Monday, September 27, 2004

the weekend 

We had another quiet weekend, just hanging out and catching up on some things around the house. We all went downtown Saturday morning to the market, I was looking for some berries for dessert that evening. It was cool and misty and gray, but still quite crowded. We have this plastic thing to put over Jacob's stroller for the rain, plus keeps the wind off him a bit. He likes it inside there, and didn't want me to open it up. I had to pass his ice cream inside it! It is a tradition, he can't go downtown without having a scoop of icecream. The good thing is that they believe in moderation here, so "ein kugel" (one scoop) is about 1/2 the size of an American scoop of ice cream. We also picked up some mums and pumpkins to put on the front porch. When we were here last time you would see a little bit of fall decorations in the stores, but no Halloween stuff. They just didn't do that here. But apparently it's catching on, there are pumpkins and Halloween decorations everywhere. We are wondering if there will be kids coming around looking for candy? We will have some just in case. For some reason the military post can't leave the date as it is, they have decided trick or treating is on Saturday from 4pm-6pm. Jacob is going to be a tiger, I found him a Tigger costume at the P/X. When he saw it, he said "No Mommy, a tiger, not tigger!" I convinced him that we could leave off the tigger hat and make it a scary tiger costume instead. Although the next day he said he wanted to be a crocodile instead so we'll see.

We had some German friends over Saturday night for dinner, we made seafood and they loved it. They travel to Florida every year and rave about the seafood, so that's why we had that. Jacob is coming down with a cold, so we are hanging around the house today. And this weekend our good friend Kay is coming to Germany, from Tennessee. We are really excited, this will be her first visit to Germany. Can't wait to show her around and see what she thinks of it.

That's it for now, here is Jacob at the flower field down the road. We were checking out the pumpkins they had for sale there.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Finally caught up! 

Well, getting that last trip blogged took longer than the trip!! Hope it was an interesting read for everyone. We have been watching the weather change from pleasant on the weekend to windy and very cool this week. The wind is really blowing out there today, and it is very gray. We went for a walk in the woods over the weekend while the weather was still warm, and had a nice time. We found a creek and Jacob enjoyed walking on the stones to get across. He loves being in the woods and checking everything out. There are so many trails here for walking and bike riding, it is so great. They are all very accessible, and pretty well marked. Most are tractor roads that they use for very selective logging, which works out well. There is still a forest, and they just take certain trees at certain times. Rarely do you come across a "bare patch". We went over to a friend's home for dinner last weekend, this weekend we are having someone over here for dinner. With it getting cooler the urgency to get out and go diminishes a bit, that is until the Christmas Markets start up :) But for now it's nice to just take it easy for a weekend or two.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Wednesday, Locking up the boat and driving home 

Wednesday morning we woke up, and packed up, ready to head home. Kenny and I walked up to the metro station, and caught a train up to where we parked the car. Toni and Jacob stayed on the boat, to meet the owner and give her back the keys. We had to wait a bit for the train and finally got to the Amsterdam Arena, home to the soccer team AFC Ajax and of course the Amsterdam Admirals. Did anyone (that hasn't lived over here) know that they had an American style football league? Well, now you know ... I'm not sure how popular it is, but it obviously is still behind soccer in Europe. Anyway, we picked up the truck and headed back into the city to the boat. Of course the easy route we took on Sunday was gone, there was construction completely blocking the road. So we had to take a few turns, ended up crossing the Amstel river a couple times and finally got to where we needed to be. The lady that owned the boat took the keys and we were off.

We were hoping to do something else that morning, but decided we had a long ride ahead of us and thought it would be better to get on the road. There is still a lot of construction on the autobahns and you never know when you will come across a "stau". We only ran into a couple of them, and none were too long. We finally made it home and unpacked, then collapsed into bed. This was a great trip, we saw a lot and really enjoyed Amsterdam.

The next day Jacob, Toni and I went to downtown Ansbach to shop a little, and then Friday Toni headed home to see what was left of Florida after Charley and Frances. (Ivan hadn't hit at that point, he was only threatening)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Tuesday, Maritime Museum & Speigelgracht 

Tuesday morning we set out for the Maritime Museum. We had decided that it would be a real time saver to make use of the extensive tram/bus system in Amsterdam, and that is what we did. We had gotten a 24 hour ticket so were able to hop on and off wherever we needed to go. The Maritime Museum was easy to find, and not too crowded so we were able to go through at a leisurely pace. There were some amazing models of ships, but the highlight for Jacob was the "pirate ship". Not really a pirate ship, but the Indian Trading Ship Amsterdam (pictured above). Very interesting to go on board and check it all out, from living quarters to the top deck. Jacob got a pirate flag at the gift shop and we were on our way to our next stop.
We rode the tram again, and while on the tram one of us was always carrying Jacob. The trams would really jostle you around and it was just easier to hang on to him that way. I have to share that some guys were nice enough to stand up and offer their seats so Jacob, Toni and I could sit - what a nice gesture. And we had a bit of a ride so it was appreciated! We got off at the stop by the Rijksmuseum, and the Speigelgracht canal. We saw a cafe on the corner and decided it was time for lunch. The Dutch eat pancakes at other times of the day besides breakfast, so we decided that would make a good lunch. Jacob loves pancakes so he was very enthusiastic about the pancakes. After we were rested and fed, we started to explore the many antique shops in this area, known as the Spiegelkwartier. This area has shops that range from the very high priced art works to shops full of small antiques. Everything is more expensive than 6 years ago, but still just as fun to browse around. We spent a while checking in on some of our favorite shops that we remembered from previous visits. And found a couple new ones that were pretty cool. Then we wandered on back to the boat so Jacob could have his daily nap, it just makes things a lot more pleasant if he is able to take a nap!

After he had his nap we went back out for dinner, and some last minute souvenir purchases. We wandered down the Bloemenmarkt (Flower market) as they were finishing up for the day, more tulip bulbs for sale than you could imagine. Then back to the boat for our last night on the canal!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Busy busy busy 

I know I still have to finish up the Holland trip, but we have had such a busy week. Seems like a week full of stuff and it's only Wednesday! I have had two dentist appts, and another doctor appt. (None serious, just routine stuff that somehow all ended up in the same week.) Yesterday we had the "Fall Kickoff" for the PWOC Bible Study. Sounds like the beginning of football season, but a fun way to start it off. We talked about our theme for the year, and discussed the 4 Bible studies that will be ongoing until spring. Made some bracelets and enjoyed lunch together, it was a really nice morning. Jacob was in his kid's class that day, on Monday and Friday he was at the CDC. (Nice isn't it --- and fitting, the Child Development Center and the Centers for Disease Control have the same initials.) He seemed to have a good time at the CDC although he wasn't about to lay on a mat and go to sleep during nap time. Who can blame him, he's used to a nice comfy bed in a dark room. He called it "school" today, so I guess he thinks he is going to school when he goes there. The weather has been cloudy and cooler, but then there will be a couple hours of bright beautiful sunshine to warm it up. Certainly nothing to complain about. My doctor today found it amazing that we could come from Florida and enjoy the weather here. I'm guessing he didn't visit Florida in the August heat!

Things should slow down the rest of the week, I should be able to finish up the Amsterdam trip.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Monday, Amsterdam Zoo 

Monday morning we set out for the Artis Zoo, located within the city of Amsterdam. It is a surprisingly big zoo, for it's location. It wasn't crowded at all so we were able to take our time and really look around at everything. Jacob liked the petting zoo (always one of his favorites), and got to see some monkeys wash their fruit before eating it. The elephants were being rowdy and making a lot of noise, scared Jacob a little until he got used to it We also got to see the pelicans and the sea lions be fed. We had lunch while we were there, and then headed back to the boat so Jacob could take a nap. While Jacob napped, Kenny and Toni headed out to some indoor antique markets to see what they could find. I took a book up on the deck of the boat and alternated between reading and watching the boats go by on the canal. It was really an enjoyable thing to do, seems like there are always boats going by. Very relaxing! Kenny and Toni brought back some italian food for dinner, and Jacob finally woke up. After we ate and hung around for a while, we decided it was time for ice cream. So we walked along the canals to the Leidseplein, and had some Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Yes, there is a Ben & Jerry's in Amsterdam. (We actually found one in Paris a few years ago as well). Nothing like a little taste of good old American ice cream! We people watched and ate our ice cream in the Leidseplein for a while, and then wandered on back to the boat. Once again it was time for bed.

Oh, but first we all took turns getting a shower, and I have to share the mechanics of this. Maybe this is common on boats, but it was new to me. The bathroom was small with a sink and a toilet, and a shower head on the wall. The floor was a thick vinyl, with a drain in the back corner. When you wanted to shower, you pulled a curtain in front of the door, and one in front of the toilet. So you were basically in a small square area with the sink. Then you just turned on the shower and showered right there. When you were done, there was a squeegee to clear/dry the floors. But inevitably, the next person in to use the bathroom always got their socks wet, it just wasn't possible to get the floor completely dry.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Photo site is updated! 

I got all the pics over on the photosite a few minutes ago, go have a look. I will post more details of the trip in the next couple days.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Sunday, Belgium and Amsterdam 

We headed out Saturday morning for Tongeren, Belgium. (This is the same antique market we visited back in March). It was about a 6 hour drive including a stop for lunch, we sited some castles, fortresses and ruins along the way. Once we arrived we headed to the hotel to get checked in and drop off our luggage. The girl at the reception desk was the same from our last trip and remembered us. She has a son about the same age as Jacob so we had spent some time talking last time. She is a couple months from having another boy so we had something new to talk about. It's a really nice little hotel directly in the center of the antique market on Sunday morning. We strolled around Tongeren for a little while and checked out some of their Roman ruins they have excavated. There must be lots of ruins under the city, just waiting to be discovered. The hotel used to have a large parking lot that the city took over and is now excavating. Just looks like a big mess but I'm sure they are coming up with lots of neat stuff. We headed to Maastricht (just over the border into Holland) for dinner and a quick look around, we ate a yummy italian place. Then back to the hotel for bed, since the market starts up about 5 am.

Kenny and his Mom headed out to the market a little after 6 am, while Jacob and I slept in for a while longer. Once they had made a full circuit of everything, they came back to the hotel and we all had breakfast. Then back around the market one more time with Jacob and myself this time. We were in antique overload at that point, there is just so much to see there, that it all blends together. So we hopped in the truck and headed for Amsterdam, only about a 2 1/2 hour drive away.

We made it to our canal boat rather painlessly, we were concerned about navigating the streets around the canals. But it was easier to find than we could have hoped, so I dropped off Kenny, Toni and all the luggage right at the boat. Then Jacob and I went to a long term parking lot to leave the car for the duration of our vist, and hopped on the metro back to the boat. The owner of the boat was waiting for us when I dropped everyone off, so Kenny and Toni took care of getting the keys and any info about the boat. (We found it through a great website, CityMundo) They found out the boat was over one hundred years old, and at one point had been an ocean going vessel. Of course now it just sits in it's spot on the canal, hooked up to electric and water service. It was bigger than I had thought, once I get the photos up on the photo site there will be plenty of the boat. There was a "box bed" in the front which was like a cabinet with a double bed inside it, Jacob thought that was great. It had a little round porthole in it that he could watch the boats go by. We got settled in, and went for a walk around the city later that afternoon. Had some dinner, then came back and went to bed, resting up for the next day.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I know I still have more to post about our trip, but I finally got around to putting some old photos on the photo site tonight. So you can head there to check out the Playmobil and Frieland Museum pictures. Also there are a few new Jacob pics in the the "everyday photos" album, in the Jul/Aug chapter. Not a whole lot of pictures, but wanted everyone to know they were finally up. I plan to finish all of the Amsterdam trip blogging this weekend, and get all those pics on as well. So check back soon :)

Well, I have a lot to blog so I figured I would just get started now. I'll just start at the beginning, going to pick Toni (Kenny's Mom) up at the airport. I left and headed down towards Munich, smooth sailing for about 45 minutes - then traffic just stopped. Really, it wasn't moving at all! So we sat for a while then started to move an inch at a time, I was there for about an hour, traveled about 10 kilometers in that hour. While sitting there I saw lots of motorcycles buzzing down the center of the road, from all over Europe. A group went by from Holland and some of them had wooden shoes strapped on the back of their bikes with their luggage. That isn't something you see every day. The stau (traffic jam) appeared to be due to construction and a minor fender-bender. Not nearly enough destruction that we should have been stuck for so long. So I finally get moving again and realize I have about 15 minutes to drive what normally takes an hour. No question that I'm going to be late, but at least I'm on the way again. I'm almost to the exit for the airport and --- you guessed it, another stau. This one isn't quite as bad, only about 20 minutes long. Needless to say we were happy to arrive at the airport and find Toni, and she was happy we finally made it. The trip home was not nearly as bad, but still slow due to lots of volume on the roads. If you picture the German autobahns as wide open, fast moving highways, that is not the case. They are usually just like US interstates with everyone going a little faster. And not always, because around big cities they bog down just as much. Just too many cars and not enough road. We made it home and had a couple days before we headed off to Belgium, I will post again real soon!

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