Sail Amsterdam 2015 – Sea Tradition in the Heart of the City

With the rich Dutch history of sailing and exploring the mysteries of sea, Amsterdam Sail is a nautical event which continues the tradition of bringing the love for sea in the heart of Amsterdam. The successful event attracts thousands of sailing ships, from all around the world, together with 2 millions sail passionate spectators.

amsterdam sail 1

Taking place for the first time in 1975, on the occasion of the 700 anniversary of Amsterdam city, Amsterdam Sail was organized every 5 years, ever since. 2015 is no exception when it comes to keeping the tradition alive.

Becoming the largest public event in the world, with over 2 million people visiting the ships in only a few days, the area is not accessible by car, so the entire vicinity of the event is closed to vehicles, in order to facilitate the access of visitors.

The main attractions are definitely the tall sailing ships, both replicas and heritage ships, which gently make their way to the Ij Lake, located behind Amsterdam Centraal Station. The ships parade is probably the most beautiful sight, as you can see the ships in action, and not only stopped in the harbor.

You can board the ships taking part in the event and visit them. With the large number of curious visitors, the lines are enormous and making it on the ships takes a very long time. However, in the end, it’s worth it! Meeting the crew is obviously the best part, as they can proudly give you more information on the well kept secrets of their amazing ships. I felt honored to have such a unique opportunity!

amsterdam sail 2

Part of the attraction also becomes the traffic on the water canals of Amsterdam, which slowly get packed with smaller boats, full of enthusiastic people, visiting the tall ships by water. Amazingly enough, it works perfectly, and between large ferries, tall ships and small ships, the smaller boats safely make their way to the destination.

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Sail Amsterdam is definitely a beautiful way of celebrating Amsterdam’s anniversary, a wonderful tradition kept alive by the enthusiasm of amazingly passionate people. Looking forward to see the ships return, in 2020 🙂


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Legoland – Creativity Headquarters

If you can dream it, you can build it. Lego makes it all possible, and this is why I think Lego blocks are one of the most amazing toys around. You can create your own miniature world, and make your own toys, out of what looks like to be almost nothing.

The story they don’t tell you – The illegally copied Brick

Lego is around for the longest time (since 1932) and has a very interesting story, binding an illegal patent, a lawsuit and the buying of the original manufacturing company.

The father of Lego, Ole Kirk Christiansen, is a Danish carpenter from Billund, Denmark, who started with building houses and furniture, and later wooden toys.

In the late 1940s, a British company called Kiddicraft, owned by Hilary Harry Fisher Page, began manufacturing “Kiddicraft Self-Locking Building Bricks”. When Kirk came across these bricks in a demo of an injection molding machine, he decided to improve on the building bricks and sell them under his own brand.

When deciding on a name for the company, Christiansen had to choose between “Legio” (“Legion of toys”) and “Lego”, from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well”. Lego means “I put together” in Latin, so the name stayed to the product, until today.

The original inventor of the bricks died without ever finding out Kirk had copied his product illegally and 31 years later, LEGO acquired Kiddicraft when they were preparing to actually sue Tyco for illegally copying ‘their’ bricks. LEGO ended up losing the case and Tyco was allowed to continue selling the bricks.

Legoland – Imagination Land built in Lego Bricks

Situated in the same location where Kirk used to build the wooden toys decades ago, in Billund Denmark, the land of Lego changed significantly since the early 1900’s, becoming the biggest live demo of what you can do with the Lego blocks.

I’ve always been a fan of Lego, so meeting my Lego characters ‘in legoperson’ and walking around in a mini-Lego-City was the dream. Legoland seemed like to normal thing to do 🙂

legoland main entrance

Legoland is a bit of everything. You can walk around the park and feel like you’ve been around the world in a few hours, constantly switching from reality land to imagination land.

main attractions legoland

PirateLand, Knights Kingdom, and a trip into the Wild LegoWest

As main attractions, the park is divided into themes, each one with its own rides, such as PirateLand where you can get into wild battles with the pirates or the Knights Kingdom where a beautiful Castle is taking you into a fairy tale atmosphere.

My favorite part was definitely the MiniLand, a miniature world built in Lego. I used to build my own cities, houses and infrastructure, as a child, from anything I could find around the house, so seeing them built out of Lego blocks was an amazing feeling.

Walking around, I couldn’t help but think about the people who were hired to build the MiniLand. Someone pays you to play with Lego a whole day long? That must be one of the best jobs on Earth! 🙂

legoland mini-amsterdam

Miniature Amsterdam – Built out of Lego bricks

Another neat aspect of the MiniLand are the major landmarks of the world, built from Lego bricks. The closer to the ground you go, the more realistic they look and the more detail you see! Quite impressive!

legoland around the world

Surprisingly enough, there’s a lot of technology behind every single Lego brick. Everything you see moves and behaves like a small copy of the real object. Underneath the park there’s an entire machine guided by a software, which tells every ship, car, windmill, train, crane and any other miniature object, what to do, when and for how long.

The most dangerous part of the park are obviously the gift shops, where the shelves have automatic wallet emptying systems, for the huge Lego fans of all ages. 🙂

The Controversy – Going Commercial or Staying Traditional ?

Anyone who ever run a business knows that as a company, if you want to stay in fashion, you constantly have to reinvent yourself. With the society changing from one year to the other, so do the client’s requests, and then you face a dilemma, which is making more money or staying faithful to your product.

Lego made a lot of changes when it comes to the sets they sell. Opening an entire store for Star Wars fans inside the park, is just one proof of that happening…

What I found particularly sad was the desire to sell, anything, but not the product which made them famous in first place. Inside Legoland, you can find clothing stores, or toys stores selling silly stuffed animals, which have nothing to do with the Lego bricks.

Even sadder is the lack of thematic Lego sets on the shelves, even if they are advertised in the park, and the outrageous prices, even if they claim it’s supposed to be cheaper, as you buy them from the source. The Lego sets were replaces with clothes and stuffed animals, in most stores around the park, even if in a thematic area, they should sell the thematic sets ( in the Knights Kingdom, you should find all the medieval Lego sets, not cheap Chinese toys).

Surprising enough, even if the Lego store sells Lego by the kg, when you try to find the traditional brick of 4×2, which is their iconic brick and is advertised everywhere around the world, they simply DON’T have it! This really made me wonder about the direction in which the company is heading.

In the end is all about money, and the changes Lego made, will keep them on the market for a long time. However, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic to see all the good stuff replaces by commercial sets or items which don’t really scream Lego.


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Flamingos at Dusk

A different type of painting than the ones I normally paint, but I must say, it’s one of my favorite, from a color combination point of view.

Time lapse video of making the painting:

flamingo


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Seal Sanctuary – Inspiration for my paintings

Yesterday I went to a Seal Rescue Center at the Northern Sea, to find out more about their work, and check out the seal pups. They are doing an amazing job with rescuing all injured or orphan pups from the area and giving them a temporary home, until they’re strong enough to be returned to the sea.

With a team of dedicated biologists from all around the world taking care of them, it seems like the pups have a good start in life.

I was very much impressed with this little creatures. They are very playful and curious, and in any possible way, simply adorable. Something in their behavior reminded me of dogs.

It was very difficult to leave the center, especially without this little pup 🙂 .

Coming back home from the rescue center,  I couldn’t help but feel very inspired to paint a seal.

Time lapse video of making the painting:

harbor seal


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