Monday, June 24, 2013

A Break from it All

I know what you're thinking. A break? A break from what? I have lived in Amsterdam for 3 months after returning from 4 months of traveling in SE Asia. I know. Rough life.

But adjusting to life in Amsterdam has been harder than I expected. There are things that make it smooth and seamless, like the fact that everyone speaks English and that people are just plain friendly. I no longer break into a sweat when I can't figure out which kind of flour to buy at the grocery store.

We have had lots of visitors as well, which has been wonderful but made it harder to get our life here organized. As such we still need closets for both bedrooms and furniture for the patio. There are a few boxes that need attention...and now it's all just starting to blend in.

The weather has been horrible. It has been one of the coldest and longest springs in the last 100 years in the Netherlands. It gets old. It sounded like France had a better chance of warmth and sunshine. (With one week left in June, I am still wearing a jacket and scarf nearly every day!)

I think the hardest adjustment is something that happened some time between when we left Germany in November and when we got to Amsterdam in March. Simon is growing up. He's big. He no longer sits in his nice big stroller while I wander through the city getting my shopping done. He wants to ride his bike, which means he is no longer contained and I have lost the massive storage at the bottom of his stroller! This has been quite devastating. Grocery shopping and any errands at all have become much more work and much more stressful. As a result we eat mostly pasta, pancakes, sandwiches, and raw veggies. I have cooked all of 5 or 6 meals since we moved here. I'm serious.

On top of all that, I haven't been feeling very well for the last couple of months. That has probably slowed me down the most. And when I realized that our exciting news might also mean that I would not be able to spend nearly 6 weeks in Minnesota this summer with my friends and family, I booked a pity trip to France.
Coming in November....maybe October....hopefully not September!
It seemed to do the trick. We had a great time, with lovely sunny beach days and pleasant cool evenings. Martin only stayed the weekend, so Simon and I were on beach duty. Simon immediately made a new best friend from Austria. "I love Caroline. She's my best friend." Her wonderful parents invited us out in the evening for dinner or a playground play date, so I even got in some adult conversation!
According to Simon, a very sandy beach.
Simon is always chasing....
And it turns out Antibes is a lovely place for a beach vacation with kids. The beach where we spent each day was loaded with families with young children. European schools are still in session, so nearly all kids were under 5. It was warm but not scorching hot (that comes in a few weeks) and the water was not so warm, but the kids don't mind! I could be convinced to go back again next year! And thanks to the Frenchies love of striking, we even got to stay an extra day!
Sun, sand, and snow!

Visiting Amsterdam

We knew that Amsterdam would be a bit of a hot destination for friends and family than Düsseldorf. But we didn't know it would be this popular. In 7 weeks we have had 19 visitors (9 different groups) visiting from 5 different countries!! WOW!

It has been great to move to a new place and see so many friendly and familiar faces. Some, like my cousin, I had not seen in 4+ years. I also got to meet her fabulous new husband of less than 2 weeks!

Simon has also gotten reacquainted with old friends from Germany.
Tyler and Simon catching bubbles.
Rita reading to her captivated audience.
We got a visit from the Mevvinsky's. We lived in Louisville and Dallas at the same time as them. They currently live in Moscow, Russia.
Indonesian rijsttafel with the Mezvinsky's.
Farfar and Farmor came for a long weekend, and Simon ate a lot of bacon pancakes!
A visit from Farmor and Farfar!
Emilie Hitch made a quick stop in Amsterdam while cruising around port cities in Europe for a few months. Visitors offer the perfect excuse to get out and explore your city. We got to see the brilliant tulips at Keukenhof just before it closed for the season. Thanks to an exceptionally cold and late spring, they were were still stunning.

Tulips at Keukenhof with E Hitch
My faves
And last weekend was our super-mega-visitor weekend, with American friends visiting from Boston and Swedish friends visiting from Stockholm and Oslo. There were people EVERYWHERE in our flat, but it worked out brilliantly. We rented a boat on Saturday after a rainy morning and enjoyed some sunshine, pizza, and beer on the water. It really is the best way to experience this city!
Boating, eating, and drinking. This is Amsterdam!
And this doesn't include some day visitors that we had. We spent a day with Ely, his daughter and grandson checking out the Rijksmuseum and taking a canal cruise.

I even ran into my sister's mother-in-law at the Rijksmuseum. Lovely to see you, Diane!

Visitors have also given us a great excuse to get out and explore our great city. We have eaten lots of pancakes and Indonesian food, checked out a few museums, wandered countless charming streets in de Pijp or the Jordaan, rented boats, seen the tulips and countless other things that we may not have done had we had such great company to do it with.

Thinking of visiting us? Better book soon!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

SUN in Amsterdam

Proof that occasionally, not often, but sometimes, the sun does shine upon us here in Amsterdam. And those are (or better, were) happy days.

Too cool at the pool.

Taking in some jazz at the monthly Sunday Market


THIS is the way to see Amsterdam.


With his new friend Dakota, visiting from the US.

Hide and seek!