Tuesday, October 31, 2006

update

sorry to be out of touch recently. we've had a lot on our plates, and haven't had internet access at home to keep in touch with all of you. as i type this, i'm at the library in hengelo, paying for internet access... so i'll have to keep this brief.

anyway, we're all moved in, more or less. we still haven't gotten our shipment from colorado, which is a total pain. literally. we're sleeping on a futon from IKEA, instead of in a real bed like grown ups. but at least we have a roof over our heads!

as expected when one moves to a foreign country, there have been some glitches. i've already mentioned that our bed isn't here yet, nor my massage table or kitchen items. (i'm become quite adept at making dinner in an itsy bitsy pot and eating with a plastic fork.) but additionally, our order from IKEA was two days late in arrival, even though i ordered everything literally three weeks before it arrived. it's not a large country, so it was frustrating to say the least that it took as long as it did to get our sparse furniture from the depot in a town that was maybe 20 miles away. we ended up having to spend three nights in a hotel while we waited, because our lease for our temporary apartment had already expired.

and then... when the IKEA order did arrive, we realized that the couch i bought was too big to fit in the stairs! and i didn't buy a big couch! in fact, i bought the smallest one they had, because it was the cheapest one they had! fortunately, we have a storage closet on the street level, so we kept it in there for a few days. then on saturday, adam invited a couple of big strong men over from his work, and i got 40 meters of rope, and we pulled it up onto the roof of the jewelry store below and brought it in our kitchen door. success! to celebrate, we stoked up a fire in our fireplace and drank bock beers, a special brew that only comes around in the autumn, and which everyone here gets really fired up about.

meanwhile, the internet and phone company that i signed up with decided that we were going to be too much of a pain in the butt as customers and has dumped us. so i found a new company yesterday and now must wait 3 or 4 weeks for the package to arrive, which apparently i'm supposed to install myself. how much do you want to bet that the instructions are going to be in dutch? ... wish me luck that i don't break anything!

but really, we're good. i'm getting totally awesome with my dutch speaking, and have been writing old-fashioned letters (you know, with a pen and some flimsy, white stuff called "paper") to friends and family since i don't have internet at home yet. our house feels very friendly, and likes it when we play music -- the walls seem to vibrate and the air feels warmer when we do. i think the last people that lived there were very happy, because the whole house just feels good. wish you were here to share it with us.

that's it. my time is almost up and i need to go home and eat some lunch. i'll write more when i can. in the meantime, write me letters... it's always fun to get stuff in the mail! (thanks to elizabeth for her postcard from the guggenheim, and to bob and rae for all the fun magazines!)

love you!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

off the grid

we begin the transition to our new place this weekend. it's a gorgeous, three-storied "maisonette" above a jewelry store in the heart of hengelo, with an absolutely picturesque view of the old catholic church around the corner. it has a back patio (an "achtertuin" or "back garden"), way too many bedrooms, a fireplace, and a spacious kitchen. it's just perfect, and i thank all of you who were actively praying and sending us happy fuzzies because it definitely worked.

anyway, i want you all to know this for two reasons: one, the calslaan address you have for us is no longer valid. i'd give you my new address, but i don't want to post it on the blog. if you're planning on sending us something, shoot me off an email first and i'll give you our address. but more importantly, we're not going to have phone or email for a while. the company we signed up with is doing some construction or something, and they say that we may not have service for 4 to 6 weeks. which puts us in the early part of december. a total bummer. so we'll be living in the "dark ages" of the early 1990's... i shudder at the thought. fortunately, the library is around the corner so i can keep in fairly-regular email contact, and adam will have internet all day at his work, so he's easy to get ahold of.

i just wanted to give you a heads up so you don't worry about us.

here's a few pics of our new place, before we have any stuff moved in:




the rotating clock on the roof of the jewelry store beneath us. we see it from our living room window, thereby saving us the cost of needing to buy a clock for our apartment.






standing in front of the jewelry store, and our maisonette. we get all three stories of the house you see atop the store. nice!

















the view from the balcony off the master bedroom. the street below has a market on it on wednesdays and saturdays, so i can stroll downstairs and buy fresh flowers and fruit for breakfast.








the view of the catholic church from our living room.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

ich bin ein hamburger

last week we spent a few days in hamburg, germany. adam attended a conference there where he was also able to meet up with his advisor from CU. i mostly slept in and spent time down by the rathaus (the city hall building in the center of town) drinking tea and reading my van gogh book.

it's so strange that in one day i can speak three languages in two countries. i had such a hard time my first day or so in germany, because i wanted to speak dutch to everyone, even though i've been speaking german since i was 13 and have only known dutch since august. by day two i was getting better at it though, and by day three felt comfortable speaking in german. but when we came home to the netherlands, i found it difficult to transition back to dutch. dutch, english, and german are all very similar languages, and i think that's my problem... if i was speaking russian and spanish, maybe it would be easier because those languages have nothing in common. but when i'm trying to ask for directions or request another cup of tea, i forget which form of "you" i'm supposed to use, and which way to conjugate the verb, and how to say thank you, because it all sounds the same in all three languages, but they're just different enough that if i didn't get it right, the other person wouldn't understand me.

anyway, here are way too many pictures of our trip to hamburg.



we took a great bus tour of the city. we were the only english speakers on the bus, so the guide gave the tour in german. but between myself and adam, we actually understood quite a bit of what was said and felt like we learned a lot about the history and architecture of the city.





our tour bus dropped us off at "hafen city," the ridiculously huge harbor in the industrial region of hamburg known as altona. here's a few pictures of us hanging out. i especially liked the jagermeister boat and it made me think of our friend james, who i'm sure would have found a way to make his way on board.





















after hanging at the harbor, we made our way back downtown to get some dinner. we found this lovely cafe' that was right on the water. see the pretty pontoon-restaurant in the right hand corner? that's where we ate! i think it was my favorite part of all the things we did in hamburg. dinner lasted almost three hours, and we just sat and ate and had really great conversation about fascinating and important things. good, deep talk. so wonderful.

this is how married we are: during dinner, there was a man who was wandering through the restaurant selling roses. he came to our table, and adam, already being in a romantic mood because dinner was so lovely, decided to get me some flowers. so when the man asked adam if he wanted to buy me a rose, adam was like, "yeah!" and then looks over at me and says, "do you have any money?" omg. it was so funny! so yeah, he bought me flowers. how romantic.


on saturday we took a boat tour of the harbor. our tour boat was this cool mississippi river boat style, with a classy interior complete with a dance floor and spiral staircase. here's about a million pictures of the harbor. ps, the "man" you see standing in the water is not a man at all. he's actually a statue. hamburg is really big on the arts and has numerous playhouses and concert halls, along with art such as this scattered throughout the city.





the view right before we left the harbor. you can see some of the old churches in hamburg in the distance. the large harbor building on the left is also quite old, and on sundays people still gather in the early morning for the fish market.




















this is what the outside of our boat looked like. the red paddle actually was used to propel us... it wasn't just for looks. how cool!





before we took our short, 4-hour train ride home, we went back downtown to see the rathaus and hang out along the canals. hamburg is a surprisingly romantic city, despite the gray and the cold. the water, architecture, and atmosphere of the city makes it really inviting and sweet. i'd definitely visit again.



















this is the hotel we stayed in. there were actually about four different hotels in this one building, which is called the dammtor palais. we found out that it was built in the early 1900's and was primarily apartments and offices. the neighborhood we were in was primarily jewish until WWII. across the street is a park with a large stone, commemorating the spot where 26,000 of hamburg's jews were gathered before shipping them off to concentration camps.




the train station in hamburg before we caught our train home. we took one train to munster, which took about 2 hours, and then transfered to a smaller inter-city train to enschede. adam's on the 2nd train in this picture.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the prettiest town in europe

delden, a tiny village just a few kilometers away, was voted "the prettiest town in europe" about 10 years ago.

getting on the train to delden

the majority of residents in delden are fairly wealthy, the waiter even going so far as to use the english slang "old money." it goes back to the golden age of the netherlands, when there were colonies all around the world and the tea trade was a lucrative business. i think the count or duke or something of the region lived in this area, and so a lot of the people who also lived here were in his court or something. anyway, that's how the castle came to be. (yes, it's the same castle that adam and i visited when we had only been here about a week. it's called twickel kasteel, but i don't know if it's really the twickels that live there or if that word means something else.)

the day we visited delden there was some sort of festival going on. all the shops were open, a rarity for a sunday, and there were various bands (accordion, marching, and jazz primarily) playing on the street corners. we ate at a cafe at the edge of the village, very near the castle, and walked down there to enjoy the view for the rest of the afternoon. i think rae wants to sell everything she owns and move to delden. it seemed to be her favorite part of the whole visit out here.


one of the bands we listened to. they were right across the street from the cafe where we ate lunch.








the castle is built on the water and has a moat! this is a wing of the castle that i think served/serves as a carriage house.

Monday, October 09, 2006

noordwijk aan zee








noordwijk aan zee, a seaside town on the coast of the north sea, is a mere three hours away, and on the other side of the country.

after bob and rae's visit to enschede last weekend, they took a few days to themselves to see the sites in the hague and the adorable town of delft. on thursday, adam took off early from work and we caught the train to the hague, where we then hopped a bus to noordwijk, to meet up with his parents. we stayed in a really lovely hotel right on the beach, and our rooms looked out over the ocean. i've attached some pictures of the view from our balcony and also of one that adam took of me when i was looking at the sea from our room.


the weather was blustery for most of the weekend, with occasional bursts of sunshine. but mostly it was gusty winds and rain. the news guys at the bbc told us that it was "squally" outside. which meant that we spent a lot of time indoors at the hotel bar playing cards, or going to the steam room and pool to relax. incidentally, the first rule at the hotel pool was not "no running" or "no glass containers allowed". rather, the first rule was "the use of a swimsuit is compulsory." isn't that hilarious?! and... AND... i was looking outside my window on saturday, admiring the view of the water, when i saw a man totally naked from the waist down, drying himself off on the street after a chilly dip in the north sea. i'm totally serious. bare butt in the wind, thoroughly drying off his junk (that sand can chafe, you know), just naked on the street. to be fair, he did have his behind towards the street, so there was some element of modesty... but still. that was just weird. then he put on his pants, packed up his stuff, and walked away.

we found a really yummy pancake house that we ate at twice. i thought pannekoeken would be everywhere here in holland, since that's all we ate last year when we were here. but it seems to be only in the west, where there are more tourists. we also ate at a pretty decent mexican restaurant and also a really gezellig italian place with a live musician on his electric keyboard playing songs evocative of neal diamond.


these are the pictures i have of the weekend. i'll post the rest when bob and rae send their pictures to us. enjoy!