Monday, October 21, 2013

A run through Paris

Yes, please! Elliot and his friend from business school signed up for a race through the streets of Paris, sponsored by Nike. What a great excuse to visit friends in Paris and spend the weekend in the city of love. Arnaud and Eloise, and their 2 gorgeous kids, live just outside Paris and were kind enough to host us for the long weekend. Turned out to be a great race!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wait, there are islands in the Netherlands?

Yes, people, islands. No palm trees, coconuts, or sunshine, but real (and manmade) islands. We had our weekend-long team retreat on Vlieland, the largest of the islands. October isn't the best month for Dutch island-hopping, but we made the best of it. 

We were there for a potential assignment, so it wasn't all fun and games (biking and cranberry-picking), we actually worked hard (in Dutch, mind you!). But the landscape was lovely. Long sandy beaches, a variety of lush green, autumn colors, and nature tours by locals. We stayed in the small main town, on the small main street. It was quaint and quiet, relaxing during our off hours. And the sunrise views were amazing! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Berlin: poor but sexy

First off, what a cool city. Too cool, actually. I headed to Berlin with about 40 other Dutch urban planners, architects, and entrepreneurs on a study trip. My company (read: I) planned the trip and we spent about 3 days examining their strategies around temporary use, among other topics, ie,  bottom-up initiatives, user-driven transformation, organic urban planning, vacancy, co-working, urban agriculture, innovation, participation, the civic economy. 

We also really wanted to explore Berlin's unofficial motto: Poor but sexy. Why? How? 

We'd arranged guided walking/cycling tours and discussions with Berlin leaders pertaining to the specific theme. Of course our goal was to learn and see, first-hand, what makes Berlin a special place in terms of the themes of our trip. We intended to discuss challenges, opportunities, unexpected results, and the history of temporary use, development, and public participation in Berlin. We hoped each site visit and conversation revealed a concrete lesson that we might be able to apply to our own challenges in Rotterdam. You can read more about this trip and the conclusions here and here. The highlights were: walking through Neukolln, the Klunkerkranich rooftop bar and Farbfelder garden project, the city model at the urban planning department, and of course cycling through the city to the old Templehof Airport, now used as a giant park and kite-flying hotspot. Yep, cool.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fietsentocht to the fireworks

A very Dutch thing to do in the summer is a fietsentocht, or a bike journey. Usually they last a few days or a month. Ours was a couple hours. And we were fine with that. It happened to be the international firework festival in Scheviningen, the beachside town near Den Haag. We rented bikes when we got off the train and cycled about 15km through the dunes (the long way) to the beach. We got rained on a little (what's a bike ride in Holland without rain??), but made it just in time for dinner and a view of the fireworks. Of course it was pouring almost the entire way back to the train station. But it was warm and we had fun!

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