Sunday, August 31, 2014

Amsterdam houseboat

here you see some houseboat in a canal in amsterdam. i guess its a bit more expensive to have on in this city compared to groningen. also here, you are not really having a private place. on summer days many people will come by in boats. the houses on both sides, and of course the traffic and all the tourists... :) no garden either....
tommorrow regular life starts for most again; universities start the new year, all primary and secondary schools have started again... etc etc. by now most everyone should have come back from holidays. i had a quiet start into working life again over the summer. and now i just hope it wont be too crowded in the train....

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dark cloud

ok, another picture from last saturday. this was the scene when we arrived at the balloon festival. despite the really dark cloud there, we were hopeful it would not be too bad.....
i guess it was just 5 minutes later when rain came pouring down and the entire event was cancelled.....  it is interesting though that hundreds of people can disappear in no time when its suddenly starts to rain... so why are people often so slow in supermarkets, or in train stations (on the stairs, not moving aside, etc etc).... ? :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

House boats

these boats are not for sailing (anymore), they are for living!! some used to be real boats, others arent, and a few still can be used to get around..... this is in a canal in the city center of groningen.
tim also lives in a boat now. but not here! its a bit more outside the center, and there is a real garden, and more privacy.... ever since i visited a boat a few years back, i have wanted to live on one at least once... now i sort of do. in the weekends... :) for poor people like us its perfect; a free standing house!!! who can get something like that in the netherlands?! it moves too, gently (and sometimes a bit more, when large ships are passing through the large canal nearby... or because of the weather). its really a totally different experience, living on the water. its cute to see the ducks all assemble when you get into the kitchen. i guess they want food. and indeed, its very tempting to just throw whatever food you dont want into the water (that actually happens a lot, quite often an onion comes by, or an apple, or a piece of... etc etc). and its fun to see boats come by while you are having breakfast.... its not too big, but big enough (as most of the stuff is still here in amsterdam), and the kitchen is actually bigger than the one in amsterdam. or rather, its square instead of a long, narrow hallway, so 2 people can move around in it..... i should take some pics... next time im there! (this weekend tim is coming to amsterdam...)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bikes, bikes!

this is just a small selection of all the bikes we saw at the cancelled balloon festival. but when it started to rain, most of them were gone in no time! we really didnt want to bike in the rain (nor behind all the other people, most certainly biking slower than us... ;) ), so we just stood in the field and waited it out (there even was some hail!!). so yes, i guess it was a good decision that they cancelled it, i for sure would not have wanted to be in a hot-air balloon with rain and thunder...... (also really stupid how we watched the weather the entire day. but when it remained more or less dry, we just went and only saw the dark clouds upon arrival).
but isnt this a cute bike?! i like the big basket in the front. this is something that became fashionable the past few years, to carry all your stuff (instead of putting it on the back rack, or on your back). i have a much smaller wired one. i would like such a sturdy big one, if only it didnt make parking so much more difficult! (bike parking is a serious problem. nowadays i often goto the train station by bike, but i have to leave at least 5 minutes earlier so that i can find a spot to park my bike... now many people are still on holidays, so i expect it to get even worse in a few weeks).
some googling and i found the website belonging to this basket/bike. it belongs to a lady living near groningen, and, as you might have guessed, she bakes pies and cakes to order, and even delivers them in her neighborhood....

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer weather?!

the weather?! rain. and rain. some more rain. ah, and rain. by the way, its cold too. summer? noooo, not at all. feels more like autumn. buuuhhhh. i cannot remember for how long the weather is really crappy now, but its been quite a while. and its still raining. the past week we mostly had rain. and this weekend we had some. we were in Groningen, as i really wanted to go to a special happening on saturday evening. despite the forecasts, the weather was actually not too bad on saturday. we went shopping a bit in the city center. then we quickly went home, had a small dinner and rushed out again for the main event of the weekend, and something i seriously had looked forward too. not in the least as i would finally take some pictures again...
we biked 10 kms to a pasture somewhere outside groningen. there it would happend; the hot-air balloon festival. last year it was so crowded that police at some point asked people not to come anymore. in the morning we had read that despite the rain, the event would take place. and well, during the day we hardly had any rain, so we just went. the maximum-allowable-number-of-hot-air-balloons-in-the-netherlands would fill the air. and some would have funny shapes. jeeejjjj!! when we arrived (a bit late, we were worried it had already started), quite some people were about to leave. why? we asked. look, they said, and pointed to the sky (it might be that people from groningen speak less than people from amsterdam). oopps, it was indeed quite dark suddenly... but... the organizers announced that there was a chance it would still happen, so we waited. walked around a bit. and then... at the moment the organizers announced the entire thing was blown off because of bad weather and thunderstorms and what not, rain came indeed down like crazy. luckily we had one small umbrella and just stood there, like many others, waiting for it to stop..... (some people even found shelter in the dixies standing around, ugh....) while waiting i took this picture, as you can see the sky doesnt look too bad, but right behind and above us was quite a different story. and well.... merely 45 minutes after we arrived we biked back again, no hot air balloons for us.... just a little more rain while biking... :(

Monday, August 18, 2014

Early trains....

here you see 2 dutch train engines.
and then i wrote an entire story about my experience with trains since i went to secondary school. i was so bored by it that i removed it again.... :)
lets just say i took the train this morning at 6.45 am from groningen. i think i slept a bit during this ride, and i hope i didnt drool. i did catch myself with my mouth open, and wonder whether the lady opposite of me noticed it too; it probably wasnt pretty. i also tried to read, yet most of the times i was just holding the book and had my eyes closed. i dragged my laptop with me; i was certain i would work the 2 hours i was sitting in the train, but i didnt even get the thing out of my bag........
i still need to get used to commuting..... or at least spend this time in a more useful way..... 
i did see a rainbow last week. it was very pretty :) (but im not carrying my camera at the moment, like i used to in boston)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Look around!

this was back in may 2013 in new york. the last time me and tim went to new york before he moved back to the netherlands. i stayed a month longer, and went once more with my sister. 
we had quite rainy weather! and here it was coming down really heavily.... eventually we went into a cafe and had cake, just to escape the rain (ah, and for the cake, of course...). i think they put those "look" signs on several places to warn pedestrians that they shouldnt just cross the street, but actually look as well.... here in amsterdam they spray-painted some warnings on the street as well, mostly for bicyclists, telling them they should actually stop for the red light... (however most of these signs quickly faded away, so i still never took a picture of them...)
currently, the weather in the netherlands is really bad! buuuuhhh. feels like autumn with strong winds and lots of rain. i think last weekend the apartment block behind ours lost some of their roof (parts are still hanging in the trees), so this week they placed new pallets of "roof-stuff" on those roofs. but with those strong winds again, i am afraid it will be blown off again before they can use it....

Thursday, August 14, 2014

To go

i took this picture a while back in Rotterdam. although i dont like that people are this lazy, it was a bit funny to see this "forgotten" cup on this statue. after taking some pictures tim threw it away.
so yes, we have these cups as well, but you see them far and far less on the street than in the usa. there i sometimes had the feeling that people could just not leave the house unless they had a cup in their hand (or at least bought it on their way to wherever). i have seen coffee being spilled on other passengers in the subway, and well.... i never understood the need to always have a huge ice coffee (usually only drunk halfway and then thrown away, or placed somewhere, anywhere, and then forgotten).
for my work, i have to take the train and then the bus. its quite the commute (at least 1.5 hours one way), so i have to get up really early (to still arrive relatively late, grrrr), and i am not a morning person!! my tolerance for anything in the morning is very low, and im happy that its not that crowded yet due to holidays (but i truly fear when those days are over). i am annoyed when other people walk too slow, when they are in my way, when they talk loud in the train, when they come sit too close to me, when there is no place to sit, when i miss my train or when the train is delayed..... but!! at least dutch people dont really have this habit of always having a coffee with them, and something smelly to eat in the early morning (so far, i have only encountered a few... :) ). ah, women do do their make up in the train (annoys me as well), or paint their nails (drives me crazy), and there are even people who clip their nails (how on earth do they think thats socially acceptable???!), and on the way back every now and then you encounter the typical sad male with a can of beer.... (i really dont understand that either. someone recently said that those people are alcoholics, but im not sure...?)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday cemeteries...

i cannot remember when was the last time i posted a picture of a cemetery or grave.... even though we still goto cemeteries every now and then... i just collect all those pictures and then never do anything with them. so perhaps, perhaps now that there is some sort of regularity in life again due to work and what-not, i should also start posting cemetery-pictures on tuesday. this was somewhere along the road in scotland. during our 5 days we mainly had marvellous weather, but here it was raining. it resulted in beautiful clouds covering the mountains. and it fitted the mood of this cemetery. behind me was a little church, and graves were all around. most were from the early 1900s (although some more recent ones as well), but the texts on most of them were not very well readable.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Edinburgh castle

i was away for the weekend to the place without internet (i.e. tims place), but now im back in amsterdam. some of the plants on the balcony were not happy... i hope they will get better again, but im not sure this time...
this was in scotland over 2 weeks ago now. we arrived back from our little road trip around the scottish highlands on sunday evening, and then finally had a walk in the city. all the shops were closed (buuhhh!!), but luckily its even longer light out there than in the netherlands, so we still had quite some time to look around. i really like edinburgh. here you see part of the castle high up these rocks, and on the opposite side are the shops (and in between the park). the light was nice too..... we didnt get to visit the castle the next day. too little time and too much to see (unfortunately we then spent hours and hours on the airport, but well... how could we know the weather in the netherlands had been so bad (in edinburgh it was outstanding) that all flights were delayed).
here, the weather turned bad last week. lots of rain and it got a bit colder too... :( the days are getting noticeably shorter (ugh), and more and more people are returning from their holidays. im not really looking forward to commuting in the dark and rain. i anyways really have to get used to commuting. especially since it takes quite a lot of time each day. but well... better than not working!!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Concert beds

so... this is the inside of the famous amsterdam concert hall.... last month we went to a piano concert. as you can see, there are no chairs!! of course, normally there are chairs, but this was a special occasion. normally, the musicians are on the stage that you can see underneath the organ, but this time they were placed more or less between the audience. and yes, the audience brought their own mats, and some even brought blankets and pillows. the idea was to fully immerse yourself in the music. this was a piece for 4 pianos (and a little bit of organ, but they could have left that out for me personally). the piece is called "canto ostinato" by simeon ten holt, i guess here you can listen to some of the music (if you dont know it, i urge you to check it out!!). bluntly said, its repetitive piano music (4 pianos, as i said), and i really love it (although i know several people who cannot stand the repetitiveness of the music. i think its really wonderful, and lying down like that really fits this kind of music).
when i discovered about this concert, most tickets were sold out already. only places on a chair were still available!! luckily, they were quite a bit cheaper than the "sleeping" places (and no need to bring your own mat!) (20 euros vs 35, thats quite a difference). so.... me, tim and my sister got tickets and we went. we had great seats! not only could we see the musicians very well, we also had plenty opportunity to observe all those lying down. it was a great experience, and i think in the end we were a bit more comfortable on a chair than lying down... :) (listening to music like that at home is different from doing so in public..!!). it was fun to see some people (almost?) falling asleep, and others turning around seemingly uncomfortable.... :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Staying here...

this is the museum square in amsterdam sometime last month on a beuatiful summer evening. i showed you some pics before from this square (as you can see here). in the back you see the rijksmuseum, but we were actually going to the building behind us, the concert hall.
anyways. yes. tim is in groningen and i am staying in amsterdam. because yes! finally, finally. finally!! i am working again. it has taken forever, with lots of frustrations, desperations, hope, lost hope, hours and hours in the gym, and even more hours of searching and applying for jobs. i did not enjoy this time, so i am extremely happy to be working again. 
in fact, i sent the application for the job i have now already end of february. was invited for an interview in may. did not get the job (this was painful as i made it to the last 2). was invited for another position at the same place, got it and started a few weeks later (mid-june). before i knew, i suddenly had to work again! and so, in this case, having work was more important than living together. its not ideal, but neither was the situation when i was without work while i so desperately wanted (and needed) to work!!
more about my work another time. now its about time i start working for today!!! :)) i can just tell you its science-related, but i am not working as a scientist in a lab anymore. and i am very happy about that too...... :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Far away...

this was in scotland too. i was faster taking pictures and got back in the car again (on the wrong side!!! hahahaha).
since monday, tim lives in groningen, a 2 hour drive from amsterdam. he started a new job as a doctor in the hospital in groningen (the biggest hospital of the netherlands). so, over the past weeks we furnished a place there. mostly with stuff we found in secondhand shops (often its so much nicer than ikea, and much much cheaper!), combined with some stuff that didnt fit in the apartment in amsterdam, and even quite some stuff we found on the streets in our neighborhood (every wednesday night you can put out "the big trash". quite often people put some really nice stuff out that they dont want anymore. more often than not, it doesnt stay on the street very long.... as we grab it, or more often, because others do so. there are even people driving around on wednesday evening, just to pick up anything that might be usuable...). anyways, i think the place is really nice now....
and me? im still in amsterdam.... in the weekends tim either should come back here, or i go there (its really far!! it feels like a foreign country almost! i know i know, for americans this distance is nothing, but for dutch you need to cross half the country!). not the ideal situation, and unlike anything we planned, but well.... sometimes you cannot choose.....

Monday, August 4, 2014

As expected...

this is sort of how i expected scotland to be. with a lonely castle at the water front..... lots of clouds and even more rain.... pretty, no??!!
never mind the parking lot and the huge number of tourists stopping for this castle as well... :) unlike us, most also walked over to the castle and had a look inside. we only had a look from this distance and drove on....
i want to tell you about all the changes that occurred the past few months. but today i am too tired... perhaps tomorrow! :)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Self portrait

in case you forgot how we look after my long absence... here a recent self portrait. just last week we went away for a few days to scotland. we flew on wednesday evening, arrived in edinburgh, started thursday in the gym of the hotel (if you had asked me to do such a thing 5 years ago, i would have laughed very hard), then the mcdonalds for breakfast (i never had breakfast in mc donalds and it was the first thing we encountered while we were very hungry), and the off to the scottish highlands in a rental car! quite the experience to drive on the other (the wrong!!) side of the road! im glad i didnt have to drive, not sure i would have taken all the turns the right way.....
but it was beautiful!! absolutely amazing. so much green.... and we were lucky, as nearly all days were extremely sunny and even hot! (only one day of quite a lot of rain). we more or less randomly drove around scotland and on sunday evening we arrived in edinburgh again. monday we finally saw that city and while it was bright and sunny there, the netherlands had terrible rain. streets and houses got flooded and our plane was delayed.... luckily our house was still dry.
good to see some of you found me already again! we are about to leave for the weekend and are staying in a place without internet.... but monday i certainly will be back! (perhaps sooner, lets see)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Crazy clouds!

well hello!! i thought it was about time to post a new picture...... :)
i took this one a few weeks back, but only now i noticed the magnificent clouds... i didnt notice it when i took the picture, nor did i when i was looking at them at my computer.... only now, when i decided that the first of august was a good date to post again.....
so, this is amsterdam, and the weather has been good quite often the past few weeks. at times even hot. plenty opportunity to cruise the canals, as you can see here... we just came back from the theater, that you can see here to the left, on top it says "carre" in red letters.
well well well. lots has changed. other things have remained the same..... more on that in the coming posts? and yes, i most certainly am curious about the blogs i just to check regularly. i havent in a while... but i did think about you!! :) hope all is well!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Defense tower

i took this picture when we were out on the canals of amsterdam in a boat!! it was so pretty, especially when at sunset. you really get a different view from amsterdam than when standing on the bridges... recently i took a picture of this tower while standing on the nearest bridge, and was sure this was a church. so... i was just going over google maps, looking for a church around that location.... but it isnt a church at all! this tower is called the "montelbaanstower" and was built in 1516 at the then outer city limits, to defend the city. to pay for digging of this canal and to build the tower, taxes on beer were increased. as in 1591 the city grew beyond the tower, it no longer served its purpose. the upper half was extended to its decorative form (i would say church-like form) in 1606. in dutch, you can read quite a bit about the history of this tower here.
ha, i also found an interesting news report from last year october; the municipality was looking to rent the place out again. from 2009 to 2013 it was being used by "secret garden", an organization for gay muslims. the rent was 9000 euros (!!) per month (although the organization did get some discount). no word on who i srenting it now though...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Hup Holland!

we were away for a few days to a place with no internet. but still in the netherlands.... :) (later more about that). so... we missed the first game the dutch played in the world cup.... no tv either. but.... around us we sort of could hear when there was a goal for the dutch. somehow i did not expect the dutch had won (and with 5-1!), as there wasnt a lot of noise after the game. the next day we continued to wonder whether they had won or not..... 
whaha. like this it sounds like i really care about soccer, but actually i dont. we didnt dress up in orange for the game, but we saw many who did (although the above photo was taken during kings day), and many people also decorated their house/and or the entire street... i guess this orange fever will get worse with each winning game...... lets see!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wind turbines

as i once wrote before, while driving through the netherlands, you see a lot of wind turbines generating wind energy. i am always trying to take pictures of them. sometimes, like above, i think they fit in the landscape. and sometimes i try to take picture as it looks so ugly!!
this was through the car window, which i didnt get entirely clean. whenever we stop for gas, i get out to clean the windshield, while tim fills up the car and pays (i guess i get the better deal here). i started doing this in the USA, on our road trips, as many of the pictures were taken while driving. just a few months back, the car was particularly dirty and we spent some time getting the windows clean. i even needed tim to help (it was not overcrowded at the station so we were not blocking the pump or anything). but then... when he went to pay for the gas, the lady said to him; "well well, you are not supposed to clean your car that long!!" it really pissed me off, he just spent over 60 euros on gas, and then we cannot use their bucket of water...? i do think it was a typical dutch reaction (3 years US made me a bit sensitive to that). somehow the dutch can never shut up, and always need to express their frustrations! how frustrating... ;)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Anyone there...???!

hello again!! we had a nice and quiet time in osnabruck. i took just this 1 picture of osnabruck, and thats it... (even though its a really cute city. but when we were there it was raining too much!) fortunately, we also went to another city where i did take some pictures. during that week tim finished his PhD thesis. its now at the "leescommissie" (i.e. professors are now reading it and if they approve, he is allowed to defend it on the already set date, september 9....!). the past few weeks lots of other stuff happened as well, and my mind was not at blogging.... hopefully the coming days/weeks i will let you know more... :)
first this! above you see amsterdam. this past friday (and the entire weekend, and today as well) the weather was amaaaaaaazing. a colleague of tim invited his on his boat (not the one you see above) and we cruised through the canals of amsterdam. first stop was this pier where we had a bbq and a beautiful sunset over amsterdam. to the left you see the st nicholas church (built between 1884-1887) and to the right a chinese restaurant thats floating on the water. we just sneaked in there to use the restroom, but it actually looked quite interesting. its called the sea palace (but it could as well be a tourist trap, who knows...). anyways, i never had been on a private boat on the canals in amsterdam (as a kid i did do the boat tour everyone should do at least once when in amsterdam), and it was so cool! you have a totally different view and suddenly everyone is nice and waves to you... or was it because we were waving to everyone liked excited children?