Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Entrance gate

compared to my last post, this is something a bit older... :) it was built in the mid-19th century. unfortunately, its a bit shielded by the ugly containers with even uglier graffiti (there really is much more graffiti here than in boston), i guess they are restoring the port. its the fifth port on this location, and its part of the wall that was already built around amsterdam around 1300 (!), which was built to protect the city against attack. i guess having 5 different port over such a long period of time is not that many.... :) ah, the port did move a bit outward, each time the city grew.
i must say, i dont remember ever seeing this port before.... eventually, amsterdam had 5 entrance gates. and some, from the middle ages, are still standing to this day. when i happen to pass them, i will take a pic and show you... :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reflections, reflections...

i actually dont even know what kind of building this is, but i assume its apartments (and some businesses on the lower floor). i liked the reflection, and just the simple fact that this was taken well after 9 in the evening, a week or 2 ago. i am still amazed at how long its light out in the evening. its funny how you forget that kind of stuff. as mentioned before, in boston it was totally dark at 9 at the latest. i did always enjoy the long days in the netherlands, but not having had them for 3 years makes me enjoy them even more....
last night we had a LOT of rain. but it didnt cool down that much. today was pretty warm again, but since tim was on call, we couldnt venture out too far (in the end he didnt have to work.. ), and did some home improvement again. frustrating how much there is to clean, even if its just a not too big apartment (i do continue to wonder whether some things have ever been cleaned since this apartment was built... i wih i could sterilize everything, hahahaha)....

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Amsterdam street....

this afternoon we had to be in this street... when we arrived it turned out to not be a street at the moment! so we parked our bikes and walked... as you see, there are still lots of bikes everywhere, and some people were just biking regardless (as many dutch do, but im not good at that). here i bought my first things off the dutch craigslist (i.e. marktplaats); a 70s (i think) breadbox! its huge, and painted in orange with flowers. and... you can hang it on the wall, so thats what tim did when we got home. i like it so much! perfect for our homebaked bread...
we also completely changed the setup in the living room. if you look at this pic; we now put the couch in the corner with the pink wall. but.... that really required the white wall painted into some bright color... so today we bought the brightest orange we could find, and now that white wall is orange... (pictures some other time). a bit extreme perhaps, but we both really like it. ah, and we finally got some rain. ofcourse right when we were out biking; we got soaked entirely.... but after all that heat without any rain it was kind of fun, actually....

Friday, July 26, 2013

Local birds

this photo was taken last week (or was it already the week before?), from the balcony. these birds are flying around all day, and lots of them! at first i was not aware of them, but tim once showed me and now i keep hearing and seeing them. quite the exotic bird for a not very exotic city like amsterdam! its an afro-asian parakeet species, to be specific the ring-necked parakeet, and they are actually very ubiquitous. they make quite some noise while flying around, and they themselves also like noisy surroundings. thats why they are mostly found in larger cities.
the birds live in amsterdam since 1976, especially in a park (het vondelpark), but they like to fly around amsterdam every now and then. how did they get here? most likely from where they originated; asia. but the population is mixed with parakeets that escaped their birdcages.. and in brussels, belgium, the population originates from the release of a couple of birds by a zoo owner, who wanted to make the city a little more colourful. i like watching them fly by. usually they fly in little groups of 2 - 3, and they are colourful indeed!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

American diner

this was back in boston. saugus, to be precise, on route 1. quite a typical dinner in a very american diner.. no? somewhere between the fries is a gigantic burger! when the waitress brought it to our table, i wondered why i ordered this... haha... i was recovering from one of the many colds i have had this year and didnt eat much. but it was our last time in that restaurant.... buuuhh!!
back in the netherlands we have not been out to eat once yet! its easier, faster and cheaper in the us (and usually even more unhealthy than here). ah, and most restaurants are open till late, not like here where you can often find the kitchen closed by 9, or earlier... 
compared to yesterday it was a little less hot today. rain was expected but didnt come. it did in the south of the netherlands, where it turned into quite a mess. in some places it rained in a few hours as much as normally in a month!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reporting live.....

... from amsterdam. im currently sitting in our 33C (91.4F) living room. the heat is crazy! and so it was yesterday, and sunday. and the days before... but today and yesterday are the hottest. as opposed to boston, houses, shops (except supermarkets of course), and even the local gym are not equipped with (proper) airconditioning, as its usually not this hot, and not for this long. i was just enjoying the light breeze by opening the balcony doors on either side of the apartment. a tiny breeze, but still... then i needed something from the kitchen and saw there was lots and LOTS of smoke, clearly not from a BBQ or something. ash particles were coming up too, and had already landed in our bedroom. what was it? then i saw that the idiot downstairs neighbour (i have no clue who they are, but now i know they are idiots), decided to just burn all the trees they had cut down from the neglected garden a week ago. that was all very, very dry ofcourse, and was burning like crazy. pfew, was i happy i hadnt just hung out the white laundry!!
i texted tim, mostly to figure out whether i should perhaps call the police or something. but before i knew, i heard the sirens and police and 2 firefighter trucks arrived. by then the neighbours had already put out the fire themselves, and from what i could see they were not opening the door for the police!!
now they are all gone again, and its too hot to get the vacuum out to get rid of all the ash.... :( wonder what eventually happened..... it was interesting to see how many people suddenly appeared to be home, standing on their balconies to see what was going on....

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bikes, bikes...

yesterday we were biking home after we had gone to the cinema (this is after 9 in the evening, see how sunny it still is!!) and encountered this sea of bikes. i took some pictures and was disappointed with all of them... but for once i should show you a picture a little further away from the apartment... :) there was some dance festival going on and heres where all the visitors parked. i really like that a simple bike i the main mode of transportation.... but i do have to say i miss the car we had in the usa, it does make life easier at times to have a car... we need some new bookcases and we found cheap ones on the dutch version of craigslist. but no way to get them to our place... :(
people often ask; but how on earth do you find your bike back in this endles sea of others...? i gues its like when you are on the beach and go for a swim. you know approximately where you left your towel, and somehow you always find it back...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Purple flowers

im a little lazy today, so here the flowers again, they opened!
i hope kay can identify them, because i actually dont know what kind of flowers these are... :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Yeeeeeeejjjj, flowers!!

one of the reasons its great to be back in the netherlands; i can buy cheap flowers again. and everywhere.... okok, above no flowers yet, but they are about to come out, maybe tomorrow... and they will be pretty and purple! its still warm here, hot even. although we have to miss the pool right downstairs like we had in boston, we now at least have a little bit of outside space. a balcony on either side of the apartment! in the morning there is sun on one, and in the evening theres sun on the other. another great thing i have to get used to again; its light out until after 10!! like really light... in boston it was always dark before 9 (and in winter, like here, around 5).
stuff im not so happy about; the tiny, tiny kitchen. and no dishwasher anymore.... buhuhuhuh.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oooh, waste!

its still gorgeous weather but i dont allow myself to go out since i should be looking for a job... :( tim gets up very early every day, and comes back relatively late, and i want to work too!! i guess its always the same; once you work, you wish you had days to spend doing nothing. but without the immediate prospect of work, its actually not that much fun. so... i havent been exploring much, certainly not the way i used to in boston. even though amsterdam is sort of a new city to me (at least to live in, and biking... well... im still not a pro... hahahaha. ofcourse, once you learn how to bike, you will never forget it, but to bike with confidence through busy streets, packed with pedestrians, cars, other bikers and  public transport... iieeekkk).
what i dont miss is the above; paper cups for coffee! here i had an espresso. it did not even fill 1/8 of that cup, but i did get a plastic lid (to the right), and the paper holder to not burn your hands (to the right), such a waste!!! moreover, putting that little coffee in such a huge paper cup... makes it cold before you can drink it... now thats not to say we dont have paper cups here in the netherlands. but its definitely less and i hope it stays that way. on the other hand; we have not been out to dinner once since i am back! its just different here. the ease, speed and availability of food at any time of the day (or especially (late) night) is just different here. ah well, a home cooked meal is probably healthier and cheaper... :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Self portrait

nooo, this is not in the netherlands, this is yosemite, where we were back in march!! but we didnt take any self portraits recently. or many other photos, for that matter... it was so pretty there, and we had so little time. just one afternoon. we did one hike, and didnt know exactly how long it would be. with all the warnings for bears and whatnot, that was a little scary to me... and it was indeed getting dark when we finally got back to the car (i already saw ourselves stranded somewhere high up, with a bear taking our last food. hmm, actually we didnt bring much. yes, we were really not that well prepared). 
lif here in amsterdam is quite different! :) no bears for sure..... but the weather at the moment is really good. jipppiiieeee!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Whats that?!

saw this sign at the edge of a parking lot in amsterdam. no clue what it means!! special attention zone for all people there? or...?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dutch wedding

today the weather was great1 even though it was a bit cloudy, it was rather warm. we first went to the gym; as opposed to our 24hr gym in boston, our current gym closes already at 3pm during the weekend (grrrr... i prefer to go in the early evenings). then we biked quite a bit through the city and passed by this wedding. i of course was enchanted by all the balloons. so pretty, and all heart-shaped! they were making music and singing for the newlyweds, but i never got to actually see them...
isnt it onvious that this is in the netherlands?! first, there are the houses in the background. then there is the guy with the "bakfiets" watching (those things a trendy since a few years, good for tranporting kids, groceries or furniture. i myself hop never become that crazy to own one). then there are the guys here; most have rather long hair that they mold into shape with some sticky hairproduct... (although it might not be very visible in this pic, i should once make a close-up to really show you. and all guys have it, young, old...etc). and the most annoying thing; so MANY people smoke here. really much more than in boston. even during this little ceremony outside the church many were smoking... couldnt it wait?! according to research, 28% of the amsterdam population smokes, and if you look specifically at the age category of 19-34 year olds, 52% (!!!) of the average-to-highly educated men smoke (for women thats 39%). crazy....

Friday, July 12, 2013

Old Amsterdam

this was taken around times square in new york... here in old amsterdam i havent been taking many pictures yet... so thats also why im not posting much...,
i got a gym membership here. something to get used to, now it doesnt come with the apartment anymore. the machines are less fancy (no tvs), but at least its above the highway, so you can watch the cars race by while working out. the gym is stuffed with lots and lots of machines on the tiniest amount of floor space possible, a little intimidating at first, so i was glad i wasnt alone (tim went with me).
still, lots of stuff to get used to (again)... haha... :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Resident again....

im an official resident of the netherlands again! it took me a little while (you know ive been hiding), but today i went to register as a resident of amsterdam. it was quite a different experience from official happenings in boston (like getting your social security card, liquor ID or learners permit for the car); the building looked very nice, the lady at reception was friendly, nobody was yelling at me to have my papers ready for inspection, ignoring me while discussing personal matters with a colleague, etc etc. but... the wait was the same. it was long and boring. now for the first time in my life, even though i was born in amsterdam, i am living there.
above a picture i took last december (i brought my camera today and didnt take a single picture!), typical green pastures and cloudy skies. the paved road you see is entirely for bikes!! i have been biking a little already, but at the moment i only have a mens bike, which is a little scary. i am also not used to biking anymore with so much different traffic around me..... (the past 3 years most biking was on a bike in the gym....). and ofcourse, i already tried to cross the street almost running into someone biking... a typical tourist mistake who dont know that between the pedestrians pavement and the roads for the car is the separate bike lane.... the guy on the bike apologized, haha, while it was clearly my fault....

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ceiling cleaning

even though the weather was amazing again today, we spent nearly the entire day cleaning and painting again. here you see part of the ceiling... my goodness, all the walls and especially the ceiling were rather black. bleeeeehhh. at first we werent sure about cleaning the entire ceiling as its quite a lot of work and in an uncomfortable position, but while painting the walls nicely white the ceiling looked of course more and more black. and so tim (pfew... i couldnt have done it), cleaned the entire ceiling! look what a difference!! (and what an awful ceiling anyways. yuck, who has such a ceiling... ?  :D ).
as in many old houses in amsterdam, there is no central heating here. the living room is heated by a gas heater. i guess coming winter we have to choose whether we want to be warm or clean the ceiling again.... ;)
all the walls in the living room are now done. the floor however is a terrible mess..... since tim did the ceiling, i probably should do the floor.....

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Beautiful day!

today the weather here was  great!!! we got up early. earier than the pool was open, so we started painting the living room until we could go swimming. theres a olympic sized outdoor pool nearby.. i guess it has been at least 3 years since i swam in a real pool. compared to the little pool in our apartment complex, this one seems enormous and swimming one lap suddenly seemed endless.... really nice...! then some sun, definitely much less strong than in boston (but tim still got a little bit of sunburn),  and more painting... the living room should finally be done by tomorrow! 
ah, the above picture was taken on july 4th, independence day, last year. we were on cape cod and had a great day of biking and swimming....

Friday, July 5, 2013

On supermarkets...

oops, its been a while again.... 
in boston the market basket was our favorite supermarket. by far the cheapest, and the fruit and vegetables were always fresh (usually its very crowded, so that makes for a high turnover). back in the netherlands i have to get used to the small supermarkets and their even smaller produce sections... :( no more any fresh herb you can think of (here they are wrapped in tiny amounts and very expensive, if they have them at all), no more huge bags of whatever nuts you want, roasted and/or salted or not.... at least the mushrooms are much cheaper here... :) everything here is also sold in much smaller quantities (which is better, sometimes), and i really had forgotten how good plain yoghurt tastes here!! and i still have to find my way in the supermarket; today i made 3 rounds before i found ricotta. and they had only a small tub (in the market basket there were many types, brands, and sizes). 
and, of course, the checkout is very different. here everyone brings their own bags (although we also used to do that in the us, since they always managed to put 5 items in 7 bags, somehow), or you can buy one. and there is no one packing your groceries! im fine with that, but i again have to get used to how fast the cashier is scanning all your items!! before you know, everything is piling up at the end, but then i still have to pay and if you dont hurry, the cashier is already helping the next customer. at least there is a divider for that person's groceries, but if you are really, really slow the cashier will already be helping the third customer, piling his/her groceries onto yours... i guess i got used to how verrrryyyy slow cashiers in the usa usually are, so  its quite stressful for me... ;)  
the apartment is still a giant mess, but we hope to finish painting at least the living room this weekend.... 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Love pink!!

this weekend we have been quite busy! on saturday to ikea (and yes, with the mattress in the subway. but at least it was a 1 person mattress), and yesterday we first got ourselves informed about the local gyms (so very expensive; with discount, 3 months for just 200 euros (some 250 dollars). we really got used to the luxury of having the gym with the apartment. sure, we then also had a very high rent, but still...). 
then we went to the dutch home depot (ten times smaller) to pick out some paint for the apartment. our apartment in boston was freshly painted when we got in, with 2 walls painted in the color of our choice (tim allowed me to pick purple and dark purple), so seeing the amsterdam apartment with very ugly walls was just... well... beeehhh. we ofcourse quickly found the discount section and found all kinds of colors with 70% discounts. including the pink you see here in the wall. i actually thought it would be a little less bright, but i like it! and tim said he likes it too... :) the wall with the ladder in front was a very deep, terrible red and it took 4 or 5 layers of white to not see that anymore. instantly the apartment looked so much lighter! now we still have to paint the opposite walls. the one you cannot see in this picture is a very dark blue and i cant wait to get that white as well.... now we only need to paint the dining table yellow (i think it will be nice with the pink, no..?) and i would also like to do something with the ugly ceiling fan. i was thinking silver...? :) (i got inspired after seeing this picture).