Saturday, September 24, 2011

Flowers, a Castle, all of Holland and a cold ...

Thursday morning my alarm went off at the unearthly hour of 6 am ... ugh!  Getting up that early isn't something fun for me to do! But we had plans for the day and needed to get to them!

We headed out to Aalsmeer, about 25 minutes away, to the FloraHolland flower auction/clock.  When we first got in to the viewing area, it was a little sad, because there were no flowers around and no activity at all.  But as we walked further into the viewing area, we came across more noise, more flowers and lots of activity.  It wasn't too busy, visitors wise, either, which was nice, not having to fight our way to see things! :)

After that we headed back to our place for a refreshing strong cup of coffee and planned for our next adventure of the day.  First off, try to get the bikes in the car.. no go, they are just too wide for our Peugot!

We headed out to Muiderslot to the castle and explored its rooms and areas.  We checked out the gardens, which sadly need some work!  Just beyond the gardens they had some owls and falcons hanging out, so we went over and checked them out.  We even got to pet one ... they are uber soft!

From there we were thinking of heading to the coast, but halfway there I thought maybe we should go check out Haarlem.  So we had lunch at this little cafe, facing out to the crowds walking past in the square, in true Dutch fashion.  Grace enjoyed her first Heineken and liked the first few sips, until it started to get warm.  She did more then I did when Aaron & I did the tour last fall!  We checked out the St. Bavo church and then headed out shopping!! :)

Friday we headed out to the Den Haag area to Maduradam, which is all of Holland in miniature.  Great way to see the highlights of a country! :)  The weather has turned to the beautiful, so it was a great day to walk around outside!  From there we headed into the city of Den Haag itself and after driving around in circles, I found a relatively close parking lot to the Prison Gate/Torture museum that interested Grace ... :) It was pretty cool to see, though we couldn't really understand a word of the tour, since the guy only did it in Dutch!  It was funny, because either he didn't know, or didn't care that we couldn't understand him, but he kept looking at us as he was doing his talk, like he was hoping we'd magically get it! :)

From there we hustled back to the car, since we were about 10 minutes over the time allotment I had paid for at the parking lot.  Hopefully we don't get a ticket in the mail! :)

Oh yes.  Cold.  I have a cold.  I'm pregnant and I have a cold.  This means that I can't take anything to help me feel better.  So I'm pregnant, I have a cold, and I look and feel pitiful.  Just so you know.

Here are the pictures.  Its the full album, so you may have to scroll down some.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Monday after doing laundry, {for what seemed like hours and hours and hours, the dryers were not cooperating!!} Grace & I hopped a bus to Schiphol and picked up our rental car.

I had reserved a small Ford something or other, the smallest, cheapest, automatic on the list.  When we got up to the desk, the lady had to call around to the pick up desk, and the garage, to make sure they had an automatic in, that I could rent.  After about 4 phone calls, we were told we were going to have a BMW 1 series.  I was fine with that, as long as it didn't cost me more, and was automatic.

In the last few months they moved the car rental pick up desk ... all the way to the other end of the garage.  So after an escalator ride, a walk, four moving sidewalks, and an elevator ride, we found the desk.  And then the confusions started!  The BMW was still in the garage, so they were going to give us the Peugot they had sitting ready.  But then the other guy on duty said no that was for someone else.  If we could wait about 5 minutes, then the BMW would be ready and brought up.  No problem.  After about 10 minutes, the guy came back in and said that the BMW wasn't coming so we could have the Peugot after all... and then he said, wait, I see the BMW, let me go get the keys.  Walked off, but never came back with the keys.  Another 10 minutes passes and we finally drive out ... in the Peugot 3008.  :)  So much confusion over a car!!

We headed up to Volendam, a little touristy fishing village on the Maarkermeer.  We did the obligatory shopping and eating and then headed back home.

an itty bitty tiny street that I was leery driving our car down ~ but I guess its big enough for a car and bus!

Tuesday we headed out by 9 am to go do to La Roche-en-Ardenne, in Belgium.  We got into La R-en-A around 12:30 and walked the streets with the stores and checked out a few things we wanted to buy, but decided to do the hike up to the castle ruins before we bought and had to carry things around.  The hike up to the ruins, was really a hike, up a slope/hill of cobble stones that are really uneven and not smooth.  After a stop for lunch, when we got back down, we headed back to the shops and spent all our money! :)

We left shortly after and carried on to the city of Luxembourg, in the country of Luxembourg, not to be confused with the province of Luxembourg in the country of Belgium.  We found a parking garage and walked back up to street level, to realize we were in the rich hoity toity area, since one of the first stores I saw was Hermes.  Yeah, I don't think I'm going to spend 2000 Euros on a purse, especially one that won't even hold my wallet!

The balance of the pictures are here.

Today we are recuperating from all the driving yesterday, and I had a doctors appointment.  Tomorrow morning we hope to get up uber early and hit the Aalsmeer Flower auction.  Then?  Wherever our Peugot will take us!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Saturday was a lazy rainy day here in Amstelveen.  Grace came over for breakfast in the morning and we just sat around relaxed most of the day.

The one big thing that we did do during the day, was book our time away in Switzerland! :) YEA!! Sadly Aaron can't come with us, so we'll go during the week, so that he isn't all alone on the weekends. We'll be gone the 27th to the 29th, and plan on taking a 2 hour boat cruise around Lac Leman as well as a cable car ride up one of the Alps! :)

This week I'm hoping to rent a car and hopefully we can go and explore different parts of the Netherlands, as well as head down to Belgium and Luxembourg.  Having the car will allow us to go and see other things, even though it'll probably be raining ... sigh ... where is the sun???

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our trip to Portland & Grace is here! :)

So from the 31st of Aug to the 7th of Sept we had a super uber speedy busy trip to Portland ... I think of the 300+ people at church, we only missed about 35! :O  Insanely tired we were each night ... a few nights I was the first person in bed, before the 6 year olds even!! I didn't take any pictures while we were there since it mostly was visiting people and doing some shopping .. nothing photo worthy really!

After a 5 hour delay at PDX we were finally on our way "home".  I slept a bit on the plane, which was nice, because I sure needed it!!  "Home" ... such a relative word... I sometimes feel like a misplaced lost soul... where do we really call home, Amstelveen or Portland?  It's a strange life we are living now ... but I'm sure it'll get better soon ... we are starting to slowly but surely set down roots and get involved in different activities with church.  Aaron is leading a men's bible study, and I've joined a women's group.

So a mere 5 days after we got back, Grace arrived! I think I had just enough time to get over the bulk of my jet lag, get in some good nights of sleeping and afternoon naps.

Tuesday, the day she arrived, we didn't really do much.  I took her over to Marieke's to get settled, and to meet her hostess, who {as a nurse} had to work the evening shift, so she wouldn't be around in the afternoon.  Grace was feeling quite chipper and didn't want to nap, so we came back to our place and just hung out for the afternoon.  We took a little walk in the afternoon, to keep her awake, and then I fed her an espresso! :)  She got her second wind then!!  LOL

Bullrushes from our walk
Yesterday, Wednesday, I biked over to her, and we attempted to find a bike shop before heading into Amsterdam Centrum, to get some minor adjustments made to the bike that Marieke is loaning her.  We had no luck, so we parked our bikes at a tram stop, and decided to just head into the city and deal with them later!

When we got to Centraal Station, we decided to take one of the boat tours, since the sky was threatening to open up upon us!  It rained a bit on the tour, but nothing major thankfully!  After the boat tour we walked down to Dam Square to see the war monument and the Palace.  The scaffolding is finally off the front, but I didn't take any pictures for some reason ... not sure! Next time!  We continued on from there to the floating flower market.  Grace picked up a few souvenirs and I got a set of three cacti plants, little miniature ones in red, pink and orange.  We then caught the tram back, since we were both starting to feel a little tired!  Thankfully Grace is here for a while, so we don't have to cram 30 things into one day!  We can take our time.

When we got back to our tram stop, and were waiting to cross the road to our bikes, this older gentleman asked Grace about her mittens, if they were hand made or machine made.  He was nice and gave us directions to a bike shop that sadly when we got there had moved, and I couldn't find the new location of!  But he reminded me of the uncle in "Little Orphan Annie".  Bald head, black suit and hat, and dark black sunglasses! We did end up finding another bike shop nearby, and got Grace's bike all sorted out.  The man even gave her a quick lesson on the proper way to start and stop riding your bike in Holland! :)

Today Grace biked here in the morning and we went back into Amsterdam to check out the Albert Cuypstraat Market.  This market is about 3 blocks long, both sides of the street, and has pretty much anything and everything for sale, from clothes to bike parts, to fresh fruits, veggies and fish to jewelry and purses and suitcases.

Now we are sitting at home, relaxing for a bit, then heading off to the grocery store again ... :)  a thrice weekly excursion. :)

Here are my photos from yesterday ... pictures!

To get Grace's perspective and see her pictures, go here!

Tomorrow we're going to check out the market here in Amstelveen and probably take a bike ride, but otherwise no plans have been made.

We are working on plans for Switzerland still, and trying to figure out a car rental too.

Enjoy! :)