Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dutch living: Some things gezellig

As per request from Pop, this post is about the minor adjustments to our new Dutch lifestyle as well as the added bonuses that Dutch life brings. Pop was inquiring about the new 'Dutch stuff' we're encountering, rather, I'm encountering. I'm noticing that things in general are smaller, cuter, and cozier. Mmmmmm. There is this Dutch word, gezellig, that does not really have an English translation. Gezellig can be used to describe things that are cozy, comfortable, or enjoyable. It can even refer to people or the company that you keep. I think this is why going out for dinner is not as common as in NY. They like to keep things gezellig.

I have a theory about why things are smaller. I'm sure there's more official research on this, but this is my observation. I think because the Netherlands is a smaller place, more densely populated, etc. things in general are just smaller. Where things in the U.S. things are pretty big. Maybe because of all the wide open spaces, the 'wild frontier', large mountain ranges, etc. things are just bigger and in some cases huge! Just a thought.

Here's a little tour of our kitchen complete with smaller oven and fridge. (The refrigerator is decorated with pictures of Joey and Elin). P.S. We don't have a freezer, but I'm learning to live without it.
That's our 'oven' on the left

We drink tea like it's our job. I'm not sure what these are called, but I noticed that all Dutch homes have one. Jaap's Mom gave us one to keep our tea warm. Thanks Trees.
On Saturday we went for a bike ride and ended up in Eijsden. We took a risk with the weather forecast, but only got caught in the rain for a few minutes. Here's a picture of our ride.
Saturday bike ride. Fall is here!
Saturday night we watched Damages with some tea and pepernoten. They're small cookies that taste like ginger snaps. A very gezellig evening.
Tea & pepernoten

Yesterday we went to Eindhoven to apply for my residency permit. I should be a 'legal resident' of the Netherlands in about three months. Afterwards we had some hot chocolate and appelbol. It's like a minature apple pie baked in dough and sugar. Yummy. Here's a cute picture of Jaap. The blog is partially named after him so he deserves some pics on here. Here's a little glimpse into Dutch living. I miss you family! Hope all is well!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Limburg by bike

The new wheels!

The weather has been beautiful the past two days, sunny and in the 70s. Woo hoo! Yesterday I created my own little bike tour and went exploring through some neighboring towns. It took me two maps and google to figure out where I was going, but the trip was really beautiful. (I gasped twice at the views). Really stunning

I biked through Gronsveld, Rijckholt, Withuis, and Eijsden. It sounds like a lot, but keep in mind these towns are about 2 square miles each. I'm used to upstate New York travel, where you can drive for two hours and not see anything. In the Netherlands, everything is so densely populated it doesn't take long to get from place to place. In general traveling by bike is very practical because everything is so flat, although Limburg is known for it's 'rolling hills'. 

Here are some pictures of the ride. Lots of farms, cows, horses, and my favorite... castles. The castles are privately owned, so I don't know tons about them. Very pretty though. 
Bike path through Rijckholt
Church in Gronsveld
Rode bessen
Kasteel Gronsveld

Kasteel Rijckholt (15th century)

Limburg countryside (Eijsden)
Reminded me of Van Gogh paintings

Friday, September 17, 2010

Morning bike ride & Den Haag

Hoi! Sometimes in the morning I'll go for a bike ride after breakfast. Here are some pictures from my last ride through Oost Maarland (one of the surrounding towns from Maastricht). Believe it or not this is only four miles outside of Maastricht. The Dutch countryside is beautiful. Lots of cows...everywhere, but very green and fresh.

Oost Maarland

Friends on the morning ride

On Tuesday I went to Den Haag (The Hague) to have some documents legalized in order to obtain my residency permit. Den Haag is about two and half hours from Maastricht. My mission was complete by 10 a.m., so I visited the Mauritshuis and Haags Historisch Museum. I bought a Museumkaart two weeks ago and I was able to visit the museums for 'free'. The collection includes paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Brueghel, and Rubens, among others. (It's most famous painting is The Girl with the Pearl Earring). It's a beautiful building.

I walked around Den Haag a little bit afterwards, but because of the typical Dutch weather (rain and more rain) I decided to head back to Maastricht.

Mauritshuis, Den Haag (The Hague)

The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Vermeer

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weekend Part II: Oirschot & Party with 'Arti'

We spent the rest of the weekend in Oirschot (Jaap's hometown) with the Jansens and some fun band folks. Saturday was Open Monumentendag (open monument day) throughout the Netherlands. We walked through Oirschot and got a tour of Sint Petrus (I hope I'm spelling this right). Jaap grew up going to this church. We took a guided tour and climbed up the tower to the roof and saw some magnificent views of Oirschot and surrounding areas of Brabant. (Brabant is the province where Oirschot is located).

Sint Petrus (15th-16th century)


Later on we spent the evening with Jaap's band from Oirschot, 'Arti'. Each year they have an annual BBQ and party which consists of activities and games. For one of the games we had to pass cucumbers back and forth to each other only using our legs. (See pics below). It was interesting and a little odd. Afterwards there was a bike tour through Oirschot and Spoordunk. The weather was beautiful and perfect for a bike ride.

Getting ready to ride!

Bike tour through Oirschot & Spoordonk

Strange Dutch games

Obstacle course, me running with trumpet

Following the games and bike tour was the annual BBQ for 'Arti' (the band) with drinks and even dancing. It made me miss my Grand Street Community Band friends, but it was fun to celebrate with other band musicians. One things for sure, band geeks everywhere know how to party.

Party with the Redt Band (Jaap's party band friends)

Late night dance party

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekend Part I: Amsterdam

On Friday we went to Amsterdam for my appointment at the American Consulate. In order to start the the process of obtaining my residency permit, we had to take care of some paperwork there. Tomorrow, I'm heading to the Hague to continue working through the process.

Traveling to Amsterdam

After visiting the consulate we stopped for some tea and delicious hot chocolate near the Museumplein or museum quarter. Yummy. Later on we had lunch with some of Jaap's friends from high school and had time to visit the Van Gogh Museum.

Photo next to Rijksmuseum (currently under construction)

More Amsterdam

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welcome baby Elin!

Yey! A new addition to the Pardo family was born last night, Elin Pardo Rodriguez. Congrats to Leana, Michael and big brother Joey! I'm excited to have a niece and to continue female dominance in the Pardo clan.

Elin Pardo Rodriguez
September 8, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Surprise party, Bikes & Gorinchem!

On Friday the Jansens came to Maastricht to help out with some things around the apartment. Trees and Jan helped us build, put together, and organize things. At dinner, Jaap surprised me inviting me to a surprise welcome party with his family and friends at a local pub. He kept a good secret. It was nice to see his friends and family and to meet other friends I had not met before. We had a great time. It was a nice welcome to Maastricht. Thank you Trees and Jan for all your help with the apartment. And of course, thank you Jaap for planning a wonderful welcome.
Surprise party at John Mullins Pub

With gifts!

Thursday's dinner after exploring the Asian Market downtown

Saturday we went for a bike ride through Oos Maarland and Eijsden. It was a beautiful day and great weather for being outside. It was nice to see what’s outside of Maastricht. (Small towns and cows). The ride was beautiful. I still have to get used to riding a bike. Most Dutch can do multiple tasks while riding, while I can barely stop at a red light. I know that things will improve though. We stopped in Eijsden and had lunch at a café. Here are some pictures from our ride.

Leaving Eijsden, fancy shot by Jaap

On Sunday we went to Gorinchem to visit Jaap’s brother, sister-in-law, and nephews. We walked around the city and went to a pannenkoeken restaurant (pancake house) for lunch. Pannenkoeken are not eaten for breakfast, but rather lunch or dinner and they come sweet or savory. Yummy.
Gorinchem with the Jansens

Here are some videos of Jaap playing soccer with his nephews Jasper and Tijn. (Please note Jaap’s fancy footwork). The youngest one Mees is jumping on the trampoline. Special thanks to Annabelle and Frans for hosting us!
Happy Labor Day everyone! More importantly, Happy Anniversary to my amazing parents who have been married for 30 years today! Wow. We love you!

P.S. Mom- The quilt is beautiful and keeping us nice and warm. Love you!

More pics exploring Maastricht:
Sint Jan, built 14th-15h century

Medieval fortification in Maastricht, part of the 'walled-city'