Saturday, 16 August 2008

Somewhere back in Time

I have been in Europe for a while now, and I, unfortunately, haven't been to any concerts [metal/rock or techno/trance for that matter], due to time, money, or unavailability. This Saturday, the 16th of August, 2008, I attended an Iron Maiden concert [Somewhere Back In Time World Tour 2008] at the TT-circuit, Assen, The Netherlands; with guest bands: Lauren Harris, Kamelot and Within Temptation: it rocked! This for me was a real privilege, since I know Iron Maiden won't be around on tour much anymore, and also, well I grew up on their music, and recently came to worship Within Temptation!

The venue was well organized, with food stalls, toilets [with soap dispensers], alcohol, and 27,000 high-teenagers, kids, and veteran seniors muzzled together. They even organized special buses and night trains for the event. The concert was amazing and epic; it started off with Lauren Harris [who was a bit queer], then to the powerful strings and chants of Kamelot [whose female singer played no role at all, but was hott nevertheless], then the serene voice of Sharon den Adel coupled with the wicked riffs of her Dutch band Within Temptation. I can't believe I saw her [so hott!]; with her funky hand-movement dances. Their performance was truly blood-crawling and goose-bump-inducing with the way that they brought the crowd into their performance to accomplish the operatic chants of some of their songs like Ice Queen, followed by heavy melodic distortion.

And of course the grand finale: Iron Maiden. The thoughts of my ticket costs quickly dissipated, as their show emerged to be spectacular, with not only the classic music and reminiscent vocals but with several lighting, pyrotechnic, and prop stage-effects. They maintained their original stage decor and band theme of the Egyptian style, with varying album art images in the background. There were [at different points in time] two mascots of the notorious Eddie [one mummified, and one futuristic robot: the Eddie featured on the somewhere in time album cover], and one of a goat devil [very creepy since it's head and hands moved, and was brought on for the song "The number of the beast"].

What was even more creepy was that a Lunar eclipse was taking place exactly at the moment the band was playing. Now, the vocalist, Bruce Dickinson, claimed that it was unplanned, but somkehow with so many of their songs linking to the mysteries of the Moon and darkness [Moon Child, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, Fear of the dark], one must wonder...

For more pictures see:
I have videos, but they're too much to upload [maybe I'll put some on youtube soon]

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Amsterdam: Sin City

Holy Cow! I would never in my life have thought that I would end up here, in Amsterdam! I have dreamed of being here ever since in high school when I found out about the place and it's wonders; ever since i started listening to Trance, Dance, and Techno!

I have decided to stay here a couple of days at a friend's place until my school orientation week starts. Today I took my first tour with my favourite tour group: Sandeman's New Europe Tours; and it was nothing short of spectacular. Our tour guide gave us the in's & out's and all the hidden secrets, tips and tricks of of Dutch culture, The Netherlands, and Amsterdam. It's quite windy though.

Amsterdam, what can I tell you, as my mom would say: "it's the den of inequity!". It's the old city of The Netherlands that is notorious for it's elaborate Red Light District [with the show girls in the windows, so you can literally window shop and where prostitution is legal], the liberal laws on soft-drug usage such as marijuana and mushrooms, and of course the coffee shops with the space cakes and magic brownies.

That's as much of what people are familiar with; but there's so much to this city than that [as a matter of fact only about 9% of the population of Netherlands smoke pot I think]. There's a great history behind it, the rivers and canals that entangle the city, the over-population of bicycles, the cats kept in restaurants because of the rat problems, the leaning buildings because of the sandy foundations, the thin buildings because of the high tax based on the width [due to lack of space], the Anne Frank house which details the sad history of the war, the hidden catholic churches due to oppression by the protestants, and the real reasons behind the Red light district.

On the tour I learned many new facts that revealed the secrets of this city's and country's current state. Basically the Dutch allow things to happen, bend the rules, as long as money is involved and everyone is happy. Below are some of the things that occur:
  1. Red Light District: This area is over 700 years old, and is right next to the old church! The reason for this is that long ago, sailors would come into the city and well start to look at people's wives, and daughters; so the city created this area for them. The girls are legal and pay a fee to rent the windows [this way they are protected from the brutal treatment of pimps], they make back their money within a couple of hours. Afterward the sailors would see the church go to it and beg forgiveness for their sins, the priest would then say "offer a donation and you shall be saved". This way everyone was happy; so why make it illegal.
  2. Coffee shops: it is illegal to grow, sell, buy, or smoke marijuana in the Netherlands. However, the coffee shops make this possible, somehow [magically; it's a paradox]; None of them state "marijuana sold here", or have any depiction of marijuana on their signs. But they pay a heavy tax to the government to open one [as a matter of fact no one can open a new coffee shop again, they are slowly phasing out the entire thing, and soon in the future, Amsterdam would be without weed and without prostitutes: so if that's why you want to come here, then i suggest you come now!], so the city is paid, and so when police see "coffee shop", they turn a blind eye. It sounds illegal or corrupt, but this entire thing works, and the society and system is quite advanced in all areas. It's quite good too, since they have lower drug abuse rates than other countries, and usually teenagers can try the drug [for experience] and come off of it without having a criminal record [since most teenagers try the drug and come off later on in life].
There's a lot more to talk about but i advise you to come to the place and see it for yourself. You may also read more in the comments/captions under the pictures posted on my Amsterdam picasa page. [P.S.: I, Jevin Ramjattan, do not endorse the growing, smoking, using, buying, selling, or trafficking of marijuana or any other "illegal" drug].

For more pictures see:

Saturday, 9 August 2008


Well, I wasn't to excited to go to London, but I had to pass through the city on my way back to Europe, and knowing that, as a Trinidadian, I didn't require a visa to entire the UK, I decided to spend two days there. It turned out to be interesting, much like New York actually, with its diverse cultures and people, large building structures, shopping complexes and a focus on fashion and posh lifestyles. While traveling through the tube, one may hear people conversing in Spanish, Italian, French, etc; there is also a huge percentage of the population that is either Indian, or of Indian decent, or mixed with Indian [we really are populating the world]. Going through yet another breakup [with my girlfriend] possibly tainted my view on the city, but somehow I prefer Europe, probably because of the cheaper standard of living [in the Euro-land]. The money is one factor, but also the architecture in London is not as "old", ancient and vibrant as Europe's.

Well London, what can I say? It's famous for many things, The Royal Family, the Queen, Princess D, Buckingham Palace, The tube [underground], The Thames, London Bridge [London bridges falling down, falling down], Fish and Chips [something i always wanted to try since I was a kid], The Tower Bridge [which looked better than the London bridge by far; London Bridge was as much of a disappointment as the Berlin wall was], Big Ben [which I discovered was called that because of a huge guy called Ben who's job was to ring the bell everyday], Red telephone booths, Black taxi cabs, Westminster Abby, and of course the 5th of November: Little children in England are brought up on the famous nursery rhyme:
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
This is in rememberance of the Guy Fawkes Night [more commonly known as Bonfire Night, Cracker Night and sometimes Fireworks Night[ which is an annual celebration on the evening of the 5th of November. It celebrates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot of the 5 November 1605 in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, England [source]. I had no idea that this V for Vendetta rhyme had anything to do with reality until i visited London; this just goes to show how much traveling exposes you to real world issues and history. Guy Fawkes even looks like V from the movie V for Vendetta!

While here, I took the opportunity to attend one of the amazing tours that I mentioned on my Berlin trip: Sandeman's New Europe Tours. I said it before and I will say it again, I highly reccommend these tours: they are informative, exciting, useful, worthy, and FREE. Anyway, I learned a lot about the Royal Family, and London, fun facts and useful tips. There were tow tours in London however, one on Royal London [which I took], and one on the Old City [which I tried to take but missed :(]. But I saw enough of London to satisfy my tourist appetite, and I my Fish and Chips and ate it too.

For more pictures see:

Friday, 1 August 2008

Where am I?

Well, I haven't posted on the blog for a while now, and that's because I have not been traveling much. I did visit my home country [Trinidad] for a short period, but people in Trinidad really don't take pictures that much, or blog about it, or at least I don't. Plus this blog is about Europe, not the Caribbean.

But, here are two shots anyway, of the river that I live so close to in Lopinot, Trinidad [5-10 minutes walk away], yes i live in the jungle! The one above is me on the trek up from the river as the sun sets [looks pretty inspiring doesn't it!]. To the right below is what is known as a "bamboo cathedral", since the bamboo trunks form the cryptic arches of a cathedral.

While there in Trinidad, i tried my best to discover more of my culture that i was never in touch with. Learning to cook, discovering new musical arenas, such as Mungal Patasar, who blends in melodies of the Sitar, Tabla, Steel pan and many other instruments to form a masterpiece of culture. You can hear his music and read more about him on the Mungal Patasar myspace site.

So I shall continue this European trip with my next post about my most recent trip: London!