Tag Archives: Travel

Koninginnedag – Queen’s Day

Today is queen’s day. It’s like the oppossite of May Day. In fact, it’s conveniently celebrated the day before May Day, despite it not being the current queen’s birthday at all. Essentially, it works like this: the monarchy grants the peasants one day of freedom of the year, throws a huge party in Amsterdam, and everyone gets all misty-eyed and patriotic. Okay, no one gets misty-eyed. Everyone just gets shitfaced. Everyone from all over the country pours into Amsterdam and gets drunk and chants things and generally trashes the city. One of the lessons of the day was a reminder that random destruction isn’t necessarily a liberating thing. Sometimes it’s just hooliganism, or hell, patriotism.

It seems like the anarchists who don’t need the money mostly head out of town. Those who’re broke either hawk stuff, work bar, or collect cups for the deposit.

In the last photo, below, you can see an entire street covered in piss that is leaking from an overflowing portable urinal. And still, folks are lining up to use the urinal as it streams out directly onto the pavement.
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I arrived in Amsterdam a few days ago, and a friend picked me up from the train station. It would be simplest to say that it felt good: for the past four years since I left this place, I’ve had constant reoccurring (pardon my spelling: the browser is set to underline everything that isn’t dutch) dreams about coming back to Amsterdam. In most of those dreams, I can’t find my friends, all the squats I knew were gone, everything was changed and I was a stranger.

That stuff is only partly true. The scene here is a lot more divided than it was four years ago, and an anti-squatting law is looming over the country like… like something bad that looms. Like the threat of Voldemort. Squatting is only legal here because the squatters fight tooth and nail for their spaces. In the 80s, some ridiculously large percentage of Amsterdam was squatted. Now it is a fraction, but it is a vibrant and wonderful fraction.

Anyhow, that first night, I woke up at dawn and went up on the roof of the place and took pictures. The cat was kind enough to join me.

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Decadence – Dubai

I’m fascinated by Dubai, the boom-town of the globalized era. Now, it’s the bust-town of globalization. Here’s a beautiful slideshow called off the deep end that goes over some of the city’s rapid decline. Dubai is crazy, though: they have the world’s tallest building, but public displays of affection are illegal. Thousands of ex-pat businesspeople move there to make a killing, to be part of something, but they’re doing it where debt is a jailable offense. Now there are thousands of laid-off construction workers who can’t leave the country. If there’s any place in the world that should be the epicenter of anarchism, of building a new world, it might just be Dubai. Of course, I’ve never actually been there, so what the hell would I know about it. But it’s funny, people are so convinced that America is the belly of the beast. But governments are so 20th century, ya know? It is (well, was) a globalized economy. Dubai might have been the peak of all of that.

There are apparently thousands of abandoned cars at the international airport, left as people flee.

Why I Love Finland

I always romanticized Finland when I was a teenager, and Helsinki was the first foreign city I ever visited by myself, and is one of only two that I’ve bothered to go to twice. In Finland, there are no gendered pronouns. And during midsummer, the sun doesn’t really go down so much and you can walk from bar to bar and sit in the sunshine (moving as the shadows move, you understand), while a middle-aged, wealthy, kinda depressed guy buys you and your even-more-depressed and not-wealthy friends beer. Then you can black out and pass out in a gutter and wake up with 40 American bucks in your pocket that you didn’t start out with, acquired by means of telling strange tourists a sob-story when they ask you why you were passed out in the above-mentioned gutter. As the night progresses towards 5am, you can declare your love and desire for marriage to someone you haven’t seen in 6 years, and then you can leave town like 2 days later heartbroken and happy, perhaps ne’er to return.

But I digress.

The reason that, today, I remember why I love Finland is for two of their marvelous inventions: the sauna and the molotov cocktail.

I Will Marry You If We Can Honeymoon In Socotra*

(Photo by Jan Vandorpe)

So there’s this archipelago, Socotra, in the Indian Ocean. And near as I can figure out, everything there is amazing and beautiful and wonderful, at least visually. There are 40,000 people but they only put roads in two years ago. There aren’t any fancy oceanside resorts, though it caters to eco-tourism. And there are tons of species of plants and animals (like the trees above) that are only found on those four islands. I want to go there. That’s all.

*offer not valid unless I was going to marry you regardless, which is rather unlikely.