Friday, 18 October 2013

Amsterdam - the fun and a sad story

Two weeks ago while in Amsterdam for a few days I had a really interesting time. I am an avid sightseer so I proceeded to plan a few museum trips. I had visited Amsterdam 22 years ago but I went to see the Van Gogh Museum again as I am a huge fan.

I had a fun time in that city and we stayed out late but there was one place I visited that really struck me.

I went to the Anne Frank House Museum. What a sad story! For years I have not thought about the Holocaust but once again it was there in front of me. I was always interested and shocked in the subject even as a kid. This museum is amazing. The story of Anne Frank and her family who went into hiding for two years to escape the Nazi's. The museum told Anne's story and reminded me of how I had studied this at school. Her simple testimony makes it real for the visitor despite the many years that have past.

Well, two weeks later and I have read her diary and learnt more then everytime I open the television tere seems to be a documentary or film covering the subject. What interests me most are the feelings and thoughts of those involved. I am still trying to fully understand how so many normal people became sadistic and evil players in that history. Even worse, how many of the high ranking officials do not feel guity, only "sorry" and maintain the usual phrase "I was not responsible, I was just doing my job!"

We all need to take responsibility for the result of our actions and as I witnessed in a film I saw last night we can always do something to help. Those who helped Anne's family put themselves at huge risk and last night I watched a film about another hero of that time. Irena Sendler, a social worker who went into the Ghetto in Warsaw to save children and smuggle them out placing them in loving Polish families who looked after the and protected them.

Now I want to say something. I keep seeing comments like "we need to remember what happened during the Holocaust so it doesn't happen again. Well, guess what? It has happened again and again. Cambodia, Rwanda, World Wars and who knows what. It happens every day whenever one person is victimized for his race or beliefs. The Jews story is particularly sad and shocking but it is unfortunately one example among many of the cruelty of man.

Take a look at this website about what happened to Anne Frank and her family in the secret annex.

Let's not remember how fortunate we are to live now and not to have to face those times.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Another new experience - Unfortunately!

Having just completed a wonderful summer teaching Pre-sessional English to postgraduate students at Leicester University in the UK, I met up with my wife Elgiz to begin a short break after all that hard work and marking.

So I spent a week in London doing some sightseeing (I am now trying to see the less known sights in London).  Then it was off to settle my son Daniel into his second year a great five days or so there. Boy! Is that place ever fun! (Explain later).

London - Tower Bridge
We then went to Amsterdam for three or four days. What a beautiful place. So much to see and do, we had an incredible time...but...

Not without incident! I experienced another first time in my life situation. Unfortunately.

Let me explain, bit of a nightmare coming up here. You may wish to look away because I am going to explain about an awful reality now that is becoming a common problem in hotels everywhere.

Anyway, we booked a nice central hotel in Amsterdam and settled into the Hotel Espresso room 215. Cozy, I thought, a bit small and definitely overpriced as all of Amsterdam's hotels are. Rediculous prices actually. Anyway our first few days passed pleasantly (not normally because we were in Amsterdam but very nicely thank you). On the third day in the morning I woke up itching like I've never itched before. OUCH! Looked in the mirror - my back, arms and legs were covered in big red blotches. What could this be? Did I eat something and had an allergic reaction? I needed to scratch and then went looking for a chemist the next morning. The woman in the checmist immediate told me what the problem was. "Oh yes, she smiled, I've seen this a lot here..." A clue for you:

Worse than mosquitos and the real vampires. Ouch! I had been bitten by BEDBUGS. Yikes!

More than a week later I am still suffering from these itchy bites.

I have now found out so much about these things and how to treat the bites but I am worried now and getting quite paranoid about staying in another bed. I will soon be travelling to Paris too...

Facts about these horrible creatures:

1. They come out at night and suck blood
2. Growing problem all over the world especially in hotels
3. You can bring the damn things home in your suitcase so beware!
4. It is possible to carefully check the bed when you arrive - educate yourself
5. Bites take a couple of weeks to go and everyone reacts differently
6. I still got new bites appearing almost a week later, they dont comeup imediately

I hope the hotel will refund us and they have already made an offer. Was it worth going to Amsterdam and getting bitten? Yes, but this was not and still isn't pleasant. Ouch!

So remember: "sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite!"

Monday, 7 October 2013

A great summer

I truly had a great summer this year!

Once again I taught Pre-sessional English at Leicester University in England. It is so very satisfying to help international students prepare to study in the UK. The whole experience beyond the teaching is rewarding and I love the atmosphere of teaching at an academic institution in Britian.

It was really hard work once again and each year seems to get that bit harder. Late nights marking and preparing for lessons.

It was great to get back home to England and touch base. I also made many new friends and met up again with some from last year. It was also nice to get back to teaching full time if only for a short spell.

Leicester grows on me every time I find myself there. It is so diverse! All nationalities and cultures mixing and that has its benefits. So many indian restaurants to choose from!

I explored a bit more and went sightseeing again both in Leicester and York.

The above picture is just a taste of what you can find in Leicester town centre.

All told I was back in the UK for over 8 weeks.

Everyone in Turkey (where I live for part of the year), believes it always rains in England but this year the summer was HOT and SUNNY! Sometimes too hot...

It's back to my real life now but I am not too happy to be back in Turkey...