Showing posts with label Netherlands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Netherlands. Show all posts

Monday, February 21, 2011

Christmas in February

This Monday morning was like Christmas morning for a simple reason: freshly baked cheesecake needs to be refrigerated overnight. The weather turned windy and cold, so I resorted to baking my most favorite dessert as a means of entertainment. Note that cheesecake in general is not my favorite, it's this particular cheesecake which has an extra layer of vanilla topping.)


Another Christmas present was finding mini cans of Dr. Pepper at the nearby grocery store. We've been holding out for these forever! When we lived in Maastricht, only one of the 3 Albert Heijn stores in our neighborhood carried Dr. Pepper. By the time we moved to New York, all 3 did. Now, we don't drink that much Dr. Pepper, we only buy a few cans a week (or zero cans a week if the store doesn't carry the right size!). But I have a strong suspicion that selling a few extra cans probably tripled Albert Heijn's Dr. Pepper sales, which led them to offer it in the 2 additional stores. I like to imagine that when we left, we left a Dutch grocery manager in a state of utter confusion about what was happening to his Dr. Pepper sales.

On Thursday and Friday, I retired my puffy coat and happily wandered around the city in only a cardigan. On Saturday and Sunday, I unretired my puffy coat and we finally went in search of maternity clothes. Until now, I've been mostly getting by with a belly band and my normal shirts, but now I'm undeniably pregnant! Today, we wake up to snow! Puffy coat it is. Even bundled in winter gear, Zoltar has been recognized by 3 people so far, who offered the pregnant lady (me!) a seat on the subway. What's funny is that my winter coat is actually a child's XL, because the length was better on me and it was $100 cheaper than the women's XS version. Who knew that a kid's coat could fit a 6 month baby bump inside?

Luckily we decided to take a few pictures of Zoltar in Central Park before the snow hit today. (Now at 26 weeks or 6 months or -3 months old!) The park is still pretty dreary and gray, but there are only so many apartment poses that a fetus can make.


This weekend we went to see the Oscar nominees for live action short films. It was so much more fun to bypass all of the big movies and see the categories and people whose accomplishments are usually highlighted with a small footnote. I thought that seeing these short films was an only in New York thing, but I was wrong! You can even see these bad boys in Duluth! So if you live in Duluth, we strongly recommend a trip to the movies!

And now, Nick, Zoltar and I have some cheesecake to eat.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Small city, small world

I had a funny New York moment today, or maybe just a funny life moment. I was waiting for the subway, on my way to get a haircut, when I heard a couple of guys speaking Dutch. One of them sat next to me, and I started talking to him. Yes, I started talking to a complete stranger just because he was Dutch (from Haarlem), and I am sort of Dutch. (Funny that when I was in Maastricht and heard Americans, I usually went out of my way to avoid them.) But anyways, I chatted with the Dutchies for a couple of stops and said "Dooi" and went on my merry way.

Six hours later, in a completely different part of town a half hour away, I was walking to the library when I heard "that's her, that's her, HEY!" And again I chatted with the same two Dutchies about what they had seen that day, where I was going this time, and said "Dooi" and went on my merry way. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Derek's visit

Well, this is about a month late, but there is a good excuse. Let me explain. My brother and his friend Kristin visited about a month ago. They hung around Maastricht, and also went to Amsterdam, spent some time relaxing. Here's them near the Maas.


But during the weekend, the four of us headed on a four hour roadtrip to Groningen, where my ancestors (dad's side) are from. We planned to meet one of our distant Dutch relatives at an airfield for a tour of our family's location. Here is us, full of hope!


Our relative didn't show for one reason or another, but the funny thing is that we met her ex-husband at the airfield. Apparently, he's the one who taught her how to fly. We didn't let the no show stop us! We drove around the village where we are from and via fate, found a house with the Dutch variation of our name! We didn't knock on the door or anything, just trespassed and took pictures of their cat.


We had no idea exact who lived there or how we were related to them, but when you drive four hours to the middle of nowhere, you don't have the option to be picky. When we got the photos back, I had them made into a postcard (with help from my coworker!) and sent the card for a very late Father's Day card. So, that's why this entry is late- my dad just got the card last week, and he gets dibs on this story.

Monday, July 6, 2009


 I thought it would be fun to post what we will miss about Europe and what we're looking forward to about moving back to the US. Then in a few months, we can see how it shakes out, what things we forgot or over/underestimated.

What will we miss?
Our coworkers/friends
Cheap Ryanair flights, and the geographic proximity to different countries/cultures/languages
Buying smaller portions- eg one chicken breast or a half loaf of bread
Being "special" - for better or for worse, being American is a huge part of our identity here and makes us stick out wherever we go
Reitz fries and Pinky waffles
The escape from American media and the constant bombardment of gloom, doom, and advertisements
Being in places with a sense of place and history (vs. chain stores, chain restaurants, chain everything)
Good beer

What are we looking forward to?
Store opening hours- nights and weekends!
Free water, free ice, free refills
Closer time zone to friends and family
Lower priced options for eating out
Going to baseball/football/basketball games

*** edited to add: Netflix and crispy bacon (Europeans eat fatty undercooked bacon)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last days in Limburg

I have difficulty with good-byes and finality and options being cut off. I think along the lines of "Oh no, I will never again be in Maastricht on a Thursday!" or "This is my last sandwich at the cafeteria I have been complaining about for the past year." or "I forgot that Batman's curious nose will no longer peer out of our front window, I should've paid better attention yesterday." Meanwhile, Nick takes a break from packing the boxes to wonder aloud if he can throw away the pair of sunglasses he never sees me wear. Here are a few of our good-bye stories:

A few weekends ago, we went out with Nick's boss and a coworker, painting the town black and blue. By about 1AM, we are all hammered and in the Markt (Maastricht's main town square) singing screaming out Frank Sinatra's New York, New York. (Because if you are not yet aware, we are moving to New York, New York.) A group of random Indian guys walked by as I spun around singing a solo line, and one of them picked me up and said "you're coming out with us now!" What a brilliant idea! So I just laughed at my good fortune as he carried me down the street. Nick's boss and coworker started chasing after us, and Nick just stayed where he was, because he knew I would come back eventually. :-)

Nick and I rented some cool Italian flag vespas from La Dolce Vespa in Maastricht. (Isn't that a cool name?!) The lady was super nice, and taught us to drive in the little parking lot. We were both fairly terrified, and really sucked at making turns on the tiny Vespa wheels. You aren't obliged to wear a helmet, but we sprang an extra 20 euros to get helmets. We spent about 6 hours zooming around at about 20 mph through Limburg, to tiny towns we'd never visited. Including Gulpen a few times because we got lost. We went to Margraten, which is a large American cemetery from WW2. Dutch people adopt graves and leave flowers and messages, it was a really beautiful place. Horror of horrors, my camera ran out of batteries before I could execute all my photo ideas of us on the Vespas so we have no Vespa photos.

There are many reasons to drive 4 hours to Paris while your husband packs a few suitcases and golfs. To see my old coworker from my Paris internship 6 years ago. To eat Berthillon ice cream one last time. To take advantage of the French sales that are only held twice a year. To buy perfume at the Rue Cambon Chanel boutique. We went out with our coworkers on Friday night, stayed out until 3, and then I woke up at 5:30 to drive to Paris in time for my shopping appointment at Galeries Lafayette. Nothing like shopping to cure a hangover and a little bit of homesickness. I've spent the past 6 years homesick for Paris, and sadly it will continue when we move. I spied a mime preparing for his day on a side street near Notre Dame.



Our last picture in the apartment- you can see Batman has a cone on his head, the poor guy needs to get his shit together and look healthy before we try to import him....


Monday, June 29, 2009

Wall Study

Novice blogger Nick didn't post photos, so here are some interesting wall contrasts from our road trip:

1- Peace Wall in Prague


2- Berlin Wall


3- Bike storage wall (one of many) in Amsterdam



Sunday, June 21, 2009

Amsterdam: The Finale

We left Berlin around 9 and started our 6 hour drive towards Amsterdam. This was a fun drive for me, as a big portion of it was on the Autobahn. I learned that our Prius tops out at 181 km/h. I was still getting lapped by the Porsches and BMWs.

We arrived to our hotel, on the western outskirts of the city. We checked in quickly and headed straight into the center of town, as a beer specialty store that Erik wanted to check out was soon closing. We made it with about 10 minutes to spare, and Erik quickly made friends with the store-owner(?). We spent way too much on beer, but came away with some very unique ones that we may never see again.

We headed to a restaurant called Gespot that Erica and I had tried before and really enjoyed. It had a little of something for everyone and good cocktails. We took a few pictures of Amsterdam and headed back out to the hotel. Erik and Lynnea were leaving tomorrow morning and needed to pack properly for the flight. Erica and I tagged along, and Erik and I quickly became distracted by a card tossing game. It started out as landslide victories for me, but Erik quickly became a challenge. Who knew I was so good at tossing cards?... I did!

We met up with the Sundman's for breakfast at the hotel and said our goodbyes! Erica and I headed back into Amsterdam to visit a couple of museums and say goodbye to the pretty city. Our first stop at a museum called FOAM. A photography museum. We learned that there was a New York Perspectives exhibit across the street and also visited that. It was New York photographers taking pictures around Amsterdam. We went downstairs at the place and stumbled upon the city archives. We saw old city planning maps, and a police report about Anne Frank's bike being stolen. Also 3-d pictures (although not Magic Eye).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Funny Dutch things

Funny Dutch thing #1: The other day at work, the finance department came into the office with a large group of university students and asked us about the tax department, what we do, etc. etc. etc. One of the students looked familiar, but I couldn't place her. Maybe she works at a store in Maastricht? Later it hit me- she was one of the Belgians we met in Barcelona at the cava and sandwich bar. I wonder if she remembered me. One moment I'm drinking bottles of cava, the next I'm talking about taxes. Or perhaps the two are related?

Funny Dutch thing #2: I saw my coworker's passport during our trip to Israel. See if you can spot the humor.


Etc., etc., etc.??!?!! Somehow the idea of "etc. etc. etc. blah blah blah" on an official document strikes me as odd. Like some alcoholic college student who forges passports in his parent's basement got bored and decided to go make a sandwich and just wrote "etc. etc. etc." so he could finish the damn forgery because he can't remember the Queen's title and the royal family is so outdated and irrelevant anyways and forged passports aren't as profitable as they used to be and isn't Star Search on TV? Good enough is good enough, nobody really looks at that page, do they? Or maybe it's the Dutch government's way of being passive aggressive about the idea of having a Queen. Crazy old Beatrix, "her majesty," blah blah blah, whatever she's calling herself these days. Whatever the reason, this juxtaposition of practicality and bureaucracy makes me laugh.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


About 2 weeks ago, Nick's mom came to visit along with her two friends, Susan and Stacy. We all had a grand time in Amsterdam in general, and at the Keukenhof more specifically. The Keukenhof is basically a humongo garden full of tulips. There are way too many beautiful pictures to post, but here are a few:





Around town

How bout an update from Maastricht! A photo of my favorite shutters:


And another, which needs a brief explanation.... there are a few temporary employment agencies near us that post various job openings in the window. It seems that a Dutch version of "calculator" is quite different from my own. They wanted a calculator, so I gave them one.... within a day somebody decided to disagree with my sense of humor, but not before I got a photo of my handiwork!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

My favorite Dutch word to date

I'm sure the Roman Empire only entered the abyss,
Because those Latin scholars never had a word like this!


That's one f-in word! (from a Dutch book about fiscal and financial tips)

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious loses!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A short primer

Thanks to my superb skills with Microsoft Paint, I'm pleased to offer a glimpse into daily life in The Netherlands- a scene from a Dutch sidewalk. It does not occur to a Dutch person to move, or make way for others, or take turns. Cutting in line, plowing through an intersection with a bike or car, a group of people stretched out across the sidewalk. Being nice doesn't work- if you hesitate, 17 Dutchies will take their turn with no second thought. One afternoon, Nick and I were shopping and were cut in line THREE times within an hour. And number 3 encountered the wrath of a person who is used to things like MANNERS and COMMON COURTESY. I pushed Nick to the register and said, "go ahead, you were first." And the cutter said, "is that so?" And I said, "Yes, that is so, we were standing here waiting in line while you came from that rack over there and around the left side of the counter." And with that, we went first. Check and mate.





Saturday, February 21, 2009


The southern part of The Netherlands (Limburg province in particular) is Catholic, and along with that comes a wholehearted celebration of Carnaval (Mardi Gras.) Nick and I have both been sick all week, but it's a once in a lifetime thing. So we slapped together a costume and will go see the parade on Sunday, and meet up for drinks. Without further ado, the professor and the school girl. Notice how well Nick channels Britney a la Hit Me Baby One More Time.



Thursday, February 19, 2009


Happy New Year from Maastricht!


Bruges Ice Magic

ice in bruges

For Dad- we visited Anne Frank's house and neighborhood in Amsterdam (the one she lived in before the hiding place, which is in a very non-touristy residential part of A-dam) Anne's family lived on the 2nd floor in the building behind the statue


Anne's old school


Valentine's Day in Paris and Versailles (pic of Versailles)


View of Eiffel Tower from inside the Museum of Decorative Arts (right next to the Louvre)


Chairs from 60s and 70s (same museum in Paris)


Rooms in Versailles


Versailles Hall of Mirrors, chandelier view


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Catching up

Well, apparently the novelty of blogging has worn off, and I am more attached to blogging with pictures that allow me to slack off on the writing. However, here goes: We went to the US for Christmas. It went very quickly, and in a way felt like no time had passed. I noticed that my normal Caribou drink (Lite White Berry, half raspberry) tasted like pure sugar, the free ice water tasted too cold, and the portion sizes were overwhelming. Other than those expected deviations, it was business as usual. We spent New Year's Eve in Maastricht on the Hogebrug (a bridge). It was fun to watch the fireworks, though the show had a much different feel to it- people all over were lighting their own fireworks, even on the crowded bridge. The show was amateur, dangerous, and from all directions. In 2009, we have visited Brussels for no reason whatsoever, Brugge for the Ice Magic festival, Amsterdam for a concert, and will head to Paris for Valentine's day. The funniest thing we've seen in 2009 is a Dutch teenager who drove an old, very large tractor to McDonalds in the middle of nowhere. The whole restaurant laughed as we watched him climb up, pull out of his parking space and drive away. I will try to put some pictures up later, since my descriptions are woefully shallow.

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!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody. We worked a normal day, and picked up a few take out things. Our dinner: beef burgundy (not as good as the homemade stuff we made when we had an oven!), bami, chicken with peanut sauce, noodle salad with bacon and mushroom, meatballs, tiramisu, chocolate pie.

Thanksgiving dinner

Family photo-Thanksgiving

And one new picture of me as a blonde. It's a few weeks old... I went to Paris about a month ago to get my hair done. For whatever reason, French women insist that I should be a blonde. I'm not sure I wholeheartedly agree, but they feel more strongly about the subject than I do, so I let them win.

Me as a blonde