Sunday, 21 March 2010

Het Schip, Westerpark, Houthaven Stavangerweg, Silodam Street

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

21st of March, 2010:

Het Schip Museum, Amsterdam
(Museum of the Amsterdam School of Architecture)

  1. Details on
  2. Official site (in English) (the history section might prove useful before you visit it)

What a cool block has Architect Michel de Klerk designed! And it was for the working class - wow, I wish I get such a social house one day! The story is longer, of course: this was happening in 1919, socialism's influence was on the rise, de Klerk himself was a socialist etc.

Big plus: I got a guided tour, in English! Great guide, great English!
Side note: Apparently, the only way one can visit the block is guided.

Big minus: due to some 2 buses that had reserved a time slot, the guide handed over our group to a young lady after the first half of the tour. Then, everyone from the group kind of left by themselves and the lady did not show herself interested in retaining anyone, so basically the tour ended there. That kind of pissed me (such a non-Dutch approach from her!), but as long as I have my Museum Card, I can come back for free later in the future - I must see the 2nd part of the tour roo!

Strange thing: I was the only young person in the group; other 2-3 people were around 38-50 years old, and the rest of approximately 9 people were above 50.

Admission for Museumkaart holders: free entrance, yeah!

Update: I've attended the 2nd part of the tour, too.


Nice park. Indeed, very small, but plenty of people having fun!

It's very cool to see trains passing on the lines north from the park... Hint: the line reaches Amsterdam Central Station in about 1-2 km and aggregates all incoming/outgoing traffic from/to the West (including North- and South-West) of NL, so imagine what is the frequency of trains!

Houthaven Stavangerweg

Houthaven Stavangerweg was one of the other accommodation options De Key offered to students studying at the VU. I was curious to see it. Quite cool, I may say. Peace and quiet in Stavangerweg overall, although the surroundings seemed in the process of rebuilding.

Silodam Street

Wow! Cool!

One really needs to pass there to see how there have been built blocks just a few cm over water on some pillars. Also, at number 363 I recommend you climb the stairs to get to a nice terrace with a nice view over the Ij river - bonus: big ships passing by.

Update: I found the description of the Silodam building on

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I strongly recommend one to visit Het Spui Museum and Silodam Street.

The other 2, i.e. Westerpark and Houthaven Stavangerweg, may be of interest only for a student and/or a person living in Amsterdam for a long period.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Tulip Museum

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

I've visited 3 museums (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Tulip Museum) last Sunday, 14th of March - my opinions on them:

Cool museum!

I really liked the first rooms telling the history of Netherlands becoming a great power (1 paragraph written high, in large letters, on a wall in each room) - so poetic, such a nice politically correct language - it basically describes how The Kingdom of Netherlands kicked asses (Spain, a bit of Britain and so on), how they did commerce (including slavery, gold and something else if I remember correctly) and expanded into other parts of the world (i.e. colonies). Strange enough, it does not mention France and Germany, which I find very difficult to understand given that every nation in Europe used to continuously fight wars against its neighbors for resources or prestige or even fun/boredom (yes, Europeans have a very weird sense of humor).

There also are some paintings, including the famous Night Watch - yes, Rembrandt did a good job. Many rooms filled with paintings are made by his pupils - funny enough, there are too many made by his pupils (his pupils becomes an annoying phrase at one point) and just a few by Rembrandt itself!

Admission for Museumkaart holders: free entrance, yeah!
You can also let your coat, back pack etc. at a wardrobe right before entering the visiting area. Nice.

Van Gogh Museum

A lot of Van Goh paintings, of course, nicely organized with respect to the periods and locations in which Van Gogh painted.

There also were some other exhibitions - I remember the one regarding Paul Gauguin.

Admission for Museumkaart holders: free entrance, yeah!
You can also let your coat, back pack etc. at a wardrobe right before entering the visiting area. Nice.

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Tulip Museum

They had the story printed even in Romanian - that felt good!
It's a very-very small but well organized museum.

Admission: 2 EUR for students! Yes, stress gets paid off.

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So far, so good, with visiting museums and making use of the Museumkaart.
I think I'll visit again the Rijksmuseum just to read those several politically correct paragraphs describing how the Dutch won the wars they fought and became a great power - congratulations!

Museumkaart: the cheapest way to visit a lot of museums in the Neherlands

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

The Museumkaart [official site; details on with respect to covered museums in Amsterdam] is the one very cool and very cheap way of visiting most major museums in the Netherlands. Basically, one pays the card and gets 1 year of free access to all museums the card covers. Given the list of covered museums is extensive and cool, therefore the card is cool.

Price: 35 EUR
Plus an extra 4.95 EUR first time administration fee - whatever...
So, a total of 40 EUR for me.

Roadmap for getting the card:
  1. I filled in the form (available only in Dutch of course) on the Museumkaart official site: name, address, birth date, account number etc. - the usual data they require in the Netherlands - thank you Google Translate for the help, once again!
  2. The Stichting Musemkaart (en: Museum card Foundation) sent an invoice (having my bank account number on it) to my address.
  3. I signed the invoice, put it in an ING envelope and then in a TNT post box.
  4. The payment got confirmed.
  5. The Stichting Musemkaart (en: Museum card Foundation) issued the card and sent it to me by mail - starting 11th of March I am the proud owner of one such card.

Anyway, I say it's worth the money and I recommend you get one, should you want to visit many museums for little money here in the Netherlands.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

DigiD: Your own login code to the entire state (of Netherlands)

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

On 1st of February, I've received by mail a notification from the VU to convert my Studielink account into a DigiD account. I let it rest nicely in the inbox until the end of last week when I decided to solve the problem.

Studielink - short description: the Studielink site technically aggregates information regarding all students in the Netherlands. As I understand it, it is a platform used by all universities here to manage their students (native or international), as each student's profile contains information regarding one's education background, payment status of his/her education in NL and so on. I think it is a very smart approach to managing international students.

Anyway, after a few clicks (as described in the mail) on Studielink I landed on a page that said the same thing as the e-mail said a few paragraph below: one needs an already existing DigiD account in order to make the conversion. Ok, let's make the DigiD account...

So, here I am landing on the DigiD site, which offers a very nice and very short English explanation of its functionalities...

Indeed, you are a fan of my blog and you know the rest: Well, that's everything you're gonna get in English! :)

The steps for creating and activating a DigiD account:
  1. So, at the end of last week, having the Dutch (i.e. the only) version of the site open in one tab and Google Translate in another, I started reading the options and the messages from the site, and filled in the required information (names, surname, address, BSN etc.) to finally create an username and password, which further required an activation code.
  2. DigiD sent me by regular (i.e. paper) mail the activation code, which I've received at the beginning of this week.
  3. Friday, i.e. yesterday, I opened again the DigiD site and inserted the activation code and finally activated my DigiD account. Hooray!
Side note: This is an interesting approach to securing your account, since an attacker cannot do it in our place, since they will never get access to all data. To do it, they must (1) know everything about you (since the information is checked against one's registration with the Municipality), (2) have access to your mailbox and (3) pick up the activation code letter before you notice it has arrived, but I find it all unlikely.

Anyway, then I went back to Studielink and successfully converted my Studielink account into a DigiD account, which means from now on I can use the same DigiD username and password for Sudielink, too.

Wondering about the title of this post?
Well, that's written on one of the papers in the envelope I received with the activation code:
Uw eigen inlogcode voor de hele overheid
which translates into:
Your own login code for the entire state
Isn't this good publicity for the state or what?

DigiD, as I understand it, seems a great move towards e-government (NL occupies the 5th place regarding e-gov readiness). In the future, as both the letter and site claim, this account should allow one to access many administrative services, therefore interact more effectively with the state.
So, this is one of the many times when I say about the Netherlands: Cool approach! Congratulations!

Friday, 5 March 2010

What? No hot water last night? I cannot believe it!

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

I must say I was very disappointed last night, i.e. the night between 4th and 5th of March, when I noticed we had cold water running through the hot water pipe. I cannot believe I had to wash the dishes with cold water. It's the first time I ever experience this here.

Actually, I wrote this all to deliver my joke on the situation:
Ok, ok, there's another possibility: I took a very long bath several hours before and I might have used the whole floor's hot water quota for the next 12 hours or something.

Disclaimer: I realize it's both a mean and rather not funny joke, but I just felt like sharing it with the world. Done.

Second haircut, several posts later

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

The first post of this blog is about my first haircut here. When I wrote it, I mentioned hoping that by the second haircut I would have written more posts than just the second haircut related one :) So I did. Hooray!

Funny data mining: first haircut on a Wednesday, second on a Thursday, therefore third should be on a Friday, right?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

I VOTED for the Municipal elections (in the Netherlands)

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

Introduction: Today on 3rd of March, 2010, there are held Municipal elections in the Netherlands.

As I've commented in a previous post, I has doubts whteher to vote or not. So, I thoroughly analyzed the problem and made up my mind.

The reasoning is simple:
  1. Both the E.U. and the Netherlands have put a lot of effort and invested money so I could have the privilege of voting and to ensure I go through a smooth procedure.
  2. I consider myself both a Romanian and EU responsible citizen.
    Side note: I have always voted in Romania, on every occasion, except one time I think when I had a health issue or something. Even in November and December 2009 I went to the Hague to vote for presidential elections.
  3. I appreciate and respect the ones that fought/argued (and some died), in order to build the democratic system we live in, so I could have the right to express my opinion. 
  4. The Dutch people has managed to build a very good system overall and they should be proud of it since they did a great job. (The only bad part, as I've seen it so far, is the health care system.)
So, yes, I decided to vote.

It was really nice to see those 3 people in the committee being impressed that I (as an outsider) cared to participate. That's how Romania's image inside the EU shall be improved nice and slowly.
(Indeed, at the same time, we should solve the gypsy issue which deteriorates our image in the EU.)

Conclusion: I voted today, since I consider myself both a Romanian and EU responsible citizen.