Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sinterklaas is coming to town!

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet decorations are seen all over Holland this time of year. The Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas on December 5th every year.

Tradition says that Sinterklaas rides a white horse and brings with him his helpers (whose faces are covered with chimney soot from listening to find out if the children have been bad or good) called Zwarte Piet.

Andrew and I, unfortunately, missed the arrival of Sinterklaas into Haarlem a week and a half ago. He arrives on a boat from Spain...and children are told that if they are not good he will put them in a sack and bring them back to Spain with him when he leaves!

We saw this man riding around on his bicycle last weekend:

While walking through town we saw many young people dressed up as Zwart Piet going around town on roller-skates!

This past weekend Sinterklaas made another appearance  in the Houtplein and in the Grote Markt areas. Andrew and I were able to see them and have our photos taken!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Haarlem Burgemeester

Yesterday, Andrew and I went walking 'downtown' Haarlem doing our usual Saturday morning route. We walked down to the Grote Markt....
 and noticed that a new Visitor Center has been opened next to the Stadhuis (City Hall)!  What a perfect spot!
 We found people shopping in their Dutch SUV's:

 and our favorite view....the Grote Kerk (St. Bavo's Church):
While there, we went through the new Visitor's Center. We saw the Burgemeester (Mayor) of Haarlem and stopped to say hello to he and the Marketing Director of Haarlem. They spent several minutes with us talking about how, as expats, we decided to move to Haarlem, what we like about Haarlem, and how they think they could entice people to come to Haarlem to live and shop. They were both very cordial, engaging and nice to speak with.

After we had made our purchases (flowers, sausages, cheese, etc) we made our way home and spent the rest of the morning 'hanging out'....

At 13.00, we had an appointment with our neighbor, Bruce, to go to Sligro together. Because Andrew and I are having a party in December, we thought we'd better get some supplies for the party. Bruce and Linda have a membership card to get in, so we drove, and Bruce provided the for all of us!

At Sligro they always have many bottles of wine open to taste. Bruce and I tasted quite a few....Andrew was driving so he couldn't partake quite as much. We found some nice wines for the party....some reds and some whites. We also bought many non perishables (laundry and dishwasher detergent, etc.), things that are heavy and difficult for me to lug home walking from the grocery store.

After we got dropped all our purchases off and dropped off Bruce at home we picked up Gary and Louise in the car and we all drove over to Intratuin together. We bought a large bag of dog food, some cat food and kitty litter. They showed us this plant we'd never seen or heard of, and we ended up buying one.......It's called a "Lithops":

 We also got another orchid to put in the kitchen window.


Early this afternoon we met with Gary and Louise at the OlieBollen stand in the Bodemarkt......we got the best oliebollen we've had!  They serve them warm, after rolling them in powdered sugar...oh yes!

Later, we took Sammy for a walk in the woods....

For dinner I made an herb covered tenderloin....oh yes.......that was the best meat we've had since we moved here!  We were able to buy it at Sligro....haven't found any other meat like it anywhere else!

Thanks to Louise, I have a new favorite candy!!!  They're called Parma Violets....