On a gloriously, sunny crisp clear day in SF, I started wading through our snow gear in preparation for a school snow trip to the Sierras. It must be mentioned that keeping snow gear up to date for growing kids is tricky, but I think I’ve got it all sorted and labeled. All this talk of snow and winter got me thinking about my own winter bucket list, winter adventures high on my “to do” agenda.
When most of the country is dreaming of beaches and sun, I’m dreaming of the white stuff. I love snow and all the fun one can have outdoors when the temperature drops and precipitation turns to flakes. Three unusual activities came to mind. One, visiting Sweden’s Ice Hotel, but I already posted about that one.
The second, skating Holland’s many canals has been a lifelong dream. Inspired by Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, skating the canals has become a rarity due to pollution and climate change. 2009 was a big year for canal skating and many Dutch citizens rediscovered their soul when they strapped on their skates two winters ago.
Two new countries have joined the global community and one has disappeared. It sounds complicated, but what happened in the Caribbean last week means that the group of countries formerly known as the Netherlands Antilles or the Dutch Antilles, is no longer. On October 10th, 2010, folks living on the Caribbean islands of Curacao and St. Maarten greeted the day and found themselves in autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Three smaller islands, (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) formerly part of the Dutch Antilles, will now be ruled directly by the Dutch government.
The federation of the Dutch Antilles was formed in 1954 and it was economic issues, primarily debt, that tore them apart. What does this mean for travelers to the Caribbean islands? A sampling of sites shows very few are even mentioning the change…at least not yet. Even the U.S. State Department site is yet to update information. For now, according to The Economist magazine, the Netherlands will continue to handle the islands’ defense and foreign policy. If you are planning a trip to the region, make sure you ask a lot of questions about visa and passport documents and any changes that may be in the works.
Washington DC is a city built to serve government and tourism. On a recent trip with a group of French executives, the conversation flowed on the bus as we traversed the city. Designed by a Frenchman, the Mall reminded them of the Tuileries, the Washington Monument of Place de la Concorde. We were to do DC in two days, and although the Smithsonian alone could fill a week or more, I do feel like I got a great flavor for Inside the Beltway.
A visit to Mount Vernon on a stormy day launched the dizzying schedule. I opted for a breath of fresh air with a view of the Potomac, a tour of the house and a walk to the farm. George Washington was quite green (which I learned is a term in French that means an older, quite virile man, not ecologically minded) and in his own way farmed and recycled with an eye on the future, employing crop rotation and mulching much of his waste. A lover of rivers, he situated his house so the view from the porch is masterful and remains unmarred. Continue reading »
Studying Abroad is one of the most expansive experiences a young student can have, not only living and studying in a country, but being able to travel widely while away from home. I was lucky when I studied in France many moons ago because the dollar was strong and a semester abroad was actually less expensive than a semester on campus in Connecticut.
Nearly every weekend I took off for London, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Holland or Italy. I remember sewing a Canadian patch on my backpack before a foray through Europe because of the palpable dislike for Reaganomics and small acts of terrorism against Americans: small potatoes compared to travelers’ fears today. Continue reading »
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If you still party like its 1999, but consider yourself to be Green, you might want to check out the new Dutch Green Disco in Rotterdam. Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, is often described as a gritty port city with a vibrant night life. Now it is also home to the Club Watt: a nightclub for the new millennium. As 2009 fast approaches, this is nightlife that is more in tune with today’s environmental concerns. Described as a sustainable Dance Club, the nightspot boasts a dance floor that gathers energy from the dancer’s movements. The club also advertises rainwater-fed toilets, heat created by the amplifiers and other musical equipment, as well as a robust recycling program.
Clubbing is never going to be a carbon neutral endeavor, with all the electricity needed for strobes, disco balls and audio equipment, but if you are planning a trip to Holland you might want to check out the latest in “hybrid” hotspots.