Thursday, September 24, 2009

This man is a god

I mean, averaging 32mph over about an hour? Ridiculous...
Its really nice to be able to watch the races at local times. Props to Zirbel for his performance, he was sitting with top time all day until the last group of riders came in, but still managed fourth. Definitely a ProTour level rider.

As for my biking while I'm over here, its sad to say that I won't get out to ride any of the Alps. Its just too expensive to get over there for four days, and coming back on Sunday is the most expensive flying day in Europe. Anyways, I'm going to Milan for my first travel and maybe we can work out a day riding some of the mountains north of there. However, for the second travel at the end of next month, I'm headed out to Belgium to see some real cyclocross. GVA Trofee - Koppenbergcross and Superprestige Hoogstraten, there should be some epic racing going on there.

I'll make my comeback to collegiate cycling when we get back to the States, hopefully I'll be in some form of shape. I'll look to maybe go to CX nationals this year! (joking) Road nationals are already planned on, but I'll need more than two weekends of cross to consider going out to Oregon. Maybe next year, assuming I get into the Master's program.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm alive

Sorry I haven't kept up with posts the last two weeks, I'm working towards a studio deadline tomorrow so the free time hasn't been plentiful. Last weekend we traveled to Prague for our Urban Studies class, which was a pretty awesome place.
I got a bike, nothing specially really, it just works (barely) and gets me from the apartments to studio, shortening a 40-minute commute to 25 and saving me $6 or so a day. I'll post a pic of it later.

Alright, back to work.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Amsterdam, Part Two

Well now I'm kind of settled in Berlin, in studio and kicking my self for deciding not to ship my cross bike. Bikes here aren't as cheap as I thought, I was looking for something like an old 80's road bike or something, with not so great components but decent enough to use for a long ride apart from commuting. I've been to five different shops so far and the best price I can get for something decent is 300 euros, or roughly $435-US. I know I'd be able to sell it before I leave for 75% of what I bought it for, but I don't want to drain my funds completely. Public transportation here is damn expensive, comparing it to the T in Boston, one ride is three times the price ($3.05 one-way).

So now here is the second part of my Amsterdam tale.

Day Three: Rotterdam

What a nice city. It got totally leveled in WWII, so since then its come along way. There are a lot of modern buildings, overall very clean, and a very lively marketplace. In the morning I had a presentation at the Kunsthal in the morning, it went pretty well. I still have to present the Dutch Embassy when we get to Berlin, and then the rest of the class is a 10-page paper comparing and contrasting the two projects.

I was surprised that I got to present my project in the auditorium, which was a special occasion. I’m still not sure what the smile and frown faces on the glass represent, but I’m sure I’ll find it out at some point in my research.

This is a typical OMA-Rem Koolhaas building, with main program spaces split by a main trajectory path that is blurred from interior to exterior. You can tell they were very happy with the result:

We spent some time wandering around Rotterdam, but there wasn’t much else to do so we took the train back to Amsterdam fairly early. I was hoping to get the Heineken Brewery tour in tonight, but they changed from their summer hours, so we got there after it closed. While we were out eating it started to rain, so the night was called early.

Day Four: Utrecht

Very interesting buildings were seen today. The Utrecht University seems like a really cool campus. It was Sunday morning there, so not a lot was going on, though at one point a pack of 200+ girls went out for a bike ride. I caught a photo of a few tailing off the back:

I think there were at least 15 girls for every guy we saw. Coming from Wentworth, that’s seems like a pretty amazing ratio. Sometimes it makes me think I should transfer, but I’m two semesters away from my bachelor’s so why bother. As for grad school, well, we’ll see. One more year at Wentworth makes financial sense.

We visited the library at the University, which had a very neat texture on every panel of the building, and even on the glass as a print for shading:

The inside was probably the most wide-open library I've ever seen. The idea is that everybody can see everybody, which encourages more social interaction. It also can serve as a motivator to someone like me where if I can see everyone else studying, I should probably be too.
After wards, we walked down to the one, the only, Schröder House! Holy crap was this place pretty beat up, but thinking about it, its more than 80 years old, and that type of house wasn't designed to last. It was a bummer we couldn't '
make pictures' inside (every European tour guide's favorite expression).
After that tour, we broke for lunch in the historic center of Utrecht. There was some were nice scenery, and its a city I wouldn't mind living in.
I made it back to Amsterdam, took the tram straight to the Heineken brewery to see if I could make the tour. We just missed the last tour, which was a shame being our last night in Amsterdam, but the shop was open so I got some souvenirs anyway. A good group of us went out and enjoyed our last night in Amsterdam, out hitting up the bars. The highlight of the night was three of my friends accidentally stumbling into a gay bar to go to the bathroom, getting lots of racy comments from all the guys in there. It was almost a bad idea with a group of about 10 or so drunk Americans parading the red light district and surrounding bars, but then again most of everyone around that area are tourists anyway. Its nice not having to worry about getting much sleep, because of the very long bus ride we had the next day. I think I might be back sometime in the near future.

Next stop: Paris!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Amsterdam, Part One

Sorry for the lack of posts on this first travel elective, I really haven’t had the time to go out and spend it on the internet. Not that it isn’t widely available or anything, we just don’t get it at the hostels, we’re on our feet from 7 in the morning until 5 traveling around, sketching, photographing, studying etc. all the awesome architecture that’s over here. So once we’re free for the day after that’s done, we’re going to do something a little more fun and lively for the night, rather than go find an internet café or something of that nature. Here’s a recap of our time in Amsterdam, feel free to read in parts because it will probably be long.

Day One: Arrival
Our flight landed around 7:40 AM at Schipbol Airport just outside of Amsterdam, I can say for the most part that none of us got more than 2 hours of sleep (I managed only one) and knew this would be a long day. We had no presentations that day, but Rolf Bachman and John Ellis (our professors) were eager to introduce us to the city. We took the tram to the hostel, to learn that we couldn’t check in until 2. So they let us drop our bigger bags in a closet to keep safe while we walked around until then. We walked all the way back towards Central Station, taking in the beautiful street scenery along the way:
We headed over to Amsterdam public library, where they were having a cool exhibit on Rietveld’s furniture, and a cafeteria with roof deck. We stopped and ate, took a look around the building (which was also very cool),
and eventually wandered back to the hotel. Greg and I got a sweet balcony on the second floor overlooking the canal next to us, and a view of the vibrant nightlife in the theater district. We took a nap for a few hours and went out to grab some food. We found a coffee shop with some good stuff (I won't say anymore), wandered over to the Red Light District to see what it was like, and called it a night early to help with the jet lag.
Day Two: Amsterdam
We woke up early to see quite a few buildings. I won’t go into details about everything, but the housing development here was really cool, each floor had a separate façade material which gave each apartment a unique feeling:
One of my favorites was the Muziekgebouw by 3xNielsen:
The parti of the building is very simple and works amazingly well; there is a large performance hall for modern classical music, and a smaller one for jazz music. Around is a glass box that encloses the space between to two for lobby, bar, and restaurant areas. Very cool theater effects indeed:
The best thing about Amsterdam (I thought) was the sheer number of bikes. Bikes outnumber cars by a long shot, although 99% of the bikes were cruisers:
In a city as old as Amsterdam, efficiency is a huge priority; fewer cars, less pollution, more tourists, then more people on bikes, walking and using public transportation. I wish more of them were road bikes, but most people are solely commuting, so a leisure bike does the trick, and you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your particular bike because they all look the same.
We saw two of Hertzbeger’s Montessori schools, which were somewhat interesting. Our tour guide was very enthusiastic when it came to demonstrating the importance of the learning environment, which included some great posters with important lessons:
Somehow, I think this sort of openness wouldn’t fly in America, I’m sure there is some stupid code for educational settings that prevents a six-story drop anywhere in the building. I mean, some kid in the US would probably jump this:
We retreated back to the room, checked out the Red Light district on a crazy Friday night, and got to bed not too late, I had a presentation the next day.

I’ll split this part into two, we’re gonna go out to watch the Swiss national team match at a bar somewhere downtown.

P.S. Found this on the side of a building, even though the numbers are technically wrong, it's still awesome:('05 Tour de France Prologue)