Tuesday 29 June 2010

Amsterdam's famous churches: Our Lord in the Attic, New Church, Old Church

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

I decided visiting the most famous Amsterdam churches. Indeed, just like any ordinary tourist.

Day 1: 20th of June: cloudy, dark, windy, chilly, just a little-tiny-bit of sun. Therefore, the usual.
Day 2: 22nd of June: sunny, quite hot. After my windows got painted on the outside, the smell of the fresh paint kicked me out of the room, so I continued my Amsterdam's-famous-churches visit.

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Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (en: Our Lord in the Attic)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list.
There are lockers at the entrance, of course.
Pictures are allowed, but, as always, no flash - make sure your memory card is empty, because you shall need all the space.

My opinion on Our Lord in the Attic
(Day 1)

Did you know this has been a museum since 1888? They say it's the oldest museum in Amsterdam, along with Rijskuseum.

The huge flier you receive once you buy the ticket offers all the information you need for a thorough visit of the whole house. There's a lot of information in it, which you'll enjoy reading while exploring the house.

Hey, there really is a church in the attic! The Catholics were quite innovative in avoiding the Protestant rulership :) Indeed, as they say in the description, the Protestants weren't that bad since they allowed this Catholic church as long as it wasn't obvious, i.e. they prevented the Catholic from openly practicing their religion.

It's pretty cool.
It's very old, many items are the original old ones.
Although the church is under restoration for the moment, you can see it and get a good idea on how it looked like etc. Besides, the museum staff will also happily tell you how the restoration is being done and so on.

Of course, all the other rooms in the house are to be visited, which makes it a complete and interesting experience.

I enjoyed it a lot.

De Nieuwe Kerk (en: The New Church)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list (it's in Dutch because that's where all details are).
There aren't lockers at the entrance, since you don't need them anyway.
Pictures are allowed, but, as always, no flash - make sure your memory card is empty, 'cause you shall want to make as many pictures as possible from all the angles you can think of.

My opinion on The New Church
(Day 1 + 2)

Wow, it's... big!!!
It does not seem so big from the outside, but once you get inside you understand how big it is!
It's huge, I tell you!

Definitely an impressive piece of architecture!

You shall discover some cool exhibits inside, each with its own explanation written besides it. The flier you receive once you buy the ticket contains a map of the church, having marked the places of all these exhibits, so there's no excuse for missing one! :)

Inside, there are buried Jan van Galen and Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter :)) It's so funny, because I know who these guys were :D because 2 streets in the Bos en Lommer neighborhood (which is roughly where I live) hold their names - check out the long green lines on the map below:

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De Oude Kerk (en: The Old Church)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list (Entrance Fee section).
There aren't lockers at the entrance, since you don't need them anyway.
Pictures are allowed, of course - make sure your memory card is empty, 'cause you shall need all the space.

My opinion on The Old Church
(Day 2)

There was a huge queue outside in Day 1, so I decided to come back some other time and use the rest of that day for visiting [in part] The New Church.

Old means small? Ha, ha! Well, no.
The Old Church is almost as big as The New Church.

It is under an intensive restoration program now, but it can be very well visited.

After buying the ticket you shall receive 2 A4 format fliers (which you shall need to return when you leave): one contains the map of the church with ?ab? numbered exhibits and the other contains the description of each exhibit - the exhibits on the map also are color coded with respect to their type.
Check out the red ones, i.e. the paintings you see up on the wooden ceiling! Pretty cool!

The [former] graves under the Old & New Churches

The cool thing about both the Old & New Churches is that most of the floor is made of tombstones - yes, there used to be graves under it: in a grave up to 5 coffins could be stacked one on top of the other :) Pretty cool - only rich people were buried in the church, of course, since it was expensive.

Of course, all the coffins have been removed some long time ago (it said when but I forgot), because they affected the structure of these 2 churches. Also, since 1820s, a law came into effect to forbid such practices, but it started being applied in Amsterdam in 1870s or something...

In both these churches there's an inscription somewhere claiming that during time about 10 K people have been buried under each of them! Wow!


Our Lord in the Attic: I enjoyed a lot visiting both the church in the attic (which is under restoration for the moment) and the rest of the house. I recommend it.

The Old Church & The New Church: cool; really big & impressive churches; definitely worth to visit! Also, they are one of those must see monuments for any tourist in Amsterdam.
I recommend you visit both churches during the week, in order to find them rather empty, since during the week-end they get rather crowded with tourists.

Saturday 26 June 2010

Museum Het Rembrandthuis (Amsterdam) - en: Rembrandt House Museum

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

18th of June: quite dark, dull, cloudy, a bit rainy, the usual Amsterdam weather.

Museum Het Rembrandthuis (en: Rembrandt House Museum)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list.
There are lockers at the basement, of course.
Pictures are allowed, but, as always, no flash.
You also get the audio tour for free.

My opinion on Rembrandt House Museum

For the record, the full name is Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.

Pretty cool museum.
Kind of too many tourists - oh, well, it's a famous museum and it's also in the historical center, therefore it makes sense to be so crowded. The downside is one shall get most of the photos with people wandering around.


The kitchen: pretty cool. I liked it. If I lived back then, I wish I had a kitchen like that. I don't know, everything seemed to make sense.

The wooden spiral-shaped stairs: awesome, really awesome! I've never seen such cool stairs. I risked and took photos with the flash on just to make sure I get perfect pictures of the stairs.

The entrance hall and the anteroom: smart move of Rembrandt to decorate both of these with his paintings and other artists' paintings that he wanted to sell - basically it was like an exhibition with paintings for sale. Indeed, Rembrandt was both an artist and art dealer, which was quite common at the time. So, to put it in the present day web language, he monetized both his content and other artists' content :D

The box beds: really coll. They seem and really are quite small due to 2 reasons:
  1. People were much shorter back then.
  2. People used to sleep from middle up in almost a standing position, not completely horizontal like we do today, because... they believed that if they slept completely horizontally a wave of blood might hit their brain and die during sleep... Ok, laugh if you will, but given the life expectancy during those times their belief seems reasonable & understandable although it's wrong...
The live demonstration on printing etchings [wikipedia] et. al.: awesome. The lady both thoroughly explained the process and showed how it was done.

The painting/art studios: nice, I guess, given that both Rembrandt and his pupils produced cool paintings.

There's also a collections of etchings displayed, including the famous The Three Trees [metmuseum.org; rembrandtpainting.net; British Museum; The Library of Congress on Flickr].
Note: I've just discovered a list of other Rembrandt's etchings on rembrandtpainting.net

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The temporary exhibition Picturalism in Dutch Photography

Quite nice.
The explanations on the walls and artists' biographies helped me understand what it was all about. Ok, the name should say it all, but I'm not that much into art/culture, so the more explanations the better.
I appreciate I was allowed to take photos of the photos, unlike at Huis Marseille or FOAM.


I recommend you visit Museum Het Rembrandthuis. It's nice & cool, it's interesting and all your friends will want to know things about it...


Q.1: Where is Rembrandt's Night Watch displayed?
A.1: At the Rijksmuseum.

Thursday 24 June 2010

ARCAM - Amsterdam Centre for Architecture

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

Day 1: 11th of June
Day 2: 18th of june

ARCAM - Amsterdam Centre for Architecture
Admission: Free for everyone.
There is no need for any lockers.
Pictures are allowed, of course.

My opinion on ARCAM - Amsterdam Centre for Architecture

In Day 1 I visited the 1st floor; in Day 2 - ground floor.

Although a small building, it's pretty interesting if you're passionate about buildings and/or architecture. Don't expect to get info about every inch of Amsterdam, but rather expect to be surprised and find out some new info about unexpected buildings/sites, e.g. I've learned:
  • how trees are placed in Rembrandpark (which is quite close to me) - there's a logic behind this that I've never seen and yet I do not fully understand
  • various placements of trees in order to reach some design goals
  • new projects of neighborhoods aiming to empower and connect the local community - cool idea!
Oh, and I got a free flier with the Eastern Docklands - the map and main points of interest. (Ok, ok, I know there are plenty of maps displayed all over that place and I took plenty of pictures of those maps, but now... I also have an official flier!)

At the ground floor there's a huge continuous image (made of 13 posters; each poster spans ~1m by ~2m) describing Amsterdam's growth since 800 A.D. up to present day - for each time period, there are shown: city map, population, architectural styles and buildings built, infrastructure works etc. That image is really awesome to look at, read and understand since it says quite a lot.

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Great place for a person (like me) passionate about architecture and/or buildings, willing to discover something new and cool about Amsterdam.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Windows painted on the outside...

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

News: 22nd of June: We got painted on the outside all the other half of the windows of the building, as part of De Key's regular maintenance works on the building probably.

It's not that fair for me as a tenant (whose contract shall end in less than a month) to offer support to these maintenance works of De Key:
  1. I had to clean my room on the inside once the work was finished and
  2. I had to suffer disturbance due to the noise and smell of the paint.
Will I get a discount for that? No.
Does De Key get free cleaning work for that? Obviously.
Not fair: I lose. I must admit they're smart doing it this way...

The fair solution?
De Key should have done these works during the free period of the building, i.e. 16th of July - 15th of August, but that would have meant to pay themselves for the cleaning, wouldn't it? So, why do that when they can get it for free? :)

Note: I said correctly on the outside, because they will inform us when the windows shall be painted on the inside too in the near future...

So, how was my day?
After my windows got painted on the outside, the smell of the fresh paint kicked me out of the room, so I continued my Amsterdam's-famous-churches visit.
When I got back... it was time to do the cleaning...

I'm looking forward for another (and bigger) round of cleaning when the windows shall get painted on the inside...


23rd of June: 2nd round of paining on the outside. Well, at least the workers do a great job. The downside is it's disturbing the tenants, i.e. the students.

24th of June: some sort of a final check and further adjustments to the outside window painting works done for the side I live in. I had to leave the stress after they checked the windows of my room and decided to visit Permuseum.

Sunday 20 June 2010

Diamond Museum & Coster Diamonds B.V. (Amsterdam)

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

13th of June: cloudy, dark, a bit of sun.

Diamond Museum Amsterdam (nl: Diamant Museum Amsterdam)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list.
There are lockers at the entrance - see the room called wardrobe.
Pictures are allowed, of course.

My opinion on Diamond Museum Amsterdam

It's a nice museum.
The staff is very friendly.

Quite a lot of details on diamonds, which one shall find interesting.

:( Most diamonds are replicas. There are hardly any real diamonds in there. Can you imagine how cool it would have been to have exhibits so expensive that every thief would want to target this museum? Oh, well, the only real diamonds are some tiny ones, as far as I remember...

It's fascinating to take the little test on guessing the only true/real diamond out of a set of 8 diamonds, the rest being fake/artificial ones.

Also, looking at the smallest polished (with 58 facets if I remember correctly) diamond in the world is fascinating - you need a microscope for it...

The visit at Coster Diamonds B.V. (Paulus Potterstraat 2), for a live demonstration of diamond polishing and visiting showrooms of real (and quite expensive) diamonds for sale it's also somewhat captivating, although the polishers and the other people do not simulate very well any desire of doing actual diamond related work :)
The brokers seem convincing though... since they actually sell diamonds there and some people actually buy them :D I suspect the negotiations & transactions room is over heated on purpose just to make the buyer's pulse go even higher than usual - nice trick if you ask me!

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It's a nice museum. It's worth visiting once you have been to the museums which I consider extremely interesting.

Friday 18 June 2010

Exploring a part of North Amsterdam

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

After having visited Van Loon Museum, I spent some time exploring a bit of North Amsterdam:

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Ferry Houthaven - Amsterdam Distelweg: The coolest ferry ever! So small, and cute! And very few people! I suppose one has to have some local skills, since both ends are not quite accessible to ordinary tourists ;) (ok-ok, I couldn't stop bragging a bit.)

The Distelweg industrial area: Classic industrial area, nothing to see except if you like factory buildings.

That bridge part of Distelweg, over some canal: under repairs for now. Oh well, I've seen it some long time ago when I first crossed the Ij river from Central Station to Buiksloterweg.

The area bordered by Distelweg, Distelkade and Ranonkelkade: Nice area, but there's nothing special except the very narrow paths between the groups of houses - it's like each group of houses shares one huge common garden.


There's nothing special about this specific area of North Amsterdam.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Schapenburgerpad - awesome alley/path in the middle of Amsterdam, just South of Vondel Park

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

During a reconnaissance (it sounds so military-like, indeed) walk around Vondelpark on 9th of June, I encountered some kind of alley/path (just South of Vondel Park) that begged for some exploring - the name: Schapenburgerpad.

Schapenburgerpad: awesome alley/path, it's like going in the wild in the middle of the city. There's no pavement, just some kind of mud and sand and some stones, it's narrow, there's almost nobody going in or out, full of vegetation etc. Basically, it's one of those back&dark alleys, designed only for locals' access.

Curios what Schapenburgerpad means? Check out Google Translate.
Ok, it roughly stands for Sheep civilian path.

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Monday 14 June 2010

Museums for photography in Amsterdam: FOAM and Huis Marseille

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

6th of June: dark, cloudy, showers, light rain, rain, never-stopping-rain etc. - you know, the usual Amsterdam weather.

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list.
Of course, there are lockers at the basement.
Pictures are not allowed :)) It's a museum for photography so why should one take pictures of their exhibited pictures, right? Anyway, I consider it a very weird approach for a museum about photography!

My opinion on FOAM

Some highlights of the current exhibitions, as they are linked on front page of the site:
  • Ari Marcopoulos - It might seem familiar [short; long description]: some interesting landscapes, a very cool video with some skateboarders going down an alley at quite a high speed for some 9 minutes (the total length of the video was 10 minutes), people (faces, bodies or both)
  • Paul Graham - a shimmer of possibility [short; long description]: This is supposed to be some sort of art, the artist's intention being to show common people, contract and expand time etc. I didn't understand it.
  • Hans van den Bogaard - Collectie Vrolik [short; long description]: Quite interesting, especially if one is in the medical field. I bet the real Vrolik collection [wikipedia; uva.nl] is really cool and quite a treasure for medical doctors. However, I must note the overwhelming pictures of fetuses... couldn't they find any other pictures of exhibits to show, like the ones showing malformed human skeletons due to diseases? Oh, they also show pictures of fetuses of various animals, too just in case you wanted to ask...
  • Foam_3h: Simon Wald-Lasowski – For your eyes only [short; long description]: I didn't get it, kind of disliked it actually.
I definitely don't understand art with respect to photography...

The building: refurbished in a very artistic/cryptic manner on the inside - it's rather easy to get lost, but that is a feature here, not a bug, since I did feel the need of something to distract me and chase away the boredom.

Hint: climb to the attic, to the FOAM editions shop - forget about the shop, take a look at the view! It's great to see the surrounding buildings from up there!

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Huis Marseille - museum voor fotografie (en: House Marseille - museum for photography)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders.
Of course, there are lockers at the basement.
Taking pictures of the exhibits is not allowed. However one is allowed to take pictures of the decorations and the architecture of the house, the garden etc. therefore one may take pictures of the house as long as one does not take pictures of the exhibits.

My opinion on Huis Marseille

I didn't understand / see the point of any of the exhibitions there (I don't even remember what the exhibitions were about).
Nothing touched me.

The house however looks cool. The garden is very small.

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Strangely, one may not take pictures of the exhibits in neither of these 2 museums, i.e. FOAM and Huis Marseille. Funny, isn't it? These are museums for photography, but one is not allowed to take pictures :D

Apparently I don't understand art with respect to photography.

I wouldn't recommend any of these 2 museums to ordinary people, i.e. people that lack a strong passion for art and/or photography.

However, I recommend you go to these museums just to see the buildings on the inside. Hey, if you have the Museumkaart it's free, right? Great!

Saturday 12 June 2010

Museum Van Loon (Amsterdam)

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

Intro: After having visited 2 other old & classic Amsterdam houses, i.e. both Museums Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis and Willet-Holthuysen, it was time to visit Museum Van Loon.

4th of June: a very sunny and quite hot day. Indeed, unusual weather for Amsterdam.

Museum Van Loon (Amsterdam)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list.
Although there aren't any lockers at the entrance, the assistant you give you a number and will store your things in their office, which is very fine.
Pictures are allowed, but, as always, no flash - make sure your memory card is empty, 'cause you shall need all the space.

My opinion on Museum Van Loon (Amsterdam)

It's a very nice museum: plenty of things to see; the garden is nice, too but quite small - check out the huge tree in the garden! The coach house cannot be visited for the moment, since they need to refurbish it first.

The museum is supposed to have been refurbished, but I've noticed cracks in the walls and ceiling, around the doors etc. I do not mind, in fact I really like it since it preserves the old atmosphere in my opinion, just that I've noticed this now because the other 2 old houses did not have any such cracks. I suppose Van Loon has been refurbished a long time ago or something.

The rooms at the ground floor: very nice.
On November 1st, 2005, Queen Beatrix and the Prince of Orange offered a lunch in the Red Drawing Room to both Russian President Valdimir Putin and his wife. Cool, eh?

The kitchen: very cool.
Also, at the basement there's a room where they play continuously a 10 minute video staring the last member of the Van Loon family who talks about the house.

The bedrooms at the first floor: very cool, especially those secret doors :D (No, visitors have no access there, but they are mentioned in the description and you can see them as they are obvious.)

There's also a second floor, they say, to which visitors don't have access - that floor accommodated the servants and access was done through some narrow and steep stairs, they say. Awesome!

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I recommend you visit Van Loon Museum (Amsterdam); it's worth the time and money.
I recommend you visit all 3 museums, therefore all these 3 old & classic Amsterdam houses, i.e. Van Loon, Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis and Willet-Holthuysen.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam (Dutch Resistance Museum)

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

29th of May: a bit sunny in the afternoon, cloudy, windy, rainy in the afternoon/evening.

Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam (en: Dutch Resistance Museum)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list.
Of course, there are lockers at the entrance.
Pictures are allowed, but no flash.

My opinion

Quite a small museum overall, but nice. It is worth visiting. Very friendly staff also.

I find it funny for such a great colonial power that Netherlands has been to make a resistance museum. Resistance?! That sounds so weird for such a proactive nation.

There's a mention that roughly says the following: the Germans bombed Rotterdam, then threatened to bomb other cities as well, and The Netherlands surrendered 5 days after the war has started. So, let's rephrase: Germany bombed so well only 1 city that the whole Dutch army noticed it has become useless.
However, they admit at one point that the Dutch army hasn't been modernized properly since the beginning of the century. That's even more weird for The Netherlands!

I recommend you visit this museum after having visited Reijksmuseum and Tropenmuseum. Depending on your sense of humor, you might smile at times and say to yourself: Oh come on, guys, what happened to you? When did you get tired?

Note: Regarding WW2, Germany really scared everyone by conquering so fast The Netherlands, France (including the mighty Paris), Poland etc. Blitzkrieg ruled!

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I recommend visiting Verzetsmuseum. It is worth the time & money. I also recommend you visit this museum after having visited Reijksmuseum and Tropenmuseum.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

I voted AGAIN

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

Do you remember when I voted the first time?

Well, now it's the second time :)
If interested, feel free to check the website for these elections (in Dutch).

However, there were 2 elections held at the same time.
  • Good news: I voted in the election regarding building a parking garage under the Singel canal, near Marnixbad. (I wish they would build some of these in Bucharest, too.)
  • Bad news: I was not allowed to vote in the election for the House or council or whatever, 'cause I don't understand very well what that was all about from Google Translation.

Side note 1: On 4th of June, I have also received a flier/advertisement in my inbox from VVD [wikipedia; official site] - Mark Rutte on the first page, of course, as all politics fliers display their party leader on the first page.
Hey, have these people understood that I am a regular voter (wherever I am living) and started courting me? ;) mmm, no. Actually most inboxes had such a flier inside. Hey, I'm a regular voter therefore I demand more attention! :))
First I confused VVD with PVV [wikipedia]. Remember that Geert Wilders (the leader of PVV, who wants to kick Romania & Bulgaria out of the EU among others) and also resembles Corneliu Vadim Tudor? My bad for the confusion.

Side note 2: now I'm part of the West District/Neighborhood, which has been reconfigured some months ago, in order to include some small neighborhoods like Kolenkit, Bos en Lommer, WesterPark etc.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Exploring North Amsterdam: N of Ij, W of Ij-Tunnel, up to Vliegenbos

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

23rd of May: Another sunny day, but not that hot.

The area of North Amsterdam - N of Ij, W of Ij-Tunnel, up to Vliegenbos - is what I call a classic urban area, perfect for training one's exploring skills.
There's no reward, i.e. nothing awesome to talk about, just bits and pieces that make sense only to city passionate people (like me). You have to see, hear and feel all details - and even then most people will get bored.

It's a cocktail of everything:
  • narrow streets, which seem very intimate
  • normal streets
  • stairs that link streets, e.g. Hoekschewaardweg with Nieuwendammerdijk
  • the tunnel under the Ij it's highway style, with 3 lanes per way. The new North-South metro line has its tunnel coming to surface in the middle of this highway, after the highway tunnel has reached surface, with a station planned just between the 2 ways of the highway
  • at times dirty
  • there's a general feeling it's less organized
  • at times poor houses show up
  • industrial zones
  • normal parks
  • forest-like parks, i.e. W.H. Vliegenbos
Therefore, this cocktail of everything but nothing awesome (1) demands patience and (2) requires one not to expect any rewards - the most 2 important attitudes an explorer needs in order to make awesome discoveries (when such discoveries are to be found/made :D).

As I said, perfect for training one's exploring skills.

Anyway, let me get you bored now:

The Ij-Tunnel: cool all the way from the point it reaches the surface up to the northest point of Noordpark.

W.H. Vliegenbos: forest-like park
It really looks like a forest, i.e. there are:
  • many huge & old trees
  • alleys with good pavement
  • alleys with bad pavement
  • muddy narrow paths connecting the alleys
  • very small canals suitable only for the ducks (there are no geese or swans or seagulls)
From time to time there's that "I'm in the middle of a swamp" feeling.

Noordpark: small, but nice
The benches have a really cool design.

Hoekschewaardweg and Nieuwendammerdijk streets are linked by some stairs.
Nieuwendammerdijk is very-very narrow.

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Visit this area only if you like to train yourself for urban exploring. Otherwise it will get you more nervous than rush hour traffic.
Expect nothing, just look around for the small details.