Aug 15, 2011

Our First Month in Amsterdam, Part 1: The Requisite Make-You-Jealous Post

Goede Middag! (Yep, I'm totally fluent. When saying "good day.")

I know, I know, we've been here a month, and only one post? Right, see, I'm still trying to figure out what in the world it was I just went through/am still going through. Roller coaster is the term I keep using, but to borrow from my idol Tina Fey, “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” is a much better description. Intense, thrilling, terrifying, and also kind of makes you want to vomit at times (the Aerosmith part).

So, I haven't really known where to begin. Though, after a while, I got a few nudges in a particular direction.

Apparently, people want pictures.
Lots and lots of pictures. Amazing pictures of all our adventures.
Perhaps people think that maybe we really moved to Amsterdam, Ohio. Oh, what a fun joke that would be. ("Surprise! What, did you think we meant The Netherlands?!")

Well, I've got proof, and yes, I'm talking about windmills. And we're having adventures all right. You know, like going to the grocery store every day. Though I don't think that's what people had in mind.

I get it, pictures are fun. I can toss "reality," and "the whole story" to the side for a while. We'll get to that next time. For now, time to play the oldest blogging trick in the book: inciting jealousy. I'm game.

(But, when I said amazing pictures, that wasn't really literal, because we all know you'll see none of that stuff here (hello cell phone camera). Though I know that my sophisticated readers would never dream of comparing me to every mommy blogger in existence with a home photography studio and an SLR camera (is that a thing? I don't even know).)

So here you go: Pictures!
To satisfy your ravenous visual appetite.
To prove we live here.
To make you jealous.
Or at least to make you want to come visit us.

We'll start with our street, named after Beethoven.
See that thing that looks like an sidewalk-within-a-sidewalk? It's a bike lane. When you come to visit, do not walk in it. Seriously, they'll just mow you right over. It's where I ride this:
Yes, that's my new car. And in case you're thinking, wow that is the world's dorkiest bike, you are absolutely right. I've never seen wider handlebars. It's the quintessential granny-bike. But this is my absolute favorite thing about Amsterdam: everyone rides bikes just like this, and looks just as dorky. Amsterdam bike riding is one big dork-fest and it's the best. Here's a video of us in all our dorky glory (yes, you've probably seen it on Mark's Facebook page).

This canal is a block away. We'll show you when you come visit.

We can also take you on a canal tour, and you too, can look this bored while cruising the famous canals of historic Amsterdam.

Or this bored:
Or, if you prefer, like this:
The Iamsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum. I'm pretty sure Amsterdam, Ohio doesn't have this (right?).

Sitting on a gigantic letter is super fun, in case you were wondering.
This windmill is a 10 minute bike ride from our apartment, within city limits. I think someone lives there, so it was a little awkward when I peeked in the window.

You want more windmills? For that, you'll have to take the train. Mia will show you proper train-riding gymnastics technique.

We explored this little touristy old-time village. It's like a Dutch Williamsburg. Our kids only said, "that's stupid" a couple of times. So, success!

I didn't think I would find windmills so endearing, but really, what's not to love?

You can barely tell, except for the huge windmill blade that is about to knock us out, but here we are on top of a functioning windmill. They really should turn it into a ride. "The Windmill Death Spiral Zero G Blade of Terror" anyone?

The gears inside were amazing and huge, so of course our kids were totally uninterested. Mark however, was so fascinated, he took not one video, but three. You're welcome for not posting any of them.

Had enough windmills? What about wooden shoes? (Full disclosure: taking this picture involved a lot of empty threats. Their expressions convey how seriously they take us.)

Or maybe just one giant wooden shoe souvenir? (Again, more threats. "You'll stand in that wooden shoe and you'll like it, or we'll come back here every weekend!")

OK, a few more boat pictures because I just love Nate's expression:

And this one too. It's a totally amazing adventure, right Nate?

Not into the touristy stuff? Want something for kids? No problem. We've been exploring all the local parks we can bike to. We've found the one with a zip line:
One with crazy climbing trees:

The best strawberry ice cream we've ever had:

The petting zoo with the weird tiny horses:

The most adorable little cafe where the kids make all the food, and then you pay an adorable fortune for it:
And a park with mini-train rides, or as Nate calls it, Heaven:

Here's what I call heaven: European chocolate. This is my most recent obsession, Tony's Chocolonely. It's fair trade, very dutch, and so yummy.
When you come visit, we'll leave one on your pillow.

So, have you booked your flights yet?


Courtney @ Ordinary Happily Ever After said...

Love the bike!

Spencer has the same shirt that Nate is wearing.

Ana said...

Oh that's nothing. On my mission we (ie. only the sister missionaries) rode bikes called Mama chari's - which roughly translated to "Granny bikes". They had a metal basket on the front. And a light that was powered by your pedalling (when you turned it on). And a bell - to ring like crazy so people would know to get the heck out of your way!!

april said...

Ok, I'm totally jealous. Please tell me that part 2 is not the part about you hating it.

Carrie said...

I love the photos and am jealous!

Sara said...

Sam looks so grown up in those pictures... Oy, I miss those cute kids!

Looks like beautiful country!

LAURA said...

That looks awesome. I love reading your comments, it makes me feel like our kids are one and the same. AND I have sat in that exact huge shoe in Leiden. I love those red glasses. I hope you are adjusting well there, how long will you be there?

Kirstin said...

You had me at the zipline!

thespangenbergs said...

Yay! Love it! When we get there you can be the tour guide to our new hometown! I dont know how to say that in Dutch, but I'm sure you can translate! ;) great pics and blog..thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Hey's good to see the master blogger is back in action. I loved the pictures and the witty commentary. We look forward to our visit.

tvmom said...

yep, jealous!


The boys liked this post Aunt Donna.

I'm curious though...

Did you read the caption to the handlebar pic in the link?

Bardsleyland said...

Ana- Mama Chari! I think I have a new name for my bike. And, my bike has the metal bell, the basket, and the light. It can't be beat. :)

April- Definitely not hating it!

They Call Me Daddy- At one point I did think, gee I hope that's not some euphemism for something I don't want to know about. And, yes, I definitely didn't want to know about that. So that's been fixed, though I'm pretty amused that I did that. I'd be embarrassed if it weren't so funny.

Laura A said...

Hey, Donna! I tried to comment already, but it didn't work, which means I run the risk of commenting the same thing twice and looking like a dork. BUT..... that's better than nothing at all. So, Hey, Donna! I'm glad you're having such a good time, sorry about the first week of tears. I'm glad that's over. Does Mark like the new office? Very best wishes, La

Melissa said...

So fun to see all your adventures. JD wants to take his paternity leave next summer and go to Europe. So we haven't booked the tickets yet but we'll let you know when we do.

HeatherB said...

Amazing! And I am totally obsessed with having that bike now. So glad to see the scarring has worn off and you are all having lots of (bored-looking) fun. :) I wish we could visit!

Julia said...

Ummmmm, AWESOME!!!!!!! Your cell phone pictures have made me completely jealous. I'll come visit you...someday...I've got some bored kids of my own to deal with.

Aimee said...

jealousy accomplished.