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.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dunya Festival


Each year the park next to our apartment (& the Euromast), Het Park, holds several festivals and live music events. In May, they have the Dunya Festival. It sticks out in my mind because it is the first festival that Chad & I attended in Rotterdam just days after moving into our apartment.

This year we again went to hear some of the music, sample the good international food vendors, and check out the variety of multinational clothing & food vendors. This year, some early afternoon rain scared off a lot of the people, but for the couple hours we were there, we had great weather. And, great food including corn on the cob, a Mexican burrito, and tasty Indian doughnuts.

-S

More pics on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kanickmoses/sets/72157624923434752/with/4976179639/

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Biking through Gouda

We took another trip to Gouda this weekend. It was nice weather, so we planned on biking around the nearby lakes. Linda’s parents were also in for the weekend, so the whole family came along.

It was the first time Chad and I had taken our new baby (the Nikon) to Gouda, so we took the opportunity to capture some of the interesting canals and houses that we always pass in Gouda on the way to the Amelink’s house. We walk along a foot & bike path that is flanked on both sides by small canals and beautiful houses. Many are large stand alone houses, which is a rarity in Holland. Some of them have elaborate gates at the front of their driveways, and little bridges to get over the canals. There are even, what look like, a couple petting zoos or small personal farms in their yards, with goats, chickens, sheep, etc. Interesting…

We haven’t described the Amelink’s neighborhood & house before, so thought I’d just give it a quick run through, since it’s very typically Dutch. Their neighborhood has street after street of buildings of row houses 3 floors high (what we might call townhouses). They share walls on two sides and open up in the front and back. Each has a garden on one side, and the other side opens up to a common area with sidewalks, grass, and trees. It is really the perfect place to raise children, and there are several other young kids in the neighborhood that Tomas & Lukas can play with.

There are a few different ways that people decide to arrange their garden. Some leave it all as grass, but most lay some paving stones to build a walkway or an area for table and chairs. If they have room, they may also throw in a Jacuzzi in a corner, or a shed for lawn equipment or toys.

Their house is narrow and long, and is 3 floors with 3 bedrooms & 1.5 bathrooms. The stairs are, of course, the typical steep & windy Dutch stairs. The first floor has the open living room, dining room and kitchen, and a half bath. The second floor has the three bedrooms and the bathroom. The third floor is an open, finished attic, which is a nice space for a study and a spare bedroom.

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As I said above, we took a bike ride with the whole family out to the lakes. The boys rode in their child seats on the backs of Arjen and Linda’s bikes. We stopped and had a small picnic by the lake. Chad showed everyone how to throw an American football, and even the kids were getting into it (yes… we’re brainwashing them well!). Then we continued our bike ride to a restaurant that had a beautiful terrace on a lake. It really was a beautiful, scenic ride. I would love to live in a neighborhood like this if we would have been staying permanently (but I also look forward to a house with a nice big yard around it! Shhh…).

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- S
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More pics from our bike ride in Gouda are on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kanickmoses/sets/72157624730200272/with/4894686090/

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My big 3-0!

It was not hard for me to celebrate my 30th birthday. I didn’t feel ‘old’ or ‘sad’ or anything. It does seem strange to say it though, ‘I’m thirty.”

On my birthday, Chad & I and a group of friends had dinner at Hotel New York. Erin and I took the water taxi over from work, which was my first time. It was cool, and a fast trip to the other side of the river.

For part of my gift, Chad wanted to take me to visit a castle, because that is something that I’ve been talking about wanting to do while we are here. We found a great one in Schwerin, Germany, which is about an hour outside of Hamburg. We took advantage of a four day weekend, took the train to Hamburg, and there for two nights, visiting the castle during the day of Friday. The best part about our hotel was the free spa! We spent a couple hours going between the sauna & steam room, and the lounge chairs in the relaxation area. We even watched the sun set out on the (cold) balcony. Romantic. ;)

Schwerin Castle is very unique because it sits on an island in a lake, accessible by two bridges. So, you can walk all around it, and admire its beautifully landscaped gardens. The castle itself is stunning to look at, as it has many details, towers & turrets. There is even an Orangerie (greenhouse) in the back.

This castle was also nice, because it had quite a few rooms inside that were completely renovated & restored to period based d├ęcor. I really enjoyed walking through the rooms and looking at all of the art, furniture, details on the walls and ceilings, etc. My favorite rooms were the round ones in the corner towers. Whenever I tour a place like this, I like to picture what it would be to live during that time. For women, walking around in a big dress, greeting guests, & hosting dinner parties. And for men, going hunting, having business meetings, & sitting with the other men in the smoking room drinking Scotch.

Saturday morning, we left Hamburg to head to Arnhem, in The Netherlands. What took us to this small remote Dutch town? Lady Gaga! Chad had bought tickets for my birthday. The concert was a blast! She had crazy costumes, elaborate sets, and great choreography. It sort of felt as if we were watching Madonna in her early years. Even Chad had fun. ;)

It was a great birthday/week. Things just seem to get better and better each year, so, bring on the 30’s.

-S


- Check out the rest of our pics from Schwerin Castle here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kanickmoses/sets/72157624556773847/

- Check out the rest of our pics from Hamburg here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kanickmoses/sets/72157624682225296/

- Check out the rest of our pics from Arnhem & the Lady Gaga concert here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kanickmoses/sets/72157624557637869/with/4873287098/