Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bike, concert, apartment, flight back, and more of the same

Don't really have much else to update everyone on, but from the title of this post you can see what the things are :-P

I finally bought myself a bicycle here.  Took a couple of trips to the bike store as the first time i went to it, they didn't have any used bikes out that would fit me (ie. i'm too short in this country, haha).  Said they had a couple others in the back so i went back the following day (yesterday).  The bike should work to get me to places that i don't want to walk to and that i really don't want to take a bus (or if the bus doesn't go to where i want to go).

This evening I'm going to an All American Reject concert in Amsterdam, so a bit excited about that.  The fact that the tickets were pretty cheap helps in that :-) Don't know many of their newer songs so i'm trying to learn those right now.  Assuming they'll play some of their older stuff.

On Tuesday, I'm going to be going to look at a couple of apartments, so I may have a place of my own towards the beginning of next month.  I'll get pictures up of whatever place I move into, especially after i make it to IKEA in order to personalize it a bit more :-)  I think i am a little set on the place, but my opinion could change depending on the vibe i get once i see the apartment in person.

I have flights booked to fly back to Denver on October 27th.  I'll be there until November 7th when i fly to Iceland for a couple days.  I will continue onto Amsterdam on November 11th.  Things i know i'm already looking forward to are: celebrating a late 3rd b-day with my nephew, seeing my niece (who is hopefully born by then), see other family, and of course friends :-)

Oh, there is one other thing.  There's a possibility that i might get to go to Sweden for work for a couple days.  Don't really know any of the details (ie how many people my work is going to send), but i'll try to keep people updated.  I just realized that I've actually gone to Geneva between my last post and this one.  That will have to be another post later on.  For now though, you can see my pictures here, and below is a single preview.

flower clock

Saturday, June 09, 2012


So i am definitely a bit of a slacker when it comes to keeping a blog.  There could be a variety of reasons to explain why don't keep up to date more regularly.  I'll let everyone come to their own conclusions :-P

Alright, lets see if i can remember everything i've done since my last post.....

Several weekends ago the weather was very nice (ie it was actually sunny), so i did as much as i could outside. The fact that it was a 3 day weekend was quite nice as well.  On the Saturday i made my way to the beach which was fun.  the water was definitely too cold for me.  I don't know how some people were actually playing and swimming in it.  On the Sunday, i made my way down to Rotterdam for the Dunya Festival.  The festival was fun as well.  Multi-culture festival with various kinds of music on multiple stages and food booths, what's not to enjoy?  After the festival, i then made my way back up to Amsterdam and went to an American comedy show titled "Can't Dutch This" at Boom Chicago.  It was hilarious and i definitely plan on taking people to a show there if they visit (hint hint).  On the Monday of the 3-day weekend i went back to the beach, but at the beach itself it was foggy/misty, windy, and chilly which definitely isn't beach weather.  Instead i ended up going back to Haarlem walked around for a bit.

beach in Zandvoort

Dunya Festival

I think that was really the only "exciting" weekend since my last post.  The weather changed back to being cloudy/rainy most days, especially on the weekends.  Although it is a bit nice that by the time i'm getting done with work the sky does clear up a bit which makes for a nice run after work.

I've also started to look for apartments in Haarlem, for when i'll be moving out of my current living arrangements.  There is a place that i found that looks really nice.  Just not sure if i should go after the 1st one i see/like or if i should look around more.  I know i probably should look around  more, but i also don't know how long i would have before the one i like might be gone.  I also haven't seen very many that really jump out to me.  One reason i want the one i found (even though it's slightly on the expensive end) is that it has an actual oven and has a washer and dryer :-)  doesn't have a bath tub or terrace, but i can live without those things :-P

hmm...speaking of ovens, i may have to have an entry or 2 about cooking/baking in Europe as it has been a bit entertaining, especially with trying to use a microwave-oven combo thing that only makes some kind of sense (the instructions are in french and dutch).  The dial is rather interesting too (see below).  I did manage to bake some banana bread that turned out rather well though.

some look pretty self-explanatory....others not so much

Anyways.....this week i finally was able to go and pick up my residence permit, so i guess that means it's official that i'm a resident of the Netherlands right now.  With that i am now going to go get a cell plan today so i will have internet on my phone again.  The cheap little prepay phone i got just isn't cutting it anymore :-P  Also, now that i have a residence permit i will be able to get a movie pass.  For 19 euros a month (or something like that) i can go to as many movies as i want.  When a single movie ticket is about 10 euros, the pass will pay for itself in after 2 movies. Plus the place that i currently would like to rent is a block or 2 away from the theatre :-)

Also this week there was a late night shopping event in Haarlem that was a lot of fun (and i probably spent more money that i should have).  Quite a few stores stayed open until midnight and each different shopping section had a different decade theme...or they were at least suppose to.  Didn't see much of the different 70's, 80's, 90's, or 00's theme, but i also didn't get there until about 10pm so didn't have much time to do shopping there.  Had gone to dinner and then shopping in Lisse (another town close to Hillegom) as Thursdays are when stores tend to stay open until 8 or 9pm.  While walking around/shopping there, we realized that we should have gone to Haarlem, so we decided to go there.  The stores participating in the night shopping also had sales going on (and in some the closer it got to midnight the more the item would be on sale).  Multiple shops also had dj's and beverages for customers.  It was quite fun walking around the G-Star store with a complimentary beer (they also had wine/champagne, water, and pop) :-P

This coming Wednesday I will be flying to Geneva after work to meet up with my cousin.  I should have some stories and pictures after that, so be on the lookout for that post.

Alright, i think that is all for now.  Hopefully my next entry won't be 3 weeks in the making, but i'm not going to make any promises. 

Oh yeah, i'll probably be trying to personalize how my blog actually works at some point to.  If i do change it and it makes anything hard to see/read feel free to let me know :-)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Finally settled....well kinda

Suppose it is time for another quick update.

I finally have a bank account set up with and active debit card and have some money in it.  Tomorrow it will have more money as it is payday :-)  i still need to go pick up my actual resident's permit, so hopefully i will have that within a week or two.  I also still want to go get a cell phone with a data plan.

i think i've been cooking a lot more for myself in the last month than i did in probably the previous 6 months.  Most of the dinners are some kind of pasta in a pesto sauce with various kinds of peppers.  Every now and then there's chicken in it as well.  I also made some mashed potatoes and breaded some chicken tenders (and then also bought some chicken schnitzel to eat w/ the rest of the mashed potatoes as i made too much).  Adding some cayenne pepper to the breading was definitely a nice touch i though :-)

Last Thursday i had made my way to play volleyball in Haarlem with a club.  It was quite fun especially since i missed playing a little bit.  The fact that it got me out of the apartment was also nice.  The training/practice wasn't too bad.  I had been worried that i wouldn't be at the skill level everyone else was at, but i think i was at least close enough (as long as i wasn't trying to spike, haha).  It was also interesting though as the coach was giving directions in Dutch, so i really wasn't sure what he was saying.  Depending on what it looked like the drill was i would just observe or ask either the coach or one of the other players and they would tell me in English.  Afterwards everyone went to the bar that was next to the gym, so that was nice as then got to talk more with the people.  I'm going to be going to the training/practice tonight as well and hoping to become friends with some of them so i'll have people to hang out with.

Hmm...what else....I'm in the process of making my first travel trip to meet up with my cousin who is in Spain for a month.  Right now the plan is to meet in Geneva, Switzerland on June 14th and be tourists there for a couple days, and then to go back to Spain since she flies back to the US on the 17th.  I'm not going to fly back to the Netherlands until the 18th though so i can see a little bit of Spain...mainly Barcelona and go to a beach :-)  part of me wants to stay until the 19th as the flights are cheaper coming back to the Netherlands, but dont really want to take another day off work and then also the cost of staying another night will cancel the cheapness of the flight.

I think that is about all i can think of right now.  Sorry my stories aren't all that exciting.  Maybe they'll get a bit more exciting when i find some people to hang out and do a little bit of traveling with.  Learning some Dutch could also help....haha.  Anyways, ciao ciao

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Netherlands Weekend 2

So finally decided i would write a bit of an update.

Last weekend I had gone to Haarlem on both Saturday and Sunday to hang out with some coworkers.  On Saturday we went and saw Avengers, which i thought was a pretty good movie.  Was glad that it was in English and had Dutch subtitles, although part of me wishes i knew what was said during a scene where some people were talking Russian.  It didn't seem to be all that important of a scene though, so it didn't bother me too much. One interesting thing about the movies is that when you buy movie tickets you actually choose which seats you want.  I kind of like that you get to select where you sit as then if you're going with a group you can make sure you all are able to sit together (and if you get the tickets early enough you can have good seats as well).

my prizes from the "Casino"

Sunday was fun as well.  Met one co-worker to do some shopping to find some orange accessories for Queen's Day.  Ended up getting a wrist band and then some Hawaiian leis.  Then we went to the little fair that was going on and played the coin push game in the "Casino" area.  I won enough tokens to get a couple of prizes....although what i spent to get them verse their actual cost is definitely not the same.  Then again it was a couple hours of entertainment, so it may be equivalent with that factored in.  Dinner was then fun as well.  Had gone to a place where each person gets a card at the beginning and then whatever station you go to, you give them the card and they charge it for whatever you order.  The card does only allow you to get 15 euros of beer/wine though.  The place works out quite well though for going out to eat with a large group as then you don't have to worry about who ordered what as you just take your card to the cashier when you leave.  After dinner we headed out for some drinks to celebrate Queen's Night.

Monday i woke up rather early for a day i had off work so i could make it to Amsterdam to meet another coworker for Queen's Day.  I wanted to leave early so i could avoid the crowds of people heading there for the festivities.  I think i heard there was somewhere between 1.5 to 2 million people in Amsterdam on Sunday.  I don't think i had ever seen so much orange before, haha.  Definitely stayed out longer than i should have, but i figured i would try to celebrate the national holiday like a native, haha.  Made for a long day on tuesday though.

Some other news....

  • i have a prepay phone right now just so i can have a phone to get hold of coworkers and all here if i need to.  i will be getting a phone plan once i get an actual bank account set up (it's been taking forever to get one and is starting to get rather annoying that i don't have one yet)
  • tomorrow there are about a dozen people from my work that will be playing soccer after work.  i'm quite excited about this.  the games are usually put together once a month (and when it's nice weather sometimes people head to a nearby beach to play sand volleyball)
  • was going to head to Brussels this weekend, but those plans have been postponed for now.  Not sure what my weekend plans will be now.

And that's all for now.  Ciao Ciao

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bloemencorso Bollenstreek

Bloemencorso Bollenstreek....a rather popular flower bulb parade. It starts in Noordwijk and ends in Haarlem. The theme for this years parade was "Communication".

Multiple co-workers had mentioned the parade to me so I figured I would check it out, especially since it was going to be going through Hillegom which meant I didn't actually have to go anywhere for it. It was actually going to be passing a block or two away from where my apartment/work is, but I decided to actually head into town though to do a little bit of exploring and to see what kind of shops were all there. At the beginning of the day I was worried it was going to be cloudy windy, and rainy for the parade since i was getting rained on while I made my way to the city center by the long route (I don't know how I keep taking the wrong turns when I start heading into the city center, it's really not that difficult). Once in the city center, I discovered that there was actually a little bit of a festival going on. Several booths were set up with various arts and crafts. A couple of which included the making of the wooden clogs and no i didn't buy a pair of least not yet. Another booth was selling cheese, so I bought a small wheel of their chili cheese (see below), I haven't tried it yet, but I might later this evening.

(thinking i need to go claim my free souvenir)

During the festival, I also tried some fried fish. I believe they called it "kibbeling". I'm not really sure what kind of fish it is though. Whatever it was, it was quite tasty especially with the sauce they had with it. I wasn't brave enough yet to eat the fresh/uncooked herring. I will try it at some point while I'm here though. Oh and I also had some fried bread/dough that had raisins in it with powdered sugar on top that was also quite tasty. Just an FYI, it's not a good thing to be wearing a black jacket while eating something that has powdered sugar :-P

 Can't really think of anything else to say about the parade and the festival. You can see photos of the parade here.  It's the same album that's on FB, so if you've already looked there, then you've already seen them.

 *side notes*
1. I'm feeling slightly blogosphere advanced right now since I included a picture and a link in this post.....well assuming they both work, otherwise i'll feel rather stupid, haha
2. I need to buy an umbrella
3. Wonder if I am annoying anybody with my lack of being consistent with capitalizing "i" while i type, or capitalizing the first word of a new sentence :-P

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Made it

So, I made it to the Netherlands. The flight we (co-worker and I) were suppose to be on was overbooked, so we got changed to a different flight that arrived in Amsterdam about 25 minutes after the original flight and we got a $300 voucher. Sadly our luggage didn't make it onto the flight we got changed to. The luggage has arrived in the Netherlands though, so now we're just waiting for it to be delivered.

We've also been shown where to nearby grocery stores are and various other parts of Hillegom. I think I will have to go out exploring tomorrow or so as right now I could probably only point out the general direction of where things are, but only with about a 60% certainty.

The apartment is rather large and spacious. It has a patio as well so that will be nice as supposedly every now and then in the summer there's bbq where people just head up from the office. Living in the same building as where i will be working will definitely take some getting used. Not to mention I'm curious about how many times i will be setting the alarm off (i'll be keeping a tally i'm sure, haha).

Not sure what I will be doing the next couple days. I don't go to the Immigration and Tax Offices until Tuesday, so I'm not technically suppose to be working until I have been to them and gotten the equivalent of a social security number. More than likely I will just wander around Hillegom and get myself lost as that's a good way to learn directions and where things are at.

**4/15 edit/update
The luggage was delivered last night so i have all my clothes. hope the weather warms up a bit more tho as i mainly packed warmer weather clothes. although i guess this means i can go shopping :-P I'll survive though, haha

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Netherlands

Well, it looks like it's time to resurrect this blog again as I will be living/working abroad in the Netherlands for at least one year and quite possibly two. Probably could have written this post a while ago since right now I am in Washington DC on my way to the Netherlands.

I was selected back in December to work abroad so I was anticipating being gone several months ago, especially since in the original email about the opportunity to work abroad, it stated that they wanted people in the Netherlands early January. Things were a little slow moving until the last couple weeks. Last Monday when I got to work I had an email stating that the visa had been granted. By 3pm that same day I had flights booked to the Netherlands with a 2 day layover in DC so the visa could be put in my passport.

So needless to say, the last couple weeks have been pretty hectic with packing and trying to see people one last time. Definitely made the time go by pretty quickly though.

I've kinda surprised myself (and a lot of other people) that for the time abroad I have only packed two bags to check (which are borderline overweight), my carry-on bag, a personal item (laptop bag), and a Stitch :-P I am hoping that I haven't forgotten anything important.....guess I'll find out in a week or so.

Can't think of much else to type. My flight leaves DC on Friday evening, so I'll have some spare time to be a tourist after meeting the Dutch Consulate in the morning. I'm glad I'm not superstitious with flying on Friday the 13th, although I do wonder if the flight was a little cheaper.