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? 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

From Osnabruck

we are away for a bit. we are now in osnabruck, germany, where we staying at the house of a friend and former colleague (while they are enjoying some time off in the netherlands). jaaajjjj!! the house is gigantic. there is a piano, and i already cannot count the number of hours tim has played... good its a free standing house...
photowise.... this is all i can show you from osnabruck. yep, thats quite bad.... but... we have had quite some rain and im not good at balancing my umbrella in one hand and the camera in the other. this i took from the car. this traffic sign tells you that you can only enter the environmental zone of osnabruck when you have the green sticker on your car. to get the sticker, the car needs to meet the german/EU pollution standards. even if your car meets the standard, no sticker means you can get fined, regardless whether you have a german or foreign car. so.... luckily it was quite easy to obtain the sticker at a local inspection zone (providing the license plate was sufficient, together with a payment of 5 euros).
today its raining again, but lets see, perhaps i will take some more interesting pics!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Our station

to the right you see "our" subway station from where we took the train into boston. we would cross the street at the yellow "lane". the yellow would diminish over time, but periodically it would be repainted. more often than not cars would not stop. then i would yell a bit or otherwise make clear that i was not happy about that. i even once wrote the municipality asking whether something could be done about this crossing. there were some signs that cars are supposed to stop, but they werent very well visible (the yellow marking however should have been enough). but... the guy responded that this part of the road did not belong to the city, but to the MBTA (the massachusetts bay transportation authority; ie the boston subway), so i should write to them. i never did.... buses were coming at it like maniacs too, even though they were supposed to be driving only 6 miles an hour right after the yellow line...
every weekday we walked to this subway station and got off at north station. for 3 years! but when tim recently said "hey, can we still name all the stops?" we both could not. not with certainty.... funny, how quickly you forget some things...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Another balcony

there are so many 4story apartment buildings in amsterdam... many have balconies and its interesting to see what people store on those....  i must say, i havent often seen bikes hanging like this on a balcony. thats more something for a storage room, but perhaps they dont have one. luckily we do have storage downstairs where we keep our bikes, i wouldnt like to have to store my bike outside. not only for the risk of being stolen, but also because i would really feel bad for it. rain is not good for a bike!!
most balconies are about the size as you see here, ours is no different. its not big, so i do try to keep it more tidy than this one. if not, we wouldnt be able to hang laundry, or to sit and enjoy the sun! we have some flowers too, but we dont have the fancy over-the-railing thingies to put them in. i must say i really enjoy having a balcony. i never had one before. of course, a garden would be even better, but a balcony will do at the moment. now that we have amazing weather, its nice to have breakfast and/or dinner outside. (secretly) observing the neighbors is of course fun too!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sitting lady

this statue is along the main street close to our apartment. it is a war monument, called the sitting lady, but i do not exactly know why it is associated with WWII (it was placed may 4th 1957. not at exactly this location, but somewhere close). in the back a woman just finished hanging laundry from the balcony. i was afraid she would think i was taking pictures of her, but i think she didnt notice. i actually was sort of taking pictures of her, i thought it was interesting together with this sitting lady.
many people around here hang their laundry from the balcony like this. until recently i only hung it on the balcony, but this week i tried the above method. as it hangs more freely, it dries faster. buuuttt... i am always afraid that i drop some of the laundry in the nieghbors garden (not freely accessible), or that the wind will blow it off the rack... if you look downstairs, you do see several pieces of laundry in various gardens..... some people hang out entire blankets and mattress covers, so they partially hang in front of their downstairs neighbors balcony, isnt that weird?!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Another canal

 i saw this statue in a city in the north of the netherlands (sneek). as you can see, just like amsterdam it has canals, and cars park next to them.... but i was more interested in the statue. isnt it cute? it was placed in 1981 (the year i was born), and is called "child with lamb". it is made by maria van everdingen and symbolizes the care of and for children.
in 2012, a group of idiots (i.e. some drunk kids) pulled so hard on the girl's arm that it was ripped off the pedestal. they just left it there, so at least the municipality could pick it up the next day to repair it....

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Street view

like i showed you last time with the bikes parked right at the edge, here you can see how close to the water the cars are parked. just one wrong movement..... i guess having to park like this does make you a pro at some point, but hmmm..... not for me!
and like most canals, also this one is lined with boats. we have amazing weather at the moment (like really warm!! no jacket needed), so many people are out on their boats. at the end of our street is a canal, lined with boats as well. of course we have the one boat thats the get-together-point for all the alcoholics in the neighborhood (they never take the boat out, they only come to the boat and harass everyone passing by).
tomorrow its supposed to be even warmer (some 25C/77F). lets see if that really happens!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Deserted roads

there are many things i miss from the usa now that i dont live there anymore. there are also things i do not miss at all, of course... :) but when i think back about those 3 years, i most often think about driving on empty roads in the middle of the desert. and if someone asked me what i wanted to do RIGHT now, it would be exactly that; driving on a deserted road somewhere in the USA. i would like some crazy heat with that, a summer dress and a hotel with pool at the end of the road..... i wouldnt even mind the cheap american hotel breakfast with tasteless pancakes that you make yourself in the wafflemaker. in fact, that is just part of the road trip experience....
at the moment, it is unseasonably warm (but no crazy heat like i know from boston) here in the netherlands. but i do miss the american apartment with the pool downstairs; right now all that comes up from downstairs is a constant stream of cigarette smoke/smell from our lovely neighbors (YUCK!). and..... every now and then you can drive on deserted roads here too! like you see above... if you take the small roads... (just before i took this picture quite some cars passed us, but well...)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Real patriots!

today the weather was not too bad, finally! quite sunny and even warm enough to sit on the balcony in the early evening. the above picture however was taken on queens day (oh no, i mean kings day). its one of the few days dutch people wear orange. as i wrote before, orange is the national color since its the color of the dutch royal family (they are named "van oranje", meaning "from orange"). the other days you might people see wearing orange is when the dutch soccer team is playing in the world cup, and i guess thats about it. orange is not worn in everyday life. so in general, people do not possess orange clothing, aside from the one orange jersey you wear that one time a year. it really is considered weird to wear orange, and you wont see much (any?) orange clothing in the shops.
i never even wore orange on queens day, but that changed after 3 years in boston. there we dressed up in the american colors on the 4th of july to feel like real americans. so... it was just natural to finally do as almost all the other dutch do. it also helped that i bought a beautiful silk orange dress in boston, just a few weeks before we left (it was crazy cheap in a shop for vintage clothing. i still miss the cheap american shopping, and hardly shop nowadays.) when else to wear it but on kings day?!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Only rain

this weekend it rained. and it rained. and then it rained a bit more. ah, there was quite some wind too. beeehhh. we didnt do much. partly because of that... 
today there was a marathon in our neighborhood, and i really wanted to watch. but even for watching the weather was just too shitty (imagine those running!!). we did do the dishes, as they hadnt been done in quite a while (it felt a bit like a marathon, we had used up all the plates, and most of the cutlery, and we have quite a lot...).
as you can see, when we drove here it rained as well. driving in the netherlands is more frustrating than driving in the usa (except that the roads are much better here than in massachusetts); people are less patient and more aggressive. the speed limit varies constantly, and sometimes its not clear how fast you are allowed to go... and at exactly those spots (or so it seems), they check your speed, resulting in several tickets by now.... :(  whereas we drove a real big american truck in the usa, we now have a normal car, and i still feel small next to all these big trucks. i especially hate it when they are trying to pass each other. trucks are on a strict speed limit, 80 km/hr, but somehow they always need to pass each other, slowing down all the other traffic thats going 130 km/hr. like above, where i suddenly felt trapped between all those big vehicles....

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sample field

while most of the tulip fields were without tulips, at least the sample field still had quite some tulips (although i think also here about half was gone already). here we walked along many, many differently colored tulips. different shapes, leaves and sizes too. some hardly looked like a tulip anymore. some with simple names, fitting their looks, others with crazy names i cannot even remember. but all of them were labeled, a really nice display! it was a bit wet from the rain and i was wearing fancy shoes, but well....  above you see a coupld with their grand children. the girls kept asking question after question "but why....?" "and why do you think that...?" until their grandfather said: "well, not its enough with all these questions!"
today we had crazy rain too. nearly the entire day it rained without a break. some schoolkids were catching snails in the little greenery downstairs to our apartment and didnt seem to mind the rain. they all had little jars and when one showed us how many snails they got in there, they suddenly all got the urge to show how many they had. for some reason they were moving them to the next green spot across the street.... i hope the snails were as happy about that as they were... (i also wonder whether this project would have made me happy as a kid.... :D a few weeks ago some kids were cleaning the streets, they all got a tool to pick up trash and a bag to put it in. they were running like crazy when they saw a piece of garbage on the street, and very happy when they were the first to get it....)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Parking & Canals

i took this picture last monday. ah, only now i realize that was yesterday. indeed, i took this picture yesterday, but somehow it seems ages ago... :) as you see, it was very sunny....
i guess most people know amsterdam has a lot of canals. 165 in total, some 60 miles of water, combined. there are also a lot of bikes, cars, houses, and not a lot of space. so... parking is often done right at the waterfront. unfortunately, its very important to always lock your bike to something (as i have written several times before). not only because someone might otherwise steal your bike.. every year between 12,000 and 15,000 bikes are fished out of the water!! im pretty sure most people dont have the habit of throwing their bikes into the water on purpose (i certainly dont have that desire), but someone else might just do it for you. here you can see a video of the piles of bikes coming out of the canals...
it also happens that cars get into the water. it is estimated that around 35 cars end up on the bottom of an amsterdam canal. they are parked at the edge as well, and having the car in reverse gear when expecting to go forward is sometimes all it takes to end up in the canal..... (this happened to one of tims colleagues. she got out fine but the car didnt... we dont need to park next to the water but just to be sure we did get an emergency hammer recently....)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Flower field

last week we drove amidst some flower fields again. unfortunately, most fields were empty already. i guess the weather has been too good. when we were there, it was actually quite gray, as you can see. i somehow expected warmer weather, and was not dressed for the chilly wind. of course i anyways had to get out and take some pictures of this field of white tulips...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Adult magnet

in the comments yesterday i read a far better title; adult & child magnet! and yes indeed, as much as it is a childrens magnet, these water sprayers are an adult magnet too. this man (and i assume) his son spent a good 5 minutes biking through it. we were not sure who enjoyed it most. they would bike through the water, then around the square, and suddenly they would be back again. both of them were completely soaked at one point.... me and tim made up the story that he had had a fight with his wife, took out the kid for a ride, and would come back soaked, just to make her even more angry. the other possibility was that they were already divorced, and that she was coming to pick up their son. for fun he was arriving completely wet.... most likely; they were just having fun!! (i do hope they didnt have to bike back home too far, as it was not that warm, especially not when wet).

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Water play

the past week we had very mixed weather. sometimes sunny, then windy, then cold again.... here it was so-so. but that didnt bother the boys playing here! i guess every city has such a waterplay, where water comes out of the ground at random times, and kids are always attracted by it.... at first they run careful, trying not to get wet, but in the end they are usually soaked. the days are getting longer and longer. the sun goes down after 9 by now! thats something i did miss when living in boston.
i wrote about the entrance gate in the background once before. you can see that here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dog transport

dogs have their own place on a bike!! comfortable, in the fresh air and with a view....

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another impression

some trouble with my slow laptop prevented me from posting yesterday. but here, one last photo of kings day (i keep thinking queensday!). as you can see, quite a lot of people were dressed in orange. and like someone said, its indeed comparable to an american yard sale (but a gigantic one!). people put their stuff out on blankets; i think most of the stuff was baby/childrens clothes and toys. while we were walking around, one mother discovered that her child had just put his current shoes between the shoes for sale... whahahahaha, that was so funny. maybe he didnt like his shoes..?
too bad we dont have some yard sales every weekend, like in the US. i really enjoyed driving/walking around on our way to somewhere, anywhere. and then suddenly seeing a yard sale with lots of interesting stuff for nearly nothing... thats how we got part of our furniture.... :) i dont think i ever saw a yard sale in the netherlands, and i am not sure whether they are allowed (although doing it in your own yard should be ok, no...?).