Archive for Jan 2014

January 20, 2014 The 24 Hour Laundry

Some of the hardest things to do here are the things that I don’t even think about at home.  And the worst, laundry.  It shouldn’t be so hard, and yet, please follow along on the adventure of our first load of laundry.

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5 pm – put a load in, follow the directions and feel real proud of myself when it all starts to work.  Realize the wash cycle takes two hours and feel like that’s a long time.

8 pm – the machine stops around 7, but I forgot about it.  Open it up and realize it’s all dry!  Whoa, easy peasy!  The machine is a washer and a dryer, but I didn’t realize it would be so easy! Nope, the bottom is covered in soap and clearly I put it on the dry cycle before.  I spent three hours drying dirty clothes.  F.   Start over again.   Think we’re going good!  Two more hours.

10 pm –  woop!  Clothes are wet and smell clean!  But now it’s too late to start the dryer per our apartment rules. So it shall sit over night.

10 am, the next morning – OK!  I’ve dried before, we can do this.  I set to one of the options under sèchage, which my dictionary tells me means “to dry”.  Set, go.  Water pours in to the machine and we spend another two hours washing the clothes. F again.

2 pm – we’ve been out and about, but we really need to get to the wet clothes.  Pick a button that is DIRECTLY under sèchage. Set, go.  It only dries for 13 minutes. Then stops.  Clearly, it’s all wet.  21 hours ago I dried for two hours, which button was that?!  Set, go, 13 minutes. We do this a number of times.  Clothes are still wet.

3 pm – ohh, one button says “minutes”.  How did I not see this one before?! Hit it repeatedly until we get a solid 78 minutes of drying time.

7 pm – come home to only slightly damp clothes!  3 pairs of socks, one pair of basketball shorts, two t-shirts, one sweater and a few underpants.  Just about 24 hours.

Sometimes adventure really just looks like two educated adults staring at a tiny machine and cursing every thirteen minutes.

I’d never really had a whole lot of desire to see Amsterdam.  Not that I didn’t want to go, it just wasn’t very high on my list.  You hear a lot about the drugs and the prostitution and maybe a bit about the canals, but not a whole lot more.   But, we really wanted to use Paris as a homebase to travel though Europe, places we wouldn’t necessarily go otherwise.  I’m planning one trip, and Chris is planning one trip.  He wanted to drive; there’s just something so intriguing about crossing over two country borders in the matter of a five hour drive (especially when back home you can drive that long and still be in the same state!) so, he picked Amsterdam as our destination and I’m so incredibly happy he did.  On the way there, we stopped for a bit in Brussels, and then in Bruges on the way home.  Good for a meal, but I won’t be heading back to either in the near future.

Forget almost everything you’ve heard about Amsterdam.  It.Is.Gorgeous.  It looks like it should be created solely out of gingerbread it’s so cute!  The houses have such a unique architecture are very tall and very skinny (they’re taxed on their width, so long, tall and skinny seems to be the way to go).  The vast majority of houses directly on the street & canals have huge windows, but no curtains.  The voyeur in me finds this fascinating.

The people here couldn’t possibly be nicer.  Everyone we met spoke English, which was amazing because our Dutch is the worst (three days there and we still are working on Happy New Year!). One gentleman even crossed the road to make sure I knew that the bench I was sitting on was a “wishing bench” and that I should make a wish.

There are significantly more bikes than people and they are everywhere.  You can rent bikes for the day and it’s incredibly easy to navigate the city.  It’s a great way to see it!

The center of town is built completely on canals, and you’d be absolutely remiss not to take a touristy canal ride.  They’re actually quite informative, super inexpensive (ours was 10€) and a great way to get your bearings in the city.  I’m told that they’re all very similar, so you can’t go wrong.  There are also hop on-hop off boats, a great way to get to the touristy spots.

The food is my favorite way to see a new city, and from what I can tell, Dutch food is all about comfort… Hearty meats and potatoes and whatnot.  They love pancakes and there are pannekoeken huis everywhere.  We tried the Pancake Bakery (very close to the Anne Frank House) and heard great things about Pancakes!, although it was closed when we stopped by. Fries are super popular and I could have eaten ten orders from Vleminckx Sausmeesters with mayo and sate sauces.  The Netherlands had colonies in Indonesia, so there is quite a bit of Indonesian food in Amsterdam.  I’d heard about Kantjil and De Tijgre from a few people and it did not disappoint at all.  You can order a Rijsttafel and you basically receive a table full of small plates, each one better than the last.  At any traditional pub or restaurant you’ll see pea soup and apple pie on the menu.  Try them both, so delciious!   And then of course the beer, so much beer, and all of it wonderful!

Speaking of beer, the Heinekin factory is in Amsterdam, and while it’s a little bit hokey, it’s a lot of fun.  The 18€ entrance fee gets you a self guided tour and a history lesson.  At the end, you’re rewarded with two beers and, if you choose, a canal boat ride back to the center of town. Totally worth it and a great way to get out of the rain for a few hours.

One absolute must see is The Anne Frank house.  They did a beautiful job restoring the warehouse that housed eight people for two years during World War II.  The lines will be long, but they move quickly.  It’s a an amazing thing to see and definitely worth the time.

If you’re there on the first Sunday of the month, Cafe Luxembourg (across from Kantjil and de Tijgre) has a live band that was fantastic! Alderliefste is apparently quite popular and, although we had no idea what they were singing, was so much fun!

The drive from Paris is so easy (about 5 hours) and I’m so glad we decided to take a few days away to see another country. I’d love to come back in the spring, sitting on the canal with a cold beer would be so lovely!


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January 10, 2014 Wandering Through Paris


I crave change, but I’m not entirely graceful when it comes to the implementation. The transition, it seems, is not my strong suite.  When we adopted our dog Basil, I cried for a week.  He was perfectly lovely, I just needed to transition.  Same thing happened when we arrived in Paris.

Finding the balance was tough.  Because we’re not really on vacation, but we’re not really living real life, we had to really decide what this trip was supposed to be.  If we weren’t doing something that you’re “supposed” to do in Paris, I felt guilty for not taking advantage.  But if we were to spend the day at a museum, I felt guilty for the go, go , go because that wasn’t the point of coming here for so long.  I truly want to feel like I live here, for it to feel comfortable.

So, our first week has been spent just trying to figure it out.  We walk, a lot, picking a new direction everyday and just heading out.  Sometimes, we sit at a cafe for hours drinking wine and talking.  Or sometimes not talking because we’ve run out of things to say for the moment.   And then we walk.  We’re just breathing it all in. Paris is slowly unfurling for us and discovering it this way has been so rewarding. 

We’re finding new favorite restaurants and beautiful views.  Chris & I are realizing that we are not very good at relaxing, but we’re learning.   And it’s been wonderful.  So, first up, a few snaps from our walks through this stunning city…


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