Thursday, August 30, 2007

Example of civility

Sorry for the picture... No further comments...

31st Aug
Comment on the picture:
Not many people have noticed why I have put the previous picture, and why I asked for your pardon. Therefore, I will finally have to comment on it ;-) Sorry if you got it at a first glance.
The funny or uncivical thing in the picture is that the beach was full with trash bins to put your dog's excrements in and somebody's dog has shitted next to one of them and the owner didnt even care... have a close look... do you understand now? Please, don't let people do that if you are near. Thanks ;-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Those 3 kanjis above mean karate-dou ("the way of the empty hand"). Why am I writing this post about karate? Well, it is simply 'coz I have taken it up recently!

Everything started when Carolina decided to offer some introductory karate lessons in August. I had been wanting to start karate for a very long time, so it was the perfect opportunity! After ten lessons and having got familiar with terms like fudodashi or sotomawashigeri, I can say I will keep on practicing it in winter. Actually, it is even cooler than expected!

Last Friday, it was sunny when we were going to practice and it was decided to carry it out outside, on the grass. Carolina senpai brought her camera and this is the result!

Grazie Carolina!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bike trip in Zuid Holland

Yesterday was the day when I finally understood I am crazy. The nice was sunny and at around 5.30 I decided to go to the beach by bike. The beach in Katwijk is only 10 km from Leiden, so I thought it could be a nice ride. I took my backpack with my camera and a long-sleeved T-shit and I set off. I had decided this ride was for fun, so I was relaxed taking photos of windmills, canals and other pintoresque things in the countriside. Finally, I arrived at the beach. It was the first time I went to this beach and it was nice.

In this area, the beach is always surrounded by dunes. The landscape is quite nice with sand mountains with greenish colours due to the vegetation. Well, I found a nice road in the dunes! It was my opportunity to have fun with my bike! In a country where everything is flat, some up and downs can be fun!!

After 10 km, according to the panels, I was really near Wassenaar and the landscape changed. There were not any more dunes but forest with small "lakes" (maybe with salty water...).

I was really surprised when I found out I was near Scheveningen, the beach town next to Den Haag. After getting over from the surprise ;-) I decided to continue and visit the famous boulevard. Before, on my way there, I kept on enjoying the slopes in the road and going near the sea from time to time.

Finally, I got to Scheveningen and went around the famous boulevard for a while. Of course, I took a picture of the pier and the beach...

It was around 8 o'clock and time I started facing reality. Anyone living in Leiden knows Scheveningen is not so near the city. Besides, I checked my backpack and I didn't have food, drinks or even money!! And it was getting dark!! And if that was not bad enough, I didn't really know how to come back to Leiden...

I decided to make for Wassenaar using a different road from the one I used before, this time, as far as possible from the sea. After 8 km, I found and indication saying Leiden was 14 km away! Anyway, I was happy as I was in the right way!! The only problem was it was getting colder and I was exhausted and hungry. However, I had time for some extra shots:

- Have a look how clean Dutch canals are... yes, the canal is the wide green thing next to the bike lane.

- Some cows in a really Dutch landscape.

- And finally, a windmill in the outskirts of Leiden.

I arrived home a little later than 9, completely exhausted and starving... However it had been nice. What started as a quick visit to the beach, became a 40-50 km bike trip in Zuid-Holland!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chicago (五), The first franchised McDonalds

Naoko wanted me to post something about this topic, so there we go!

Nowadays, everybody knows what McDonalds is and all it represents... they have many supporters and detractors. However, I will try to keep some distance with respect to my personal opinion and just describe what we visited in Chicago.

McDonalds was founded in 1940 and was based at San Bernardino, California. This restaurant was quite famous in the area and a business man called Ray Kroc decided to take over the restaurant and open a corporation composed of many franchised restaurants. Following this idea, he opened the first franchised restaurant of the corporation in Chicago. Therefore, it can be said this restaurant started McDonalds such as we know it these days. This is the current aspect of that restaurant:

Inside, there is a museum, well... just a few display cabinets with stuff from the corporation since the very beginning, together with an explanation of its history.

Here, some examples... These are some of the early cardboard glasses they used to use back in the 50s-60s.

And this is the first Ronald McDonalds... obviously, aesthetic values have changed quite a lot in 40 years... most kids would be currently scared by such a clown!!

And finally, the original plans for the building of the restaurant. As you can appreciate, the original shape in the 50s is different from the M-shape it has these days.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Housemates' dinner in Amsterdam

Yesterday, Jorge invited Felipe and me for a dinner in his new appartment in Amsterdam. He had recently been in Portugal and had brought good food: some kind of dark chorizo, fish, wine... It was the first time we were in his appartment once the furniture was mounted and I can say it was really nice!

Although we were there for dinner, sunsets are always a good opportunity to take nice pictures.

The food and wine were really good and the atmosphere very nice, but it was a warm night and we moved to a terrace in Rembrandtsplein (or whatever it is the spelling).However, we had to go downstairs which is not always easy in the Netherlands. They have the not so nice custom of buiding narrow and step staircases... Have a look at the last part of the way down to the street.

The temperature was surprisingly nice and it was interesting to watch the behaviour of Dutch people and the always present English tourists ;-)

Finally, we went to Leidseplein until the end of the night. Once there, we decided to enter Melkweg and join an indy party there. The music was not techno, which is already an improvement in this country, and time flew as usual... When having fun, time is like water, you cannot stop it when flowing fast...

Of course, some people in the club were kind of too affected by alcohol or naturally crazy XD

As usual, the worst part of the night was coming back home at 5.30! It is the right moment to have a snooze while travelling in the train.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Chicago (四). Dinner at the 95th

One night we went for dinner to the coolest restaurant in all Chicago. It is located in the 95th floor of the John Hankock Center, the fourth tallest building in the US. The food was pretty good, but as you can possibly imagine, the main point of going there was enjoying the breathtaking view.

We asked for a table as near the windows as possible and if possible with view to the Sears Tower, the tallest building in the city and in the US.

This is the view of downtown Chicago with the nice view of the Sears Tower clearly outstanding in the skyline.

A closer view of the buildings around the Sears Tower:

This is the view of the lakeside. As easily appreciated, the lake area in black greatly contrasts with the lights in the city.

This is the other part of the building, looking out of town. There was a beach there, in that area.

And finally, after the dinner and once we were alone in the restaurant (we were the last customers leaving :), we had to come back downstairs... 95 floors in around 50 seconds... a fast calculation makes it 0.5 second per floor! We could even notice the change of pressure in our ears!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chicago (三). Lunch at Ed's

In Chicago, we also discovered real American food. One example was Ed Debevic's. This place was quite interesting. The place itself looked like taken from a movie in the late 60s and so were the waiters. Another funny thing was they tried to be rude with customers. It was normal to have your waitress come and shout in your ear: "Fast, eat it up and leave!!" They also performed some shows with music played loud in all the restaurant or started arguing, yelling at each other. It was full of American culture items... ejem... this is movie stars, some famous company items, the american flag and music related people. We also had to wear the funny hats you can see below. We took hamburgers, which were really good; nothing to do with McD. We also had one of the better things we tried in the US, bowls of chili. Basically, it was chili con carne with some extra ingredients such as cheddar cheese or macarroni. For some dollars, we had real fun and enjoyed nice food (yes, burgers can be nice food when the meat is alright)

Have a look here! Naochan's burger was with sandwich bread and with bacon and avocado!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pantano de Almansa

My home town has one of the oldest reservoirs in Europe. It is around 6 km far from downtown and it is a nice area due to the quantity of birds and other animals which live there. The oldest parts were built in 1584.

Lately, there have been some problems with its cleaning. Since it was built in 1584, it has been accumulating mud in its bottom. At the beginning of 2002, the depth of the reservoir was very limited due to the amount of accumulated mud. Therefore, it was decided to remove all that mud and to clean it. I didn't have any news about the cleaning process but today, my uncle Javi sent this photo to me.

For me, it is amazing how deep it actually was! I am a bit scared about where the leftovers of the mud where left... I am concerned they have just left them in a nearby area of in another swamp... Does some Almanseño know anything about this? Please tell me!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chicago (二). Millenium Park

One of the nicest places in Chicago is a park called Millenium Park (sorry, the article in Wikipedia is only in Spanish). There are many artistic expressions, such as a concert pavillion, fountains, sculptures, small gardens, a nice bridge...

The funniest place is a sculpture which has the shape of a water drop and whose surface is a mirror. The result is everything reflects and mirrors in the surface and due to the strange waterdrop shape, the angles are strange and cool compositions of images are created...

It is also nice to free your artistic spirit and take nice photos ;-)

Another place to highlight is the concert hall there. It is an open-air pavillion with some cool arcs and live classical music. The atmosphere is really nice: you are lying on the grass under a beautiful architectural piece and listening to classical music played by an orchestra.