Sheesh time is flying. I have not written since we got back from Barcelona (that sounds strange). It's funny, but Nike actually expects me to do work while I'm over here so the past couple weeks I figured I should do that (or at least fake it). That doesn't mean things have not been going on, but the time I'm away from work has been more about "settling in" and finding our routine here in Amsterdam.
For example, I've mentioned beautiful Vondelpark a few times which is next door to our apartment. We frequently make sandwiches, grab a bottle of wine and walk over for a picnic. The weather has really been too good to be true. Pretty much 25 - 28 C every day (see what I did there). They have an outdoor theater with different programs throughout the week and one day we were all excited to see a couple comedians. We rushed over early and grabbed a good seat up front. On came the stage lights the comedian runs on stage and we hear "Hallo, je ziet eruit als een geweldige doelgroep." Well that aint gonna work. Hey Cheryl, can you please pass the bottle of wine!
For those of you who know us, part of establishing ourselves anywhere involves finding a gym to workout in. There are many choices in Amsterdam but most are pretty expensive, and since I exercise every weekday morning at work, we wanted a very basic gym. hmmmm, where to go, where to go. We settled on "Basic Fit!" Perfect. It's just what we need and pretty close to home. It's half way between a Snap Fitness with card reader access and a planet fitness with mostly cardio machines and weights. There is one difference, I feel like I'm entering a prison every time I go. I dread working out enough already but now I feel like I'm on an episode of Orange is the New Black. Just call me Piper.
One of our big accomplishments this week was to start putting together all of the different European cities/countries we want to visit over the next two years. It's mind blowing how long the list is by just writing down all the "famous" places like Rome, Paris, Istanbul etc My next step is to run it past all the native Europeans at work who know the real gems to visit. From Athens to London, there is a lot to see but we are also excited to experience all Holland has to offer. For example, this past weekend we drove to a beach near Wassenaar on the coast just SW of Amsterdam. The good news is that it's a fun place with some casual restaurants on the beach where you can relax and have a cold one looking out at the ocean. The bad news is that 10,000 people had the same idea.
One of my big adjustments is integrating into a life in the city regardless of whether it's Amsterdam or downtown Portland. There is street noise, smaller living quarters, public transportation, no yard etc. Not that any of that is bad, in fact it's all actually really good....except forgetting that we have close neighbors and WINDOWS on three sides. I can't tell you how many times I've changed clothes or gotten out of the shower and realized I'm parading around in the buff for all to see. Helllllooooo Mr Johnson! I know this loud (and sometimes naked) guy from The States is already making an impression on the neighborhood.
Of course as we learn the city, we also learn where to shop. There is a large Market that goes on for what seems like kilometers (see what I did there) on Albert Cuypstraat. Everything you could ever want or don't want is there. From fresh fish (afraid to try it) to an HDMI cable (which we bought so we can watch Netflix from the iPad). Of course there are the legit freshly made Stroopwafels which I have to purchase every time we go.
As I mentioned above, we have begun to settle in. It was funny when we returned from Barcelona and we walked through the front door, it felt good to be back. The address says Alexander Boersstraat 54, Amsterdam NL which is taking some time to get used to, but once our personal shipment arrives in two weeks and we get our family pictures on the wall, I think we will be able to call it our home away from "home" (at least for a couple years!)
We miss everyone back in the US. Can't wait for you (yes I'm talking to you) to come visit! Until next time.......