Cheese Factory

Today was supposed to be our first class day in Texel, however we had the exclusive opportunity to visit a nearby farm to observe agriculture business. We took a short bike ride over to the farm where we met Anton Witte, the owner and operator of the farm. For years, the Witte family has made products from cows, sheep and goat, with sheep cheese being their most famous. One thing that Holland is known for is its’ extraordinary cheeses, much of which comes from the island of Texel. The Witte’s sell their cheese to markets in England, Germany and even the U.S. They make cheese only using raw milk, and with a special sheep breed known as Texelaar-Friesian sheep. This famous cheese is known as Texelse Schapenkaas. In Rome, in the 1980, a consortium, known as Slow Food, was set up to “sustain quality agriculture, and maintain the biodiversity of our food supply.” This is contrary to “fast food” which seems to be taking over large portions of the food industry. This campaign is pushing a new sustainable approach to agriculture based on the traditional knowledge of food production that we are at risk of loosing. All of the products that represent Slow Food have no additives or preservatives. Slow Food organization began in Italy to preserve wine, meat, cheese, honey and fruit. Mr. Witte went on to explain how about three percent of farmers stop business each year. Nearby farms will purchase that land and expand their own farms. We were able to see where the cows get milked using a high-tech, completely automated milking machine. This way is significantly more efficient. It runs 24 hours a day milking their 80 large cows. We also got an exclusive tour of the cheese making facilities. The tour was extremely interesting and insightful. Much of the cheese produced ages for months at a time to assure its delicate taste. After the tour we went by the outdoor market, held only on Monday’s, and purchased a wheel of the famous goat cheese. Check out the Slow Food website for more information about this concept.

Automated milking machine

Cheese making area

Cheese Factory

Today was supposed to be our first class day in Texel, however we had the exclusive opportunity to visit a nearby farm to observe agriculture business. We took a short bike ride over to the farm where we met Anton Witte, the owner and operator of the farm. For years, the Witte family has made products from cows, sheep and goat, with sheep cheese being their most famous. One thing that Holland is known for is its’ extraordinary cheeses, much of which comes from the island of Texel. The Witte’s sell their cheese to markets in England, Germany and even the U.S. They make cheese only using raw milk, and with a special sheep breed known as Texelaar-Friesian sheep. This famous cheese is known as Texelse Schapenkaas. In Rome, in the 1980, a consortium, known as Slow Food, was set up to “sustain quality agriculture, and maintain the biodiversity of our food supply.” This is contrary to “fast food” which seems to be taking over large portions of the food industry. This campaign is pushing a new sustainable approach to agriculture based on the traditional knowledge of food production that we are at risk of loosing. All of the products that represent Slow Food have no additives or preservatives. Slow Food organization began in Italy to preserve wine, meat, cheese, honey and fruit. Mr. Witte went on to explain how about three percent of farmers stop business each year. Nearby farms will purchase that land and expand their own farms. We were able to see where the cows get milked using a high-tech, completely automated milking machine. This way is significantly more efficient. It runs 24 hours a day milking their 80 large cows. We also got an exclusive tour of the cheese making facilities. The tour was extremely interesting and insightful. Much of the cheese produced ages for months at a time to assure its delicate taste. After the tour we went by the outdoor market, held only on Monday’s, and purchased a wheel of the famous goat cheese. Check out the Slow Food website for more information about this concept.

Automated milking machine

Cheese making area

To Texel!

Today was, for the most part, a travel day. We woke up bright and early at about 8:30. After a quick breakfast, the entire group, with luggage in hand, left the Cube houses to walk to the metro at nearby Blaak station. One of my fellow students had purchased a coffee maker earlier in the week and we were interested to see how the transportation of it would play out. He had two large bags and a broken backpack with the coffee machine inside. Needless to say, he was near the back of the group and sweating the most. You always want to pack as few bags as possible when traveling, because unless you are just going on leisure vacation, you will need to be carrying your bags everywhere. A good rule of thumb to test your bags is to hold everything you are taking at once and then determine if you will feel comfortable holding it all while walking (all the time). After a metro ride, two train rides, a quick ferry ride, and a short bus trip, we arrived to our hostel in Texel. All in all about eight total hours of traveling, it did not seem that bad, though. Texel is the largest island of the Netherlands. But not to be fooled, it is very small, measuring only 62.5 square miles. Of the many Dutch people I have talked to, most have told me that there is nothing to do on the island. That is their perspective, however. Which makes sense because to them it is only a vacation beach for most Dutch. When we arrived, the entire group rented bikes from the hostel. Texel has an extensive network of bicycle trails that cover the island. This is something that I am very excited about. Nowhere in the world is a bicycle system as good as the Netherlands. It can be a bit crazy in the other cities in Holland, however Texel is mostly countryside and beach; perfect for bike riding. After settling in, the entire group rode our bikes to the south end of the island for dinner. We stopped in for a quick drink with the group then explored a little on our own. We ended up just riding our bikes for a few miles and hardly saw any other people. Farms, fields and sand dunes cover the country. We saw cows, sheep, and even oxen grazing the countryside. Some areas look like small versions of the Everglades. Although there is not too much to do in Texel, it will be a good chance to catch up on my work and relax like the Dutch.

To Texel!

Today was, for the most part, a travel day. We woke up bright and early at about 8:30. After a quick breakfast, the entire group, with luggage in hand, left the Cube houses to walk to the metro at nearby Blaak station. One of my fellow students had purchased a coffee maker earlier in the week and we were interested to see how the transportation of it would play out. He had two large bags and a broken backpack with the coffee machine inside. Needless to say, he was near the back of the group and sweating the most. You always want to pack as few bags as possible when traveling, because unless you are just going on leisure vacation, you will need to be carrying your bags everywhere. A good rule of thumb to test your bags is to hold everything you are taking at once and then determine if you will feel comfortable holding it all while walking (all the time). After a metro ride, two train rides, a quick ferry ride, and a short bus trip, we arrived to our hostel in Texel. All in all about eight total hours of traveling, it did not seem that bad, though. Texel is the largest island of the Netherlands. But not to be fooled, it is very small, measuring only 62.5 square miles. Of the many Dutch people I have talked to, most have told me that there is nothing to do on the island. That is their perspective, however. Which makes sense because to them it is only a vacation beach for most Dutch. When we arrived, the entire group rented bikes from the hostel. Texel has an extensive network of bicycle trails that cover the island. This is something that I am very excited about. Nowhere in the world is a bicycle system as good as the Netherlands. It can be a bit crazy in the other cities in Holland, however Texel is mostly countryside and beach; perfect for bike riding. After settling in, the entire group rode our bikes to the south end of the island for dinner. We stopped in for a quick drink with the group then explored a little on our own. We ended up just riding our bikes for a few miles and hardly saw any other people. Farms, fields and sand dunes cover the country. We saw cows, sheep, and even oxen grazing the countryside. Some areas look like small versions of the Everglades. Although there is not too much to do in Texel, it will be a good chance to catch up on my work and relax like the Dutch.

An Unexpected Last Day in Rotterdam

Our original plan for today was to travel to Texel for our second week. However, due to technical difficulties we ended up with an extra night in Rotterdam. All of the students were happy about this and it gave us a chance to sleep in and recuperate. Another pro of staying is that we had the chance to go to the Market for the third time since it is only there Saturdays and Tuesdays. For lunch I purchased a portion of delicious fried shrimp from one of the vendors. It was so fresh and only ran me two Euros. For the rest of the day we basically just relaxed, toured a few more places in the city, and prepared our luggage for the move to Texel tomorrow. It was great meeting Priti and Jivi, our two local friends. They showed us the ins and outs of the city, the places where tourist don’t generally go unless they have an irreverent city guide. Unfortunately, it being our last night in Rotterdam, we had to say our goodbyes.

An Unexpected Last Day in Rotterdam

Our original plan for today was to travel to Texel for our second week. However, due to technical difficulties we ended up with an extra night in Rotterdam. All of the students were happy about this and it gave us a chance to sleep in and recuperate. Another pro of staying is that we had the chance to go to the Market for the third time since it is only there Saturdays and Tuesdays. For lunch I purchased a portion of delicious fried shrimp from one of the vendors. It was so fresh and only ran me two Euros. For the rest of the day we basically just relaxed, toured a few more places in the city, and prepared our luggage for the move to Texel tomorrow. It was great meeting Priti and Jivi, our two local friends. They showed us the ins and outs of the city, the places where tourist don’t generally go unless they have an irreverent city guide. Unfortunately, it being our last night in Rotterdam, we had to say our goodbyes.

Port of Rotterdam, Spido Boat Tour

Today is Friday and we didn’t have class, however we took a class trip to the Port of Rotterdam for a Spido Boat Tour. Boat tours are one of the most popular attractions in Rotterdam. We loaded onto the giant tour boat at about 10:30 and parked ourselves on the large deck above. The port of Rotterdam, the largest in Europe, covers 40.5 square miles and stretches over 25 miles. The port handles general cargo transshipment. The harbor functions as an important transit point for transport of bulk and other goods between the European continent and other parts of the world. The boat slowly toured us around areas of the giant harbor. Assortments of containers were scattered and piled high along the water. Giant barges come in and load and unload containers with thousands of goods. Many docks are there specifically for certain products. This is where all goods are imported and exported for all of Europe. It is like taking a look behind the scenes to really understand how things get to their final destination; a very important link in the supply chain. On the docks are massive machines that load and unload containers from barges. The machines can be loosened and slid down the edge of the dock to accommodate ships. The Vessel Traffic Service, or VTS, is the system used to track vessels up to thirty miles out into the North Sea. It is a very advanced system and the Port of Rotterdam Authority monitors the entire operation.

Port of Rotterdam, Spido Boat Tour

Today is Friday and we didn’t have class, however we took a class trip to the Port of Rotterdam for a Spido Boat Tour. Boat tours are one of the most popular attractions in Rotterdam. We loaded onto the giant tour boat at about 10:30 and parked ourselves on the large deck above. The port of Rotterdam, the largest in Europe, covers 40.5 square miles and stretches over 25 miles. The port handles general cargo transshipment. The harbor functions as an important transit point for transport of bulk and other goods between the European continent and other parts of the world. The boat slowly toured us around areas of the giant harbor. Assortments of containers were scattered and piled high along the water. Giant barges come in and load and unload containers with thousands of goods. Many docks are there specifically for certain products. This is where all goods are imported and exported for all of Europe. It is like taking a look behind the scenes to really understand how things get to their final destination; a very important link in the supply chain. On the docks are massive machines that load and unload containers from barges. The machines can be loosened and slid down the edge of the dock to accommodate ships. The Vessel Traffic Service, or VTS, is the system used to track vessels up to thirty miles out into the North Sea. It is a very advanced system and the Port of Rotterdam Authority monitors the entire operation.

Day 3, Dutch Immersion

After breakfast today, my classmates and I had our first class period of the trip. The graphic design students have class from 10 to 12 Monday through Thursday, and my class, Marketing, meets from 12:30 to 2:30 Monday through Thursday. Fortunately our instructors double as our group leaders so we are able to consult them about our material at almost anytime on the trip. I chose to take the marketing course while in Holland because the country has the largest port in Europe, that is Rotterdam, and is also very advanced in marketing and business, which is my major. We began with basic material to reinforce our understanding of what marketing is and how businesses rely heavily on it. I found it interesting to search for comparisons between businesses and shops here in Holland compared to that of America, which, by the way, was part of our first assignment. It seems to me that the Dutch are very ingenuitive people, very orderly. Everything designed throughout the city is well thought out and fits a purpose. Not much space is wasted. After class, a few of my fellow classmates and I went exploring, yet again. To really understand the city and the culture it is crucial to immerse yourself in it as if you were a Dutch citizen. We walked further into the center of Rotterdam, near the Rotterdam central station. Near this area, was what seemed to be a small Chinatown. Asian restaurants lined the streets just as you would imagine. Thus far, my impression of Rotterdam is that is very easygoing, clean streets, and everyone sticks to their business for the most part. The city was bombed during the 2nd world war, and therefore is continuing to be rebuilt and grow. With a new massive market hall, or Markt Hal, as it will be called, being built right behind Blaak station in central Rotterdam, and other various improvements to the city, I foresee great potential for the city to boom. After about three more hours wondering aimlessly through the city, a few of the students and I went to eat at a place called O’pazzo. The bartender at our hostel recommended it to be “the best pizza” in the world. That is a bold statement in my opinion, but we thought we would give it a shot. It turned out to be very good pizza and an extremely unique, eclectic atmosphere housing a giant wood-burning furnace built in the form of a large octopus and a twisting tree in the center of the restaurant with what looked to be covered from top to bottom in quarters. Later in the evening, we had the opportunity to go to the graduation after party of a Dutch friend of one of our classmates. The family is of Indian heritage, specifically from Surname, which I learned was once a Dutch colony. They immigrated to Holland in 1969, where they began their family. Priti’s mother cooked homemade Indian food while we relaxed and conversed in their home. The brother of Priti, Jivi, began telling us all about typical Dutch life. How it was unusual for a Dutch family to invite you into their home for a meal, if it wasn’t planned. He explained that his family was an exception to the norm, being an atypical Dutch family with Indian heritage. Now that I have seen two Dutch homes, I am getting a better feel for what Dutch life is truly like.

Day 3, Dutch Immersion

After breakfast today, my classmates and I had our first class period of the trip. The graphic design students have class from 10 to 12 Monday through Thursday, and my class, Marketing, meets from 12:30 to 2:30 Monday through Thursday. Fortunately our instructors double as our group leaders so we are able to consult them about our material at almost anytime on the trip. I chose to take the marketing course while in Holland because the country has the largest port in Europe, that is Rotterdam, and is also very advanced in marketing and business, which is my major. We began with basic material to reinforce our understanding of what marketing is and how businesses rely heavily on it. I found it interesting to search for comparisons between businesses and shops here in Holland compared to that of America, which, by the way, was part of our first assignment. It seems to me that the Dutch are very ingenuitive people, very orderly. Everything designed throughout the city is well thought out and fits a purpose. Not much space is wasted. After class, a few of my fellow classmates and I went exploring, yet again. To really understand the city and the culture it is crucial to immerse yourself in it as if you were a Dutch citizen. We walked further into the center of Rotterdam, near the Rotterdam central station. Near this area, was what seemed to be a small Chinatown. Asian restaurants lined the streets just as you would imagine. Thus far, my impression of Rotterdam is that is very easygoing, clean streets, and everyone sticks to their business for the most part. The city was bombed during the 2nd world war, and therefore is continuing to be rebuilt and grow. With a new massive market hall, or Markt Hal, as it will be called, being built right behind Blaak station in central Rotterdam, and other various improvements to the city, I foresee great potential for the city to boom. After about three more hours wondering aimlessly through the city, a few of the students and I went to eat at a place called O’pazzo. The bartender at our hostel recommended it to be “the best pizza” in the world. That is a bold statement in my opinion, but we thought we would give it a shot. It turned out to be very good pizza and an extremely unique, eclectic atmosphere housing a giant wood-burning furnace built in the form of a large octopus and a twisting tree in the center of the restaurant with what looked to be covered from top to bottom in quarters. Later in the evening, we had the opportunity to go to the graduation after party of a Dutch friend of one of our classmates. The family is of Indian heritage, specifically from Surname, which I learned was once a Dutch colony. They immigrated to Holland in 1969, where they began their family. Priti’s mother cooked homemade Indian food while we relaxed and conversed in their home. The brother of Priti, Jivi, began telling us all about typical Dutch life. How it was unusual for a Dutch family to invite you into their home for a meal, if it wasn’t planned. He explained that his family was an exception to the norm, being an atypical Dutch family with Indian heritage. Now that I have seen two Dutch homes, I am getting a better feel for what Dutch life is truly like.