Monday, September 02, 2013

Antwerp and then the beach

On Saturday I left Brugge around noon and headed to Antwerp, Belgium.  I spent only a few hours in Antwerp as I wanted to return "home" for the night.  Since most everything was within walking distance of the train station, I feel that I saw all the main sites I wanted to see.  Antwerp was a busier city than Brugge and definitely had a shopping street that seemed to be a main attraction.  This isn't really my thing, but other people seemed to enjoy it!  I toured Cathedral of Our Lady (Google images to see).  Gorgeous!! I also spent time walking around and admiring the historical center buildings and down by the river.  Since Antwerp didn't seem to have as much character as Brugge, I was glad I spent the majority of my time in Brugge.  I returned home by about 8pm on Saturday eve and Sebastiaan picked me up at the train station.

On Sunday, we started the day with breakfast while watching football (aka soccer) highlights.  This is their Sunday tradition!  Afterwards, we drove to the beach (about 45 minute drive).  There were beautiful homes in this area, woods, dunes, and of course the beach.  It was a little windy so there were several kite surfers enjoying the weather.  Sebastiaan, Isabel, and I went for a walk on the beach.  Bregje waited for us at the beach restaurant.  We were very excited she was even feeling well enough to join us.  It seems maybe her pregnancy sickness is finally starting to subside!! :) We had a nice lunch at the beach and then headed home for nap time.  I napped for a little bit, but Isabel decided not to nap.  So, she and I had some quality time so mama and papa could get a little nap!  We had a nice dinner (veal, rice, etc) and spent the evening visiting and relaxing at home.

Today (Monday) will be low key as I prepare for my trip to Switzerland.  I'll take a 12 hour train ride tonight leaving at 8:30pm.  I'll arrive Tuesday morning and spend the day in Zurich & Schauffhausen.  Tuesday evening I will be meeting Martin.  Martin and I did a Habitat for Humanity build in the Dominican Republic in 2007.  He and his wife and daughter live about 30 minutes by train from Zurich.  He works in Bern and will be meeting me after work.  It will be fun to see him after 6 years!  And, it will be nice to have someone to tour the city with that evening.

More when I'm in Switzerland . . .

Friday, August 30, 2013

Amsterdam & Belgium

It's been a really nice past two days.  Thursday we rode our bikes to the train station in Hoorn and then took the train to Amsterdam.  We toured the Rijksmuseum which was just recently reopened after being closed for remodeling for a full decade.  It was really neat to see, but I'm glad Sebastiaan and I are on the same page with art museums.  We were good to go after about an hour.  So, we walked around Amsterdam through shopping areas and the red light district.  We stopped to have a snack and beer on a terrace.  I was introduced to dutch meatballs.  They were pretty good and went well with the beer!  We then had plans to meet Sebastiaan's friends, Melvin, Nanya, and Djarno at an Asian fusion restaurant.  It was a really neat place and we had a nice time visiting over our 3 course dinner.  We each got to choose 2 dishes for each course so we had a fun variety to try.  After dinner, Sebastiaan, Djarno, and I took a canal cruise which was really pretty at night!  I was wondering how excited I'd be to bike home from the train station after a busy day, but it actually was rather refreshing!

Today (Friday), I was a "big girl" and took the train to Amsterdam and ultimately to Brugge, Belgium by myself.  I'd been spoiled the past couple of days because Sebastiaan planned and led most things.  It took a good part of the day by train today, but it was easy to navigate the city once I arrived.  I wouldn't make much of a tour guide because all I can tell you is I saw a lot of really old and really beautiful buildings! :0  As usual I took a bunch of pictures ~ both during the day and night.  The sites were almost more beautiful by night.  It was really relaxing walking around.  Most traffic was by foot or bicycle with an occasional bus or car that passed by.  They have many horse & carriage rides and it was neat listening to the clippity clop of the horses.  Lots of activity on the streets as most restaurants have outdoor seating.  The canals running through the city were really beautiful at night.  At one point I saw a bunch of swans swimming under a lit bridge.  Pretty!  I'll spend the night in Brugge and then head to Antwerp tomorrow.  The weather has been very cooperative so I'm grateful for that!  All for now!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On Holland Ground. . . at last!

Today I finally arrived in Holland . . . nearly 24 hours after scheduled.  Sure am thankful to finally be here!  On Monday night around midnight (after departing MSP at 7:30p), our pilot announced that our plane encountered both an electrical problem and then a mechanically problem.  We were 3 hours from Amsterdam and 3 hours from JFK.  At that point we were over Greenland and had mostly flown over land.  They decided for safety reasons not to continue to fly over seas and we returned to JFK 3 hours later!  Oh joy!!!  We landed at JFK at 4am and our rescheduled flight left at 4:15p that day.  Talk about ~300 very tired and unhappy passengers!

So, today I arrived at AMS at 6:00am.  We travel back to Sebastiaan and Bregje's house and got settled in.  Then Sebastiaan, Isabel (age 1), and I went for a  bike ride.  It was a very nice ride to see the inner sea area and the nice community in this area.  It's really quite beautiful with nice homes and pastures & fields in the area as well.  We saw a lot of sheep and cows.  And, oddly enough there were some llamas at one home in their yard.  Sebastiaan said this is quite unusual!  After our bike ride we had lunch at home and then everyone took a nice long nap.  This was much needed for me after only getting about a total of 4-5 hours in the past two days of traveling!

Then we went and walked around the city of Hoorn.  It's a very nice city.  Tonight I think I will sleep well again!  Tomorrow Sebastiaan and I will spend the afternoon and evening in Amsterdam.

All for now!