Not to sound like I’m bragging or anything but I have pretty rad friends. Somehow or another I have managed to find a great 6pack of girls here in the Netherlands. Whether we are starting our day with Hema breakfast, riding our bikes like champs, hitting the flea markets like pros, or showing Amsterdam how its done; we always seem to have a good time. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much as I have in the last 4 months. I must have done something right in a past life to have deserved so many great friends in all the places I have lived. It really isn’t fair.
So I was riding down the street minding my own business when I cam across a bookfall, like a waterfall made out of books. I don’t know about you, but that’s not an everyday occurrence for me. Turns out it is just one in a series of art installations called Biographies by Alicia Martin. These aren’t fake books, and they aren’t even covered with anything, so standing near the sculpture is like standing in an old bookstore.
With time the books have become soggy, and aged from the rain, and have developed new character. I loved the way that the sculpture looked like the books were flowing right out of the window, but after closer inspection each of the old books were a piece of art in themselves. More of her book work can be found here.
A couple weeks ago I took a mini trek to the Dutch city of Utrecht. Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and also has one of the oldest universities in the country. My friend Vic and I didn’t have a great amount of time, but we roamed around the city and had a wonderful little meal in a cafe. It is a standard Dutch city, plenty of canals, cute dutch architecture, bikes everywhere. I have a bit of a confession. Its a good thing that I enjoy Dutch architecture so much because the towns are starting to blend together. They are all cute with canals, little bridges, brick buildings. Its kinda like all the temples in Japan. They look great, you know they are special, but there’s just so many its difficult to tell them apart after a while.
Thanks to my totally awesome host family I had the supreme pleasure of attending the season opening performance of the Nederlands Dans Theater last week. In case you don’t follow the dance world, the company is ridiculously amazing. Not only do the dancers have nearly flawless technique but their movement quality is exquisite. I could watch them do tendus for an hour and half and be happy, but they also have incredible choreographers working with the company. The performance I attended was a celebration of the choreographer Hans Van Manen who has worked with the company since 1961 and was celebrating his 80th birthday.
I don’t have the words to give the performance proper credit. Well actually I do, but I wrote enough dance critiques in University. I’ll just let the videos speak for themselves.
Not only did I get to watch an amazing performance, but I also got a Hans mask to take home with me. They left them on each seat to be used as a program for the night. I foresee some great photo shoots with this later.
I’m not gonna lie, I love where I live.
About a month ago I finally made my first trip to Amsterdam. I managed to live in Holland for 3 months before making it to Amsterdam. I figured its so close, and its not going anywhere, why hurry. My friend Sanja brought me along for a day trip and upon arrival we noticed that we were there for the city’s gay pride parade. Men in drag and people in all sorts of costumes were out in full force throughout the city.
my lovely travel companion for the day
Because the canals are essentially the veins of the city, the parade was on boats. We arrived just as the parade started and had to fight just to catch a glimpse of the action.
The parade was not the only entertainment, it was a prime day for people watching. I still haven’t done the whole tourist trip to Amsterdam, that will be saved for another day.
When I left Japan, I didn’t leave Hello Kitty behind. Thanks to my four year old, she’s a constant companion of mine. When I initially skyped with my now host family I told her that I also love Hello Kitty. She interpreted it as a full fledged obsession. Upon arrival she gave me her Hello Kitty “to have for always.” Most mornings during breakfast she will leap out of her seat and exclaim “where’s Hello Kitty?” Dash to the toy box, pull HK out and set her on my lap to eat breakfast with the family. This same ritual also takes place throughout the day. If 4yr sees me leave the house during the day my farewell is “don’t forget Hello Kitty.” HK is then placed in my bag to ride around with me during errands. Sure I look a bit crazy pulling a stuffed HK out of my bag at the cash register, but I love the little reminder of my awesome kids back at home.
bike crew self portrait
After the success of bike trip part one we recruited more people for Haarlem take two. This time we had a whole 6pack of au pairs on bikes. Not really a safe idea. It was so nice the first time we took the coastal road again and once again stopping at the poffertjes cafe and the beach. We didn’t have plans once we got to Haarlem, therefore we were in no hurry. We managed to ride through at least 2 festivals, and a flea market. I bought a rad hat, that was probably worn by one of the New Kids on the Block. Not only did it look good but was really practical in keeping the sun out of my eyes. We managed to get to Haarlem in 6 hours, with only 1 accident. Considering our attention spans and bike skills this is a pretty good record. Upon arrival to our destination we found the first pizza place and quickly ordered food and beers, and followed it up with a McFlurry. After riding all day we had to make sure that we replenished our energy sources.
flea market finds
While cycling we had alot of time on our hands to perfect our singing skills, take in the surrounding and talk about important things like the personalities of our bikes. We named each of our bicyles and gave them corresponding personalities. There’s Kevin, Peet, Allen, Patrick and Persella. It makes sense that our bikes would also be friends with all the time that they spend together. Sometimes we catch them having a cuddle at the bike racks or a little clash here and there when Alan gets jealous of Patrick when he’s flirting with Pricilla. Its all part of the bike gang and our adventures.
This isn’t the end of the bike adventures. Now that we have ridden to Haarlem we have our sights on much bigger rides, international rides. (but with our record there’s a good chance we won’t get farther than Rotterdam, but we’ll have more than enough fun along the way)
taking the train home after a long day
I’ve fallen in love in Holland. His name is Alan, and we met about a month after my arrival, we were set up by my host family and it was really love from there. Sure he’s a bit of a silver fox but he’s still one smooth operator. Before Alan came along I had a case of bike lust. My eyes just couldn’t help but to wander. In Japan, it was pretty bad, moving to the Netherlands only made it worse. But now that Alan is in my life, I’m so happy I don’t really feel the desire to look around. In the last few months we’ve clocked quite a bit of time together, he was even my escort on the 6pack rides to Liden and Haarlem.
Wait a minute, (you think) I didn’t see any picks of strapping men on these bike rides. Oh you thought that Alan was a man, silly, he’s my bicycle. As if I would really write about my romances on my blog. If there was someone special in my life, (which there’s not) I wouldn’t write about it, I may drop a few hints add some extra pics, and let people figure the rest out.
Alan’s backstory. Alan was built in Italy in 1976, and was the first all aluminum frame made. His siblings went on to win 5 World Track Title Championships, numerous classics wins, as well as stage wins in the Tour de France, Giro D’Italia, and Vuelta De Espana. No big deal, right.
I’ve already had a couple bike guys stop and oogle over Alan. Hands off boys, he’s all mine.
After labor day its safe to say that summer is over. Even the pseudo summer we had here in Holland. There was a weekend of solid summer weather, other than that just a whole lot of rain. I’ve taken to soaking up as much sun while its still with us. Soon it will be time for chai spiced things and pumpkin EVERYTHING!!!! (I found a store that carries pumpkin look out world) While I’m a little dissapointed to say goodbye to my favorite season, fall holds a lot in store, including tons of great new music.