Three stops in The Netherlands

Big D and I set out on our first trip alone together (just two of us) on Veterans Day weekend 2010. He selected our destination: The Netherlands.

Our first stop was Rotterdam. It’s funny how little things cause us to either like or dislike a city. We had a small, smelly hotel room. And it didn’t just rain, it poured. We weren’t so impressed with Rotterdam… but we did hide out for the afternoon in a funky bar sipping wine and snacking on french fries.

hiding from the rain and wind in a cozy place

And then we wandered into the into a place called The Cinema. I am so disappointed (and surprised!) that I didn’t write in my journal about this fantastic dining adventure. We were early enough to be seated without reservations – in fact, we practically had the place to ourselves. The waitress struggled with her English and eventually we understood that we could either order off the menu, or just let them know what we liked and have the five course Chef’s Surprise. Who could say no to that!? I said I preferred meat and didn’t want seafood. And I wish D was here so I could rack his brain for the details of his meal… I know our first course was soup in a shotglass,  my meal featured a seared beef appetizer, and my main dish was venison with pears.

dinner at a great place called Cinema

The chef came out to our table, sat down and asked us what we thought, and spent what felt like a long time chatting with us before sending out our amazing, complicated chocolate desserts.

I specifically remembering asking the waitress if our check could possibly be wrong, because the total was too low. She laughed and asked where we’re from…It was the first (but not the last time) this happened. I’m always shocked when cocktails, a bottle of wine and a giant gourmet meal are affordable. By the time we left, the place was packed. And we eventually figured out that the first floor is fine dining while the other level is an exclusive nightclub with a red velvet rope to keep out the riff raff!

Suddenly, we were really starting to like Rotterdam! But we were underdressed and tired so there was no clubbing for us.

And not to make this a foodie blog, but breakfast the next morning at one of the world’s biggest ports was tasty and picturesque (and sorting through pictures for this post is really showing me how much my photography has improved in the last year or two – this snapshot does not do Rotterdam justice.)

Rotterdam

Next, we drove to Delft, an adorable little town where parallel parking is tricky.

Delft

You have to be really careful when parallel parking on a canal!

After shopping and lunch we were continued to Amsterdam where we spent a few days touring. We visited the Anne Frank House, quickly strolled through the Red Light District (truly something for everyone – ewwww), took a fun canal hop on / hop off boat ride, shopped at a flea market, ate a lot of tapas, bought a lot of cheese, spent quality time at the Van Gogh Museum, and much more.

Amsterdam

cheap!

Cheese, glorious cheese
I loved this cheese shop. Meanwhile, Big D said it smelled like feet and had to wait for me outside.

Amsterdam

A few more pictures from our first (but not nearly the last) trip to The Netherlands are on Flickr.

Fruit, veggies, cheese, flowers, and more

We have a lot of favorite things about Europe and near the top of that list: shopping at seemingly endless markets.

Last spring, Jen and I trekked to Alkmaar, Netherlands for a special cheese market which was a ton of fun:
Alkmaar Cheese Market

Alkmaar Cheese Market

Big D and I did not buy any of these at the Flower Market in Amsterdam:
no, we didn't buy any

The Pescheria, Venice’s Fish Market, was fascinating (and a little stinky!)
Pescheria

But my favorite is a a trip to Wiesbaden’s market, which makes any Wednesday or Saturday seem special.
Wiesbaden market

Untitled

Untitled

There’s something for everyone:
thirsty?

Stay tuned for Christmas Markets – they’ll get a post of their own! More market pictures are posted on Flickr.

Coming through the clouds in rays

You may recall my goal to work chronologically backwards in an effort to get caught up while also posting about current events. This one turned into a mix of the two…

Music is my lifeblood and I am beyond ridiculously fortunate when it comes to attending concerts during our time here.

Big D is extremely patient with me and my need to rock out in giant crowds (two things he hates: crowds, and crowds.) Yet he didn’t bat an eye when I set the alarm for an early December morning last year. It buzzed, I got up, logged on, and bought Pearl Jam tickets. I’m sure he breathed a sigh of relief when we realized his travel schedule conflicted with the show date and thus, he was off the hook.

I could go on and on about Pearl Jam….

I could tell you about the time my friend Karen and I were two of less than ten people in the Rockline Studios in Los Angeles when when Eddie and Stone performed the live debut of Footsteps. My face still hurts from smiling so big in a photo with Karen and Eddie, who was wearing the brown Corduroy jacket – on May 11, 1992.

Or about the time a guy named Corey told us to “Go to Warehouse records right now to get tickets for an unannounced show at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio.”  We did – on November 5, 1993.

Karen, Shannon and I (the Best Friends a Girl Could Ever Have™) read old Pearl Jam fanzines while we waited in line (for approximately 36 hours) to see Pearl Jam open on the final night of U2’s Vertigo tour in Honolulu – on December 9, 2006.

Karen, Shannon & me

Oh, and there’s lots, lots more.

I invited fellow music lover and Amsterdam resident Rachel, a friend I’ve known online for a while and had finally the pleasure of meeting this April, to join me for Tuesday’s show at the Ziggo Dome. We got there later than I anticipated, we were in the back, Rachel was drenched in beer, my feet were stepped on… And I loved every minute.

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam

More pictures from the show are over on my Flickr page.