Saturday, September 29, 2012

Brouwerij de Molen, Borefts Bier Festival 2012

Or, my "septemberfest" as it were.

Today I went with S and some of his friends to an annual beer festival- there were 16 breweries from 10 different countries.

When we arrived I was rewarded for being the first Canadian on site and given an extra beer token!

My favorite wound up being Mikkeller (Denmark) where I had 3 different fruit based beers- like SpontanFramboos (raspberry)

Sadly, by the time I got to the brewery of my choice they were out of EVERYTHING...

Some interesting flavours and names spotted:
Smokey and the Band-Aid
Earl Grey IPA
Lemon-lime Sonderho Hipster
Dobbel Dose
Honey I'm Home
Justin Blabaer

There were 2 locations... With breweries represented, and one of them was at a windmill. It was crisp but sunny. So very nice to sit out there and look up!

Friday, September 28, 2012

You can't see it- but trust me there are at least 13 silhouettes of windmills.
Windmills by moonlight- amazing!

Welcome to Rotterdam

I woke up this morning in a strange new place... Rotterdam is so unbelievably modern compared to anything I think I have ever seen in Europe. It's kind of bizarre!

This morning I took it easy and then made my way towards the tourist info-a goal for the day. Wandered around a bit- went to the bijenkorf here and had a familiar pear tart. Found my way back home and also managed to find the grocery store- the other goal for the day.

I'll be taking a lot of photos here I think. So far besides being modern, the architecture in a word: whackadoodle

Here are 2 apartment buildings near where I am staying

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book em!

Today is a day of travel- on my way shortly to Rotterdam... And just booked a few modes of transport for late October to do a bit of touring around and rende vous with someone from home. More details later!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Catch up

Today just catch up on the basics- email, laundry, cleaning and repacking for my small journey tomorrow.

Tonight we go to the family favorite local for a few thank-you drinks and then dinner at home. The time here has been so good- but onto phase 2!

Here is a picture from a neighboring doorway- way to drive the message home! Crazy eights....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hermitage Amsterdam

This morning, Tuesday Weesp market. Went for a quick walk around.

Then, afternoon, made my way into Amsterdam and stopped and had a snack- then tested my tram skilled again. I made my way to the Hermitage Amsterdam where they had an exhibit of the history of Impressionism from early days on to public acceptance in Paris. I am really trying to take the time to read as much as I can in the exhibits- and I can say, I'm learning a lot!

Starting next week the space will also house the Van Gogh top 75 pieces as their gallery is closing for renovations.

After I walked through another part of the city to my November apartment and was able to do a little viewing of the place: even nicer than the pictures! I can't wait to move in! After Miss R met me for a drink at a lovely place which is sure to become my new local.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I have never been to Harlem, but I have now been to Haarlem twice.

Last year we did a walking tour of the beautiful and old city center. Today I just went with the family who had some errands to do there- in the modern centre- the mall.

On the way home the wind kicked up very dramatically... And we drove over a bridge with a poor young gal nearly at a standstill on her bike. I wouldn't want to be her!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oh, and I stopped for ice cream on the way home in honour of the near end of the sunny and summer-ish days.

Only in holland: stroopwafel flavor

Noordermarkt and Noorderkerk

Today I met up with my new friend, Ms.BD who I met last week at COS while standing in the fitting room line. We met at the markets named above- wandered around and I followed her on her errands- like flower shopping! After we stopped and had a drink, then another- we really had a lot in common which you might never expect having met standing in a line at a shop- but then again we were both trying the same shirt so that does say something!

We hope to meet up again next week if time permits-

She is originally not from holland or Amsterdam so she had some interesting outsider stories and tips. Which is nice being one myself.

The sun came out which was lovely- but it was definitely fall. I think I have to start wearing the jacket. It's been a good run.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Derrick and Colette being Derrick and Colette


There is this place that has been in my mind for years, but I often wondered if I imagined it. When I was 20 and here with my mom I remember a peaceful green grass courtyard somewhere in the middle of this hectic, jumbled, leaning city.

I've looked for it again and again every time but can never place it. I've mentioned it to locals and family and people aren't sure. A bit like a secret garden.

Well, today while in the Amsterdam Museum I happened to look out a window at the end of a room and I saw without a doubt- a sliver of lush green grass. In a courtyard. But still on the other side of a wall and a gate and no clear way to get there.

I made my way out of the museum on the back side which seemed more like a dead end, but there, with it's own little brick gate was the entrance to my secret garden!

The Begijnhof was a small gated community for single catholic women who served the church and their community but were not nuns. They even had their own little church and were protected. People live there now- their own little oasis in a very busy city.

In some ways that space is like a bubble where you can't imagine it's changed much in the last 400 years. But then again, now I can tell you without a doubt- to find it: walk down the shopping street, turn right when you hit the FootLocker.

Amsterdam Museum

I have gone many times to the courtyard at the Amsterdam Museum but I had never actually gone inside. The court yard is this peaceful oasis off a very small and crowded shopping street- but today, with museumkart in hand, I went.

What a great show! There is an exhibit on (not clear if it's always or current) called "Amsterdam DNA" which documents the whole history of the city, basically starting in the year 1000. Did you know Amsterdam center is pretty much all built on wooden piles? Like a jetty? That it was basically 'ruled' by wealthy Catholics and not royalty for ages? There was of course, much much more but it was really interesting to see artifacts, maps, and history from so many different periods. The period where my great grandparents would have been my age now, and images etc from when my opa was born were particularly of interest: you could ride a bike though the city streets (old footage played as you cycled a bike). FYI he was born in 1899

This image in red was also interesting: at some point a pulley system was invented to save horses that accidentally fell into the canal. Other stats of other things saved.... 14 lucky cows. Probably on their way to another rather unlucky fate.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Made an unexpected run to Amsterdam today to meet ms. R (the friend of miss B's) for a lunch date and a visit to the OTHER side of the city. For some reason I always gravitate to the west side of the city... But the east... Well, all I ever knew about the east side was the red light district.

But... Surprize, the red light district is right between my November apartment and Dam square (city center). Ms. R at one time did tours for tourists in the red light district... So for the price of a scone and a latte she gave me an impromptu tour! I wanted to do that anyway as I don't really want to be awkward and nervous cutting through there (not that I plan on frequenting the neighbourhood) but there are also some cool stores, yummy restaurants and beautiful architecture there that would be missed otherwise.

And of course during the day it's a bit different- sure enough you can see all those ladies clear as day, but I have been there once at night and there was definitely a wilder, drunk, seedier vibe. A little intimidating. But today- it was nice.

After, we walked to another area where there are lots of beautiful shops- design, clothing, creative. It's so lovely having a tour guide!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Weesp looked so pretty tonight after the skies cleared

Rode the tram like a local

Made an earlier start than usual (still not that early once you sort out 4 cats) and went into Amsterdam.

I studied my map in advance and was pretty* sure I could take #2 or #5 through the city and to the Rijksmuseum... At least I knew what I was looking for, but was still pleasantly surprised when it appeared around a corner and I even got off at the right stop. I decided to buy a museum pass that's actually good for a year, but only about 10€ more than the 3 day tourist pass- the woman who sold it to me said I MUST go to at least 4 galleries! Don't worry! I will! It's good for something like 400 museums across the country.

I went to the gallery and enjoyed myself... But of course when it was time to leave it was pouring.

I went and had a bite to eat- funny thing: there were some pigeons hanging out inside the cafe. Just walking around... How they got in there I have no idea as there were no open windows and doors so heavy I had issues getting in and out myself. No one seemed too fussed! It's actually a really nice place! Really!

Wandered around. Had a latte on a patio- but it was the first time I felt cold... Fall is on the way...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not even at a Grade 2 level

Again, with the doorbell.

So I am not used to living in a house, with a front door, on a street that anyone can walk on up and ring the door bell and set me off in a panic. I seriously would not be answering the door at all, ever, except that I was told to expect the plumber to deal with a drippy tap, and a cheque coming from their bank that I'd have to sign for.

So far-
people expected: 0
random knocking: 3

I already mentioned the JW's and then there was someone collecting I think* for cancer. Today was a school girl.

I think she was probably about 7 or 8- old enough to be knocking on someone's door with no adult around with them, but young enough that she did not speak English. And to be honest, she might not have totally got that I did not understand a word she said. She did s l o w it right down for me that I really thought she said "my house" at some point in the conversation I thought she might be the neighbors child, but when I asked if her mom was the name I knew she looked at me blankly.

Then I thought oh crap. This kid has come to an adult for help and I can't help her... So then I s l o w e d it down and asked ARE YOU OK? YOU OK? and then she looked at me with mixed you are an idiot/ I'm confused. Then she said da which I believe is "yes" in some countries- but not in Dutch. Then I said I am sorry and I don't understand (about a dozen times) and slowly started closing the door. She smiled, shrugged and walked away.

There were lots of other people and school children out and about and there are about 20 other houses and a business across the road so I hope she got what she needed.

I on the other had need a language lesson and fast. I feel horrible!

Tuesday morning

It's another market day and it's another stormy weather day. Woke up to rain- but it cleared off for a stroll around the market vendors. I did not stand too close to any awnings! Today I bought some things from the baker and a couple more figs.

Its so funny: with things like raspberries the signage says "2 dozen for 2€" so I think that means they are counting individual raspberries in a container? I also saw "3 dozen" on a blueberry sign. Talk about specific!

I have let the cats out- but the theory is that they hate the wet more than the desire to get outside so I hope to get them all back in shortly. I was thinking of going into Amsterdam today, but I'm also quite tired. I'll get back to you later on that.

This is a picture from this morning- at the market street. And that's the church I hear their bells every hour.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Traffic on the canal

You almost think it isn't even possible- but traffic like this comes down this little canal every day.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I think this means love

Meeting up!

So fun! I had a date in the city with an exchange student from Emily Carr studying here in Amsterdam! We don't know each other at all really, but we had a lovely visit on more than one patio, shared some snacks, stories about travel and school, tips on shopping, and turns out we both have quite the thing for treats! Of the chocolate variety, and the pastry variety, and cake variety- you get the picture.

Here is an action shot of the train and that lovely palace, is just the ole train station. Believe it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sorry, more about food!

Tonight I came home and made this little plate for myself- with some Serrano ham met roomkaas (prosciutto wrapped cream cheese), liverpaste, and this red stuff that is so yum but I am afraid to ask: It could be raw for all I know but it's called "American filet"

(please don't ruin it for me if you know!)

I think* this is what it's all about

So today I decided to head into Amsterdam with no set agenda but hopefully hitting a market that's only on Saturday's and finding a clothing store all my bloggers write about.

I wound up finding the market after a slight detour and checked out a different shopping area with nice creative boutiques for both home and self. Stopped and had a pear tart and latte. Browsed the market and bought some antique postcards- then it was time for a beer:
Where I sat next to a woman, also on her own with a beer and she asked to borrow my map. It's funny as this is my map I also used last year so it has all these personal notes scribbled in open spaces like parks, canals or port. I really would have given it to her if I didn't want my notes still! So she and I talked about all the places I'd scribbled on. She is Polish, who lives in New York, who works for a company in London, and is on business in Amsterdam. It was nice to have company on the patio!

Then I searched out the shop I wanted to find- and I did, and it's lovely:
Where, standing in a ridiculous line to try on 1 thing the woman behind me also was planning on trying the 1 same shirt. The conversation started with a debate on sizes and ended with her telling me about all the places I must go in Berlin- which is where she is from. In the end I gave her the shirt I tried (too small for me, perfect for her) and my email address.

I feel so close to you right now

Colette, sleeping in my purse

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oy vey: the ov chipkaart

Something I was quite excited about this trip was the new ov chipkaart (chipcard) which is a multiple use, loadable card that you can use on all transit- train tram bus ferry throughout the country. I think this is a glimpse into Vancouver's new card of next year.

Again, I did my research before I left and read all about it and my options- but I should have known there would be issues when their website gave me an "English" option and then the instructions were all in Dutch. To say this has been a struggle is an understatement. I was determined to preserver only because it would give me some freedom on transit I had not had before: for example I had only ridden the tram twice before on all trips combined. Because you had this long strip of tickets that you had to validate yourself, AND determine how far you were going and how much validation you need. It made me nervous. Once my mom did it. Once I was with other tourists who decided to play the dumb card and did not buy a ticket at all (bad I know)

Now you check in when you get on any mode and have to check out when you get off. Easy. Right?

It took a week to sort. I went to the local tourist information 3 times. I asked at the train station here twice. Last night the gal on cash gave me a discounted ticket as she had seen me so many times. A trip to tourist info in Amsterdam. Then I rode the train and instead of getting the screen saying how much money you have left, I had a red screen- but the error message is in Dutch! Turns out I totally illegally rode the train but no one asked to check my ticket/card so I got away with it.

The most helpful person who gave me any indication that the card had yet to be validated for the TRAIN was my yoga instructor. Turns out you had to indicate what class of train travel you intend on riding. But meanwhile was supposedly fine for tram and bus.

Finally yesterday I rode the train. And the bus! Both directions! With my card!

Anyway if you go to holland for anything less than a week this probably isn't worth it. Right now you can still buy paper tickets, but not all stations have vendors and not all vendor machines take cash. That's just my 2€ worth.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Btw the Dutch are a people after my heart! The other day I went for a coffee and people were ordering ice-cream cones at... Wait for it.... 10:45AM!!
What?!? I know, in public. It's amazing.
(so then I was inspired and ordered a "waffle" which was basically a waffle cone type cookie slathered in whip)

This is a traditional treat: speculaas
Which I bought at the market (when recovering from the humiliation incident) is so yum. It's kind of like a ginger snap with almond (think marzipan) filling. I am trying to pace myself.


I decided to walk to Muiden which is the town my Oma was born in. I suppose I could have ridden a bike- but in the end it was windy which would have been hard, and instead I had a lot of time to walk and look around. It was really nice and I really like the smell of farms!

The town has a castle which I believe is quite famous and it is also a port town. They have an active lock- so I sat by the lock and had a beer and watched it in action.

I think* I stood in front of my Oma's house, but I am not certain. I know I was on the right street. And I saw the place once before either when I was 10 or 20 so I think it was right.

I clocked about 11.7 km today. Glad for yoga tonight.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Good thing I was wearing rain boots

So I slept in this morning, but then I remembered the weekly market is only on Tuesday mornings in Weesp.
It was also raining- but by the time I walked out of the house it had cleared a bit and was really mild. I walked down the cobble stone street and stopped and sat and had a latte. Then carried on to the street venders... You can buy almost anything at a market here but I still gravitate towards the traditional: the flower venders, cheese, bakers, drop & candy and fruit. I wandered along thinking how totally romanticized-European it all was (I was).

When... a gust of wind caught an awning and dumped a buckets worth of rain water on my head. Public humiliation! Old Dutch ladies laughed at me! Most of the water was absorbed by my hair (or bun I was wearing) and my shirt/bra. Basically the top half of me was wet. Awesome. I was also pretty sure my mascara was running down my face. I was cold and wet and there was no quick escape as I was in the middle of the market.

So it took everything I had it smile at the ladies, a little laugh like "oh well" and keep shopping for fruit. Like I was totally dry and to channel some of that class everyone else has.

On the plus side: Somehow this embarrassment caused me to be more confident than before (can't get much worse really) and actually tried out some of my basic Dutch on venders- like using my numbers to request one baked good, or 3 figs.

My rain boots never saw a drop of water. As soon as I got home the sky opened up and it poured.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Went to my second yoga class this morning... Which was nice! Although the teacher announced she would teach all her September classes in English- which is lovely for me, but I cringed for the others.
After I talked to her privately saying I didn't want everyone to be frustrated to which she replied, as any gentle yoga teacher would, "I am trying to teach all my students to be less frustrated in this world"

This afternoon I went into Amsterdam again to meet my new* friend- a connection made through miss b! We went to a lovely art center/performance/theatre which had a restaurant where I sampled beer from the Amsterdam brewery that will be down the street from my new November apartment. We had a lovely time and she is also an artist- and knowledgeable about the city, and invited me for dinner later in the week! Such a treat!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Open Monument day, Amsterdam. And beer odyssey.

I clocked about 10km today wandering around Amsterdam. I have a blister of a size never had before. It's massive. But I saw a lot, and covered a lot of ground I'd never seen before!

For monuments, I went to:
- Muiderpoort
- Artis bibliotheek
- Dr. Sarphatihuis
- Occo Hofje
- Hollandsche Schouwburg
- Van Brants Rus Hofje

That's 6 out of a possible 64 scattered all over Amsterdam

Unfortunately my guide book was in Dutch and almost all the guides were Dutch but they are some beautiful historical sites that might only be open to the public this one time each year. I did however join one tour where the young gal tried very hard to tell me things, and in the end met a lovely couple who happily escorted me to the next venue which they had already been to but highly recommended.

After I wandered by the Amstel river-where what did I see? More people swimming in canals!!! I seriously can't believe it. So gross! Hundreds of them!

Then I went for a beer on a beautiful side street which was great as there was just the right breeze. It was so hot today.

Then walked through the city center.. And onto my favorite department store and finally sat out on their roof top patio and had frozen yogurt and another beer.

Only down side was the enormous blister and that I missed a train by about 1 minute. Lucky I had a book to read!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Open Monument day, Weesp

Went for a walk to the operating (wind)mill which still makes flour. They were making pancakes like my mom makes but I thought pancakes twice in one day might be excessive. Then I walked to the Weesp fort and saw an art show. There is a cute tea house out back that served me a local Weesp beer. Yummy.
Here cars bikes and walkers still have to wait for bridges to be raised and lowered for boats.
I also happened upon some local goats that had very strange unfriendly faces, and rushed at you- but then just wanted a sniff and a pat. And then lunged at the next person.

I just had my first knock at the door. JW's. Wow, I have not been in a house so long I forgot about that!
I said "English only" and they were ok to carry on to the next...

Despite having just fed you, Snoes has her sights on my breakfast

Friday, September 7, 2012

When I ate dinner that crew surrounded me like a pack of little wolves. It's a surreal moment to look around and have 3 other kitchen chairs occupied by little cat faces. Waiting for a mis-bite.

But then Derrick came and cuddled with me for about 20 minutes once I figured out the tv. All is well.

Herding cats

So the family is on the way to the airport and it's taken me all week to get a decent shot of each of my wards. Now it's just me, and them, and I am greatly out numbered.

I am happy I've had a week to get to know them, and today I have had my lap sat on twice so I think I am their friend now. Or they are catching on that I have the food.

Snoes is the oldest at about 20 years

Kramiel is 16-18

The young ones are Colette and Derrick- Colette hails from the French country side and Derrick is very sweet but a little bit trouble and has learned how to open the kitchen screen door to run out into the garden- so I am currently sitting on a propped chair blocking his escape.

I think he still likes me anyway.