Friday, 21 September 2012

The Netherlands

The Netherlands

After we left Germany, we got on the train for the Netherlands. Our first stop, Venlo, to change trains. We ordered McKrokets for snack at McDonalds, and were reasonably surprised

I thought it was just a chicken patty. Turns out it was deep fried potato and mystery meat mash. Delicious or disgusting, depending on who you ask (I wouldn't ask me or Chris).

Our next destination in the Netherlands was Delft, where a multitude of wonderful Webbies live. Tophi picked us up from the train station and gave us a tour of Delft university and town.

Back Row From Left: Satchel, Cody, Katie, Leah, Jay
Front Row From Left: Chris, Andy, Tophi, Brett
Photo Credit to Anika(Thanks a ton)

When we came back, we met the other Webbies, Brett, Leah, Katie, and Jay. Brett works for Stolt, which explains his shameless product placement. They graciously welcomed us into their homes, and we had a great time cooking a big meal together then spending a night on the town. 

The next morning, I headed out on a rafting trip to see the city. I towed Katie in the raft behind me to give her a ride to work. 

The others toured the market with Leah, and sat in a clog….

That night, we headed to Rotterdam to hang out with Matt, another alum working for Stolt. On the way we saw this:

A flying cat

Andy found a shopping cart with wheels

After a good night’s sleep, we headed to Amsterdam. There we had some train difficulties, and we arrived at different times, but met up and headed out on a canal tour.

We’re on a boat.

A 120m “mini” cruise ship, L/B ratio of 11…

UK amphibious assault ship (I believe)

The harbor is so busy they have a water traffic controller booth

Beautiful Amsterdam. We spent two days here, looking around at the beautiful city, but we forgot to take pictures because at this point we had seen 1000’s of old stone buildings.

Nemo Museum-We went the next day, really cool children’s science museum.

One of the many many canals

Another one, with bikes locked everywhere

The 1700’s replica Dutch warship "Amsterdam". Astounding carvings and craftsmanship

A 150 ton barge crane. The photo doesn’t do it justice. We watched as the crane lifted the concrete block, and the bow sank a full meter

After staying in a hostel for two days in Amsterdam, we moved on to Paris. A post on Paris will follow, after we have sorted through the 1000 pictures taken in the last three days!

Thanks again to our hosts along the way, especially the wonderful Webbies in Delft!

Miss you all


Sunday, 16 September 2012



This post will attempt to cover the six days we spent in four cities in Germany. Its a fair bit of material, but  we were so busy that I postponed blogging until we were back on a long train ride. I am going to attempt to weave the pictures into the text more, so please bear with me.

When we got on the train in Copenhagen, we knew it was taking us to Hamburg. However, the maps showed the train driving straight over the Fehmarn Belt with no mention of a bridge. We were surprised and confused when we approached a ferry, and were not asked to leave the train. The train drove directly onto the ferry.

It is hard to tell, but the train is actually fully in the ferry

The sister of the ferry we were on. Andy described the opening of the bow to let the train out as "like and alligator opening its mouth!"

We saw this beauty from the ferry

We were pleasantly surprised when we reached Hamburg Central  Station and Kyle, Nick, and Dale (All Webb 2012) were waiting for us on the platform, holding a hand made sign that said "Webbies". It was a very happy reunion all around. 

Kyle, Nick, and Dale are all contracted to work with Blomm and Voss on the restoration of an FPSO. They and many of their colleagues live in a hotel very close to the shipyard, so we got to meet a few other naval architects. We had a nice dinner out at a traditional German place, and then slept. They had to go to work in the morning, so we set out to explore the city. 

We learned that Hamburg has a really nice bike rental program, and so we took advantage of it. By riding the bikes from one rental station to another, we could use them from only 5 euro per year. 

So we leapfrogged from station to station, making our way north along the lake towards a park we heard was good. Along the way, we lost Chris. He took a different turn, and we stopped and waited for him to come back, but he never did. We continued to make our way to the park on foot, hoping Chris would meet us there. 

We must have walked slowly because when we reached the park two hours later Chris was waiting faithfully. He had already toured the park, and took us right to the part of the park we wanted to see, the playground. 

The Zipline

We road the bikes all the way back, and then had a nice doner dinner not far from the hotel. 

We started out early the next morning, 7:00 am breakfast with the naval architects, and then we trained to Berlin. We weren't staying the night in Berlin, so we had six hours to explore the city before making the train that would get us back to Hamburg in time for a nice dinner out. We planned a walking and biking tour, and headed to see the most touristy sites.


Brandenburg Gate

Checkpoint Charlie

From checkpoint charlie we road bikes along the streets, following the double row of laid stones that show where the wall used to stand. After a few extra turns, we found the section of the Berlin Wall that is now a giant piece of artwork. It was really quite amazing.

Our last quest in Berlin was to find a Berliner (jelly donut). We searched and searched, but found only things labeled 'donut'. Eventually we tried them, and found that they probably were 'berliners' just  not called that. They were really delicious. Soft, fluffy dough, a light sprinkling of white sugar on the outside, and filled completely with a rich but mildly sweet apple butter. Worth all the searching!

We also saw some cool and really old museums and churches and such. 

The highlight of our time with Kyle, Dale, and Nick was our last dinner at Groeninger's. Dean Neilson highly recommended it, and we are grateful. I'm not sure I have ever eaten as much food in my life. We ordered the meat platter, and out came pounds and pounds of smoked pork, sausages and bacon. A traditional mustard and brown bread were also available, along with garlic and bacon mashed potatoes. We ate and ate and ate.

It was sad to leave Hamburg, but great to have gotten to see Kyle, Nick and Dale. They seem to be having a great time, and making plenty of friends. We are ever grateful for sharing their rooms and breakfasts with us, not to mention the fun times.

We left on the morning train, headed for Cologne and Dusseldorf. Andy got off the train in Dusseldorf to set up our hotel, while we continued on to Cologne. We found some pretty great things in our exploration of the city, 

A huge cathedral

Noah's Ark-On a barge

A bridge of locks

Chris the aid to navigation

The most dangerous children's playground ever

A tram with a great aerial view of the city

We hopped the 20 min train back to Dusseldorf, and ended up waiting while they did something to the train that extended our ride for an extra hour. But we made it to the hotel eventually, and all was good. 

We set about exploring Dusseldorf the next day, and using there public transit system to its full advantage. We made it into the city, and saw a bunch of awesome statues and buildings. We grabbed a really cheap breakfast of great baked goods, and walked down to the Rhine.

After eating a meal of hamburgers and nachos, we decided we wanted to see a movie. We found the main theater, but they had only movies in German. So on a whim we headed all the way across the city looking for a theater that apparently shows movies in English. We found it, but by the time we got there the only movie left in English was either a little kids movie, or a horror movie. (we couldn't understand enough German to tell which). We ended up watching the new Bourne movie, and understanding none of it. But it was worth it!

So now it is our second day in the Netherlands, we had a wonderful meal with the Webbies here, but more on that next post.

Miss you all


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

First Few Days

The First Week

We will begin at the beginning.

Cody Owen, Andy Thompson, Chris Licato, and I (Satchel Douglas) were banished from the loving fold of our dear Webb Institute for the Fall Semester 2012. It was tough to go.

In all seriousness, we are very lucky to be allowed to attend the University of Southampton this semester, and are attempting to take full advantage of this opportunity. 

We would like to extend our most heartfelt thanks to Dean Neilson, Prof. Harris, Prof. Werner, Prof. Wiggins, Prof. Basu and Josie for their exceptional dedication to our trip, and to working tirelessly to help us. Additionally, we are extremely grateful and appreciative for Dr. Stephen Payne's personal support and generosity in helping us negotiate with Cunard and the University of Southampton. His help was invaluable and we would not be here without it. 

So for the actual journey so far:

7 Days on the ship

2 Days in Southampton

1 Night in Stansted Airport

Not enough pictures...

To explain this a bit better, we left the U.S. on the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) on the afternoon of August 28th.

View from the car
Unfortunately for us, there was no maximum amount of luggage allowed on the ship, so we packed plenty...

Note: Cody's is already on the ship 
Thanks a ton to Matt W. for dropping us off! Brooklyn is quite the place.

We embarked on the ship, with very little trouble in security, and started looking around. See bellow, the Captain's cuff links, more commonly known as replacement propeller blades (8 tons each!).

 The ship departed right on time, leaving us with a display of the power of the bow thrusters. 

Our view of the city was simply phenomenal

We made it back on deck just in time to see under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge

The tide must have been out, because we appeared to clear under the bridge by quite a bit

Sunset Looking aft, and no one on deck to see it!

We were so glad to be on the ship, we forgot to take pictures

Main Deck Midships

Aft Deck pool looking over Brooklyn

Red Hook container terminal, dwarfed by the ensign

New York Skyline, Dwarfed by Cody

The beginning of the constant dancing

We wanted to wear the life jackets so badly (From LR)

Afternoon rest

Focus Issues...

Another post to come about the voyage, but its safe to say that we had an incredible time! We ate mountains of delicious food, were waited on hand and foot and completely spoiled, but most importantly met a ton of great people, and made some friends that we plan on visiting again. QM2 is an unbelievable thing, 2600 people all happy, relaxed, and hoping to meet new people.

We are waiting for our flight to Denmark now, but it appears that they will let us move on to the next country. Continental Europe, here we come.

Cody, Chris, and Andy and I say hi, and we miss you all. We think often of our family and friends back home, and hope they are having as wonderful a time as we are.


P.S. Try not to worry too much about us.