Daydreaming about… Columbia River Gorge

As we adjust to our Pacific Northwest “home”, I can’t stop thinking about getting out into the beautiful wilderness surrounding Portland. The Columbia River Gorge is only a hour’s drive away from the city and it’s THIS gorge-ous. Get it? (I mean, I had to.) What a magical escape.

Oregon

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We could canoe?

Canoe

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and wrap ourselves up in our beautiful Pendleton blankets for a very practical photo like this? (we have this one and this one and can’t wait to use them)

Pendleton

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I mean, why not, we’re in love. And then we’ll munch on our homemade granola? (looking at this recipe to try first) And do all that other outdoorsy stuff. I’m so ready to embrace the lifestyle out here. Just need to find a house first. C’mon house!

Enjoy your weekend, kids.

xxx

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Weekend Wrap Up

The tournament has finally arrived and the European Championships 2012 are underway. In the worst timing that could be possible, the internet at our apartment is not working, despite all efforts. So, I’m not able to post as often as I would like. We are currently at a McDonald’s to get something scribbled out.

Everything is going surprisingly well so far. Our friends Barney and Yuri arrived yesterday, we had a wonderful yet quick meal with them and then they headed off to L’viv. After they were safely on the train, we walked back into the city from the train station. P.S. That is a hike. But anyway… The Fan Zone on Khreshchatyk is a nice space, albeit annoying to get in. Apparently when you have a camera bigger than a point and shoot, they require you to go through a special entrance, which naturally, is the one furthest from our apartment. Last night, we watched both the Poland vs. Greece and Russia vs. Czech on the huge screens that are set up in the Maidan. If we are able to get our internet going, I’ll post more frequently in the next two days. On Monday, we head to Poland and the adventures continue. I’m meeting up with my high school bud, Marisa, and we’re taking on Eastern Europe together – by train!

Here are some pics…

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Jaro with our new toy. 

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The big screen in Maidan.

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Russia scores. 

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Weekend Wrap Up

Ahoy, Captain. Jaro surprised me with a private boat ride!

Bloemengracht

Enjoying the hot date (and nice weather!).

Modern houseboat

A pretty scene

Ducklings

Nerds (but look, he even brought flowers on board!)

The best way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

The Butcher.

I ask for a picture and get swooped up. Super fans!

Nederland (6) vs. Northern Ireland (0)

Heading to Ukraine today for the European Championship 2012. I can’t believe it’s here and we get to see all Jaro’s hard work pay off. Still figuring out what will happen to us come September. We will be sure to make an announcement when we find out what’s next!!

xxx

Weekend Wrap Up

Playing with bugs. What’s new.

Beach day at Zandvoort.

Best egg salad sandwich. Ever.

Taco Shop in Amsterdam. Set up by a couple dudes from Cali.

Revan. Awesome Turkish restaurant in Amsterdam.

Beach day at Bloemendaal. Need to rent one of these this summer.

Happy Memorial Day. Ready for BBQ & picnic.

Happy Memorial Day. Here in Amsterdam, they celebrate Pentacost. Either way, Jaro had the day off.

Our first “BBQ” in Sarphatipark.

Weekend Wrap Up

Hi there. I’m feeling under the weather today, so I’m sorry if this post lacks my normal enthusiam. “Under the weather” couldn’t be more appropriate right now. Our weather in Amsterdam has been AMAZING the past two weeks. Actually amazing. And I’m certainly not feeling amazing so I suppose I am, indeed, under it. But let’s talk weekend, shall we? I had a friend visiting from the U.S. and it was good to talk about how everyone is doing at home and share how things are going over here.

On Friday when she arrived, we took a nice long walk around Museumplein, over to Leidesplein and up & around to Rembrandtplein. Lots o’ pleins (which really just means square in Dutch). All this walking just means we earned our dinner at Bazar, one of my faves, and then we rolled home.

On Saturday, it was another gorgeous day, so we hopped on a Canal Bus Tour (my third time, but who’s counting?). As much as I love the architecture of my city, it was also the perfect day to stare up at this:

But also see our crazy juxtaposition of these:

Het IJ.

We, of course, also stopped in the Lindengrachtmarkt for lunch, so I could say hi to my favorite Hot Meat men.

After a long day in the warm sun, we thought there is no better way to end it than with this:

Enjoying my roof with a friend.

And after considerable chatting up there, it continued down here:

Evening stroll

Sunday rolled around and we took another walk. This time through Vondelpark and around the Pijp, stopping for lunch at another favorite haunt, De Duvel.

Sometimes, quiet weekends are just what you need. And, sometimes, they are even just what I need.

xxx

Weekend Wrap Up

Hey friends. So last week, I was really jazzed about doing this weekly post. Until I really didn’t do much this weekend and don’t have anything to write about… Awkward silence.

Okay, that’s not true. I did do stuff. I do things when my husband travels for work and I don’t tag along. When you live in a foreign country and are not planning on ever currently working, there is no excuse. There is always something new and cool to check out. I will write a separate post about my thoughts on traveling while being an expat wife this week actually. Stay tuned!

So Thursday (my weekends can start when I want them to). Thursday started my weekend. I saw the forecast, saw a bright, sunny sun, and 15 degree temps, so I headed to a popular warm weather destination here is the Netherlands – Scheveningen. This coastal town, just a skip from Den Haag, is our very own version of the Jersey Shore. No, I don’t mean Snooki or MTV, I mean a huge boardwalk filled with tons of sidewalk cafes and lots of activities for the kiddies. Tons of people were strolling around (on a Thursday, suspiciously), and enjoying the sunshine. Like this scene in picture #1:

Scheveningen's beachside cafes

And this is just the very end of the boardwalk. It stretched quite a ways in the other direction (aka: In the direction of the sun. aka: Horrible front-lit photos.) Notice how huge the beach is also? Can’t wait to party here in the summer!

On Friday night, I had some girlfriends over for dinner and cooked the delicious feast seen in picture #2:

Dinner with friends

You can’t tell because I didn’t spend the time to take a decent picture, but it’s stuffed chicken & baked goat cheese salad with bacon-wrapped scallops and a gigantic plate of cheese. Yum!

Saturday was a bit of a bust for me. I’ll admit it. I just wasn’t feeling like going out and the inevitable consequences I would have to deal with on Sunday. So what did I do instead? Maybe picture #3 is a hint:

The Blue Mosque

No, I didn’t escape town for the day, I booked a new trip! That’s right – Jaro & I are going to Istanbul, Turkey! After experiencing the incredible culture of Morocco that I wrote about at length here, here & here, I’m so curious about and excited to visit another Muslim country. Jaro has been there and swears I’ll love it, which makes me that much more pumped. We’re going at the end of April, which I hear is a great time to go. Yay!

Sunday I woke up at 8am. Feeling refreshed, excited and, guess what, not hungover! So I hopped on my bike and pedaled off to Vondelpark and the city was the quietest I have EVER seen it. Pure bliss. It was a bit soggy outside, but I managed to snap this beautiful shot for picture #4:

Spring has sprung in Amsterdam!

When I actually love on my camera a bit, it loves me back! I then had lunch with one of my high school teachers who is also an expat in Europe. It’s incredible to me to have these new connections and re-connections with people here (as in, across the pond) from my life back home. Gives me that good “it’s a small world after all” feeling. Love it.

So there you have it. My weekend wrap up. Did you all have a good weekend? Anyone else out there flying solo and making the best of it?

xxx

Weekend Wrap Up

Hi there. This is the first installment (hopefully not the last) of our weekend adventuring. We do things. Go out. Eat stuff. See stuff. I thought it might be fun to have this standing post each Monday-ish to share what we were up to during the end of the week. And I’m going to attempt to do so in not enough too many four pictures.

On Friday night, we tried out a restaurant in our ‘hood – The White Elephant. It was good. Really good. We will be back.

On Saturday, we headed out to explore some of North Holland that we haven’t seen before. Leading us to picture #1:

Boring picture until you realize I'm driving manually. Then it becomes terrifying.

I have driven stick before in my life (like twice) and this was my first time behind the wheel of any vehicle (other than a bicycle) in over 6 months. Hence the terrifying aspect of this photo. Jaro displayed a patience even I didn’t know he had. Wonder who will teach our kids to drive? Anyway, I got a lot of practice and feel great about it! Can’t wait for more road trips.

After one or two stalls in the parking lot We headed out to a nearby town called Beverwijk to see its HUMUNGOUS weekend market. Seriously, I read that 80,000 people visit this market in an average weekend. Dat be HUGE! Anyway, it was a strange place, which leads us to picture #2:

Manicure, anyone?

Shops used displays such as this to lure (?) customers in for a manicure. I’m sorry, what? Okay, I’ll go ahead and get the British flag, thanks. The best part about the market other than these tips was the Asian food market. We picked up a ton of gems like Sriracha hot sauce, ginger beer, peanut snacks and rice noodles. I’d go back just for that store.

Moving on, we headed to Edam. Cute, quaint Edam. Right up there with Delft in terms of charm. Which leads us to awe-inducing picture #3:

Teeny bridge in Edam

We wandered around this town for a couple hours wondering where all the people were. It was like the entire town was sleeping. And on a Saturday. Need to re-visit in the summer.

After driving through farmland with more windmills than you can count and small towns like Alkmaar & De Rijp, we headed back to Amsterdam. A quick bite at Bazar (unusually quick, we only had an appetizer and beer) and that was enough. Goodnight.

On Sunday, we got going early (again, with me behind the wheel!) and headed south to Maastricht. This medieval town in the very tip of the Netherlands still has intact 13th century fortification walls around parts of the city. Very cool! Here we enjoyed a lunch at Bisschopsmolen, a bakery that still used a working watermill for power, followed by afternoon beers at In Den Ouden Vogelstruys, with pretty views of Sint Servaasbasiliek, which you can somewhat see in picture #4:

Sunny afternoon beers in Maastricht

We arrived back in Amsterdam late last night. BEAT. Worth it as we had a chance to discover all sorts of new parts of this incredible country we live in. We had a blast! And it was nice to just hang out together. Even though we moved out here on our own, I still don’t feel like we do that enough. I hope everyone had a weekend just as fulfilling as ours!

xxx