Monday, October 19, 2015

Nine days in The Netherlands

I don't know about you - but I have to 'process' my trips. Yes, I lived in the moment while I was there, but to be honest, I was also flat out recording them for when I was no longer there. Now that I'm home and looking through my shots & footage - I'm really glad that I whipped out my iPhone to film from the tram when I arrived, or that moment the boat passed me on the canal, and to be honest - it is second nature to me (it's not a chore) so I appreciate it more when I discover the details when I'm editing. Here's a snap shot of my week, which I hope gives you a taste of Holland.

Nine days in The Netherlands from tara axford on Vimeo.

Here's some tips too:

1) Citymapper app here was fantastic. It was like having a personal concierge without the overheads. I constantly used the 'get me somewhere' feature, entered in my start and end, and it showed me overground, underground, tram, train, taxi and walking options, how long it would take and how much it would cost. It also lets you save this offline, plus I did screen shots or wrote down the info for later.

2) Rembrandt's House Museum was definitely a favourite, less queues, and it's where he actually lived and worked. There were also live demonstrations like the etching one shown above, worth planning your trip around this.

3) The Rijksmuseum is worth it. Fabulous collections, beautiful gardens, super shop + cafe. Book tickets online and get there early. I did the multimedia tour - so i could just view suggested highlights or key in numbers to hear about specific works (it emails you back your favourites too). No point getting museum fatigue. AND if you loved The Miniaturist - Petronella's dolls house is here..!

4) Why not continue the literary theme with a visit to the De Hortus Botanicus? If you enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of all things you'll enjoy this oasis in the city.

5) Follow locals of the city on instagram a little before you set off, one afternoon as I sat with my cake enjoying free wifi - I came across a picture of a photographic  fair - I googled it to find out that it was 20 minutes by tram from where I was sitting. So instant!

Next I'll be working on a nature in The Netherlands video AND hopefully taking that to the shed to bring you another one of my process videos... stay tuned!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Well, September. It's gone. I took some of my long service leave and went. To Europe. Solo.

8 days in Berlin... from tara axford on Vimeo.

Berlin, was one of those places that had crept into my mind as a destination to visit. It didn't disappoint. It was colourful, stimulating, yet also calming. I was happiest just wandering the streets. With big cities it can be overwhelming working out what to see, what to leave out. My tip would be to do a tour on arriving - get your bearings.  I did this 'alternative' one first. It took me to neighbourhoods that I wanted to visit, but wouldn't have gone to immediately. Alex our guide moved at a good pace - just the right amount of history and local street art based knowledge. We caught a couple of trains (a great intro to the German transport system) + walked for 3 hours.
I also discovered free tours are a 'thing' in Europe. You sign up - for free - then you have the option of tipping the guide how much you think the tour is worth. Excellent. I did this one, although both companies offer several different options, including evening + more specialised trips. It was an ideal way to tick off a few of the key points of historical interest while leaving me plenty of time to embrace getting lost on my own.

I stayed in a wonderful apartment in the old East Berlin (via airbnb) - which really added to the experience of listening to Stasiland by Anna Funder, as an audio book some evenings. Because of this focus, I sidestepped popular museum island and went to the DDR museum, and visited The Story of Berlin. Both these museums have a multimedia approach to telling a story. You can walk through recreated scenes or vignettes, you can pick items up, open drawers and cupboards, listen to audio - ultimately get a real sense of some of Berlin's history, without just walking up and down corridors peering into glass cabinets.

Images such as this - which showed the impact of a 'sudden' wall between two parts of the city were fascinating.. as was visiting it's remains.

I had purchased Lonely Planets pocket guide, as this was super overview and had an actual MAP, good for avoiding excessive 3G/4G charges. Although free wifi was available in most cafes - a perfectly timed pitstop. Having cash on hand rather than relying on cards was indeed a good tip, others would be that shops are shut Sundays. So head to Mauerpark if flea markets are your thing.

Berlin in September, for me, had it all. Colourful neighbourhoods, fabulous food for every palate and budget, history, inspiration, super art supply shop,

 fab soy flat whites .... 

plenty to explore and experience.


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