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In the eastern part of the Netherlands farmers have special borders around their corn fields with a wide variety of wild flowers. This is cropped from a larger image.

October 2010, New York. After a visit at the New York Cord Blood Bank, we had diner with Jon and Pablo. Both well over their age of retirement, it was amazing to hear them asking questions, and looking for answers, talking about research proposals and making plans, as if they had a whole career ahead of them. His drive to continue asking questions was amazing. Last week Prof. dr. Jon J. van Rood passed away, at the age of 91. Jon has been one of the pioneers in the field of transplantation medicine and immunology. It has been a true privilege to have known Jon and to have worked with him for 20 years.

In memoriam - Jon van Rood
 
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You do not need to go far away, to have a nice holiday. Although in our country you can never be sure about the weather, especially in summer, it can still be warm enough to go out sightseeing and have a great time. This week, lots of rain was predicted, but so far we have only seen some showers. Skies were spectacular though! Even the cows think so!

Dutch Skies

At the Loosdrechtse Plassen, on the docks behind De Eend. Too bad about all these vapor trails from the many planes flying high...

Wedding of P. and P. in Utrecht

About two weeks ago my wife's niece got married - beautiful weather, and a wonderful bride and groom, it was a memorable day for the happy couple!

It seems that Earth Day is more important than ever, with a clown pulling the strings in one of the most polluting countries in the world. The clown and his circus are the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, according to wikipedia, but have no plans to reduce it - compare that to the giant red panda, who are clearly taking a stand and trying to NOT be #1 on the list. No, instead the clown will make things worse, by focusing completely on fossil fuels... What a clown!

Toronto pano twirled to a tiny world

This past weekend we had a wonderful weekend in Wissenkerke in Zeeland. With friends and family, we enjoyed the warm and wonderful weather, and the pictoresque villages. Sunny days end in beautiful sunsets - near the small beaches in Wissenkerke, with in the background the Oosterschelde Stormsurge Barrier.

Sunset near Wissenkerke

Photo shot a couple of years ago, when we traveled to the distant lands of Middle Earth... What is missing is the Barad-Dur Tower and Mount Doom... Haha...

Norwegian sunset

Just kidding... after a nice day in the Norwegian area of Utladalen, west of Lillehammer, towards the mountains and fjords, we enjoyed this beautiful sunset. After processing the photo, just a little, this reminded me of the images of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Autumn here is cold, and wet, and colder, and wetter... Leaves change colour from green to yellow and drop from the trees, on the first next windy day.

Nothing compared to the great colours we have seen on the other side of the pond, a couple of years ago. From yellow, to orange, to red, to different browns... If you then find this beautiful house Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, amongst all these colours - wow... 

Fallingwater

Chautauqua Institute is a small village on the west side of Chautauqua Lake. It started as an educational center, founded in the 1870's. Every summer you can attend courses in the arts, music, religion, and other general topics. You can access the grounds and use the public beaches and parks. These days many of the houses were privately owned and lots of them were for sale. I would not want to live there with many tourists walking around all summer...

T. having fun at the fountain at the Chautauqua Institute

We parked the car near the visitor's center and the main plaza, and walked over to the beach. While the others were on the beach near the bell tower, having fun building a sand castle and relaxing, I walked around the grounds for some pictures. It was nice and quiet, now that we were there after season. There were beautiful houses, but most of them should have been further apart.

Beautiful houses and hotels near the lake side.
Fruit stand at the farmers market

Driving North from Chautauqua Lake, we headed for Westfield, a small little town just next to Lake Erie - we had read that there would be a large farmers and artisan market.

So after a little drive on the 394, we ended up in downtown Westfield - it was not that large a city, so we could not miss it. Next to the band stand, close to the church, we found about 15 small stalls with fruits, local wines, Amish cookies and pies, jewellery, etc. Perhaps for Westfield this was a large market... But, it was nice, we bought fruits and some souvenirs for the girls, and enjoyed the music from the one guy in the band stand, playing the blues. He was good though!!

After T. was done petting the Amish horses, we got back to the car, and found a little local restaurant that was open, and got ourselves some lunch. Good food and coffee for small prices - excellent!

So close to Lake Erie, but we did not get to see it... Perhaps another time...

Vine City Restaurant
ArtworkIn an alley near Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA

While staying on Cape Cod, our friend T. took us all the way to the tip of the Cape, to Provincetown, or P-town, as it is also called by locals. A town known for its beaches, harbour and artists, but it looked like everything was happening just along one long street with loads of shops, restaurants and bars, where you could get anything from souvenirs, paintings, jewellery, antiques, hand-painted clothes, great fruity smoothies(!) and tattoo's... Lots of artists here, and you can tell from the streets and buildings: one of the small alleys shows the work of Bob Gasoi and Bo Johnson - they must have been under the influence of something, to paint like that...

During our visit to the US we stopped for a long weekend near Chautauqua Lake. About 30km long and 3km wide, this beautiful lake in the Western tip of New York state, is a great spot to spend a couple of days. Rent a boot and spend a day on the water, enjoying the great foods from the area, and wonderful views. After another warm and sunny day we sat along the waterfront after dinner, and just watched the sky change its colour, while the sun was setting.

Sunset over ChautauquaAfter a beautiful day at the Chautauqua Lake, the setting sun turned the sky on fire.

Instead of going to a zoo, we decided last Thursday to go to the Oostvaardersplassen, a relatively new national park, that is known for the movie "The New Wilderness". We had not yet been there, so we were not sure what to expect, but since we had seen parts of the movie, we were hoping to see some wildlife.

We got to the North entrance to the park with a bit of a detour, but the weather was great and the coffee with apple pie was good, so we were ready for a hike. Knowing that we might stop left and right to take some pictures, we went for the 5.2k hike - the longest we could find here. There supposed to be longer hikes, but we perhaps have to come back some day, and take one of the other entry points to the park.

There were plenty of wild horses there, and from one of the view points we saw thousands of geese and plenty of other birds - we even spotted a fox trying not to get its feet wet... Not sure why all these dead trees were left there, though...

Wild horsesOostvaardersplassen
DepartureCanadian geese departing from Oostvaardersplassen

I have been playing a bit with some more photo's from Valencia, especially from the area around the Hemisferic and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía. I went there twice, one time during an afternoon, with a little overcast, and the next day at the end of the afternoon until sunset... With every minute passing, the light changed and the views became more interesting. And it was also interesting to see, that the longer I waited the less tourists were there, and only the photographers remained :-).

Triangles galoreGlass ceiling of the conference centre
Clear skiesPortrait shot of the Hemisferic and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, with clear skies, converted to greys.
HemisfericShortly after sunset.

Another city trip... This time, accompanying AM for a conference in Valencia. What a great city! Old architecture and very new architecture nicely mixed. Good food, wines, and of course very nice weather - just one day with clouds and some rain. So there was plenty of time to fully explore the city.

Modern architecture in ValenciaHemisferic and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía
Old city centrePanorama of the old city from Porta de Serrans.
Palau de les Arts Reina SofíaValencia
Sydney HarbourThe Opera House and down-town Sydney as seen from the Harbour Bridge

Back in 2012 we traveled down-under. Sydney is such a great city, we felt right at home there... Friendly people, good restaurants, and an evening at the local comedy club I will never forget - so much fun. We spent some time in the city and afterwards drove towards the Blue Mountains, for some great hikes, and then along the coast up North, and back through other parts of New South Wales. We saw dolphins along the coast, kangaroos, and even had the opportunity to see Saturn and its rings, with our own eye, live, through a telescope!

We need to go back some day - there is so much more to see there!

Dramatic skiesThe beach on Texel

While hiking on the beach on Texel a couple of months ago... Beautiful dramatic skies, with the sun poking through...

Last week we attended the CD presentation of Yiannis Giagourtas at Max Guitar store in Scheveningen Harbour. Yiannis is a classical guitar player, and played a number of songs from his debut CD. The was a large crowd that showed up, and additional chairs needed to be brought in to provide everyone a seat.

The shop was packed with guitars - most electric guitars, but also acoustic ones, and all sorts of equipment like amplifiers and such. I do not know much about guitars, but I got the impression that these guys do! Great shop!

Guitars everywhereAt Guitar Max, Scheveningen

Anyway, we were there to listen to Yiannis' debut solo album Guitar Echoes. He played a number of tracks and it was very interesting to hear some pieces which were originally written for other instruments, played on a guitar. Wonderful stuff! 

Yiannis GiagourtasGuitar Echoes CD presentation