and had broccoli soup and pizza marinara (lunch) for €14.00. Yeah, it is hard to get away from this tourist menus!

Let me see until what part this water cities will bring me. I have the Flanders in my mind, Vienna, Oslo, and Copenhagen.

What for me is a water city? A city geographically located by the river, sea or body of water. A city that had depended, developed and emerged from its reliance to the water usually by trade and tourism.

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