Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What will this week bring us?

July 12
My week started out good. Yesterday (Monday) I joined Irene, my sister-in-law, and her children David (8 yr), Lucas and Elisabeth (twins, 3 yr) on a visit to Madurodam. This is a miniature city close to our place in The Hague. For kids it is just one big big doll house with moving cars, planes and trains. For growns ups it is a way to visit every tourist-place in the Netherlands in one morning since they have rebuilt about every popular Dutch site you can think of. The palace of the queen, airport, train stations, wind mills, tullip fields, lots of middle age buildings, the Delta waterworks etc etc. In this way it also shows and teaches stuff about Dutch everyday life. Visiting it with the kids was fun because they look at everything with so much enthousiasm. Therefore I automatically watched way more closely than I would normally do on my own.
Irene, thanks for inviting me!

What will the rest of the week bring? We have been pretty bummed about the houses we have viewed so far. In the middle of summer there are hardly any new listings and we feel that the best ones of the older listings are already sold. We haven't yet fallen in love with the houses viewed so far. That makes us a bit anxious though, we want it NOW. You know, patient as we are! Ah well, we'll practice patience, if nothing good comes around there will be many more new houses listed after the July/August vacation period!

Soccer finals world championships

July 11
The whole country was orange these last weeks. We always hope for a very good result but it had been a long time ago that the Netherlands was in a world championship final: In '74 and '78 I watched them loose the final games as a teenager. Of course I still have a vivid memory of the Dutch team becoming the European champions in '88. So everybody was very excited last Sunday, "we" would finally win a world championship.
I went out for a run about two hours before the start of the game. On the roads at least half of the people walking, biking or driving their car was wearing orange clothes. This really shows the impact this tournament has, it was BIG.
We watched the game at home and to prevent myself from being overly excited and anxious I decided to play around at the computer at the same time. It helped, it distracts and Sander could watch the game without my annoying shouting and (too) loud encouragements. Maybe I should have watched closely and shouted more, since we lost. Or was it the orange-white-red-blue decoration of "AH beesies" on our front door, or was my orange shirt not OK?
Surely we had a great four weeks which has been very good for sentimental national feelings. It works a bit like July 1th in Canada or similarly when Team Canada plays a big hockey game.

Liesbeths' drivers license

Yes, whatever you fear will happen .....
Last week I discovered that my old Dutch drivers license, handed in to the authorities in Calgary to be able to get my Alberta license, was never received at the license agency over here. We had heared stories about taking a new test but luckily I only had to hand in extra paper work and wait for some extra time for the handling of it. I was able to go back to city hall to apply again last Monday. With a little bit of luck I can pick up my license in two or three weeks and drive a car again. So only biking, walking and public transit for me these coming weeks!

Proloog Tour de France

July 3
Saturday the Tour de France started in Rotterdam. We had planned to go there half a year ago already, we both love to watch and follow the Tour daily on television.
The race starts with a short time trial, the prologue. The course was 8.9 km, situated in the middle of city center. The whole week the weather had been more than beautiful, but today it rained. Not so nice for spectators but also really dangerous for the athletes. The good thing about a time trial is that the starts are 1 minute apart and it takes about 3 hours for all bikers to pass. The better ones start later, so it is exciting until the last athlete finishes. They race at around 50 to 55 km/hour, spectacular!
There was a huge crowd and they cheered for every rider. The noise for the favorites and for the Dutch riders was even louder. The first time a Dutch participant passed I was very amazed by the enthusiasm of the crowd. These guys must have been flying with all these crazy encouragements. It was great being part of this!

Summer life

Thursday July 1st
We have been very lucky with the weather in the Netherlands lately. So we really took advantage of that by spending an evening at the beach. With public transit, the tram, or on a bike it takes about 10 minutes to get to the beach, it's only 3 or 4 km from our apartment. So after work on a hot day Sander and me took the tram, walked along the shore a couple of kilometers and paused for beers on the outdoor terrace of a beach club. for an hour or two and evening walk along the beach in Scheveningen

Thursday July 3st
Sanders sister, Dymphna, her husband Henk and their children Stijn and Jochem visited us today. We showed the kids the palace where the Dutch queen works and the old buildings of the Dutch senate. A pity that the government buildings are closed on Sundays, otherwise we could have done a tour inside. We ended the day with a BBQ in our garden. We got a nice BBQ as a gift from them, so we can fully enjoy our garden. Tried my Calgarian BBQ-ed salmon with lemon again, tastes good at sea level too!

On the family bikes

June 26

In Best, in the south east of the Netherlands, we met friends to ride the Toon Vertier family bikes. We had one long "bike" with six carts, and two two-seaters. In good spririts we did the wave everytime we passed other bikers. We learned that it was impossible to go backwards after a wrong turn (at least, with our level of cooperation), so we had to take apart the six carts, turn them each separately and attach them again. Made us look pretty silly!
We ended the day with a terrific BBQ in the garden of Yvonne and Emerentia. Carla and Miriam, thanks for organizing and inviting us for this nice day!

Inside our new apartment

June 21
Here are some pics of the inside of our place. It was renovated recently and redecorated. They used dark purple with grey, black and dark brown together with off-white on the walls and in the kitchen. It looks really cosy, we feel at home here.
On my birthday Sander surprised me with a very nice bouquet of roses. Flowers make a home look so nice! The Dutch are pretty spoiled when it comes to flowers, good to have them so abundantly available again!

Wedding aniversary and St. Bavo race on Liesbeth's birthday

June 18 and 19
Friday June 18th we went to the 50th wedding aniversary of my (Liesbeth's) aunt Ria and uncle Jan. We were pretty lucky to have returned from Calgary just in time for this party. It was a very good party in their own garden with excellent catering!

The following day, my birthday, was spent at my parents place. Just a quiet get together. In the evening Sander and I went to Rijsbergen, a small village close to Breda where my parents live. They organize a race together with the yearly midway in their village. The actual midway in a village like that is very small, the "beer tent" and pubs are the most important attraction. Along the 2 to 2.5 km course of the race various small brass bands were playing music, that really helps to keep up the spirit and attracts spectators too. So there was plenty encouragement for us during the run. We both did pretty good in the 10k, 42min25sec for Sander and 56min53sec for me. We both were about 1min50sec faster compared to Calgary. Sea level, lots of spectators and the music along the course, lets say all factors helped.

Images from the St. Bavoloop website:

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