June 29, 2009

Coincidences and connections

On Saturday night, after seeing the new Terminator movie in The Hague, I was waiting in line for the toilets when I ran into a girl I know from Leiden. She and her husband had been in the same movie M and I were, and we ended up going with them to see a band playing outdoor for free.

Then on Sunday at Parkpop, again while waiting in line for the toilets, out of the thousands of people there, I spotted a friend from work who I knew would be at the festival. I headed over to say hi and found that she was with another co-worker of ours, Marinella, as well as Catherine, the French girl who lives upstairs from me.

This wasn't as strange to me as it might have been because I fortunately know the connection between Marinella and Catherine, and if you (want to) bear with me, I can explain. Marinella's boyfriend teaches jujitsu to Catherine and her boyfriend, Mattieu. Who live upstairs from me. Mattieu and Catherine had a housewarming where I unexpectedly saw Marinella's boyfriend.

But that's not all... The couple we ran into on Saturday, Phil and Sarah, also know Mattieu and Catherine because they were all in Dutch class together. In the spring, I had met Sarah a couple of times, but not Phil, but then I met Phil at the aforementioned housewarming. He mentioned his wife but we didn't know that I had already met her.

Glad that's all clear now. I was actually going to make a diagram showing who knew who and how, but it only made it more confusing.

June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day, Dad

June 19, 2009

Utrechtse Heuvelrug

Wednesday I took a day off work and went to a large forested area called the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. I had never even heard of it, but I found out about it online while looking for a nature area to go to after deciding that it would be too much trouble to get to the Hoge Veluwe. It's amazingly close to Utrecht and has miles and miles of walking paths through forest. My photos from my walk are here.

I took a bus along the bottom edge of the park on a road that passed through a couple of small towns and went past many unbelievable homes. It was quite pretty. From the bus stop I dove straight into the forest. I only had a vague idea of which paths to follow since I didn't feel like shelling out 7 eur for a map of the entire park, but after about half an hour I came across a picnic area with a map, so I plotted a route to take. (And depended a bit on modern technology: I took a photo of the map so that I could refer back to it on my camera.) Aside from the bubbles of people there were at places like the picnic area or later at a cafe, I hardly saw anyone all day. It was wonderfully quiet. Though unfortunately there were almost always reminders that I was hardly in a wilderness: I had to go pretty far into the park, and on the other side of a slight hill, to finally stop hearing distant traffic.

About halfway through my walk, there was a viewing tower you could climb. The view from the top was amazing. I don't think I've ever seen so much green all together in this country. It was hard to imagine I was in Holland. Until I heard a far-off ambulance siren....

Not far after the tower there was a cafe with a large terrace overlooking a sandy, meadowy area. I'd already been dreaming of pancakes, so I thought I could do with a later lunch/early dinner. The food energized me enough for me to carry on in a circle back to where I had started, instead of ending earlier on a different road. I highly recommend the Heuvelrug for someone wanting a day trip to somewhere different and unknown. Granted, I was lucky enough to be there on a weekday, but still, it's a big enough park to find a quiet corner and get lost in nature for a bit.

June 15, 2009

My new steed

After the exhausting bike ride to the beach on Easter weekend and then deciding to rent a bike to ride around the tulip fields, I thought that perhaps I was in need of a bike upgrade. I felt a bit like I was betraying my bike, the only one I've owned here which has done well for me, but I had to admit it just wasn't good for longer rides. It's not even been particularly good lately for daily use around the city. The pedals have been slipping which makes for tiring cycling. So I decided I needed to look for a better bike, one with gears that would be more comfortable to ride for the times I wanted to head out of the city.

Saturday looking for a bike was on my list and I found a shop straight away that had a rough, handpainted sign advertising used bikes at the end of the alley it was in. I popped in, told the guy what I was looking for, and soon found a sturdy, 26-inch bike with 4 gears that looked to be in good shape. I went for a test ride and couldn't find anything wrong with it, so I went ahead and bought it. I bought a bike before I even got to any of my other shopping for the day! Without further ado, here she is:

I left it in the shop and went back later to pick it up. I transferred over my saddle bags from my other bike and went for a ride in the evening through the Leidse Hout. It was a beautiful evening and I was very happy with the bike. It rides really well and the gears and brakes work great. I have gotten used to the handbrakes pretty quickly, though I have a feeling I'll want to brake with the pedals if it's sudden. I need to adjust the seat and handlebars a bit, but otherwise I'm very pleased with my find and I can't wait to go to the beach again.

Moving forward

This weekend I finished two books. Quite pleased with myself. I now am reading World War Z, which I've been looking forward to for months. I'm only about 20 pages in and it is already pretty gripping; for the first time in 2-3 weeks I stayed awake on the train ride home. I may be having some nightmares though.

June 14, 2009

Photos and video from Mallorca

Some of you may remember that I took a few days' holiday to Mallorca a year ago. I was telling myself that I would put the photos from the trip online after I was finished with my Australia photos, but since that is still a work-in-progress, I thought I'd get the Mallorca photos online. You can check them out here. If you want to remind youself what I did on the trip, you can read my story of the trip. I also uploaded a video I took while navigating one of the windy mountain roads on the north side of the island.

June 8, 2009

Memorial Day

It's a couple of weeks past Memorial Day, but I just got a photo from my brother of my dad's grave in Willamette National Cemetery.

It's the first time I've seen the stone in place since it of course wasn't there yet on the day of the funeral. I believe the flowers are some rhododendrons that my mom brought that grow next to the house (she also always takes some to the graves of my grandma and great-grandpa on Memorial Day).