It’s been several weeks since my last post and some of you may be wondering what we’ve been up to. The truth of the matter is that, while we live in Europe, it’s not fun and adventure all the time. Since New Year’s, we’ve just been in the trenches of life for the most part. The kids have gone back to school and, consequently, we are back to homework and afterschool activities. Post-holiday work life has resumed as well as the normal household chores. So, basically, life abroad is just like life in the US!
But, just like I’m sure many of you are doing, we have tried to do a few things to pass the cold, dull winter days.
First, I went to the movie theater (first time here) with some friends. There were a few things that were a little different than the theater back home. The main one-we biked there! It’s not like you have to bike there, but, of course, there is no parking lot at the theater; it’s good old garage or meter parking if you drive so we figured why add to the cost when we could get a little exercise in for free (added bonus-it was sunny that day so we got to enjoy the weather)! Just like at home, we bought our tickets from a self-service machine, but (and this is my favorite part) the concessions were also self-service (I’m not sure if they always are or if they have people to assist and check you out on weekends when it would be busier). The concessions look like a small convenience store. There are displays with candy dispensers. There is a refrigerated section with drinks (including alcoholic beverages). There is a salsa bar, an ice cream machine, a bar for wine, a Starbucks counter, an Icee machine and various other snacks. And then there is the popcorn. There are different choices like salty, sweet and salty and deluxe as well as different sizes, but they are all already dispensed into buckets and you just open the door to a warmer section and pull out what you want. And aside from the extra butter that I usually add at the theater back home, it tasted just the same. After you have made your selections (what, you are having a Smirnoff Ice with your popcorn?? ), you move to a self-checkout machine, scan your items, and pay. Now you can head to your seat. And for those wondering, the movie was in English with Dutch subtitles. They also have movies in Dutch. The theater was a bit pricier than at home (no matinee pricing) but otherwise very nice.
In addition to the movie outing, our family has gone to several museums (indoor locations being preferable right now). We went to a couple of modern art museums and a natural history museum as well as a museum focusing on William the Silent (remember when we learned about him way back in the summer and fall when we visited Delft and Dordrecht?) and a museum with works of the Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rubens. We really like the William the Silent museum which is called the Prisenhof. It had some interesting history and you can see the bullet holes in the wall where William the Silent was assassinated back in the 1500s. They also had a section on the Delft blue pottery which was nice. The Dutch Masters museum which is called the Maurithuis was also nice. It was small but that seemed to be just the right size for younger folks not to lose interest. We were able to see several well-known works of art including the Girl with the Pearl Earring.
Finally, this past week, we’ve engaged in a little snow time. There was not a lot of accumulation but enough snow on the ground for the kids to build a snowman and it was cold enough for the canals and the lake to freeze (at least on the surface). We also had our first experience with biking in the snow. It wasn’t too bad except for the residential streets that were basically just packed down ice. I may or may not have taken a tumble when I had to turn the wheel to get out of a car’s way prompting us to instead walk to school the next day. The beauty of that is that now, in addition to the time we walked in the rain, the kids can also tell their children that they had to walk to school in the snow (and there is a small portion that is uphill though we did not attempt it barefoot!).
So, there you have it. Nothing too exciting, but we’re still here trying to make the most of our life in The Netherlands even amidst the humdrum days of normal life and cloudy, cold winters. Here’s hoping Spring is just around the corner (I’ll drink a Smirnoff Ice and eat some popcorn to that)!!
*just for the record, I had coconut flavored water with my popcorn, not Smirnoff Ice-but I could have!