Tag Archives: Netherlands

Amsterdam’s NeighbourFood Market

In an attempt to lift us out of our post holiday slump, we ditched our usual lazy Sunday routine and headed out for a long cross town bike ride to the NeighbourFood Market in Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek. The lovely weather, delicious food and cozy atmosphere definitely helped boot out our end of summer blues. 😉

First stop, burgers and beer :)

First stop, burgers and beer – with some stuffed Greek grape leaves on the side 🙂

Hazelnut, Limoncello & Honey and Thyme truffles for dessert :)

Hazelnut, Limoncello & Honey and Thyme truffles for dessert 🙂

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The market is open one Sunday per month and offers enough sweet and savory treats to please almost any palate.

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Post food stroll through Westerpark

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To keep the spirits lifted as the cooler weather undoubtedly approaches, we’re determined to fill the calendar with as many fun activities as possible for the next few weeks. This weekend we’ll be heading to the popular Grachten Festival (canal festival) in Amsterdam.  With boat filled canals, live music and a fabulously festive feel- it’s quickly become one of our favorite summer send offs. 🙂 

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Spring? Are you out there?

Complaining about the weather is a common pastime in Holland, but I have to say, this latest ruse played by the weather gods is just plain cruel. It’s Easter weekend and it was flurrying last night. (?!) With temperatures well below freezing  through the week, it’s definitely time for a little pick me up.

Inspired by this blog post written by my best friend, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite spots across Amsterdam that I just can’t wait to visit if once this lovely Dutch weather decides to cooperate… 

        Sipping cocktails at the floating swimming pool on the Amstel river

                                                 A BBQ in the beautiful Oosterpark

                                            A day of sand and sun Zandvoort beach

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                                  My first trip to the famous Wadden Area of the Netherlands

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                                                 Dining al fresco at Pata Negra

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                                    Our annual trip to the beautiful Keukenhof gardens

I’m not sure if that made me feel better or worse… Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that Spring will show its gorgeous face soon! 🙂

A Bike Trip to Zaanse Schans

So I finally did it. I quit my job ( well, only after accepting another amazing position here in Amsterdam). 🙂

Luckily, I had enough unused vacation days that I am able to enjoy some much needed time off in the meantime. Amazingly enough, Amsterdam is in the midst of its 2 week-long summer period in which Amsterdamers dust off their seldom used shorts, summer dresses and flip-flops, call in “sick” for the week and head to the outdoors. With some free time and some new summer digs just begging to be worn I was determined to make the most of the wonderful weather.

An expat friend of mine and I decided a bike trip to a new town was the perfect way to soak up some sun, get some exercise and explore more outside the city. We grabbed our bikes, donned our sunglasses and off we were. We biked from her home in Wormerweer about 25 minutes to Zaanse Schans. The ride was absolutely breathtaking and filled with fields of wild flowers, quaint Dutch farm houses, canals and windmills. Once we arrived in Zaanse Schans it felt as if we had gone back in time as we biked into a tiny Dutch village that looks as though it hadn’t changed a bit over the past two hundred years (well, despite the throngs of  socks and sandal wearing German tourists).  We wandered throughout the town, checked out some of the windmills, saw the first Albert Heijn (Dutch grocery store chain), tasted some cheese and even tried on some clogs.

We left Zaanse Schans feeling pretty Dutch that afternoon and excited to plan our next outing!

Rolling Kitchens

This weekend, in an attempt to live up to my goal to get out and do more in Amsterdam, I was determined to plan a nice fun-filled Saturday for Sebastiaan, me and two of our closest friends. After conducting a bit of research, I found the perfect activity to give us a chance to do something a little different and enjoy the far too rare “warm” Amsterdam weather.

Saturday the Rolling Kitchens food festival took place in Amsterdam’s Westerpark. The event featured mobile kitchens from chefs, caterers and restaurants around Holland. We spent nearly five hours roaming the event, enjoying the live music and tasting everything from freshly shucked raw oysters, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, black bean and beef burritos and spicy chicken roti rolls. We ended the night completely stuffed  satisfied stopping for a drink in our favorite neighborhood bar on the way home.

Although we were exhausted and had a bit of a lazy day yesterday, it really is amazing how getting out and doing something fun together really helped to get us energized for the week ahead. As I head into my last week of graduate school classes (EVER!) and the last day at my current job, I can’t help but feel uncharacteristically optimistic for the upcoming summer months.

I can’t wait to see what fun activities will be next  on our agenda! 🙂

Flowers, flowers and more beautiful flowers

The Netherlands, among many other things, is famous for its blossoming (no pun intended) flower industry. Each year the Dutch export millions of flowers around the world and have even become pioneers in creating innovative, sustainable and eco-friendly green house facilities.

If you are lucky enough to visit Holland in the spring, a must see destination is the beautiful Keukenhof. The Keukenhof is a park located about 30 minutes outside Amsterdam filled with over seven million kinds of flowers. The park is only open from mid March until Mid May so during this period on any given day it is likely to be filled with crowds and crowds of  flower lovers from around the globe.

Last weekend Sebastiaan and I went to the Keukenhof with two friends. We took a long walk through the park, visited a few green houses and stopped to check out a local art exhibit. It was an absolutely perfect way to welcome the long-awaited spring season. 🙂

Queen’s Day

This past Monday we celebrated Queen’s Day in Amsterdam. It is the biggest event of the year in Holland and a national holiday for all Dutch residents. Queen’s Day is a celebration that takes place throughout the country each year on April 30th. The Dutch take to the streets dressed in orange (the national color) and celebrate the Queen’s birthday. Oh wait, the Queen’s Mother’s birthday… (apparently this Queen’s birthday is in the winter so that just won’t do…)

In addition to concerts and events throughout the city and even on the canals, Queen’s Day also serves as the only day in the year in which people can sell personal items on the street without a permit. In turn, the streets turn into a yard sale/ block party filled with locals and about 1 million additional tourists.

Although this is my second Queen’s Day, I still hopped out of bed like a kid on Christmas, donned my orange gear and headed out to enjoy all the festivities. This year, Sebastiaan and I met up with some friends, walked throughout the city and ended the day with a BBQ in Oosterpark. We enjoyed a day filled with sunshine, close friends, good music, great drinks and all that Queen’s Day has to offer. I have to admit, I’m already excited for next year! 🙂

Our new nest

Sebastiaan and I finally moved into our beautiful new apartment in the east of Amsterdam this weekend. It was exhausting but so nice to have the help of so many friends and Sebastiaan’s family. Both of the places we’ve lived since I moved to Holland have been furnished so we had absolutely nothing. We felt a bit dizzy just thinking about all the money to be spent on furniture, dishes pots and pans, everything. So because Sebastiaan and I are still students, living on a slightly limited budget, we decided IKEA was our best bet. After 2 trips and about 8 hours spent wandering the various IKEA showrooms, we found some great and inexpensive pieces to fill our new nest.

Our entire apartment looked something like this...

Bright and early Saturday morning the delivery van arrived and our 350 kilo load was lugged up 4 flights of stairs. Looking around the floor of our living room at what seemed to be 100 different boxes, it dawned on me, this my friends is why IKEA is so cheap…

2 days, a some bruised thumbs and a few splinters later, our little place started to look like a home.

This morning when I woke up with the sun shining through our windows I felt all the stress and anxiety of the past few months simply melt away.  I bounced out of bed, took a shower, got dressed and was all geared up to conquer the world when the loudest alarm I have ever heard went off throughout the apartment. Sebastiaan, who up until then had been sound asleep, jumped out of bed pulled the fire alarm from the wall (which didn’t stop the ear-piercing sound) and opened all the windows in the apartment. I still haven’t figured out how a 10 minute shower can set off a smoke alarm but, what do I know? Eventually Sebastiaan fell back asleep and I, now late for work, ran down the stairs (4 flights) only to realize half-way down I had no money for the tram and no idea where the nearest ATM was. After running about a mile around the neighborhood, I now know where the ATM is, where to grab coffee at 7am and where the crazy, and talkative, homeless lady hangs out. So all in all it was an eventful (and informative) Monday morning in the new abode, maybe our new home has to get used to us a bit too… 🙂

Our street!