Thursday, May 31, 2012

Odds + Ends {Summer's Almost Here!}

Now that the sun is shining bright, life suddenly seems busier.
Maybe that just comes along with getting settled back here in Amsterdam?
Either way, there's suddenly so much more to do with extra hours of light and warmth.
Here's a conglomerate of things I'm happily anticipating this summer...
Our excessive boat rides will get their own post soon enough!

Sipping drinks on a sunny terrace with friends...
New favorite: Hanneke's Boom.
Old favorite: Brouwerij 't Ij

Cycling to outdoor movies...
I won (7!) free tickets for a secret premier of Moonrise Kingdom, the new Wes Anderson film.
 We cycled deep into the Amsterdamse Bos
and watched this fantastic tale unfold under the stars.
There were free whiskey-gingers too. Yup, just as magical as it sounds.
We plan to see more outdoor movies although, that evening is sure hard to beat!

Picnics + Cooking Outdoors
In solitude or with friends, enjoying a great meal outdoors is simply so pleasant.
The Dutch love these perfect-for-a-picnic-mini-one-time-use-grills,
I'm dying to try cooking up some veggie kebabs with one!

Stumbling upon funny + wacky moments...
Is it just me, or do you also begin to notice even more odd, random stuff happening in the summertime? Perhaps because everyone is excited to shake off the spring hibernation and head outside. Lately, I've spotted some funny scenes, include kids paddling a motor-less boat with brooms (and other odd utensils) Ha! And a Vondelpark crowd watching the Ice Man take four-minute dunk in a bathtub of ice. Weird!

After reading this post it's more than obvious that I prefer to read, eat, snooze
and generally do everything outside in the sun.
What can I say? Growing up in has Florida spoiled me!
No wonder people get sunshine crazy over here,
after a few days of gorgeous sun this morning it's back to overcast, grey skies.
On a beautiful morning even the bike lane traffic is heavier!

Tell me, what are you looking forward to this summer?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Exciting News Just In Time For Summer...

Fact: We spent all of for all of our three-day weekend out in the fresh air
with the sun blazing bright. 
Fact: My Dutchman has been wanting a boat of his own for a loooong time.

Yesterday afternoon, I was reading in the park, waiting for friends 
and apparently, my Dutchman perused a boat on his way to join me... 
then made up his mind to buy it, right then and here! 
Surprise! We have a boat! 
 An hour later, friends and drinks were rounded up and we set off for an afternoon ride...

Needless to say, I think he was especially inspired after spending the last two days enjoying our swimsuits and sunshine while borrowing a friend's boat.
We kept passing boats for sale, which was really just a big tease.
All together, we spent three afternoons floating in the sunshine,
wandering through Amsterdam's canals, bobbing along the Amstel River
and soaking up every drop of sun with family and friends.
Good thing we did, since this morning looks overcast with rain on the horizon, bummer.

Here are a few photos I snapped from our weekend of boating, enjoy!

Isn't it funny how sitting on a boat- in the sun- for three days feels exhausting once it's over?
I wanted this long weekend to last forever!


 Although there's some some fixing up to do, this purchase comes just in time for summer!
(which pass by too quickly here in Holland)
I can't wait for all the floaty-boaty parties we can enjoy with friends this season, hoera!
What are you looking forward to this summer?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weekend Wanderings: Visiting Friesland

My Dutchman and I took advantage of the four-day weekend and rode the train
a few hours north to the province of Friesland.
Now that the weather is warming up we want to explore more areas of The Netherlands
plus, neither of us had visited Friesland for a while.
In the 90's I drove around the country side with my mom to look up our relatives! 

 For this trip, we did a little bit of planning and then left the rest up to chance discoveries. Fortunately, we had great weather (!) and just took it easy with some of our favorite things like visiting museums, wandering odd alleys, taking boat rides, drinking beers along the canal and picnicking in the park.

Here area few snapshots from our visit, enjoy!


Did you know...
Leeuwarden: province's capital city with a charming historic city center
Friesian: the unique local language spoken in this area
(sadly, we didn't hear much spoken during our visit)
Elfstedentocht: a rarely occurring ice skaing race through Frisian cities
 (first all the canals freeze must freeze!)
3 hours: approximate travel time from Amsterdam -->Leeuwarden (you pass a lot of cows and sheep)
Leeuw: Dutch for lion (or liuw in Frisian)


I'll share more about the neat places we visited in Leeuwarden later this week.
I've spent the last few afternoons soaking up delicious rays of sunshine after work instead of coming home and blogging, over here the illusive sun can disappear as quickly as it arrived so it's always best to enjoy while it lasts.

Now, I'm heading off for a leisurely bike ride and our first book club meeting! Hooray!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Weekend Wanderings: French Countryside Wedding

Following the weekend of Queen's Day madness, I joined my Dutchman 
and a few of his life long friends for a six hour drive to France...

Our road trip was filled with the usual laughs, songs and mindless snacking. As expected, the six hour drive was filled with conversation so, there were more than enough moments 
where I desperately tried to keep up with the Dutch. 
Does anyone else out there get confused and think there's a pause in the conversation 
when really there wasn't? It's so embarrassing! 

When it comes to speaking Dutch my translations are sometimes spot on but later on, 
I'll comprehend another comment completely backwards! 
Knowing I have something clever or interesting to say in English 
while lacking the comprehension to say in what I mean in Dutch becomes unbelievably frustrating.

Fortunately, I'm not the only foreign girl in their close-knit group and everyone is very understanding of the situation but that doesn't always make fitting in feel any easier. 
Often, I wish my timing and jokes could easily transcend cross-culturally. Oh well, it all takes time. Expat friends, I'm sure you've felt this way too sometimes, right??

(End rant) Let's see some pretty pictures of France now...

We passed countless fields of these bright yellow flowers. Any idea what they're full of? 
My Dutchman says they're flax (as in the oil). I'm not completely sure but aren't they lovely?

The friends of my Dutchman live in an adorable, tiny French village located a few hours south of Paris. You won't be surprised when I mention that we got lost more than once on our way. 
The final arrival paid off, I couldn't believe how darling their village was! 
Of course, I felt compelled to share a few photos of this charming, rustic scene...

The couple was married in the villages historic city hall, with a quick, sweet civil ceremony.
Later, the wedding party headed to a quaint country estate for dinner and dancing.
I'm not sure if this is typical for French weddings but
there were quite a lot of jokes, skits and songs for and about the couple.
At times the scene felt like a bit of a roast, so it's really a shame I could hardly understand anything! Finally, we got the dance party started and didn't retire until sunrise
when we crashed in tents set up in the garden.
After a day of rain and hail, this cold, muddy experience was hardly romantic.
Good thing our drive home took us through a few more darling villages
 which somewhat distracted from my sore feet and neck cramps.

Have you taken any road trips lately?
I'd love to hear any new suggestions for places to visit via Amsterdam.
I'm definitely more of a 'city girl' but there's something special about enjoying peace and quiet in country side. Next time we visit France I hope there's at least a tiny bit of time left for Paris since I haven't visited in what feels like forever! 

Here in Holland we have a four-day weekend, I'm looking forward to exploring somewhere new with my Dutchman. What are your plans? Happy weekend!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Around Amsterdam: Waterlooplein Flea Market

A stone's throw away from the Amstel River, The Waterlooplein Flea Market is a great spot for locals and visitors alike. This bustling market square was officially created in the 1880's and is located in the historic Jewish quarter with the famous Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Historical Museum just across the street.

I visit this area frequently to grab stamps at the post office, meet friends for bagels + coffee or stock up at the grocery store nearby. Aside from fulfilling daily errands, I like to check out this market because it  reminds me of a giant thrift store full of treasures like used books, bright, funky Cosby sweaters, leather boots, vintage style jewelry and rainbow colors of spray paint.

The used book stalls are one of my favorite areas to peruse. I happily spotted baskets of English books to rummage through and picked out a stack for myself along with a historic photo album about the Queen Juliana's coronation for my Dutchman. I suppose now I can postpone getting a library card!


We grabbed up a few veggie loompias and roamed the market, spotting antique postcards, gemstones, records and old cameras (wish I could tell if they worked or not!), embellished leather purses, old coins, collectable stamps, military inspired fashion and lots of other random odds and ends. 

Every visit brings a surprise of unique items. I'm looking forward to picking out a few antique-replica posters next time I pop in, they'll add some style to our currently plain kitchen walls! 

Have you ever stopped by the Waterlooplein Market or any other antique emporiums around town? 

Waterlooplein Flea Market
Monday-Saturday 9-18h
Trams 9, 14 + Metro 51, 53, 54
Exit: Waterlooplein (near City Hall)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dinner Date at Vapiano

It was great that my mom was able to stick around after Queen's Day! We spent the following evening shopping along the Utrechtestraat, walking along the Amstel River and enjoying dinner together at Vapiano. Located just next door to the public library, this self service spot bakes up pizzas, pastas and fresh salads to order. Patrons simply swipe a small plastic card every time another item is added to their tray and pay on their exit. Although it's a self serve restaurant the our food didn't seem to arrive any faster than any other pizza place. However, their tasty pizzas are one of my favorite in town!


Mama and I sat down to chat about our Queen's Day (mis)adventures over some tasty pizzas and oranginas. They also have full bar if you like booze with your pizza... although a glass of wine was the last thing on my mind while recovering from the Queen's Day madness.

The restaurant is laid out with tall windows which provided a perfect view of the water. It's too bad the weather grey and drizzly and blocked our view. Due to the niet zo leuk  forecast we decided to stick around for an after dinner drink- hot chocolate met slagroom, one of our mutual favorites. I helped myself to a heaping handful of gummy bears on the way out, it's rare to find anything free in this city!

It's always great to have her visit but never, ever easy to say, 'good-bye'. Yup, I'm twenty-six and proud to say I always miss my mama, her hugs are the best! (Bonus: she paid for dinner, thanks mom!)

Oosterdokseiland 145 
(exactly next to the public library!)

PS. You can find some of my other favorite places to eat in Amsterdam right here. Anything you think I should add to the list? Let me know!