Sunday, December 14, 2008

Finally some pictures of Maastricht

You wouldn't know it from our postings, but we live in Maastricht. So here goes- first some pictures of an amazing bookstore called Selexy's that is built inside an old cathedral. And of course has a Coffeelovers inside. It's truly amazing.



And here is another picture of a knifeblock that is just hilarious.


And finally Winterland, which is Maastricht's market. There is a big ferris wheel, lots of food, and those big slides that you ride down on a grain sack.


The gluhwein is German (I think)- it's basically cheap red wine that has been heated with mulling spices. Delicious!


Crazy to think that in a week we'll be back in the US. Did you miss us?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Conversation Pieces with the Dutch

*It was snowing at work the other day, and I hadn't yet walked by a window to know that fact.
It was "short-break" time, and I was heading to get a coffee. I rounded the corner, and got my first
glimpse of it outside. It was dumping snow, and remembering what I was told, it rarely snows in The Netherlands. The words that came out of my mouth were, "Holy Cow!". Little did I know, that I had just said this in front of 10 dutch DC employees. They burst out laughing at me, and asked where I was from.
I told them from Minnesota, and that I was used to the snow, but didn't expect it to snow in my time here. I got my coffee, as they walked away, but could still here them talking as they walked down the hallway away from me.

"HOLY COW!" a man screamed. Another answered with, "I didn't see any cows out there!"

I guess that whatever Bart Simpson says in Dutch, does not translate to "Holy Cow!"
Hopefully they use it from now on.

*My manager has recently had his first child. My group has decided to go and pay our respects and visit the child as one group. I received an email today asking me this...

"Here are the options for us to go admire Roy's new baby, Indy"

At first, I thought she was just trying to use a cute word, because new babies are supposed to be cute.

Then when I didn't respond right away, I got an IM asking me when I would be available to go and admire Indy.

Im not sure which word the Dutch would use in that scenario, but I thought it was really cute to use admire in place of visit.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Birthday Extravaganza!

As another of Erica's birthdays winds up, I thought I would post a little about what we did this year.
After all, this is the 10th birthday I have spent with her, although not all of them we have been together.

An idea was proposed to me when I was on the Amsterdam Mike's Bike tour with Carrie and Sara. As I was riding near the tour guide, he was asking all about me, and what I was doing living in The Netherlands. We chatted it up a bit, and he gave me a must see place. "You should totally take your wife here!" I think is the way he put it (with his sweet flock of seagulls haircut). So I kept the idea in mind, and actually decided to go through with it.

It was actually a lot easier than I expected. We were to take a short trip to the Belgian border city of Spa. It is here that the original "spa" concept was developed, and offered a weekend away from markets, bikes, and the pets!

I booked us a junior suite at the Radisson Hotel attached to Thermes De Spa (our point of interest).
This included dinner for the night and entrance for one of our days at the spa.

We arrived around 14:30, and just in time for Erica's Shiatsu massage. I was waiting for my foot reflexology massage followed by my Shiatsu massage. Both of us had never had a shiatsu before, and when the little woman started walking on my feet and placing a foot in my armpit and pulling I was in for quite the surprise, but we both really enjoyed them. The rest of the time was spent in the natural spring water pools, both indoors and out. So even though the temperature was 0, we were in 31 degree water, and enjoying it! We headed back to the room and enjoyed our nice 3 hour dinner. You have to get used to that over here!

We slept in Sunday morning, before heading back to the Thermes for a second day of pampering. We each had a facial scheduled for 13:30. I thought it kind of girlish until she began working on me. I have to admit, the woman actually brought tears to my eyes, and I wondered how I was to relax through this. I survived and came out with a beautiful, smooth, and moisturized face. Erica looked beautiful as always, and still had her lympthatic drainage massage to come. Before though, we headed back out to the outdoor spring and it was seriously snowing as we were swimming. It was quite a mindblower to swim as it was snowing and not be a bit cold. I enjoyed it some more as Erica went to her final massage.

Once finished we headed back to Maastricht, and back to real life... work on Monday.

Happy Birthday Erica!

Happy Birthday to me!

Today I turn 27. I will explain a little about my Dutch celebration. First, we order vlaai (Dutch pie/cake) for our coworkers. But, there is a catch- you have to buy the vlaai yourself and then serve it to people- CRAZY! Then, people say "congratulations" when it's your birthday, and then shake your hand and kiss you three times on the cheek. When I first went to a Dutch birthday, I said an enthusiastic "Happy Birthday!" and then grabbed some cake. I was later scolded for being so rude- "you didn't even shake hands!" Now I know that Dutch people really look forward to their coworkers touching them in lieu of a free birthday vlaai. Here is the vlaai that I got (20 EUR total)- pudding vlaai and choco-peren (pear) vlaai.



Tonight I'm going for dinner with coworkers, and we're exchanging a gift and a poem. I left work a little early to enjoy my birthday and work on my poem. Nick and I often go to a coffeeshop (not *that* kind of coffeeshop) that is very popular around here... and I figured out why I'm gaining weight here, even though I eat less. I asked what type of milk they use- skim, low fat, whole? (Sound familiar if you have read earlier entries?!) The guy says, "I dunno, it's just milk, we only have one kind of milk." He showed me the milk carton, with a dirty word. VOLLE. WHOLE f-ing milk?! I have been drinking 1-2 tall coffees a week with full fat milk! 600 calories, before you add in the sugar or syrup! So before my birthday dinner, I've had one tall whole milk coffee, and 3 pieces of vlaai. I will write my poem here, I'm quite proud that it is partly in Dutch, even though I had help from Kent and babelfish.

I'll get the Dutch part out of the way
By means of introduction, please allow me to say
Ilona heeft twee honden
wie houdt eten de bonen

Ze ga met mij te lunchen
maar niet naar Oktoberfest in Munchen
(Although sometimes life brings tears,
she's too strong to turn to the beers.)

If you're in the office early, at her desk she'll be,
driven by adoration for V-A-T

But by the time she eats her sandwich, the tide has turned.
And she counts down to the weekend she has earned.

Her free days are spent with Mitchell and Brenden
Mondag, het verhaal terug beginnen!