Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 10: Who is Sinterklaas?

December 4, 2019

Dear Friends and Family, 

I hope that everyone is doing well!  I have not written in a VERY long time and really miss sharing my adventures and everyday life in Amsterdam. 

The holiday season is upon us and the city is filled with beautiful lights all around!  The weather is chilly, but there is magic in the air!  The ice rinks are open and the European Christmas Markets are bustling.  Sinterklaas (the Netherland’s version of Santa Clause) has made his appearance!

Continue reading “Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 10: Who is Sinterklaas?”

American Women’s Club of Amsterdam (AWCA): A New Member’s Perspective

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I had been living in Amsterdam as an expat for about two months when my husband and I were talking about meeting new people and being more social.  As my husband was searching the internet, he came across the American Women’s Club of Amsterdam (AWCA).  He highly encouraged me to join the club.  I read about AWCA and how active they were.  I agreed with my husband about joining AWCA and completed the application.

My husband was out of town for almost two weeks and I guess you could say it was a true experience of what living abroad is like without your spouse, family, and friends nearby.  Several times while living in Texas, my husband was out of town on business, but I was in my “comfort zone” and was busy working.  While my husband was out of town, instead of sitting at home alone with the dogs, I actually did the opposite and found myself becoming more social and meeting new people.  I consider myself an introvert, so for me to talk to people I do not know can be very overwhelming for me.

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The first event that I attended for AWCA was Coffee Chat.  We met mid-morning to socialize and drink coffee.  Coffee Chat was very informal and we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves and talked about how long we had been in Amsterdam, etc.  As the introductions continued, more and more women continued to arrive.  The group of ladies were very welcoming and came from all over the United States (U.S.).  A few ladies were not from the U.S., but had U.S. connections.  I met a few ladies that lived in De Pijp, which is where I live, and we walked home together.

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The second event I attended was a “Pop-Up” Lunch in De Pijp.  I was glad it was in De Pijp because I could walk to the restaurant and not worry about getting lost.  (My sense of direction is not the best. 😬) We enjoyed lunch and each other’s company.  There were about 10 of us that attended.  I recognized some familiar faces and was also introduced to other members.

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The third event I attended was an excursion to a vineyard called No Chateau Amsterdam.  No Chateau Amsterdam is a cooperative vineyard located in an area where several sustainable companies are based.  I would say “the event” for me was riding my bicycle to the vineyard!  I met two AWCA members and we started our bicycle ride to Central Station where the ferry is located.  The bike ride was enjoyable and I was following the other AWCA members just fine until two people rode their bikes in front of me, which put me right next to the sidewalk.  I lost my momentum, but started pedaling again.  As I continued to pedal, I no longer saw the AWCA members that I was “following”.  I called one of them and told her that I had no idea where she was.  I don’t know how, but she found me!  I was one street over from where I should have been.  We made it to Central Station to ride the ferry and met up with other AWCA members.  When we got off of the ferry, we had more bicycling to do.  It was much easier riding since there were not many bike riders or people around.

We made it to our destination!

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The Amsterdam city vineyard No Chateau is a non-profit foundation and was established to bring people together in a green and inspiring environment.  No Chateau also has found like-minded sustainable urban farmers, in a green, quiet, and clean environment.

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Our vinologist for the day was El.  El is a wine expert and organizes wine tastings and guided tours.  El gave us a tour of the vineyards and taught us about the wine-making process in Holland.

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The wine tasting took place at Proost & Stroop (Cheers & Syrup).

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El taught us to use our senses of sight, smell, and taste in the wine workshop called “Tasting with all your Senses”.  We sampled three white wines and three red wines.  It was the first time that I ever tasted Dutch wine.  The wine we sampled is not sold in stores. It is always interesting to hear what adjectives others use to describe the wines they are tasting.  We also sampled two different types of cheese with our wine.  A delicious surprise at the end of the wine tasting was homemade tiramisu!

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The bike ride home from the vineyard was much more enjoyable!

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Our first General Meeting was held in September.  New members wore a red, white, and blue ribbon on their name tag, so it was nice for me to know who was a new member and who was not.  Either way, I talked to several members before the meeting started.  The meeting consisted of introductions and reviewing the calendar of events.  There are PLENTY of events to attend!  😀

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One of the AWCA members joked and said that the bicycle ride to the vineyard was my INITIATION into the group and I COULD NOT AGREE MORE – HA, HA!

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Meet the Blogger:

“FOLLOW” Jen’s blog called www.anchoredinhope.blog as she writes about more excursions and adventures with AWCA.

Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 9: Random Thoughts 🤔 and Observations 👀 …

September 16, 2019

Dear Friends and Family,

This edition of Amsterdam Adventures contains a lot of random thoughts and observations that I have made since living here…  I also HOPE that this edition encourages those that are new to a place to read my post and follow my guidance.

Size of the Netherlands

I found the information below to be very interesting comparing the size of the Netherlands to the size of Texas.

Continue reading “Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 9: Random Thoughts 🤔 and Observations 👀 …”

Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 8: American Women’s Club of Amsterdam

September 12, 2019

Dear Friends and Family,

Tom and I were talking about meeting new people in Amsterdam.  As he was searching the internet, he came across the American Women’s Club of Amsterdam (AWCA).  He highly encouraged me to join the club, so I did! Continue reading “Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 8: American Women’s Club of Amsterdam”

Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 7: Dad visits Amsterdam, WHERE DO WE EAT?

August 29, 2019

Dear Friends and Family,

DAY ONE:  My dad visited T and I for a few days.  He was working in Budapest, so the plane ride to Amsterdam was only a few hours.  I was excited to see my dad considering that I have not seen him since June.  The Littles remembered him immediately and were all over him.  We participated in a “typical” tourist activity, a Canal Tour! Continue reading “Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 7: Dad visits Amsterdam, WHERE DO WE EAT?”

Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 6: Adventures of The Littles

August 14, 2019

Dear Friends and Family,

Time has been going by quickly in Amsterdam.  This letter consists of many things that we did over an extended period of time.

Continue reading “Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 6: Adventures of The Littles”

Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 5: PRIDE Parade

August 8, 2019

Dear Friends and Family, 

T and I have been really busy in Amsterdam and I feel that there is always “something” going on…  PRIDE Week in Amsterdam was from July 27th-August 4th and all I can say is “WOW!”.  The city of Amsterdam came out in full support of all of the activities, especially the PRIDE Canal Parade held on Saturday, August 3rd.  

Continue reading “Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 5: PRIDE Parade”

Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 4: The Dog Days of Summer

July 31, 2019

Dear Friends and Family,

The Netherlands had record breaking temperatures last week.  At one point, when I looked at my watch, it was 101 degrees Fahrenheit!  It was warmer here, while Houston was having a “cold front”.  The apartments in Amsterdam do not have air con (short for air conditioning, as the locals call it), ours being one of them.  Our apartment has been remodeled and is pretty energy efficient, but still can get really HOT. 

The dogs and I escaped to WeWork, where T’s office is located.  The front office staff at WeWork are always so welcoming.  The concept of WeWork is that everyone rents office space so that they have a place to work.  Start-up and established companies are located throughout the building.  The companies at WeWork may have many employees or one, etc.  WeWork offices are located all over the world and even in Houston.  Often times, I go to WeWork and write for my blog. 

The dogs and I were very happy to be in the air-conditioning at WeWork!    

Continue reading “Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 4: The Dog Days of Summer”

Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 3: Bicycling to Amstelpark and Riding the Ferry to Pllek

July 27, 2019

Dear Friends and Family,

In Amsterdam, there are bicycles EVERYWHERE!   Bike riders in Amsterdam are very skilled, I have seen people holding hands while riding their bikes, riding their bike with one hand or no hands, and riding their bike while pulling another bike.  One person may pedal his/her bike while another person rides on the back or front of his/her bike.  You may also see one person pedaling his/her bike with a rider in the front of the bike AND a rider on the back of the bike. Bike riders eat, drink, smoke, and text while pedaling too.  A new law has been put into place regarding no texting while riding a bicycle.  Also, most of the bike riders do not wear helmets.  If you are accidentally walking in the bike lane, the bike rider will ring their bell which is a signal telling you to “get out of my way!”.  I upgraded my mountain bike and made it “Amsterdam friendly” by adding a kickstand, bell, etc.  I was very intimidated to ride my bike for the first time, but I took the plunge on a Saturday morning when people were not commuting to work.  Many locals know that you are American if you wear a helmet.  I figured that maybe the locals would be a little “nicer” to me since I was a beginner bike rider in Amsterdam wearing a helmet!

Continue reading “Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 3: Bicycling to Amstelpark and Riding the Ferry to Pllek”

Amsterdam Adventures – Edition 2: The Heineken Experience

July 17, 2019

Dear Friends and Family, 

I have been in Amsterdam for almost one month, since we technically landed in Amsterdam on June 18th in the morning.  The time has gone quickly and I am still getting acclimated to life in Amsterdam. 

The 4th of July was just like any other day here in Amsterdam.  It felt really strange not celebrating Independence Day, but we had our own celebration!

When our friends were in town, we visited the Heineken Experience.  It definitely was an experience and was like no other brewery tour I have been on.  The tour was two hours of interactive fun and kid-friendly.  Ironically enough, The Heineken Experience is across the street from T’s office building.  

As I live in Amsterdam, I take each day at a time.  One saving grace is that the people that live here speak English.  It would make things so much harder if they only spoke Dutch.  Overall, everyone is very friendly and helpful.  The teller at our bank said that Dutch people are known for being direct and I can see how that is, at times.  

Speaking of the bank, I went about four times until I finally received my pin number for my debit card.  My first trip with T consisted of completing paperwork for a debit card.  I received information in Dutch from the bank, so I went to get more information as to what the letter said.  I was told my debit card was on its way and to ignore the information I received in the mail.  I received two other letters from the bank with information, so I went back to the bank.  They said to come back to the bank when I received my debit card.  I am not sure why there was so much confusion.  I now have my debit card and pin number, which is good.  The grocery store by my apartment only accepts the banking debit card to buy groceries.  Other places only accept Visa, the banking card, or euros, so it gets confusing.

Doing laundry has been one thing that I have had to learn how to do since everything is in Dutch on the washing and drying machine. The washer and dryer are stacked and smaller than the standard size in the United States.  I looked at the manual online and took pictures as a reference. Many people in Amsterdam do not dry their clothes in the dryer because they do not have one. T asked our landlord for a dryer and he agreed to purchase one for us, which I am very grateful. We had thought that the dryer was broken, but the lint trap was filled. I could not figure out why the clothes were not drying and why I could never find the lint trap, but T found it. Also, I had to buy dryer sheets at the Expat Store.  The dryer is now working great!

T and I went to the grocery store together for the first time for “big” grocery shopping.  Needless to say, all of the shelves were being restocked and I did not know what some of the food items were because I did not recognize them and the writing was in Dutch.  We did find items that we liked for dinner.  Whatever you buy, you have to carry home, so it is hard to buy a lot of items at once unless you have your own carrier.  I really wanted to bring my blue Academy wagon from the U.S., but we did not ship it.  😦  The people that I worked with know that I used the wagon all of the time – ha, ha.  Also, you have to pay for grocery bags, so it is best to bring your own.  

Macy has been sick with a virus for a few weeks and we have taken her to the vet twice. 

 

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She is on another round of antibiotics and eye drops.  The vet said that she does not have a parasite and she is not sure what caused the virus.  She is up-to-date on all of her shots and had to have an exam before she came to Amsterdam.  She is getting better each day, but it has been a slow process.  She will go back to the vet when she is finished taking all of her medicine.    

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Speaking of Macy, this picture showed up on my FB feed from 2012.  Her breeder decorated her with pearls before I purchased her!

Anchored in Hope in Amsterdam, 

JW