Friday, January 31, 2014

While running!

so... last friday we left for france in the evening, and arrived at tims parents somewhere around 3 in the night after an 8+ hour drive..... (beehhh! it was boring and dark). we had brought our running shoes, so on sunday we decided to go for a run.... whereas in the usa i found running outside much more difficult than on a treadmill, i discovered in the netherlands that running outside is actually easier. in france i realized whats the obvious reason for this difference; the netherlands is flat! in amsterdam we never have to run up any hill. its flat, flat and flat... in france it wasnt flat at all.... pfew, that was not easy! whereas i felt i was cheating when running downhill, it was hard not to just give up when running uphill. but.. the views were stunning and the silence amazing.... as you can see above (actually taken while driving, not running!)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

La photographie

so... we were in france! we had always wanted to see where photography was invented, in 1822... :D no, actually its not too far from where tims parents live and i certainly did not possess active knowledge as to where and when photography was invented. but now i do, and so do you!!
along the road is this giant plaque to make everyone aware that in the tiny french village of Chalon-sur-Saone mister nicephore niepce took the first photogravure etching, in 1822. this was the first important step for the development of photography. close to this place there is a museum, but we did not visit it (maybe next time?).
nicephore niepce (such a funny name) was an inventor of all sorts; together with his brother he also conceived, created and developed the worlds first internal combustion engine. despite this, he died a poor man; his brother spent all the money and there was not even enough money to pay for his funeral and grave. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wheres that?!

sorry for my absence.. we unexpectedly went on a little trip. we left on friday evening and just returned today. the above picture i took this morning, while driving. any idea where it might be..?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Leaning forward

in amsterdam (but also in the older parts of other dutch cities), you see a lot of houses like above. leaning forward. sometimes they almost look as if they are about to topple over, on top of you while you are watching, wondering what happened....?
interesting thing is, its not because they are old and in their age started to tilt forward and forward, every year a little bit more (although sometimes that actually is the case). no, its because the dutch did it on purpose. practical as they are... staircases are often very steep and narrow, so often stuff was moved into and out of the house through the windows. on top of most old houses is a hook, so that you can attach a rope and pull stuff up to the desired floor (if you look carefully, you can see the hooks on the top of the house above). the tilt now comes in handy; there is less chance that the lower levels get damaged by the dangling stuff thats being pulled up. another reason is possibly that the facade of the house is protected (at least a little) from rain when its built like this. finally, its thought that it was done on purpose because the top of the house was usually the most ornamented. by building the house tilted forward a little, more emphasis was put on that piece of art.... and ofcourse, building houses like this comes with another example; each upper floor has a little more space, if even just an inch!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dutch people..

i didnt know what photo to post, so i was just going through tims old photos... then i saw this one again. hahahaha! this was in a museum, where they had a wall with this enormous picture of all typical dutch people... like the lady above. and me of course.... :P

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Free flowers!!

yesterday, there were free (!!) tulips available on the dam square in amsterdam. last year, while still in boston, i had seen the pictures on biebkriebels blog (here), so when i read this event was coming up again, i wanted to see it for myself! it marks the start of the tulip season; tulips are now available everywhere again, and it is a way for the florists to promote the tulip (and flowers in general). the girl with the orange jacket was with the organization of the event. her jacket says; "its time for tulips again!"
when we arrived, the event had been going on for 2 hours or so. i was a bit surprised and disappointed that the flower-pick-area was fenced off (but maybe without the fences it would be totally uncontrollable?), and i also didnt see the "artwork"; the tulips were placed in a pattern so that from above it looked like a particular painting. i think we were too late; many tulips had been plucked already! in total there were some 200,000 free to pick for anyone who was willing to stand in line a little. thats what we did; we both got a plastic bag and were free to pick as many tulips as we liked! we both filled our bags and that was more than enough (now at home we have 2 full vases, its so pretty!!), but some asked for a second bag or brought big bags themselves; i really wondered what those people were going to do with SO many flowers... they came with the bulbs still attached to them, so i am now in the process of drying the bulbs. then i have to wash them and get all the green and roots off and then they can be planted later this year (i had to look all that up, i had no clue!). so... i hope my mom wants some bulbs, as we dont have a garden. apparently, most tulips need to be taken out of the ground each year after flowering, dried, cleaned and kept till its time to plant them again...

Friday, January 17, 2014

BOLO boost

as i was writing this post yesterday i got so bored by it, that i forgot to post it! its still boring, but now i post it anyways... :D
see the grey in this picture? thats the dutch weather. mix it with some wind and lots of rain.... its not cold, but neither is it pleasant. it rained a lot today, just as it did yesterday, and i think the day before that...
i took this picture for the pink poster. it says "know that BOLO is more and more becoming SOHO", indicating that BOLO (the neighborhood that we live in, its an abbreviation for bos en lommer, as i wrote previously) is becoming a cool place to be/live, just like SOHO in new york. i can imagine it once happening, but not yet.... in our street they are renovating several old apartment blocks and selling them for too muchh money; previously they were cheap, badly maintained, crappy apartments (just like ours). so yes, i guess they do that to try and turn it a bit into SOHO here. this poster is for the local television station "AT5", apparently they are not doing well and need more viewers. we havent had a tv in almost 4 years now, but i actually liked to watch the local amsterdam news. when looking up more about this particular advertisement, i stumbled upon a blog that discusses the lower "sentence"; "weet je stad". translated literally, it says "know your city". i guess i did just that and didnt think about the bad dutch. in dutch its not a sentence at all, indeed! it should be "ken je stad". now, there is also a blog called "bolo boost", which is reporting about anything cool/interesting etc happening in our neighborhood.
now, i know nothing about the yellow ad. its something about parking and "man, go bricken". i have no clue what "bricken" is, and im sure this post would be even more boring if i would go and find out....

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Anonymous artist...

im very bad at street names, so i wouldnt be able to tell you where exactly i took this picture, but its in amsterdam.. :) i have to say, one of the reasons (among others) i am taking less pictures now, is because im usually riding a bike when i see something.... either its too busy to just stop, or im just too lazy, or we go too fast and i realize i saw something interesting when we passed it already. but here it was january 1st, there werent too many people on the street and we decided to finally stop. i had seen this sculpture before and i like it a lot! people call it "man with violin case", or "man who tries to catch line 10". google told me a lot about the sculpture. for example, it was black (or very dark blue) originally. then, in 1989  it was suddenly gone. the neighborhood had no clue what happened to it, and thought it was stolen. one day it came back; blue. in need of a touch up again, it was removed in 2011, and came back another shade of blue. people protested and it came back blue as above.
yet... the most interesting about this sculpture, is that the general public does not know the sculptor! in 1982 it just appeared, placed there during the night. between 1989 and 1995, 5 other sculptures were placed in various places in amsterdam. all during the night; the following morning they were just there. some speculated it was our former queen, but the municipality of amsterdam received these sculptures as a gift, provided that the artist remains anonymous..... allegedly, the sculptor is a medical doctor by day and an anonymous artist by night... :) how cool is that?! i should find the other sculptures as well... when i do, i will surely post them here.... (unless im on a bike and too lazy to stop....)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dutch cheese

something i have been enjoying a lot since we are back in the netherlands; dutch cheese. so goooooodddd!!! we really didnt eat a lot of good cheese in the usa, i have to say..... above you see the big yellow cheeses... in some fancy shop in amsterdam for tourists.... (i dont think this shop was there 3 years ago, but i could be wrong. taken back in december as you can see by the decorations).
other things i enjoy; "drop" (liquorice) and cookies! we eat way too many cookies... i very well remember the first time i bought some cookies in the usa (nearly 10 years ago now, how weird is that!). when trying them, i thought there was something wrong with them. probably i had bought a pack that wasnt sealed properly. so the next time in the supermarket i got cookies again. and then i realized that that was probably how they were supposed to be; soft and chewy! it was the weirdest thing to me, and i never really got to like american cookies. dutch cookies are hard and crunchy! 
ah, we enjoy croissants too, and lots of other dough-stuff. like cheese in puff pastry.... hmmmm, and properly fried fries... its a miracle i actually lost some weight since being back..... :D

Monday, January 13, 2014

Me & bridge

it took me forever to remember the name of this park!! but now i do... its zion national park. we were there last year january and it was beautiful. it was a little chilly but not too bad. unfortunately, the hike we had planned didnt happen as halfway the road was closed due to giant icicles that might, or might not, fall off... so we just wandered around a little. and of course, only when we discovered the real cool part, it was time to move on as we still had quite a drive ahead of us. 
the park was really beautiful, but at this point in our trip we kind of were saturated. we had seen so much desert, beautiful nature, the grand canyon, the caves in pages (oops, i also forgot the name of that right now), etc etc. moreover, i couldnt get the pictures right; it was so much prettier in reality than on my camera and... well... we both sort of had it with all that beautiful stuff.... hard to imagine now but i very well remember that we both felt like that. after this, we drove on to las vegas and we were sort of happy to just be surrounded by ugliness for a change, and not having to ooh and aah at anything.... :D
and now? i want to go there again! i want to drive those roads, i want to see it all again..... 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Most popular

apparently, google maps panoramio (I had never heard of that before), knows that in Amsterdam, this sculpture is one of the most photographed places. also the museum behind it, and the dam square are popular locations to photograph. the red light district not so much, because you are not allowed to take pictures there (i didnt know that that was not allowed, wonder how they enforce that? and can they really ban photography in an entire section of the city?).
on January 1st, the I Amsterdam was indeed rather busy. mostly with people climbing onto it, posing for pictures. the guy on the "T" remained there for quite a while, just standing still like that, which was quite funny to watch...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Subway station

this is the subway station not too far from our house. nothing special, as you can see... here people were getting a little agitated, as the train didnt show up, and we were just waiting over 15 minutes without any notification.... amterdam subway system is not much of a subway, actually. its mostly aboveground! compared to boston, theres a lot more graffiti along the tracks of the subway and trains. in boston i liked that all stations were color coded corresponding to the color of the line (so all stations of the orange line had orange signage and so on, and the trains as well). here the lines have numbers and i actually dont know the numbers (but just like in boston, we have only a few lines), and its only since recently that i can actively remember the name of our stop.....
as you can see, it was a little sunny today. jaaayy! and i still didnt take any pictures..... (the above was taken by tim and was more chosen because it was taken today than of its beauty... :) )

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Skating around

just a few days ago i showed you this picture with the white bridge. and the above picture is taken from that bridge. doesnt it look lovely? the museum in the background, the I Amsterdam sculpture in front of that, and lots of people having old dutch fun.... i know biebkriebels and sccollections already showed similar (or the same!) pictures, but it was just too nice a view not to post it.... (good tim doesnt have a blog... ;) ). sccollections compares it with the old dutch paintings of people skating, and shows one for comparison. it was also the first thing this reminded me of.
the weather currently is a little confused! its almost springlike. when we went for a run on monday it was much much warmer than we anticipated. we could have left the running caps at home for sure, and a short sleeved shirt would have been better too.... but, temperatures are expected to drop coming week and we might even get some snow.... (i will believe that when it happens...)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Speed limit

this is a picture i took while we still had a car....on many highways in the netherlands the speed limit depends on the time of day, like above. here you can go no faster than 100 km/hr between 6 in the morning and 7 in the evening. after that time you can go 120 km/hr (i think). i think it makes driving a bit more complicated than it already is. theres a stretch of road close to our house where you can go 100 before 7pm and 80 after (or the other way around, i never can remember, but its indicated on the traffic signs. however, there is no clock underneath that sign! we were using the car of tims parents this weekend and only when everyone around us was going faster than we did, did we remember that the clock in the car was off by 5 minutes (it was around 7). tim has been looking for cars ever since he sold ours! we checked out 2 of them this weekend. the first one was just not interesting, the second one had "a slight red bull smell" the seller said. when we took it for a test drive, that slight smell turned out to be red bull mixed with dirty dog. it was so horrible that we drove just a few hundred meters with the windows open as far as possible. just thinking about it makes me cringe again...
and well, so much for posting everyday in 2014! i just missed 3 days! no excuses, just laziness and that horrible dog smell that knocked me out... ;)

Friday, January 3, 2014

In Utrecht

this is in utrecht, the 4th biggest city of the netherlands, where i used to live before moving to boston. i have to admit i like utrecht better than amsterdam. its smaller, less crowded, certainly less tourists (but more students, or so it seems). it has canals too, of course... :) in the back you see the dom tower, long the tallest building in the city. and as you can see, we have mc donalds in the netherlands as well! downstairs are a lot of restaurants and bars, and in summer those terraces are filled with tables (if the weather is any good), so that you can sit outside.
and while the east coast of the us is in a snowstorm right now, we have some of the warmest temperatures for this time of the year since a very long time! yet, its not pleasant out; quite some rain and lots of wind. beeeeehhhhhh!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Quite different!

remember that picture i showed of the museum square back in september?! probably not :), so check it out here. now... the above picture i took from the same spot! thats quite a difference, no?! the pond is now a skating rink, and they built a typical dutch bridge for spectators to oversee it all. its by far not cold enough to have the pond frozen naturally, by the way... but it was still pretty chilly while we were there yesterday. it was very crowded! there was quite a line for getting into the skating rink.
biking was a little less fun. all the biking paths were scattered with broken glass. apparently celebrating the new year goes together with littering the streets and braking lots of bottles. it was a miracle my tires didnt get pierced! today on the news they reported that a lot of damage was done during new years eve (be it by fireworks or just vandalism in general), many cars got burned out and also a lot of people got hurt by fireworks. i think at least 10 people got blind on one eye, some lost their hand (or parts of it), and 1 person died. so... i really wouldnt mind if they would just forbid the use of fireworks, but im not sure this will happen anytime soon...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Jan1st 2013

one year ago, on jan 1st 2013, we visited the grand canyon. it was cold. it was sunny. but really very cold. it was slippery (tim fell a few times, making me even more uncomfortable, standing there without a safety railing. but all for the picture, right?! now im just wondering what on earth i was wearing, but well...). most importantly, it was absolutely stunning. it was so impressive staring into these depths..... the entire roadtrip was amazing. just like the one we made the year before, when we spent new year in miami, after having driven through tennessee, mississippi, louisiana and florida. or our last trip, on the usa west coast.... 
this year we kept it simple, being back in the netherlands we stayed home on new years eve. tim had to work and came home only well after 8pm. we had dinner, watched some netflix (we still watch the american one), and waited till midnight. our lovely (not really) neighbours shot some fireworks from their balcony right underneath ours and kept me awake most of the night. really, aside from that, we had a nice evening! today, the first day of 2014 no grand canyon, but we did bike into amsterdam. visited a museum and took some pictures in the city. not too bad at all. but ok, a road trip would have been better... :)
so... thats my photo of the year for this months theme day!