Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dutch landscape

yesterday i posted a freaky photo of the museum we visited this sunday, so now one thats a bit nicer. this was the day before the crazy storm and at one moment it was cloudy, then it was raining, and here it was sunny... this cycle was on repeat that day.
we were again in an open air museum, this time a little further from home, in Arnhem. but actually, to see something like the above, you dont need to visit a museum, you can see it in the "real" netherlands as well! arent those houses cute? as well as the bridge, and even further away, the windmill? this museum is different from the one i showed you earlier. its more spacious, and has several farms, and houses from different time periods. i dont really know which one i like better, i guess they are both very nice. this one is also nice for just wandering around in the woods (in winter thats what you can do; you cannot go into the buildings, but you can still walk around in the park).
oh, did i mention already someone finally came to fix the roof? he thought it was most likely the pipe from the gas heater. it was a bit loose, and he fixed it a bit... im still a bit hesitant to put our stuff back in that spot.....

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Real doll!!

this past sunday we went to another open air museum in the netherlands. even though the weather forecast was not the best, we decided to go, as it was the last day before closing for winter (although we found out its still sort of open during the colder months, but anyways). although windy and rainy at times, there were very sunny moments too. as well as scary, when in one of the very dutch houses we discovered this very real doll! we saw it from a distance, and since she didnt move at all while we were staring at her, she probably was a doll. upon closer inspection she indeed turned out to be a doll, but i continued to wonder whether she would move, or even start to scream or something. so very scary!! i seriously wonder how many children have left the museum traumatized by this doll. this was in a sixties/seventies house, and it had the same bread and cake box as we do!! all the other items from that orange series were present as well (i didnt know there were so many, but i think we keep it at the 2 items we already have). some music was playing as well, and it was so very eerie. until we left the house i expected a sudden move....
perhaps tomorrow a more pretty picture of this museum! :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crazy storm

on this picture it all looks quite calm, but it wasnt at all! do you see all those branches scattered around? the water wasnt calm either... this was yesterday, during the storm. we went to the gym, and decided to walk instead of bike, considering the crazy winds. we walked past the nearby school and the children were just having their break; they were all outside and i guess they liked running around in the crazy winds; they were even louder than they normally are. when we got back, we discovered something had blown off the balcony, even though it had been very well attached! luckily that was on the backside, with just neglected gardens from the people on the lowest floor and not on the street side with all the cars!
the news showed how bad the storm really has been for large parts of the netherlands (and europe!); in the center of amsterdam (as well as other cities), many large trees fell down. at least 1 fell on a houseboat that sunk within 15 minutes. even worse; a tree fell on a 21-year-old tourist, killing her. other people got hurt when trees fell on their cars. theres millions and millions of euros in material damage.... 
it calmed down, but today its still quite stormy and rainy at times...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Autumn storm

we have a real storm at the moment in the netherlands! the wind is howling like crazy and we saw some big tree branches broken off already... trains are not going (or less), and flights have been cancelled as well. ah, and the check of our leaking roof (which happend over 2 weeks ago now) was cancelled too; too dangerous to climb on the roof right now. they will come tomorrow. right.... 
i guess in boston such a storm would have happened with more preparation prior to it; shops would have been emptied of milk, eggs, bread and water. and candles of course... 
our roof is making all kinds of noises. i do hope it will stay attached to the house..... ;)
the above picture was yesterday, by the way. then it was a bit stormy already, with very dark clouds. but the next moment it was sunny again. only to be followed by very heavy rain... and sun again.... in the US, many highways dont have lights, like you can see here. and i always thought; oh, in the netherlands the highways are so perfect, and always very well lit!! now guess what; just recently the government decided to shut off the lights around 9 in the evening, to save electricity and repair costs etc... so our roads are very dark now too.... grrrrrr

Friday, October 25, 2013

On flip-flops..?

we watched the marathon for a bit at the edge of the vondelpark, a huge park in amsterdam. these are all half-marathoneers, and at this point they had less than a mile to go before the finish line. my previous post showed some runners in morhsuits, but there were lots of other interestingly dressed runners. there was an elvis, for example, someone with a green wig and at least 2 vikings. i really wonder why people dress like that when they are running. to get noticed? i can only imagine how uncomfortable it must be, while the running itself is already uncomfortable, haha.
the above must be the most uncomfortable i have seen, they are joined in 1 t shirt! and only now, when looking at the picture, do i see that the woman is running on flip-flops!! they seem to be tied to her with strings... flip-flops! that many miles on flip-flops..? i sometimes even have a hard time just walking on them...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A what..??!

those people are running in morphsuits.... i didnt know that until i saw it printed on the back of one of their suits. of course i had to look that up. apparently its a company in scotland, founded by 3 guys in 2009. and well, they make these skin-tight garments, covering literally the entire body. they started making those next to their day jobs, but became so successfull that they quit their jobs to focus entirely on the company. they sold some 50,000 suits between 2009-2010, and 250,000 between 2010-2011. most of their costumers are men....
so the above was at the amsterdam marathon this past sunday. here they are about to cross the finish line; just one more round in the olympic stadium of amsterdam. those people above are finishing their half marathon. i cannot imagine running a half marathon (not even a quarter, buuuh. i seem to be unable to run more than 5 to at most 7 kms...), and i certainly cannot imagine running in such a suit!! i have no idea why they did... (the morphsuit website claims its amazing to wear one; everyone can see you, but nobody knows WHO you are, and thats apparently addicting; "you will find yourself wearing your suit more and more!")
they are available in many colors, btw... :)
ah, i just found that the people running in these pink morphsuits were doing so to raise awareness for breast cancer.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Smoked herring

in the open air museum they smoked herring and eel. i remembered that smell and all those fishies from when i was visiting the museum years ago, and nothing has changed..... this is in the house on the left in yesterdays picture. when going home we bought one of each to bring with us for dinner with friends. i liked it less than anticipated (the fish that is), so many little fish bones and too much of a hassle to clean it all.... but it was so pretty, seeing all that fish lined up!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dutch landscape

this is so dutch! the windmill, the water, the grey sky.... although this is a typical dutch scene that you can see around the netherlands (with a more modern boat perhaps), this is actually in an open air museum, the Zuiderzeemuseum in the city of Enkhuizen. here they recreated a typical dutch village as it existed over 100 years ago. many of the houses are authentic and were "just" moved stone by stone from their original location to the museum. the museum opened in 1983.
we went there this weekend, and it was really nice to walk around. i had been there as a kid quite a few times (at least thats how i remember it) with my mom and sister, but this was the first time i think i was there as an adult; the boat ride to the museum was less impressive than it was in my memory (and of course we had to pay for parking, grrrr). next weekend is the last weekend its open; after that it closes for the winter. everything looked so perfect and old, but not fake old as often seems to happen in such recreations of the past.
other than that, still nobody has come to check our leaking roof. luckily it hasnt been raining as crazy as the past weekend when the leak occurred, but we certainly wont be putting stuff there until it has been fixed. and thus the living room is even more a mess than it already was and im getting quite frustrated....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crooked trees

i like this traffic sign for crooked trees! but i like the trees even more, its like you drive through a green tunnel, so pretty. and all trees are bending over at the same angle. there are tree tunnels for either direction of car traffic, and a tree tunnel for the bikes (which i have shown you before). it turned out to be difficult taking pictures, in real its so much prettier! we drive/bike here whenever we visit tims grandmother. im curious if fall colors are present by now.... (but perhaps i expect too much after experiencing fall in new england for the past 3 years)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dutch dining

on my birthday, it was actually only the second time we went out to dinner since i am back in the netherlands. as i mentioned before, going out to dinner here is just so much more expensive, much slower (which can be a good thing), and the service... well... it can be OK, but often it is less than that or even plain awful. however, at least the food is usually much tastier :)
in the usa, it took me quite a while to get used to the overly friendly (and to me a little fake) "Hi, my name is ... and i will be taking care of you today. please let me you if you need anything, ok?" but it was not difficult to get used to the endless possibilities when ordering. at first it was a bit intimidating, and i was always jealous of the real americans ordering exactly what they want, without the waitress having to sum up all the possibilities (types of dressing, bread, size, types of milk etc etc). it surely took me a while before i could order like that..., and i was real proud when i could!! :D
so... now back to dutch dining. i guess it will be shocking for americans. it might take ages before they notice you are there and want to order something. you will not get water automatically (more often than not there will be a note on the menu saying that they dont serve water. unless you pay for bottled water). you will not be able to order salad A with dressing from salad B, and you will not be allowed to take your leftovers home (but the portions arent crazy big like in the US so thats usually not an issue anyways). moreover, you will have to pay for everything. see that bill above? it lists a 0.75 cents (about a dollar) charge for the mayonnaise!! here in the netherlands we eat our fries with mayonnaise, but you will always have to pay for it. this is even the case at mc donalds!! i liked that in the USA there was always a ketchup bottle on the table, and it was never a problem when we asked for some mayo, they would just bring it (and not bill it!).
now when we sat down, the waitress asked what we liked to drink. tim wanted a beer, and he could choose between a normal or a large (0.5 ltr) size. then i said to him; lets take the large and we will just share it! (i also still have to get used to the fact that now everyone can understand again what i say, although in the US sharing has never been a problem). when the beer finally came, the guy bringing it put it in the middle of the table and said "i understood you want to share this beer??!!" and then put 2 straws in the beer. only when he left i understood this snark... i actually should have called him back to explain himself, but i didnt want to make a scene. but thinking about it still pisses me off!! we were there to enjoy ourselves and drink as much as WE want, even if that means sharing one beer. and as you see, 2 entrees, 1 beer and 2 coffees came down to 37 euros, which is 50 dollars (at least there is no 20% tip as waiters here get a normal salary. you can tip as you  like, or not tip at all, although they will not appreciate no tip at all)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sinking ship

when i took this photo a few weeks back i didnt want to post it, since its so grey. but currently the weather is like this.... or its raining. beeehhh!
the amsterdam canals are filled with little boats. somehow tim got the impression that you can put your boat anywhere for free (and he kept saying, i want a boat too!!), but thats not the case. just like for your car, you have to pay to park your boat. i read somewhere 30 euros per meter of boat (but im not sure). anyways, its not free, and if you do park your boat without paying, they can tow it, just like your car. they also periodically remove boats that look like the one above, so after heavy rain etc you should definitely check whether your boat still looks fine...
as for the leak in the apartment; someone was supposed to come today. and then didnt... they were swamped taking care of apartments with leaks much worse than ours. today it rained, but luckily not inside. its not sure yet when the will come, but i hope it wont take too long....

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's time...

for my american red shoes...! unfortunately not to trudge through mountains of snow, but to avoid wet feet. it has been raining like crazy the entire weekend (as well as friday, and perhaps thursday, i dont even remember), and it will rain tomorrow as well.
while tim suddenly had to come into work for a few hours today, i was deciding whether i would just spend the entire afternoon on the couch or do something useful.. that was until i suddenly saw quite a puddle of water in front of the old-fashioned heater. water? is the thing now spewing water?? hmm, highly unlikely. is it perhaps condensation....but from what... the drying laundry? (i can be a little slow) then i finally looked up and saw it was coming from the ceiling.... buhuhuhuhuh. water was dripping down and quite a bit!! its coming down from that ugly plastic ceiling that tim cleaned back in july. for once it was a good thing we have been extremely slow with filling the cupboards we bought a little while ago. they all needed to be moved to not get wet. it has been dripping all afternoon and evening (worsening a bit). for once i was also happy we werent out all day, i think we would have come back to quite a mess! tomorrow someone will come and check. no, they couldnt come before dark today. and as he said on the phone "you know, its the rain. there is a lot of rain coming down right now, and lots of rain gives lots of leaks, but its just the heavy rain you know". hmppf. great...
(and no, i dont know whether the neighbors really have better stuff. i do hope for them its less wet than in our place..., i also hope the ugly ceiling wont come down or something... you never know...)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fall colors

i really liked fall in boston. so many colorful trees, the cold but sunny mornings that warned you it could very well get much colder... driving to new hampshire in the weekends to see even more colorful trees....
so... this is a picture of the cemetery behind our apartment. now we dont have a cemetery behind our apartment anymore... buuuhhh... there is one, but its a 5-10 minute bike ride away, so i most definitely miss going there for a short walk... the cemetery here is pretty too, but much smaller, and it specifically states at the entrance that photography is not allowed. ah well... perhaps someday i will take some pics there anyways.... but for now you have to make do with a picture taken one year ago at the american cemetery... :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

It's closing!!

of course i still follow the news from boston every now and then... but the news that the above restaurant is closing i first saw on facebook... when i saw it posted here as well, i knew it was true... this is on route 1, in saugus, not too far from our apartment, and so we drove by it quite often in weekends. the lawn is decorated with lifesize cows, and the place (just like the cactus) is gigantic. at first we were hesitant to visit the place (after the cows and the cactus we were afraid what would be inside), but once we finally did, we kept coming back every now and then. for me it was not so much about the food (the vegetables were absolutely awful, even the corn!! but tim loved the baked potato), but more the "experience". i think the decor has never changed since it was built (the 2 story restaurant opened in 1961), and i wouldnt be surprised if the waitresses were still the same as well (once our waitress asked tim when we got seated; "whats the matter son, you hungry or somethin?!" with that typical boston accent). there is crazy carpet on the floors, beautiful booths to sit in and weird cowboy-stuff on the walls. i think some of the guests had been coming there since its opening as well, so every time we were there i just couldnt get enough of watching around... if only i had been brave enough to take pictures from the inside, had asked people for portraits... but well, i didnt... (here is the last burger i had there).
according to this article, at its top days, the hilltop employed 50 cooks, 180 waiters and served 5000 meals a day. when we were there, it was usually not too busy (except the one time we took someone there and had to wait over an hour). this picture was during our last drive on route 1, we had just had to bring our couch to the dump and i was frantically photographing all that crazy american stuff on route 1 one more time... for us foreigners, this was really a typical american place, like we see in the movies, and if we were ever to visit boston again, it would be a place to go back to. but.... they are closing october 20th already!! i wonder what will happen to it. i hope at least the cactus will stay.... (and they should make a museum out of the place!!)
here you can see a video about the closing (they interview 2 guests inside the restaurant)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Giant man

just like the last photo, this one is taken in the province flevoland. this is at the waters edge, and from many points you could see this sculpture. its truly gigantic; 26 metres tall (85ft), weighing 60.000 kilos. officially its called exposure and was made by antony gormley. but "the crouching man", or even "the shitting man" is what most people say when referring to this piece.
i found an interesting article that told me more about the background of the sculpture. it took 6 years to complete and was revealed in 2010. it is at the waters edge, right where the dykes are to stop the water and where the new land (flevoland) begins. to make it, the artist first cast himself in plaster in this crouching position. then this solid form was translated into a geometrical one using special software. all the metal was placed such, that every single piece was necessary for the construction, and they come together in nodal points like the heart, brain, etc.... his idea was that from afar you can clearly see the human shape, but the closer you get, the more abstract it becomes...
unfortunately, the sky was really grey when we were there, i think it would be really cool to see this sculpture on a brighter day. i didnt know whether we were allowed to walk up to it, there was a road block from where i took the picture... but maybe walking was permitted...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wind turbines

i noticed that the netherlands has a lot of these wind turbines. often i dont really think they fit the landscape, but here it was sort of ok. this is in the province of flevoland, the province with the highest number of wind turbines. wind power is one of the renewable energy sources. building such "wind farms", as they call them, is quite expensive! a wind farm built out on the sea in 2008 cost over 500 million euros (but sufficient to power 125,000 homes).....

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dutch desert!!

no, not a dutch dessert... but a desert! there actually is some desert in the netherlands and we walked through it on wednesday during our little getaway. its about 14 square miles and aside from sand, there is quite some vegetation at some places, as you can see here! usually this area is called the Loonse and Drunense dunes, but dunes we have enough, so i think its more impressive to call it a desert :) in the tiny netherlands...... on summer days it can really get hot here (especially for the dutch).
we had a really pretty and oh so quiet walk, so very nice. even though it was october, it was warm enough to walk without a jacket, a real treat. the wind makes sure this landscape is changing continuously. we didnt see too many people, only one other couple. they were exhausted after trudging through the sand. it was indeed pretty tiring, but for us it was fine..., although the lady mentioned that we had it easier as we brought our cameras; a nice excuse to stop every now and then to catch your breath (eehhm, to take a picture..).

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hoop rolling!!

sorry for my absence.... this time i had a good reason... it was my birthday and we went exploring the netherlands a little bit! (we got a car! i do have to say; having a car in the netherlands is something completely different than having one in the usa. paying for parking literally EVERYWHERE is something we kind of hadnt taken into account). 
first stop was castle loevestein, above, which was built between 1357 and 1397. especially after having lived in the US, seeing that buildings can be THAT old is really impressive to me... unfortunately, it turned out to be closed from october onwards (then only open during weekends. grrr). at least the hoops were still there, so i tried to play the game; not easy at all! (wikipedia tells me the ancient greeks already played this game....).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Details, details....

recently i wrote that you always have to lock your bike to something immovable, and in addition, you always have to lock your front wheel to the frame. here you can see what happens when you forgot that little detail; they take your bike without the front wheel.... all the other bikes are locked properly, as you see. unfortunately, you see this rather often. of course it is sad that you have to lock your bike with at least 2 locks in the first place, but thats just another detail....
tim has some days off since he worked crazy hours during the weekend. so that was nice... we went to 2 photography museums today, both on the same canal. the above we saw while walking from one museum to the other. the exhibits in both museums were a bit disappointing, but so were my own pictures...
this is one for theme day! to see the other participants, go here!