Saturday, October 25, 2008

Just livin my life, ayo ayo ayo

So Tuesday I went to Den Haag to my teacher's house to get my instrument adjusted. Some friends of his from Germany who just happen to be really great instrument repair people were stopping by to look at his viola and whoever of his students as well, so me and one other of his students came with our instruments. They filed down my bridge a little, adjusted my soundpost, and my viola sounds so good! Whoa! It was pretty sweet. And luckily it stopped raining by the time we were done the adjustments, so I took the opportunity to wander around Den Haag a little. I went to the Binnenhof, which is an inner courtyard surrounded by all the buildings of the Dutch parliament. The central courtyard was once used for executions, and has a big 13th century Gothic dining hall called the Ridderzaal (Knight's Hall) on the one end. There must have been something going on because there was a red carpet of sorts and barricades with people crowded around them. Maybe the Queen was there. But waiting in a mob is actually kind of boring so I just had a look around and left. I wandered around for a bit, found the Canadian Embassy (since I figured it's probably a good idea to know where the embassy is if I ever need to go there), walked past the Paleis Noordeinde, the king and queen's official residence. I eventually made my way back to the Binnenhof, and visited the Mauritshuis museum. The building was actually a mansion dating from 1640, and in 1822 it was converted to a museum to host the royal collection. I saw Vermeer's "View of Delft" and "Girl with a Pearl Earring", as well as Rembrandt's "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp". Pretty cool stuff. Aside from the biggies that are always on show (if they're not being lent out) they have rotating exhibitions of course, and the one showing was of Dutch cityscapes. The Netherlands has had a strong tradition of strong city-states, so as far back as the 1600 artists had started painting cityscapes. It was pretty cool, but there's only so many times you can see a painting entitled "View of ". I was a little sad I didn't get to see Andy Warhol's "Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands", but it wasn't on display. I considered going to a few other museums, namely the Galerij Prins Willem V (which was opened in 1773 and paintings are still hung in the manner popular in the 18th century - every possible space on the wall is covered in art), and Escher in het Paleis Museum (a permanent collection spanning MC Escher's entire career, housed in the former residences of Queen Emma). As well, it would have been supercool to tour the Vredespaleis, the home of the UN International Court of Justice, but you need to book ahead to take a tour since security is understandably pretty strict. But instead I decided to head back home. There's so many cool things to see! It's too overwhelming! Also I was tired from getting up early to catch the train, and sort of travel fatigued since I'd just gotten back from Maastricht the afternoon before.
The rest of the week passed by pretty quietly. I practiced, and went to the gym. I had a Memo in Amstelveen on Thursday morning, which is one of the suburbs of Amsterdam. But it was all good because I got paid an extra 12 euros for extra travel, and it's not like I had anything to do! Holidays! The only stupid thing about the holidays is that the school was on limited hours - 9-4. Which is just ridiculous. On a normal school day nobody is there at 9 am, or pretty much before 11 or 12 for that matter. And we have even less incentive to get up early on our holidays! I think if they wanted limited hours, they should have done them from 12-8 or something like that. But apparently most schools just shut down altogether, but music schools can't do that because we need to practice. The library was closed entirely for the whole week which was annoying, since it already has limited enough hours as it is (it's only open monday to friday, mon 12-5:30, tues-fri 10-5:30). Yeah, that's another weird thing I don't know if I've mentioned yet. Not only is everything in the entire country (pretty much) closed on Sundays, but everything's also closed on Monday mornings. And most things close quite early compared to in big cities in Canada - there's no such thing as grocery stores open until midnight, let alone the awesome 24 hour stores - here most close at 6, and the late ones close at 9 or 10. I can only compare it to living in Saskatoon, and every day is on Sunday hours. It's frustrating because I don't keep 9-5 normal hours, and so when I have free time everything's closed. Boo-urns. Also, another interesting thing I've discovered while working for Memo - all the preschools and primary schools are locked up tight, and you have to get buzzed in. There's no such thing as just walking in the front doors of a school. You have to call and get buzzed in. And most of them have playgrounds in an inner courtyard, so there's no way that you can really get at the playground either. I'm not sure if it makes me feel more or less safe, because it's a little worrying that they feel they have to take such precautions. I just think of the elementary schools I went to, where all the doors were unlocked and open at all times, the the playground was a big field that was completely open. It's the same way that when you see lots of police around you feel more afraid rather than more safe. Anyways, I just thought it was strange.

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