Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year/Gelukkig Nieuwjaar from Haarlem!

Farewell 2013!  Hello 2014!

My, my this year has just flown by! Andrew and I have been reminiscing lately about what we have experienced these past couple of years. Looking forward we realize this next year will probably get kind of crazy as we plan to move back to the U.S. sometime in the fall. We aren't sure where we will land though! Andrew may get a job with his company on the East Coast and work for a couple more years. If not, we will have to look for a home to buy somewhere...we are looking at California and Texas right now. We're hoping we'll know more about the job situation by April so we can start making plans as to whether to buy a house or find a place to rent.

This past week has been a busy one! Andrew has been off from work, which has been very nice. We have had the chance to go see a few things we had been talking about since we moved here....and spend special time with friends.

Christmas Day we went to our friend's house (Josephine and Erik) in a town called Kockengen, which is a 40 minute drive from here. The area is beautiful and quiet!  We had a very nice, delicious dinner and a relaxing evening together.

Purchasing a nice large roast here is a challenge! Josephine and I had gone to Hanos the week prior to Christmas to order the roast. It was beautiful...and delicious!

 John, Vincent and Andrew:

2nd Christmas/Boxing Day/ December 26!

We had planned to do a little shopping the day after Christmas and discovered almost every store (including coffee shops, restaurants, etc) were closed!  So, we 'hung out' at home and later that evening went to our friends' house (Gary and Louise) for a casual dinner. It was nice to 'hang out' and relax with them. They had invited another friend (Richard) also. What a pleasant evening. We had walked to their house (a little over a mile) and decided to take the bus home because it was starting to get a little cold outside.


December 27, 2013

Josephine and Erik had told us about a castle close to their house that we hadn't heard of before....so we thought we would go check it out!  It was cold and raining, so it was nice to find something to do that was indoors.

It is called De Haar Castle:

Pictures were not allowed inside the castle. They had a nice tour for children set up during the holiday season. For English speaking patrons there was a pamphlet that we could follow along with, the tour was done in Dutch.

After touring the castle we thought we'd go to Utrecht for a late lunch. We saw this teapot on top of a building there...very cute!

There was so much traffic we decided to get out of there and head home!  We don't even bother trying to fight traffic anymore...especially just to have lunch!  It took about 20 minutes just to turn around and get out of the traffic jam!  


December 28, 2013

We had heard of a place called "Madurodam", which is close to Den Haag. It's about a 40 minute drive from our house...we decided to go see it, since the weather was nice (cold, but sunny!). 

According to Wikipedia:
Madurodam is a miniature park and tourist attraction in the Scheveningen district of The HagueNetherlands, home to a range of perfect 1:25 scale model replicas of famous Dutch castles, public buildings, and large industrial projects as found at various locations in the country. The park was opened in 1952 and has been visited by tens of millions of visitors since that date. In 2012 Madurodam celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Some facts:
  • The official opening of Madurodam was July 2, 1952.
  • Madurodam has a railway network of approximately 4 km.[1]
  • There are 50,000 lights in this city.[2]
  • The miniature cars drive an average of 14,000 miles per year (which is almost the same as an average Dutchman).
  • Madurodam was named after George Maduro, a Jewish law student from Curaçao who fought the Nazi occupation forces as a member of the Dutch resistance and died at Dachau concentration camp in 1945. In 1946 Maduro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Knight 4th-class of the Military Order of William, the highest and oldest military decoration in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, for the valor he had demonstrated in the Battle of the Netherlands against German troops.

After visiting Madurodam, we decided to check out Scheveningen, which is a beach side community outside of Den Haag.  We just walked around a bit.....

Then decided to stop for lunch...

After lunch we walked around a bit more...then decided to head home so we could get back in time to take the train to Amsterdam for a show.

 We have noticed that many of the buildings in The Netherlands are in the shape of a ship!
 As we headed home we saw the Corpus building:

We got back to Haarlem, took care of Sammy and headed out again for Amsterdam. On our way, I took a few pictures in Haarlem:

We arrived in Amsterdam and took the tram to Chicago Boom! It's a comedy show...that night they were performing "The Seven Deadly Dutch Sins"! The show was a lot of fun! 

Amsterdam Centraal:

"Selfie" taken from the reflection in the window on the train on the way home!!!

The next morning we took Sammy for a nice long walk in the woods......the weather was chilly, but dry! Andrew lit up a cigar and off we went!

 The birds were acting strangely in the woods.....we think it was because of all the fireworks people had been setting off since early in the morning....

Another tree down from the strong winds!


Monday, December 30th

While walking through town doing my shopping during the day I saw this......Dutch SUV?!?

We relaxed during the day....and that evening we took our friends, Carla and Theo, out for a nice dinner at Napoli. What an enjoyable evening!  


Tuesday, December 31, 2013  

We took a drive over to Intratuin to pick up some dog food. While there we saw where they sell fireworks! There were a lot of people placing their orders!

Around 2130 hrs. we headed over to Bruce and Linda's. They had invited us over for drinks and snacks. We had a nice time talking and eating!  Bruce made the best popcorn I've ever had in my life.....I will have to try to make it! They are such a sweet couple!

At around 2350, we headed towards the Houtplein to go see the fireworks. Michiel had come to the door and invited us inside.....but Linda, Andrew and I were already heading towards the end of the street. Bruce, Michiel, Hetty and their friends ended up meeting us on the bridge a few minutes later. What a beautiful display!  There were fireworks being set off all over town, and we had a great view from the bridge!  And yes, it was raining!  

Happpppppy New Year everyone!!!