Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Last year....coldest, wettest summer in 100 years; This year....coldest, wettest spring in 30 years! Welcome to the Netherlands!

Yesterday was my 56th birthday...I've been here almost a year!  This past year has flown by!

Yesterday I went with our friends/neighbors, Bruce and Linda, to the Pinstersjaarmarkt at the Duin and Kruidberg Country Estate in Sandpoort. We took the train, which is always a pleasant experience, getting off at the Sandpoort Noord stop. The Pinstersjaarmarkt was just a 10 minute walk from the train station.
 As we entered we saw many canopies set up with people selling their wares:

 Lots of bicycles!

 Bruce and Linda trying some of the jams!

 Duin and Kruidberg Country Estate:

 Linda and I decided to go on the tour of the inside of the Estate building. These gentlemen were calling everyone over to begin the tour:

What a beautiful building! The tour was in Dutch (of course), so Linda helped me out by translating the main points for me!

One of the entry doors, as you can see by the inscription on the door, the estate was built in 1909!

We had a nice afternoon walking around the market. I was a bit disappointed though that there weren't
more handmade items for sale. We did buy some nice "stinky" cheese!

On the way back it started to rain. We got back to Haarlem and stopped at Stempels for a beer and some bitterballen!  That was very sweet of Bruce and Linda to treat me to a nice afternoon while Andrew was home working!

Andrew took me out to dinner for my birthday to a very nice restaurant called "Lambermon's".

We started with a nice glass of South African sparkling wine.  For dinner we decided on a 3 course meal. We both had a nice "amuse" plate (appetizers). The next course was an avocado crab salad, and the main course was a beautifully presented and delicious plate with tender beef, asparagus, a white sauce and a delicious truffle sauce. With it the waiter paired a nice red wine from Chile called:  Morande Carmenere Reserva from the Maipo Valley. Delicious!

Andrew had gotten me a cake the day before which we had shared with Hans and Angela so we decided to go home and had a nice slice of cake and some decaf coffee. What a wonderful meal! The end to a great birthday!

Andrew received an email from our Dutch tax consultant who told him that I am going to have to pay "social security tax" here on my U.S. retirement income!!! HUH?!?!?  I also have to pay up to 10% "wealth" tax on my "worldwide" income, savings, and investments!!!  Unfortunately, we did not know this till now....no one had warned us of this prior to moving here. It probably wouldn't have changed anything, but we could have made some changes in my accounts if we had known. We have no idea yet what this is going to cost us.......We also found out that people here are taxed on any savings over €40,000.....doesn't encourage people to save at alllllllll! Seems they want to keep people reliant on the government in the older years rather than relying on themselves and what they've saved all their lives....


My youngest son will be coming for a two week visit this next weekend! We're realllllly looking forward to it!  I have a whole list of places I'd like to take him....Duin and Kruidberg being one of them! I'm hoping for a sunny (or at least warmer and dry....) day so we can sit outside on the patio for lunch!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Luilakmarkt, lunch with our landlords/friends, and our garden is blooming!

From the Haarlem website (translated using Google translate):

Luilakmarkt in Haarlem
When: Friday, May 17, 2013
Where: Raamvest
2011 ZK Haarlem
The Market is a famous Slacker pots and plant market on Friday May 17th starting at 16:00 pm and throughout the night until the next morning (May 18) about 11:00 h (Slacker Morning). In addition to flowers, plants and garden accessories is also the inner man operated well.

Slacker is a non-Christian festival that is usually celebrated on the Saturday before Pentecost. It is a festival where long sleepers and late comers be mocked. Slacker is celebrated especially by young people. They are very early and try to make to make and make noise.

This may be very early in the morning suddenly deafening sound on the street. Groups of young people crying tears on bicycle and moped through the neighborhood, a long rope trailing behind their vehicle with pots, pans, cans and other things that make noise.


We went to the Luilakmarkt Friday evening around 2000hrs. I didn't realize it was open all night and closing the next morning. We didn't buy anything Friday, but happened to go back around 10:00 Saturday morning and bought a few flowers. Our neighbors told us that's the best time to go because you can haggle prices (less for them to pack up and bring home!).

There were several food booths:

Our tulips are in full bloom in the back yard!

Today we had lunch with Hans and Angela. They are such nice people, we are truly blessed to have them in our lives. We talked with them about extending our lease till August or September 2014. It's still "up in the air" because of circumstances in their lives, but they will know in the next month or two. We're hoping we can stay here so we don't have to move in the middle of winter! We would have to decide whether to go back to the States or find another place to rent here....

We had a very nice afternoon together with them! They are such a nice couple!