Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eating lobster

i dont remember when i took this pic, it was certainly quite a while ago! everywhere around here you can get lobster. and i never ate one.... i dont like anything that comes out of the sea for dinner! (except fishsticks, but i guess thats not real fish anyways ;) )
this year they caught way too many lobsters in maine, and now they dont know what to do with them. as a result, lobster is very cheap now, apparently. they even tried to bring them to canada, but the canadian fishermen got angry about that... 
looking for news about lobsters, i also just read that a waitress working in a lobster restaurant was attacked by 3 customers as they were angry that she was filling their glasses too often! the customers threw water on her and hit her with a menu... how sad is that?! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

$12 bridge!

it cost us 12 dollars to cross this bridge. and i guess we paid that amount 2 or 3 times when we were in new york 2 weeks ago. grrr... we usually go by bus, but this time we went by car, and i think all in all we spent well over 50 or even 60 dollars, just on toll! 8 dollars for a bridge here, 12 for another, then 6.50 for a tunnel.... it just didnt stop!! by the time we left new york i had no money in my wallet anymore... :( (and in NY i didnt buy anything!)
at least this was a nice bridge. i think it went from staten island to brooklyn. i dont even remember the name, how bad! i do remember there were several signs warning you that it was absolutely forbidden to photograph/videotape the bridge, and that this would be "stricly enforced"..... so i was a little afraid taking so many pictures... luckily nothing happened, they only took our money...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Another street...

after a boston and new york street the past 2 days, now a "street" in california.... :) i dont know exactly where we were here, i think somewhere in the mojave desert, back in may. it was simply amazing driving there. the emptiness, the landscape. really, really amazing. and yes, i just had to sit on the route 66 sign, as probably all tourists do.... it was extremely windy (later we got into a sandstorm), so i couldnt see much with my hair blowing into my face, haha!
now i want to go again!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Boston street

and here a rather crowded boston street... this was in august, when it was a bit warmer than now. its still not cold, but people dont really dress like this anymore, that might be a bit chilly at times... :)
i read today that by 2030, 50% of the americans is predicted to be obese (in some specific states its thought to be a little less, like 40%, and in some even 60%).....  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Street scene

somewhere in new york... looked very movie-like/american to me... :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dutch Americans

finally, taphophile tuesday again! i missed the past 3 times due to travels back home and sheer laziness... when i got back from my travels, late wednesday night after a long long day of traveling and having to run for my flight to boston (why is flying so much more stressful than any other mode of transportation? or at least, so i think..), it took over an hour of waiting at the boston airport to be "admitted into the country". whereas "the americans" got through passport control very quickly (there were many officers), there were only a few officers checking even more "foreigners". aaarrghhhh!! how annoyed i was! especially when you think of how the us of a was founded; by people from many different countries, many of them dutch... and now me, a dutch, had to wait this long?!!
while i thought i would have a day of rest after coming back, tim told me we were going to drive to new york right the next morning! even though i love going to new york, i was not too happy about that... but the morning came, i was awake early anyways due to jetlag and off we went..... a very hot and sunny day, and i got to choose how we would drive! jaaajjj! ever since we visited the sleepy hollow cemetery in massachusetts, i wanted to see the REAL town of sleepy hollow and its cemetery in the state of new york. it is just above new york, and sort of on our route... many wealthy dutch lived in sleepy hollow, which originally was named "slapershaven" (this translates literally into sleeper's haven, which eventually became sleepy hollow).
dirck storm, whose grave you see above, was one of the early settlers, who documented the "dutch colonial american village life" in the english-occupied new york province (this was around the time when the dutch owned "new amsterdam" got into the hands of the british, and renamed it new york). dirck storm was born in utrecht, the netherlands. in 1662, he, his wife and their 3 children emigrated to manhattan by boat. during the voyage, his wife gave birth to a daughter. only years later they moved to the little town of sleepy hollow, where they became members of the old dutch church, next to which they were later buried. according to wikipedia, dirck storm is the ancestor of many notable americans. however, they dont mention any notable americans, and i dont know any right now by the name of storm!, but apparently, many americans with the last name storm or storms can trace their lineage back to the dutch dirck storm who arrived in the us of a in 1662.....
whoops, thats a lot of writing! (and i did a whole lot more of reading about sleepy hollow, the dutch, etc etc, so i guess i should dedicate another post to that sometime later... for more taphophiles, go here!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Graffiti proposal

when biking from my sisters apartment in utrecht to the city center, i passed this mural! i had to take a picture of that, of course. as you can see, its hard not to take pictures in the netherlands without bikes in it, either parked bikes, or as above.... :) (unfortunately the sun was only illuminating the upper part of the house... )
the mural says: "lieve afra, wil jij met mij trouwen? Jan" and next to it: "ja!" which translates into; "dear afra, do you want to marry me?" "yes!" i googled around a bit and found an article that tells me that the person who painted it is a graffiti artist named Jan, who made several murals in/around utrecht. here he got permission to paint his marriage proposal on the wall of someone's house. he then led his girlfriend to it, and proposed to her. and as you can see, she said yes! isnt that cute?
there really was quite a bit more graffiti in the netherlands than i remembered (i had not been there for almost 2 years), and there was also a lot of random, ugly graffiti along the train tracks. but apparently it has always been there, and i just forgot....  :) but as you can see, this mural is pretty recent, from july 2012.
for more monday murals, go here!

Dutch snack

above; 2 glasses of white martini with lemon, and to the left a very dutch snack that i really missed while in the us of a: "bitterballen"!! ofcourse, there is a wikipedia for this snack that you can read here. in short, its a savoury snack, with a thick meat-based ragout, battered in an egg-breadcrumb mixture, which has been deep-fried. you eat them hot, with some mustard (but be careful, when served they are usually still too hot to eat, i speak here from experience). hmmmmmmmm!!!! hmmmm!!! they are sooo good! also with a glass of beer.... in fact, the dutch mc donalds has a special burger, with a patty-shaped version of the "bitterbal", on a white bun, with a sort of mustard dressing (the mc kroket!). i had that the first day i arrived, together with my sister... (they were on sale, only 1 euro, hahaha).
unfortunately, eating these in a cafe is expensive. like everything you order in a cafe. generally, service is much slower than in the us, but at least you dont have to prove you are above 21 to drink alcohol. on the other hand, the huge glass of ice water i now always order does not come standard in the netherlands, and in some cafes they will even refuse to give you a glass of water, unless you pay for it..... (i.e. you have to buy a glass of bottled water as they do not want to give you one for free from the tap). also, paying with card is not that common, and you thus will have to bring cash, preferrably some change; as you already have waited so very long for the check, you dont want to wait yet again to get your change.
why cant the mc donalds over here have this dutch snack on the menu?! im sure the americans would love it!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Still green

everything is still green! but for how long?! some trees have actually started turning color already, and the mornings and evenings/nights are becoming chilly. its not bad at all, compared to the crazy heat we have had this summer. now the mornings feel fresh, but still kind of warm enough to go without a jacket (or only a cardigan), and during the day its mostly sunny and pleasant.... 
although i dont want to leave the sun and our time at/in the pool (its really becoming a little too cold; i hope we can still go tomorrow), im also looking forward to autumn. boston and surroundings are really pretty then, and it smells so good!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Overgrown car

noooo... this is not in the netherlands, i dont think you would see much of this there.... 
this was a few weekends back, when we were in vermont. there were actually several in a row, i think they were collecting them!

Bikes, bikes!!

already at the airport in the netherlands i noticed something different; nobody said the magic words "excuse me". in the ladies room people passed each other, or had to wait to get to the sink or whatever. in the us this dance would be accompanied by many excuse me's, and now it was silent, and somehow that was weird! at the platform waiting for the train there was plenty of time observing the dutch going to work (it was the early morning); women were dressed so differently! to me they looked more confident, especially the older women. and... what a relief; stylish shoes! no extreme high heels, although many did wear a bit of heels, also the very tall women (and there were many tall people. haha, i almost forgot that in the netherlands im one of the short people). now that im back i have a renewed incomprehension for the big white sport shoes that most people seem to wear here, no matter how well dressed they are!
while in the train i saw sooo much graffiti everywhere, thats really not the case in boston, i thought it had increased, but apparently it had always been like that (how easy it is to forget things!). 
but.... the best was to be on my (own) bike again. in utrecht! i had not done that since we left in april 2010 for boston. the traffic seemed crazy; sooo many people, such narrow streets, even more bikes!! but the cars are much smaller, and the pace much more relaxed. as much as i am scared to bike around here, amidst the chaos in utrecht it was just relaxing! no honking or irritated screaming simply because you are on a bike and on the road (as happened just this sunday here, grrrr). it was extremely crowded but everyone was courteous and nobody was in someone else's way.... (or do i now make it seem better than it actually is?! anyways, compared to biking in boston it was just pure fun! and so pretty, ofcourse, biking along the canals, wathcing the cute old houses on the other side..... 
above the center of utrecht. a mess of bikes wherever you go. a mess, but somehow organized, and ofcourse its hardly ever a problem to find your own bike back amongst all those others. in the back a few of the many cafes where you can sit outside; the weather was, surprisingly, extremely good most of the time i was there!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blogging holiday

whoops! i took a little holiday from blogging the past weeks, together with my trip to europe (how american to say "europe" instead of specifying to which countries i went).... before i went to sweden for my practical course, i was briefly in the netherlands, where i had not been for almost 2 years!!! i had not told my parents, so it was a surprise for them to see me, haha... :)
this is utrecht from above, where i used to live before moving to boston. isnt it cute?! me and my sister climbed the largest church tower in the city (you can see that tower here). to the right in the front you can see the terrace of one of the many, many cafes, right next to the canal. it was so very, entirely, totally different from the us! and i really felt like a tourist, not having been there for almost 2 years.....
i got home last wednesday already, got back to the lab monday but somehow did not get back to my blog... from now on i hope to be back again! hope to write more about what i observed in the netherlands after 2 years of absence tomorrow....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Real swimmers!

here are some real swimmers in the swedish sea!! it was 2 days ago, somewhere around 6 in the evening. it was not cold, but not warm either, some 20 degrees C at most... i had some time to observe them and it was so different from what you would see in the us! firstly, people arrived by bike, alone or together. just left their bike unlocked and walked to the water, undressed and went in. no toe dipping, not scared of the cold! hoppa! no lifeguard either, and no millions signs saying that you can or cannot swim, or when the "water closes" (in the us the water or the forest or the park or whatever usually closes after sunset). after swimming people just dried themselves and took off their swimsuits, something you also would never see in the us, as ofcourse you cannot show any skin...
im at the airport now. i enjoyed my practical baby-course... yesterday i got to feed the baby, and saw how she was bathed... im fully prepared now... ;)  but as i think its sometimes already a burden to carry my camera everywhere, i think its still too early for babies...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Some sightseeing

its not too cold here, but often quite windy, and then its suddenly chilly! many clouds make it very pretty... here we were at the sea side, where many people were still swimming...! i didnt try, seemed so cold.....

Monday, September 10, 2012

In Sweden

sorry for the lack of updates! sometimes there is no internet, then im at the airport and its not working, or i am too tired. or too lazy. or whatever...
but now im in sweden for a few days... without tim, so the above sign was funny! im visiting a friend who got a baby last november. she says im here for a practical baby course... they also have other friends over with a baby of the same age.... so i can practice, she says... hahahahaha.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Very american

this sign is so american! must look nice when its dark...
even after more than 2.5 years, i still cannot get used to having to buy alcohol in a separate store. in the netherlands you can buy your wine and beer in the supermarket, only for hard liquor you will have to go to a liquor store. and ofcourse, having to prove that you are over 21 while 30 is very weird too. or that it can only be a passport, or an ID from the state you are in... leading to sometimes complicated situations or not being able to buy any alcohol at all...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fancy chairs

saw these colorful chairs in the mc donalds! looked really new... too bad only that you cannot swirl around on them, they are fixed....

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dog days...

dog days of summer are supposed to be over! its september now.... :) (but its still hot!) i knew this expression, and that it has to do with the hottest days/weeks of summer, but until i asked wikipedia i never knew why...! well, it comes from the ancient belief that sirius (the dog star) in proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather...
we are having a long weekend (monday is labor day), and i think i september dogs are allowed on the beaches again.... but not their sh*t, as you can see here, you will need to bag that and take trash it properly. i always find it a funny sight.... here they are very strict, and everyone indeed picks up after their dog (unlike the netherlands, at least the last time i was there..). i wonder what the dog thinks, sometimes, of this practice... :D