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...?).

Monday, April 28, 2014

Little kings...

another picture from kings day! i totally forgot to post yesterday. but well, now you see it today. a street in amsterdam, close to the vondelpark, a large park near the center of amsterdam (named after the dutch author joost van den vondel). its a very pretty park, always busy with people biking, lots and lots of people jogging (we recently did that for the first time there and it is indeed nice, but i would only do it when its not crowded), people bbqing when the weather allows, children playing... during kings day its filled with people selling their stuff.
in the photo above i liked the tiny house at the end, it looks a little out of place, next to the other house blocks. most houses in amsterdam are 4 stories high. blocks and blocks, all slightly different in design and placement etc you can see throughout amsterdam (we live in a less fancy version of one, for example). i think they are almost always 4 stories high as most of them were built in a time when there were no elevators in apartment blocks yet. climbing up 4 stairs is the absolute maximum to climb. we live at the 4th floor ourselves (in the usa you would call it the 5th floor, btw), and am always totally done after the 4 stairs. especially with lots of groceries. no matter how much i go to the gym, or how long i run, bike or swim, i am panting after climbing up 4 stairs... as i am pretty average, i guess this goes for most people... ;)
ah, and do you see all the flags? unlike in the usa, the flag is not displayed on a daily basis. only during certain events the dutch are truly patriotic (kings day, soccer tournaments, etc..).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

King's day!

since last year we have a king, and so the traditional queen's day is now renamed king's day (the dutch havent had a king since 1890...!). its also moved from april 30 to april 27 (the birthday of our current king). but... since april 27 is on a sunday this year, we had kings day today; the 26th... complicated, no?
but the day itself isnt complicated at all. you should wear at least something orange (as this is the dutch royal color. the royals are named "van oranje", which literally means "from orange"), you go out and have fun! if it falls on a weekday, it means the day is off (for most people; shops are also mostly closed or only open half days). the day is spent outside; kids (mostly, but some adults too) put all the stuff they dont want anymore on a blanket in the park, and other dutch in need of this crap buy it for not too much money (mostly). many kids do tricks, or play an instrument, or sing songs like you see above, and hope to get some money. its all fun when the weather is nice.... :)
well, the weather wasnt bad at all! and this was my first kings day since a loooong time. we bought some crap from people who didnt want it anymore, walked around a lot, were dressed in orange, and saw the fireworks ending all the festivities!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ladies only

the first stop on the german highway (when we went for a little getaway last month) had 2 parking spots that were for women only (it says "women's parking place. please keep these 2 spots free"). tim didnt read and put the car right in the second one... and had to repark because i said so.... here he tried to pose as a lady with my shades on. but well....
wikipedia tells me its a typical german thing (although in the netherlands they have them too; but i never saw them). its so that women who are alone have the best lit places and dont have to walk too far at night when its scary out. many parking garages have some right near the exit, or placed such that they are in sight of the security guys....
here in the netherlands we get more and more parking spots that are only for electrical cars (they are charging points at the same time). in our street 2 spots have been sacrificed for that. it made parking even harder for those non-electrical drivers. but i must say, they are often used.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cattle guard?!

when we biked into the amsterdamse bos, we passed a cattle guard. while tim was saying that surely that was of no use, "a cattle guard?!! really? here?! what for?", we saw why.... we saw 2 of these scottish highlander cows, right along the biking path. look at the horns!! they are roaming around freely in a part of the forest, and you can just bike, hike or run along them. dogs are allowed too, but should be on a leash.
tim took this picture as i was too slow getting my camera out. i do not want to bike with my bag around me, or in the basket in front of my bike as the chances of being robbed are just too real, unfortunately (just this weekend it happened to a 19 year old girl biking at night in our neighborhood when 2 guys on a scooter drove up to her, pulled her bag off her and sped away).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Amsterdamse bos

sunday late afternoon the weather was so nice, that we went biking a bit. we biked to the amsterdamse bos (i.e. the amsterdam forest), not too far from our place. i had expected it to be very crowded, as the park next to our house was, but it wasnt. there were just a few people, so we choose a nice spot along the water. this forest is huge, and there are many trails for biking, running or hiking. theres a lot of rowing on the water. and apparently you can swim here as the water is very clean (but it didnt look too inviting to me, and for that its anyways still too cold). its not too far from the airport, so you can see many planes taking off. this year the park exists 80 years! it looks all very natural, but it was entirely manmade 80 years ago. the first part of the park opened in 1937, and in 1964 it was completed. its located in an especially created polder, 4 metres below sea level. ah, and something i didnt expect; its 3 times bigger than the new york central park!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Marathon day

today its marathon day in boston again. while writing this its 6 in the morning there, but im sure many runners are up already... 36,000 people will run the marathon this year, and many spectators are expected. security is high, many additional cameras have been installed along the course, and you cannot take big backpacks with you. cnn tells me that "containers with more than 1 liter of liquid, costumes covering the face, and bulky clothes such as vests with pockets won't be allowed".
im amazed by how many people are able to run a marathon, or even a half..., but there are far more people who cannot. many are not even interested, of course. i never used to be interested in sports, either. i hated gym classes at school and used every trick and excuse not having to  participate (other than gymnastics, i ofcourse never skipped class, i was far too well-behaved for that). during the last year of my PhD i started swimming before work. when the pool closed for the season, i felt the urge to continue sports to my surprise, and i decided i could just run around a lake not too far from my apartment. now that i was a regular swimmer, i surely could run, right?! well, of course not (duh!!), it turned out. the next day i could hardly walk...... exit running!
i picked up running again in boston, thanks to the gym at our fancy apartment complex (and out of necessity, in the netherlands our main mode of transportation was biking, in boston it was the subway, and the car during the weekends).  but... i continue to be a lousy runner. i continue doing it, as i continue to hope to improve myself, but i hardly do. after each run i think; well, perhaps NEXT time it will be better?! perhaps next time i can try interval training? maybe next time i can try to run faster? but each time i am glad i can just keep up the pace i am running, and that i can run at all... and maybe i should just be satisfied with that....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

i never decorated our apartment for Easter, but this year i did a bit, as you can see. we also had some chocolate eggs, but we ate them all before easter arrived. then i didnt want to buy new ones, as im sure they are cheaper after easter (and we really dont need more chocolate anyways).
yesterday the weather was amazing again, and i spent some time in the sun on the balcony. excellent! and i think today will be even better.... jaayy!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Morning rainbow

this was early morning, yesterday. it was about to rain, or probably already raining back there... but in reaity the rainbow looked better, ofcourse....
on either side of the apartment are similar apartmet blocks. when i took the photo, i saw the guy opposite from us busy in the kitchen. i hope he didnt think i was taking a picture of him! (but it prevented me from taking more pics...). on the other side we have the living room and some big windows. the apartment straight across from us is for sale, and the other weekend it had "open house", so people were coming on and off to check it out (its old and overpriced, not in the best neighborhood. but... in amsterdam and supposedly this neighborhood is "up and coming"). we were having lunch and i thought they could not really see us as the blinds were down. but... 2 girls started waving frantically, when we were watching them all.... good to know!
in our apartment in boston we never closed the blinds. our apartment was on a corner (and the windows, espcially in the bedroom, a bit smaller); no other apartments in sight. i definitely liked that better..... i do have to admit its fun to study your neighbors, from many i more or less know their habits when at home (or at least some of them), even though i have no clue who they are or what they do, and never see them on the street or something!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Flower ladies

i just couldnt resist..... 
many of the tourists (especially the ladies) were almost diving into the tulips, and wanted to be photographed like you see above, surrounded by an ocean of tulips. somehow i didnt have this desire myself..... i also wouldnt know what to do with such a photo of myself.... :P
others had cameras on long sticks and were swirling around between the flowers, while taking pictures of themselves.... yep, at some point i was more fascinated by the people than the flowers.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dutch tulips!!

ever since we are back in the netherlands, i have been wanting to go to the flower fields. as we hardly had any winter, and quite some warm days in march and april, the flowers are blooming a bit sooner than planned. to see flowers, you can of course visit the "keukenhof", the largest flower garden in the world. i guess thats something most dutch never did (at least i didnt). each year its only open for 8 weeks, and about 100.000 people visit it each week (!!). we are still dutch, so an entrance fee of 15 euros (about 21 dollars) is too much if you can just walk along a sea of flowers for free.....
here, we probably were the only dutch, and also the only ones that did not enter the flower beds. the sign was so cute, how could you disobey that?! there were so many fields, and just this one tiny sign at the start....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oooh, Boston!

a picture of the charles river, taken from the bridge going into boston (or cambridge if you go the other way). today the boston marathon bombings are one year ago.
for me it was just another day in boston. i dont even remember the weather. perhaps, probably, something like above. the lives of many others who were present at the marathon changed forever. just like last year, i dont know what to write as i do not feel its my place to write anything. 
so, well... i read that many books are released today commemorating what happened; one of them is reviewed here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

And again...

and dogs again!! this gives you a better idea of the enormity of the 2 dogs, and that its really quite cute, no?
first time i was biking in this park, just minding my own business, i thought i had imagined it. really??! 2 giant dogs...? until i looked again and they were really there......

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Another dog

to continue with "dog art"..... heres another dog. we saw it in the museum in groningen, all the way up in the north of the netherlands......
2 artists were involved in this artwork, and it is meant as a parody on icons of american culture (in this case the hot dog). there were other artworks as well, one had something to do with plastic surgery. and another.... eehmmmm, ah, cars, i think. but this sort of sofa was the most bizarre. but so shiny and purple! i had to take a picture.....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Another break

whoopsie,... suddenly i again didnt post for over a week.... i even missed the 4th anniversary of this blog!! (as did everyone else... ;) ).
soooo.... heres another picture (by now the trees are a bit greener)... its taken on the overpass of a park not too far from our house. this doggie (which is really quite big!) is overlooking the park, just like a similar, even bigger one is doing across the road. they are modelled after those dogs with wobbly heads you see on car dashboards sometimes.
this park is called the Rembrandtpark, and has many small paths, all leading to the main pedestrian/biking path going straight across the park. so... you can run around quite a bit, without taking the same path twice. on monday we went here for a run. when we left home the sky was already darkening and it was surely going to rain, we just didnt know when... halfway it started, and rain came pouring down like crazy! within minutes we were soaked, but like a few others runners, we just continued to run, instead of waiting it out underneath this bridge (like many bikers did). it could have been a tiny bit warmer, and the big raindrops in my eyes were a bit annoying at times. other than that, i actually really liked running in the rain...