Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cattle guard?!

when we biked into the amsterdamse bos, we passed a cattle guard. while tim was saying that surely that was of no use, "a cattle guard?!! really? here?! what for?", we saw why.... we saw 2 of these scottish highlander cows, right along the biking path. look at the horns!! they are roaming around freely in a part of the forest, and you can just bike, hike or run along them. dogs are allowed too, but should be on a leash.
tim took this picture as i was too slow getting my camera out. i do not want to bike with my bag around me, or in the basket in front of my bike as the chances of being robbed are just too real, unfortunately (just this weekend it happened to a 19 year old girl biking at night in our neighborhood when 2 guys on a scooter drove up to her, pulled her bag off her and sped away).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Amsterdamse bos

sunday late afternoon the weather was so nice, that we went biking a bit. we biked to the amsterdamse bos (i.e. the amsterdam forest), not too far from our place. i had expected it to be very crowded, as the park next to our house was, but it wasnt. there were just a few people, so we choose a nice spot along the water. this forest is huge, and there are many trails for biking, running or hiking. theres a lot of rowing on the water. and apparently you can swim here as the water is very clean (but it didnt look too inviting to me, and for that its anyways still too cold). its not too far from the airport, so you can see many planes taking off. this year the park exists 80 years! it looks all very natural, but it was entirely manmade 80 years ago. the first part of the park opened in 1937, and in 1964 it was completed. its located in an especially created polder, 4 metres below sea level. ah, and something i didnt expect; its 3 times bigger than the new york central park!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Marathon day

today its marathon day in boston again. while writing this its 6 in the morning there, but im sure many runners are up already... 36,000 people will run the marathon this year, and many spectators are expected. security is high, many additional cameras have been installed along the course, and you cannot take big backpacks with you. cnn tells me that "containers with more than 1 liter of liquid, costumes covering the face, and bulky clothes such as vests with pockets won't be allowed".
im amazed by how many people are able to run a marathon, or even a half..., but there are far more people who cannot. many are not even interested, of course. i never used to be interested in sports, either. i hated gym classes at school and used every trick and excuse not having to  participate (other than gymnastics, i ofcourse never skipped class, i was far too well-behaved for that). during the last year of my PhD i started swimming before work. when the pool closed for the season, i felt the urge to continue sports to my surprise, and i decided i could just run around a lake not too far from my apartment. now that i was a regular swimmer, i surely could run, right?! well, of course not (duh!!), it turned out. the next day i could hardly walk...... exit running!
i picked up running again in boston, thanks to the gym at our fancy apartment complex (and out of necessity, in the netherlands our main mode of transportation was biking, in boston it was the subway, and the car during the weekends).  but... i continue to be a lousy runner. i continue doing it, as i continue to hope to improve myself, but i hardly do. after each run i think; well, perhaps NEXT time it will be better?! perhaps next time i can try interval training? maybe next time i can try to run faster? but each time i am glad i can just keep up the pace i am running, and that i can run at all... and maybe i should just be satisfied with that....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

i never decorated our apartment for Easter, but this year i did a bit, as you can see. we also had some chocolate eggs, but we ate them all before easter arrived. then i didnt want to buy new ones, as im sure they are cheaper after easter (and we really dont need more chocolate anyways).
yesterday the weather was amazing again, and i spent some time in the sun on the balcony. excellent! and i think today will be even better.... jaayy!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Morning rainbow

this was early morning, yesterday. it was about to rain, or probably already raining back there... but in reaity the rainbow looked better, ofcourse....
on either side of the apartment are similar apartmet blocks. when i took the photo, i saw the guy opposite from us busy in the kitchen. i hope he didnt think i was taking a picture of him! (but it prevented me from taking more pics...). on the other side we have the living room and some big windows. the apartment straight across from us is for sale, and the other weekend it had "open house", so people were coming on and off to check it out (its old and overpriced, not in the best neighborhood. but... in amsterdam and supposedly this neighborhood is "up and coming"). we were having lunch and i thought they could not really see us as the blinds were down. but... 2 girls started waving frantically, when we were watching them all.... good to know!
in our apartment in boston we never closed the blinds. our apartment was on a corner (and the windows, espcially in the bedroom, a bit smaller); no other apartments in sight. i definitely liked that better..... i do have to admit its fun to study your neighbors, from many i more or less know their habits when at home (or at least some of them), even though i have no clue who they are or what they do, and never see them on the street or something!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Flower ladies

i just couldnt resist..... 
many of the tourists (especially the ladies) were almost diving into the tulips, and wanted to be photographed like you see above, surrounded by an ocean of tulips. somehow i didnt have this desire myself..... i also wouldnt know what to do with such a photo of myself.... :P
others had cameras on long sticks and were swirling around between the flowers, while taking pictures of themselves.... yep, at some point i was more fascinated by the people than the flowers.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dutch tulips!!

ever since we are back in the netherlands, i have been wanting to go to the flower fields. as we hardly had any winter, and quite some warm days in march and april, the flowers are blooming a bit sooner than planned. to see flowers, you can of course visit the "keukenhof", the largest flower garden in the world. i guess thats something most dutch never did (at least i didnt). each year its only open for 8 weeks, and about 100.000 people visit it each week (!!). we are still dutch, so an entrance fee of 15 euros (about 21 dollars) is too much if you can just walk along a sea of flowers for free.....
here, we probably were the only dutch, and also the only ones that did not enter the flower beds. the sign was so cute, how could you disobey that?! there were so many fields, and just this one tiny sign at the start....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oooh, Boston!

a picture of the charles river, taken from the bridge going into boston (or cambridge if you go the other way). today the boston marathon bombings are one year ago.
for me it was just another day in boston. i dont even remember the weather. perhaps, probably, something like above. the lives of many others who were present at the marathon changed forever. just like last year, i dont know what to write as i do not feel its my place to write anything. 
so, well... i read that many books are released today commemorating what happened; one of them is reviewed here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

And again...

and dogs again!! this gives you a better idea of the enormity of the 2 dogs, and that its really quite cute, no?
first time i was biking in this park, just minding my own business, i thought i had imagined it. really??! 2 giant dogs...? until i looked again and they were really there......

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Another dog

to continue with "dog art"..... heres another dog. we saw it in the museum in groningen, all the way up in the north of the netherlands......
2 artists were involved in this artwork, and it is meant as a parody on icons of american culture (in this case the hot dog). there were other artworks as well, one had something to do with plastic surgery. and another.... eehmmmm, ah, cars, i think. but this sort of sofa was the most bizarre. but so shiny and purple! i had to take a picture.....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Another break

whoopsie,... suddenly i again didnt post for over a week.... i even missed the 4th anniversary of this blog!! (as did everyone else... ;) ).
soooo.... heres another picture (by now the trees are a bit greener)... its taken on the overpass of a park not too far from our house. this doggie (which is really quite big!) is overlooking the park, just like a similar, even bigger one is doing across the road. they are modelled after those dogs with wobbly heads you see on car dashboards sometimes.
this park is called the Rembrandtpark, and has many small paths, all leading to the main pedestrian/biking path going straight across the park. so... you can run around quite a bit, without taking the same path twice. on monday we went here for a run. when we left home the sky was already darkening and it was surely going to rain, we just didnt know when... halfway it started, and rain came pouring down like crazy! within minutes we were soaked, but like a few others runners, we just continued to run, instead of waiting it out underneath this bridge (like many bikers did). it could have been a tiny bit warmer, and the big raindrops in my eyes were a bit annoying at times. other than that, i actually really liked running in the rain...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cemetery angel

when we visited trier in germany, we passed by a cemetery and walked around. there were quite some pretty statues on the graves, like this one above.
now its time for bed. tonight we move the clock 1 hour forwards again.... so from tomorrow onwards the days are really getting longer again...! too bad it costs one hour of sleep...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fancy place?

we saw this castle while driving, yesterday. overlooking the vineyards and the little town at the banks of the mosel river.
this morning i didnt even try to upload a picture, the slow crappy internet. and... we had to pack and tidy up the bungalow, getting ready to go back home. yesterday evening many more people had arrived to the park, probably staying for a long weekend (again, most of them dutch!). we drove back and visited luik (liege) in belgium, where we wandered the flea market. too bad they were just packing up. then it was another 2+ hours to get back to amsterdam....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hiking etc..

yesterday it was really sunny, so we decided to hike around in the neighborhood. we had a very brief description of several hikes around mont royal. choose one that would lead us down into the valley and back up again. in 3 hours. there were hardly signs so we choose the wrong turn a few times and had to go back. finally down we were not where we were supposed to be, according to the description... the names of most villages are somewhere on their vineyards, like above, but ofcourse we couldnt see any during our hike. and surely it started to rain while we left all rain clothes, umbrellas etc in the car. the clouds looked more threatening than it eventually was, but we didnt find the path back up and had to walk along the road. beeeehhh. that was not what we had planned. after 11.5 km we were back up.
then we drove around the neighborhood a bit, while we drove on this narrow bridge i took this pic.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Current view

well, the fog has gone done a bit further already... its going quite fast! we are on top of mont royal, and we had admired the view when we arrived monday evening. i was really excited yesterday to see the valley in the morning sun. but... when opening the curtains there was just thick fog. and it remained like that until we left (and i think quite a while after that). this morning it was really sunny, so i was sure that there was no fog... but... completely fogged up again when i opened the curtains. that was a few hours ago, but now, during breakfast, its slowly getting less....
yesterday we visited trier, the oldest german city. then in the evening we had a swim (theres a pool! so nice!) overlooking the other side of the valley. after that we watched some tv, and came to the conclusion its really more peaceful to live without a tv, like we do at home. i discovered there is some sort of reality program on the dutch tv (there are a lot of dutch tourists here, so they really cater to the dutch) where singles meet each other on a deserted island. while naked. and while being filmed naked. very, very weird. we also watched "opsporing verzocht". a program in which they ask the help of people in trying to find thiefs and criminals by showig their pictures and showing/telling what they did. it makes you afraid just to buy something at the store! (there are a lot of losers that are tricking especially old people they encounter in supermarkets to help them and while they get the "help" they ask for, they steal that person's bank card and take all their money).
ah, the internet connection is really crappy here. we have to pay for it, but often its not working, and half of the sites are not accessible or take ages to load. grrrrrr! time for some hiking in the neighborhood!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Exploring Germany

we are having  days off and decided togoto germany!! this was yesterday, on our way to our destination. as you might see, there are a lot of vineyards in this region. this is the mosel region. according to wikipedia, its the third largest in wine production of the 13 wine regions in germany. but... the leading region in international prestige!
while driving we had lots of sunshine, rain, hail, snow... and beautiful clouds. this morning its very misty, we cant see anything of the beautiful view we are supposed to have from our bungalow... :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Another race!

as i had recently done the 7.5 km race, i thought tim should do one as well. so... i signed him up for a 10K this sunday, also in our neighborhood. the weather was less perfect than when i had to run, but it all started out fine. there were quite a bit more contestants, and i didnt really know the route they were running, so i decided to just wait at the fnish to take some pictures. at the start i already couldnt find him, but later on tim at least recognized his black cap in a few of the pics, whahahaha. a 5K and 10K run started at the same time, and before i knew, the first had finished (in under 20 minutes!!). there was a group of young people in pink shirts from an amsterdam high school. these 2 5K runners had ran together, but right at the finish the one in red trousers decided to pick up the pace. it was so funny to see! they looked at each other and then ran the last few metres like crazy, i think the red trousered boy was first!
just around the time i was expecting tim, it started to rain. and real hard. even some hail came down. beeehhh. so i almost missed him again... and he didnt see me at all, too focused on running. he did it in 49 minutes, 11 minutes faster than his practice time!! (and more than 15 minutes faster than i would...). i thought it really was a nice race, with a 5K, 10K and a half marathon, as well as a 1K kids run (that was the cutest to see). here are some more pictures.
today obama is visiting the rijksmuseum in amsterdam. apparently, the entire museum square is off limits because of that. as the dutch are also hosting the nuclear security summit, the hague is impossible to reach as well, and its forbidden to take pictures at our airport, even at the panorama deck for the time being. i guess its the best time to leave the country for a bit!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pedestrian crossing

someone put a sticker on the headless man.... i must say i dont know who that guy might be...
after the crazy sunny day on the first official day of spring, we had 2 cold, rainy and windy days. beeeehhhh. and i think tomorrow wont be any better. i do hope we didnt get all the great weather on that one day, that would be really sad....

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wind farm

just offshore, you can see a wind farm (all those white stripes). yesterday certainly was a good day to generate energy from the wind.... 
a while ago i think it was on the news that there were plans to build many more of these offshore farms. then some beach bar owners and so on got worried that it will deter tourists, as it doesnt look pretty. i actually think they are out far enough not to scare any tourists away......

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hello spring!

the first day of spring almost felt like a summerday! it has never been warmer in the netherlands on this day before, although it was (and still is) very very windy!! it was around 20C in some places (70F),and many people visited the beach today.
the crocuses are already done blooming, the purple field i showed you recently is gone entirely... :( here, someplace else in the netherlands, you can still see some. i really liked this statue of the boy with a lamb he is somehow holding. yet i totally forgot to look at the artists name or the title of the sculpture...