Groningen Round-Up 4 (Quarantine Edition)

It’s been about six weeks since I last posted about our trip to Munich for Shane’s interview, and, despite being in ‘intelligent lockdown’, quite a bit has changed since then!

First up… can you spot the difference?!

If you guessed bikes vs flowers well, you’re wrong. 🤷‍♀️

But you were close though – so good try! The temporary tourist center building has been taken down! The tourist center moved into The Forum, which is a massive and beautiful new building that’s home to not only the tourist center, but the library, study rooms, a kids center, a movie theater, and multiple places to have a drink and a snack. We are lucky to have checked it out back in December because it’s been closed since mid-March and won’t reopen until at least June.

View from the top of The Forum.

And no, you didn’t read that wrong – ‘intelligent lockdown’ is the official term for our status here in Holland.

What does that mean exactly? Well, pretty much the same as most other places. Bars, gyms, massage parlors and sex shops (lol) have been closed since mid-March. Restaurants are closed except for take-out. Weed shops were initially closed but were deemed essential (😉) and re-opened for take-away after 24 hours. Masks (at this point) are optional.

Stored-away chairs and tables in city center.

Essential stores are still open – including the market! *insert singing angels*

Like most things right now, people have a lot of opinions about what should and should not be open. The market was not excluded from this but, it’s open-air, bigger than a grocery store, and providing an essential service so it stayed. To keep people separated, they have expanded the width of the market to include the street, and stands must have a way to keep people 1.5m apart from one another. They have also implemented ‘market police’ so to speak, who walk around ensuring people follow the social distancing rules.

The ‘market police’ in yellow, and barriers to keep cars/bikes out and limit the flow of pedestrian traffic.
Our veggie stand with designated spots. Not pictured is the tape on the ground so you know how far back to wait in line.

Other than the gym, life hadn’t changed much for us up until Friday. My job wasn’t very WFH friendly, so 4 days a week I was hopping the bus to head to work (and properly disinfecting when I got there).

Ok – so maybe Shane felt the effects of the closed climbing gym more than I…

Why up until Friday?

Because I’m officially UNEMPLOYED BABBBYYY!!

I know. It seems like a really odd thing to be celebrating right now given that millions of people in America are unemployed and not by choice.

For us, my last day at work means that we are one step closer to our next chapter in life – Munich!

Quick update here. Long story short, we’ve been delayed for one month – our original plan was to move at the end of April. We should technically be there as I write this. Shane should start work on Monday but, the consulate is closed, so he’s unable to get a temporary visa which would allow him to start working. We can enter Germany with just our passports for up to 90 days, but this doesn’t give you the right to work. The new plan is to apply for a work visa with the German consulate if it opens after May 20th, when the Netherlands re-assesses the lockdown, or we will head to Germany at the end of the month (on our passports) so we can register with the city of Munich and apply for residency. This option also gives you the right to work. Option 2 may delay his start date one more month, but in a corona-world you do what you can!

As for the move to Ecuador, that is postponed. For how long is still uncertain, but currently Ecuador’s borders are closed so until they re-open we will be hanging out in Munich.

And until Munich, we will be enjoying our last month living in the Netherlands! It’s certainly not an ideal way to leave the country – we had hoped to make it to a few more museums, or take some weekend trips, but I guess that’s our fault for waiting 6 years to do those things.

In the meantime, we’ve been up to… well, probably what everyone else has been. Baking, Nintendo, people-watching from our windows, and walks. A lot of walks.

I’ll never not be excited by police on horses.
Bikes don’t interrupt sidewalk construction in this country!

Oh! And I almost forgot – we celebrated our last King’s Day on April 27th. Indoors. On a G-O-R-G-O-U-S day. Probably the best weather on King’s Day we’ve had. Well played, Netherlands. ✌️

To anyone reading this, stay healthy, stay sane, and remember…

It will get better again. 🧡

Tot ziens,

Whitney

Happy New Year from Holland!

Ah – the New Year. The practice of leaving the old behind and ushering in an era of new beginnings. When you say it like this, it sounds calm and peaceful, right?

Not if you’re in the Netherlands.

Ok – so maybe my video isn’t that dramatic but it surely felt dramatic!

Notice that constant low rumbling in the background? That’s the sound of non-stop fireworks being set off in gardens, in the middle of the street, in parks, and in trashcans all over the city.

And do you notice that (despite the fog) you can’t actually SEE any pretty firework lights? That’s because it’s not about what you see, it’s about blowin’ sh*t up.

Let’s back up a little.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day in the Netherlands, aptly called ‘Oud & Nieuw’ (Old & New), is the one day of the year where fireworks are legal.

Correction: the one 8 hour period of time where fireworks are legal.

From 6pm – 2am all bets are off. You know that horror movie ‘The Purge’, where for 24 hours crime is legal? This is how that feels – minus the burglary and murder.

I started to type ‘vandalism and bodily harm’ in that list, but I couldn’t in good faith. This year a man and child were killed in a firework-related fire, and they are still counting injuries and tallying damage costs.

In 2018, citizens of the Netherlands spent 70 MILLION euros in total on fireworks. And to reiterate, that can be used LEGALLY for 8 hours.

They can be purchased at shops like the one below, which we can only assume make enough money in the month leading up to Oud & Nieuw that it can afford to be closed the other 11 months of the year. In addition to shops like these, you can buy fireworks in the home improvement stores or online. Granted, some types of fireworks are still illegal to purchase, but no worries. If you want the big boys you can just pop on over to Germany and bring back what you want.

“Always the lowest price!”

Like I said before, technically it’s only legal to set off fireworks during the designated time, but let’s be real, this doesn’t stop people from starting earlier. Each day after Christmas the booms increase, culminating in the ‘main show’ which starts at midnight and rings (booms?) in the new year.

If they are illegal, how can people start so early? Two words.

No enforcement.

Until you’re blowing up trashcans and bus stops (yes, that really happens) then the police will leave you alone.

Between 2 trashcans is a logical place to set off fireworks, right?

One thing that IS highly enforced are the ‘Vuurwerk-vrije’ (firework free) zones. For example, we live directly across from the main hospital where, for obvious reasons, they don’t want firework chaos. There was a constant patrol of people making sure these zones truly stayed ‘firework free’.

I made Meatball her own firework free zone.

This year, to add an additional level of danger and mystique, the temperature dropped quickly and a thick fog set it. You really had to pay attention to where you were walking!

Fireworks over city center in the fog.

Because we live in the city center, we only witnessed smaller displays. As you might imagine, the further away from the city center you get the larger the show and the bigger the fire.

Yes, this brings me to my next Oud & Nieuw tradition. Bonfires.

The photo above was from our first Dutch Oud & Nieuw in 2014, but you get the picture. Bonfires in the street.

Bikes. Christmas trees. Furniture. Whatever-your-heart-desires.

Burn it.

My dad asked the reasonable question “So does the fire-department work all night then?”. Short answer: no. They just let it burn.

We did discover a leftover bonfire the next day though, on what I liked to call our “survey the damage” walk around the neighborhood.

Notice the street sign in the pile…

And, unrelated to fireworks but also an Oud & Nieuw tradition, olliebollen!

Had to have our friend, Kaitlin, try them!

I would describe olliebollen (literally translated to ‘oil balls’) as a giant deep-fried donut hole, traditionally made with or without raisins and dunked in powdered sugar. They are available starting mid-November, but the bulk of the olliebollen are eaten on New Year’s Eve.

As evidenced by the line that wouldn’t stop growing…

So, my DOs & DONTs for Oud & Nieuw?

DO: Get to the olliebollen stand early! I suggest the ones with raisins.

DON’T: Wear a nice coat out. Firework-induced burn holes are a thing.

DO: Come prepared! Arm yourself with sparklers & firecrackers. You never know when you might need them.

DON’T: Be indoors at midnight! Embrace the chaos!

and finally…

DON’T: Expect to sleep that night. In America, the main party is the lead up to midnight, and here all the parties start at the earliest 10pm and most at midnight. Bars & parties not your thing? No worries, the fireworks last well past their 2am cutoff. They will be sure to interrupt your sleep. 😉

Happy New Year from us to you!

Tot ziens,

Whitney

Merry Sinterklaas!

I don’t think that’s a thing people say, but ya know what? I like it so I’m going with it.

The arrival of Sinterklaas kicks off the season in mid-November.

It’s December 5th which means it’s pakjesavond (present evening) and if you were a good little one throughout out the year, maybe Sinterklaas replaced that carrot in your shoe with some treats! Tonight is the big gift-giving evening of the Dutch holiday season!

This could very well be our last holiday season in the Netherlands since Shane’s next position is still up in the air, and I’ve used this time to fully embrace the spirit of Sinterklaas. And by embrace, I mean eat myself sick on Sinterklaas-specific holiday treats.

So, in honor of the evening I thought I would do a quick round-up of those holiday goodies you will only find during Sint-season!

Pepernoten! Pepernoten! Pepernoten! Pepernoten!

THE thing. Without pepernoten there is no Sinterklaas!

I’ve literally seen them sold in a 5 kg (10 lbs) bag…

There are two types: pepernoten & kruidnoten.

Both are small cookies, but pepernoten is the more traditional version with an anise flavor. Kruidnoten are a more like a spiced cookie. Since I’m not a fan of anise, I tend to prefer the kruidnoten – as does my mother who made a special request for “those delicious little cookies” the last time Shane came home. Lucky for her, the grocery stores have started to push the seasons, and pepernoten have been available since October!

The kruidnoten section in our local grocery store.

The flavor possibilities are endless. There are entire seasonal shops which sell only pepernoten, kruidnoten, and flavored kruidnoten aka: the cookie covered in some form of flavored chocolate.

Carmel sea salt, coffee, raspberry, dark chocolate, lemon… not that I’ve tried any.

Chocolate Letters

Another important gift of the season, and another one that comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors – although the most popular flavors are milk, dark, and white chocolate.

Tradition dictates that you’ll receive the letter which corresponds to the first letter of your first name. But, if you’re name starts with an unpopular letter (sorry Quincy or Zelda) then you’ll be hard pressed to find them. If this is the case, the standard “S” – for Sinterklaas – is appropriate.

Chocolate letter… with pepernoten!

Marzipan

Particularly in the form of a pig.

Conveniently displayed next to the “super kruidnoten”.

Yes, that pig is made of marzipan. Yes, it will get chopped up and sold as smaller pieces.

If a chunk-o-pig ain’t your thang, no worries. Small pigs are also available.

The marzipan pig (made of milk, sugar, and almonds with a consistency of soft fondant) is a New Year’s German tradition to wish good luck (Glücksschwein!), and also a holiday gift tradition in Scandinavia. Given the relative location of the Netherlands, it’s not surprising it carried over.

Banketstaaf

Loosely translated to an ‘almond log’, it’s a buttery, almond-paste filled little piece of holiday heaven with origins in the Netherlands.

A word to the wise: share it. I mean, or don’t, but be prepared to go into a sugar-almond-million-calories induced coma afterwords. #worthit

My Sinterklaas paketje from work – a chocolate letter & banketstaaf.

Speculaas

Speculaas is a shortbread cookie with a spiced flavor similar to that of pumpkin pie spice in America. Actually, if you’re in America and lucky enough to live by a Trader Joe’s then you might know these cookies – called Speculoos, which is the Belgian spelling. You can usually find some sort of speculaas cookie year round, but this time of year the cookie itself changes to a more festive pattern.

Speculaas – smeckulaas. BOOOORRRINGGG.

Ditch that plain cookie, and go for the filled one!

Gevulde Speculaas

My crème de la crème. Re-named to ‘crack-ulaas’ for its sheer power of deliciousness.

Take two, large planks of soft speculaas spiced cake and add some almond paste (same as in the banketstaaf) in the middle and BOOM.

FILLED SPECULAAS. You’re welcome.

I’m genuinely sorry for anyone who isn’t able to try it. So, if you happen to run into some, buy it!


And with that, I’ll leave you with my favorite song of the season:

Sinterklaas (wie kent hem niet) by Het Goede Doel

I recommend the entire video, but if you’re in a hurry start at ~1:30.

Gah, the 80’s were great!

Tot ziens,

Whitney

5 Reasons to Love Groningen, the Netherlands

I can’t quite believe what I’m writing, but this weekend marks our 5th Dutch-iversary!

The whole reason we sold all our stuff, packed up the cat, and moved across an ocean was for Shane to start a Ph.D. program at Rijksuniverseteit Groningen (aka: the University of Groningen). I’m beyond thrilled / proud / insert other overly excited adjective to say that on March 29th, 2019 this goal was realized, and Shane officially became Dr. Wright!

Dr. Wright with his paranymphs and examination committee.

In honor of the newly-minted Doctor and our 5 year Dutch-iversary, I thought I’d give you 5 reasons why Shane loves Groningen, the largest city in the north of the Netherlands.

One : Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

The University of Groningen.

I think this one is self-explanatory: it gave him his degree!

His lab mates gave his this beauty of a graduation cap though…

And, I should be clear. They didn’t just give him a degree. After 4 years of research, submission of a 200 page book, and a 45 min question/answer session from an 8 person committee in front of the public they declared him a doctor!

The defense – the final piece to earning that Ph.D.!

Aside from this, the university can really be considered the heart of the city. It was founded in 1614 and is the main employer (between the university itself & associated hospital) of Groningen.

Can we just side-step for a second back to the founding year?

1614.

Maybe this is nothing for some of you out there, but as an American, to think that this university is more than 100 years older than our COUNTRY will never cease to amaze me. And, they’ve had some notable alumni and faculty over the years. For instance, Aletta Jacobs – the first female physician in the Netherlands, founder of the first birth control clinic, and advocate for women’s suffrage. More recently, Ben Feringa, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016.

Mom, Shane and me in front of the Academy Building.

The Academy building, pictured above, is one of the older university buildings and the location of Shane’s Ph.D. defense. This building is in stark contrast to the modern building where Shane worked; the varied architecture is another reason why he (and I) like the university so much.

The “green building” on the university’s Zernike Campus was Shane’s day to day work spot.

Two: Biking

Bikes are everywhere! This isn’t new – we’ve talked about this before – but it certainly is one thing that we’ve both grown to love the most about living here. Especially because the city has been built to be more bike and pedestrian friendly than car friendly.

Bikes in the Grote Markt of Groningen city center.

Shane’s gotten pretty good at biking over the years – I guess that happens when you have to bike 15 min one way to get to work. In the winter, he can bike just about all the way to work with his hands in his pockets & has learned to carry a variety of things on the back of his bike: crates of beer, luggage, the cat…

Three: The Market

Ahh, our beloved market.

Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday “the market” takes over the Vismarkt (Fish market) in Groningen. Food wise, you can find just about anything you need here and considerably cheaper than the grocery stores. Meat, fish, fruit & vegetables, cheese, nuts, baked goods… I could keep going.

My number one recommendation for anyone moving to or visiting Groningen is to go to the market. You will not be disappointed.

Four: Konbu Street Food & Martinus Brewery

We don’t eat out very much, but if we do our go-to place is Konbu Street Food.

It’s a Southeast Asian restaurant (which we discovered BEFORE our trip to Southeast Asia! ha) located on the Oosterstraat in city center. In my opinion, one thing Groningen lacks are moderately priced restaurants with quality food, but Konbu fits this description perfectly. The main dishes include varieties of pho, ramen, and bun, but don’t skimp on the appetizers. You have to order ‘Something’ (a cheeky name for the spring rolls) & the kimchi pancakes!

Top it all off with a Lucky Buddha (rice) beer & Shane is one happy camper!

Another Shane favorite is Martinus Brewery.

Tucked away on a side street towards the outskirts of city center, this Groningen based brewery is only a 10 min walk from our house and is quite ‘gezellig’ (I’ll let you look that one up…).

With a nice terrace, cozy tasting room, and tasty quadruples (Shane’s favorite) it’s a fun place to go when we want some special beer.

Five: Climbing

Last but certainly not least! If I’m being honest, it should probably be moved to first…

We’ve discovered climbing! I think it’s safe to say it’s his favorite activity now.

This may come as a surprise considering the size of the city (only ~200,000 people) but Groningen has three climbing gyms.

The first is part of the university’s gym (ACLO); I wasn’t allowed to use this since I wasn’t associated with the univeristy, but regardless it’s there.

The 2nd is Bjoeks, located in the Kardingen sport complex about a 20 min bike outside of city center. This is where we got our climbing certifications! This gym is mostly route climbing with some (advanced level) indoor and outdoor bouldering options. I think what Bjoeks is most famous for is Excalibur – the 37m high (with 11m overhang!) climbing tower!

It’s so tall, you can’t see the top (indoor climbing hall to the right of the tower – for scale)!

At one point, Excalibur was the tallest climbing wall in Europe. This may still hold true, though I’m not entirely sure. To climb the front – with the overhang – you should be an advanced climber & lead-climb certified. Needless to say, we haven’t climbed this yet! In the summer months you can top-rope climb the back (easier) side of the wall so hopefully we can check this off our Groningen bucket list in 2019.

And, just a heads up for anyone who dares… there’s a 1000 euro prize waiting for anyone who climbs the 9a route on the overhang side set by Jorg Verhoeven back in 2017. I haven’t yet heard of anyone accomplishing it…

The third (and our current gym) is GroPo Bouldering Gym, newly opened in 2016.

Bouldering is a completely different style of climbing as compared to Bjoeks; the main difference being no ropes or belayer required. The ‘problems’ are shorter and only tall enough to be a safe jumping/falling distance.

This is nice for us right now, since you don’t need a partner to go. Shane will be heading to Corsica for field work (potential new research project!) during the month of June. I’ll be here getting really good at bouldering…

It’s safe to say that Shane has all the indoor climbing options he could want!

It’s uncertain the amount of time we have left in Groningen – the next step for Shane is to find a postdoctoral position in a lab where he can start developing his own research ideas to eventually run his own academic lab. But, that’s for future Shane and future Whitney to deal with. For now, we will just enjoy this city while we have it!

Tot ziens,

Whitney

The Siberian Bear

IT HAPPENED!

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The canals (and ponds) froze!

We’ve heard rumor of this, but it hasn’t been cold enough for long enough to make it a reality. I don’t think the canals in Amsterdam have been frozen enough to skate/walk on since 2012, so I imagine it’s safe to say that for Groningen as well. But, thanks to the “Siberian Bear” (as the Dutch are calling it) it’s been cold (and I mean COLD) enough to cause a deep freeze and pull out the skates!

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One of the largest canals in the city, the Verbindingskanaal.

The cold weather has been fun for freezing things over, but not so fun to commute in when your commute includes a 20 min. walk (or bike ride in Shane’s case). In weather like this we always think of our friend, Alicia (yes… Alicia – you lol). When she was visiting over the summer a few years ago she made the comment “Biking here isn’t so bad.” Peak summer. Beautiful weather. When the wind chill is -18°C (-1°F) and blowing so hard that you’re simultaneously sweating profusely and turning into a popsicle; it’s those moments that we look at each other through squinty eyes, head turned to the side so you can actually hear each other, and say “Yeah Alicia! Biking here is NOT THAT BAD!”

It’s OK, Alicia – we get a good laugh out of it. (Love ya!)

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GPTempDownload

This was definitely a lifetime first for us – walking on natural ice. We both compared it to walking on those glass floors at tourist destinations, except you know the glass floor isn’t going to break. No guarantees for the ice I suppose.

Shane was a little more nervous that I was. “Did you hear that crack?!”

Canal Walking Zernike – 03Mar18
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Alas, as of today the bear has officially moved on. We are back to normal, up to 6°C (43F°). It was fun while it lasted, it’s just too bad it didn’t last long enough to make the Elfstedentocht possible.

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Tot ziens,

Whitney

Groningen Round-Up 3 (Plus Some Extra)

So, remember that time we went home for Christmas?

…probably not, because I never actually blogged about it! (facepalm)

In short:

We flew home – we had Christmas with our families – we celebrated New Year’s Eve – I turned 32 (not too keen on seeing that in writing) – we saw as many friends as we could – Shane got to see some of his nephew’s swim meets – time went way too fast – we came back to the Netherlands!

I’ll let the pictures show the details. Presented in chronological order.

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Shane was a mattress shopping assistant.
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Star Wars.
curious kitten. Muffin wouldn't let me get any pictures this trip.
Curious kitten, Abby.
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Birthday!
Birthday, again!

Since we’ve been back, we’ve been laying low. Shane is officially in the final stretch of Ph.D. so there is a lot of writing going on in our house at the moment. There have been a few new developments though.

1. We booked our next trip! We will be heading to Livigno, Italy for a week of snowboarding in March.

2. We checked something off our Groningen bucket list! We FINALLY made it to an FC Groningen match. The best part? The tickets were free (thanks to our insurance ‘healthy points’ rewards program) and we ended up being 4 rows from the field! The match ended in a tie, but it was so nice to go to a live sporting event.

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3. I started a Dutch course! For two hours every Tuesday and Thursday night, I’ll be in class. The group is 16 people, and the people are from all over. Mexico, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Poland, Bosnia and America (me), to be exact. I think it’s so cool for such a diverse group of people to be united over a common goal of learning Dutch. Supposedly, when I complete the course I’ll be halfway to ‘B2’ level, which would be advanced-intermediate. I should be able to have conversations and more clearly express opinions in Dutch without problems. I’ll report back on how it goes.

4. We are fully on the climbing train. Right now, we’ve been going to the climbing gym about twice a week. Our gym does mostly top-rope climbing and has a very small (indoor) bouldering room. We recently found out about a fairly new bouldering gym here in Groningen, so we decided to check it out. Lots of fun!

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5. And most importantly, Meatball got a house for Christmas (had to get the XL version…). Toooooo cute!

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So, I think that’s about all! More to come after snowboarding. 🙂

Tot ziens,

Whitney

Groningen Round-Up 2

Hi blog readers!

We head to Berlin in about two weeks for the Christmas markets, but I thought it might be nice to do a little round-up of what has been going on here.

First off, it’s my FAVORITE time of year again!

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All the lights are back in city center! One positive thing about my new commute to work is that I walk home from the train station in the afternoon. Right now, the sun sets about 4:30pm. I’m back in Groningen about 5pm, so the walk home is super gezellig!

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And speaking of festive things, Sinterklaas has officially arrived in Groningen!

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Tradition (aka: me) dictates that we must go stand in the rain and watch a boat parade. Holland did not let us down this year. It definitely rained, but luckily enough most of it passed by the time Shane, Danielle and I were waiting for good ole Sint.

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Shane and I have also started a new hobby – indoor climbing!

We have a nice indoor climbing gym here in Groningen with a pretty renowned 37m (121ft) outdoor tower called Excalibur. We have not (and will not for a while) braved Excalibur, but we did take the beginner climbing course with some friends. It was great and now we’re hooked!

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Out climbing class crew.

And this was just in time for Shane’s 32nd birthday!

Extra lucky for him, our friend has recently started a cake business!

(If you happen to read this and you live in the Groningen area – if you need a speciality cake check out Sarah at Thema Taart Groningen!)

And lastly, we’ve checked something off our Groningen bucket list. We finally made it to the Groninger Museum.

Confession.

We may or may not have ended up there due to a poor translation on my part.

I pass the museum every day when I walk home from the train station, and in the windows they advertised for an exhibit called “Rijks in Groningen”. Now, in Amsterdam, the main art and antiquities museum is called the Rijksmuseum. I thought ‘Cool! Some things from the Rijksmuseum are temporarily in Groningen!’. What I forgot was that the word ‘rijk’ translates to ‘rich’. The exhibit advertisement I walked past for weeks was not borrowed items from the Rijksmuseum, but about the ‘rich’ of the province of Groningen.

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Whoops.

Regardless, the exhibit turned out to be nice, and I saw this chicken on the beach.

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So yeah, that’s about it! Oh, and Meatball says hi.

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More to come after Berlin!

Tot ziens,

Whitney

The Best Darn Mom & Sis Trip Ever: Part 1

You know when you anticipate something for so long and then when it’s over you feel like ‘wait…how did that happen?!’ ?  

That’s how this trip felt. Mom & Sis were always going to come visit but we needed to wait until the fall of 2017 (more on that later), so to think we’ve all been waiting for 3 years is kind of crazy!

They packed their bags and came Crosson over the Atlantic for ~2.5 weeks of family fun!

First stop – The Netherlands!

They just COULD NOT wait to get their hands on Meatball!

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She obviously felt the same. 😉

We spent the first few nights in Leiden, which is a city about 40min south of Amsterdam by train. This was perfect because Amsterdam was still accessible, but they were also able to see a city with fewer tourists. Holland was also extremely kind, and gave us sunshine and summer-like temperatures!

Leiden city center

We did, of course, spend time in Amsterdam. We visited the Anne Frank house, the Rijksmuseum, got mom in a clog…

Sidenote: if you ever find yourself visiting the Rijksmuseum I would highly recommend the ‘Highlights of the Rijksmuseum’ guided tour which can be booked through the museum itself. It’s only 5 euros and an hour long, but if you’re like me and tend to look at art and go ‘ooohh…. cooooool’ and move on, it’s nice to have someone explain some of the main pieces.

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Hanging out with Rembrandt and the Night Watch.
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After a few days in the south, we made our way to Winterfell (Groningen) via Bitburg, Germany. I’m not gonna lie. I was not excited about an ~8h car ride versus ~3h but my mom was born in Bitburg and wanted to go back so back we went!

And look how happy that lady is drinking her Bitburger beer in Bitburg!

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She’s giving Dany a run for her money…

After our detour, we spent the remaining days in Groningen showing off our adopted hometown. Most importantly, they braved the crazy and toured around town on bikes! With the average household owning 3 bikes, and the city nicked named “The World’s Cycling City” it’s easy to understand why biking here might be viewed as intimidating.

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Last, but most certainly not least, I couldn’t let them come to The Netherlands without having some proper Dutch food things. This is an area in which I feel that I’ve shorted our previous visitors, and I sincerely apologize.

Dutch food things such as…

Bitterballen!

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Frietjes!

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Hagelslag!

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& Stroopwafels!

And that, in a nutshell, was our week in The Netherlands! Next up, Part 2: London & Scotland for a Harry Potter & Outlander adventure!

Stay tuned…

Tot ziens,

Whitney