Thursday, September 25, 2014

Back in the Bay Area

Oh myyyyyy. When people warned me about 'repatriating' my thoughts were-eh, no problem. How hard can it be to go back to your own country!  Well, now that I'm experiencing it first hand, I can say  that repatriating has its challenges. Everything is sooooo big here. There is cement everywhere. There are cars (big cars!) everywhere. There are people everywhere.

Yesterday we went to the grocery store (Safeway). There you can buy pretty much everything you's a big store!  I went over to buy eggs, opened the container and counted how many eggs were in the carton. It seemed like sooooo many eggs!!!

Tonight we went to one of our favorite restaurants we've been talking about going to for months. The food was always. We watched the waitresses running around trying to serve people and we just felt rushed during the entire dinner. It is such a contrast to what we experienced in Europe where people sit, take their time and really enjoy a good meal.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pulling my heartstrings

We fly out from Amsterdam Tuesday morning to San Francisco. We have a direct flight, which is wonderful, but many hours of sitting on the plane!

We have hired a company to take care of Sammy on this end. They will be picking him up from the house tomorrow afternoon and will keep him overnight since our flight is early in the morning the following day. He will be on the same flight with us, in the baggage area.

We have paid for five bags on the flight. Because our shipment of goods won't be there for about two months, we decided to pack one extra bag to make sure we have enough clothing to get by, especially since the weather will be changing soon.

Yesterday we spent the day enjoying Haarlem...walking around, stopped for a beer down by the river, etc. Such a beautiful place to live!

Last night we had our neighbors over for a party. I had emptied all the cabinets of all the canned goods, and cleaning supplies, etc. We set everything out and asked them to please take whatever they wanted!  We also brought all of our liquor out and set it on the table. We told everyone we would need to drink it and whatever was left we asked them to take it home!! We had bought a bottle of champagne and we had some movie tickets that we gave away also.  Joep and Astrid brought their new baby, Louis-he is such a sweet baby!  Hans, Angela, Hetty, Michiel, Roel, Bart, Bop, Bruce , Linda, Ileke and Marijka were there. What a fun night!!! We didn't get to bed till after 0100.

This morning we slept in a bit and just hung out at home. We started packing our bags today and I started going through some things that need to be thrown out before we leave. We walked down to the recycle bins and got rid of the empty bottles from last night and some boxes I had cut up. We also took Sammy for a nice long walk through the Haarlemerhuit (Haarlem woods). Everything is coming together....but it is still surreal to think we will be gone from this place we've called home in just two days.

Earlier tonight we went to a friend's house (Meg and Ubo and their three girls) for dinner. What a special evening!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Moving back to the U.S. has had a few challenges.

We have to close down all our utilities. To do that we had our wonderful friends help us write letters (in Dutch) to the different companies to notify them that we are moving out of the country. We also have to buy a paper the day before we leave and take pictures of the meter readings next to the dated paper to send to those companies.

We are very grateful that the company Andrew works with has organized and paid for shipping our belongings back to California. De Haan shipping company was here yesterday to pack and take our belongings away. They were very fast and efficient. I had done about 1/2 of the packing myself and had everything to be packed in piles so it only took about two hours!

Today Andrew turned in his leased car. Andrew is able to take the afternoon off, so we are going to take the train to the beach in Zaandvort. The weather has been beautiful and we'd like to take advantage of our chance to enjoy it!

I have emptied out all the food products from the cupboards. We have been trying to use up some of it and will be setting out the remaining items when we have our neighborhood party tomorrow. Whatever is left my sweet friend Isla says she can pick up and bring to Salvation Army. I just can't throw away good's not in my nature!

We are truly going to miss living in Haarlem. It's a beautiful small town. It's been a wonderful place to live!

Last night we took Sammy to the Parck Restaurant across the street and sat and had a beer and some bitterballen while people watching. We will miss that part of living here. It's so relaxing and everyone here is so very dog friendly.

We have been going back and forth about renting or buying in the Bay Area. We have had trouble finding a place that will rent to people with a large dog. Sooooo, we contacted our realtor in the Tri-Valley and had her go look at some condo's in that area (we don't want to retire there, so we don't want to buy a house there).  She found one she thinks we'll be happy with. The square footage is good, it's only 10 years old, there is a nice view, it has indoor washer/dryer, one car garage, etc. We put an offer on it and it was accepted last week. We have 17 days to pull our we will see it before that time element expires.

The day we land at SFO we will be staying in a hotel in Sunnyvale. The company had a difficult time finding us housing (with the dog) also, so then the following night we have to move again to corporate housing in San Jose. We can stay there for 30 days. We're hoping during that time we will be able to get everything done in the condo that we're thinking about doing (replacing the flooring and countertops) before we have to move again.

We will have two rental cars for a couple of days. We will have five bags, the kennel and Sammy to transport to Sunnyvale and then San Jose. Thursday one of the rentals will be returned at San Jose Airport.

We still have all of our belongings from the house we sold 2 1/2 years ago in a large storage locker in the Bay Area. Because the condo is small, we'll have to continue to keep some things in storage. It's going to be a challenge separating all the things we want to keep in storage and the things we want to put in our new 'temporary' home.

We are going to miss all of our friends here most. It's so very hard to say good-bye.

We fly out on Tuesday, 23 September. Yikes, time is flying!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Piesport, Germany (also Neumagen-Dhron, Cochem and Bernkastel, Germany)

September 12-15th we drove down to Piesport, Germany with our friends Bruce and Linda. What a beautiful area!  There are vineyards as far as the eye can see. We stopped at a restaurant called Moselpanarama (for a glass of wine, of course!) before going down the hill into town and this is the view we had from the patio!

 Andrew and I stayed at the Piesporter Goldtropfchen Weinhaus Hotel. Bruce and Linda stayed in another hotel on the other side of the bridge.

 After we checked in and got settled, we walked to a bike shop and rented bicycles for the weekend. Then we went for a ride through the vineyards! Everywhere we turned there were more beautiful vines to see along the Mosel River!

 We stopped by Restaurant Lekker to make reservations for Sunday evening.

 We rode our bicycles to Neumagen-Dhron. For me, it was like being in a was all so beautiful and peaceful!

We stopped later for a bite to eat and a glass of wine!

The following morning we headed for Cochem in the car (about an hour drive along the Mosel River). It is such a beautiful drive!  We had headed that way thinking we were going to take a boat ride up (or down!) the river. When we arrived, though, we changed our minds and decided to stay in the town and go exploring! The Reischburg Castle is there and we took a tour through the castle.

Then we stopped for lunch...this was our view!
After a yummy lunch of Schnitzel, we walked around town a bit:

We also took a ride up the ski lift to the top of a mountain and had a cup of coffee after walking around a bit. I was terrrrrrrified the entire way up and down, but I did it!  Andrew was very sweet and didn't move a muscle during the entire ride!

 When we got back to the Piesport area we went to our respective hotels, freshened up and then met for dinner.

 at Vinothek:
 We had a glass of wine on the patio with this beautiful view before heading in to dinner:

 The food was absolutely delicious!  We each had the grilled makes my mouth water just thinking about how good it was!

The following day we went to Bernkastel, Germany. What a delightful town!  Andrew and I drove and Bruce and Linda met us later-they rode their bicycles to town. Andrew and I haven't been very good about riding very often, so we weren't in any kind of shape to ride that far.

Before leaving for Bernkastel though, Andrew and I walked around the area across from our hotel in Piesport.

 then went to a little antique faire that was taking place in a building in town:

 Got in the car and headed to Bernkastel:
 What a fairytale place!

When we got back from Bernkastel we had to return the bicycles. So we rode them up and then walked back to the hotel. On the way there and back we saw so many beautiful sites!

Early that evening we headed back to Piesport and met Bruce and Linda for dinner at Lekker:

 and Linda treated us to a delicious bottle of sparkling Reisling:

Dinner was 'interesting'. We had all chosen the surprise menu and asked for no fish (except tuna was okay). So, we got tuna...which I liked, but no one else seemed impressed. Then we got some kind of chicken and a pretty dessert. It was good, but it was almost like they were trying too hard to make it pretty....and the flavors were just 'okay'. We both much preferred the dinner we had the previous evening. That was a WOW meal!

 As we were walking back to our hotels we saw a sign on the wall of a building that showed how high the river water has risen in the past:
Throughout the weekend we enjoyed some delicious wines! What a relaxing wonderful last trip for us (while living in The Netherlands anyway!). We had a wonderful time with Bruce and Linda. What wonderful friends!

Monday morning we had a nice breakfast:

then headed back to Haarlem. Andrew had to be back to do a conference we left early, around 0830hrs.