Since the moment I first stepped into Utrech from the back of the train station, I felt ‘something different’ hovering in the crisp winter air. It was something I haven’t ever experienced in Amsterdam, something tangible in the streets and – yet – seemingly impossible to pinpoint.
When I asked locals what’s giving Ghent its edge, they all replied that Ghent is a rebellious city. I’ve spoken with artists, students and middle-aged people from different backgrounds and interests and, although each one understood this trait slightly differently -stubbornness, vanguard, insurgency, critical thought, independence, unconventionality-, they all agreed in portraying Ghent as a city that can’t be -and won’t be- anyhow controlled.
Amsterdam is unlike any other city for the Iranian activist-artist brothers Icy & Sot.
Amsterdam is where they had their first solo exhibition abroad in 2011, taking their first step into the international art scene. It was an internationally acclaimed first step at that, which eventually let them to escape the persecution and censorship they experienced in their home country.
Blessed by the sun, we made the most of this very “undutch” day by taking a tour of the beautiful gardens, the picturesque towns, and the historic castles and fortresses that once protected Amsterdam.
Those fortresses formed a 135-kilometre-long ring of fortifications that have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The Royals were bathing in Oostende since the 19th century, but this seaside resort on the Belgian coastline is even older: it was an ancient fishermen village, which rose to the status of town back in 1265.
More recently, Oostende is standing out thanks to an enticing programme of contemporary and urban art events. I was there to attend the street art festival The Crystal Ship and I made the most out of my week in Oostende by also doing some street-art-unrelated things, such as: