Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cambridge & London, UK

August 13-19, 2008

My first trip to the UK was to visit Joel and Jill in Cambridge. Cambridge is a quaint little town full of winding roads and beautiful old buildings & colleges. We really enjoyed walking around the campuses and seeing all of the buildings. I felt like I was in the middle of a Harry Potter story (well, I did find platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station in London!).

We went "punting," which is when you get in a little boat in the river and the punter has a long stick pole which they use to push and steer the boat. Joel and Chad took turns punting while Jill and I "helped" with the tiny oars. It was nice, relaxing, and a great way to see some of the back lawn areas of the colleges. Beautiful! Later on we went to a nice park near town, Chad and Joel bought an American football to toss around. They were like two boys with a new toy. ;)

Chad and I took the train into London a couple times to romp around the city, since it's only about an hour and a half away. It was my first time there, Chad's second. He loved London the first time he visited, so I enjoyed having him show me around (as I am usually the leader/organizer when we visit a new city). We saw Big Ben and Parliament, London Tower and Tower Bridge, & Buckingham Palace. The parks and gardens were all very well maintained. We also found a great market in Covent Gardens. They had unique art and jewelry vendors, and we even found a booth in the market that sold oysters and champagne! Mmmmm!

One day, Joel and Jill joined us in London, and we all met up with my friend Dennis, an old FedEx'er from Pittsburgh. We went to see Avenue Q, Chad's favorite play, basically an R-rated puppet show. Haha. It was hilarious. We walked around SoHo, and found a fabulous Indian restaurant for dinner. The food was delicious. It was a fun night, and nice to meet up with an old friend from home. We can't wait to come back to London, and hopefully Cambridge again!


Pics from Cambridge & London:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bombs over Rotterdam

There are interesting reminders every now and then about the history of our fair city. Some are subtle, and some, not so much... like the bomb sirens that just went off all over the city. Huh? You heard me right, folks. It starts with just one soft siren in the distance, and grows increasingly intense and loud as others join in across the city. Don't worry, the War on Terror has not extended into The Netherlands, yet. Some group of cloggies somewhere decided that it was important to keep the old bomb warnings in tact, and in order to do so it requires that they test the system every month or so. It was a bit strange, and eerie, but at least "this is only a test."

On the more subtle side of the reminders of the past are the quaint, more typically Dutch, towns that line the city center of Rotterdam. Chad and I took a nice bike ride after work today to nearby Delfshaven. It's a small town consisting of only two to three old streets that are split by canals and topped off with a windmill at end of the inlet. The wall-to-wall buildings are marked with old metal signs swinging from hangers over the doors naming the tavern, taylor, or art gallary inside. It's a stark contrast to the modern, industrial city that can literally be seen over the tops of these old buildings. These modern city buildings owe their existence to the bombings in the 40's that leveled the city center, sparing only a few bordering villages to preserve the legacy of the area. This statue on the right represents Rotterdam after the WWII bombings leveled the entire city center. It's called "The City Without a Heart." While change can sometimes bring progress, as it has to the industry in Rotterdam, it's nice to have areas like Delfshaven that preserve a piece of the past.