Yesterday I woke up at 5h because of a leg muscle that contracted and didn't want to decontract. I hate it when that happens! I went to the bathroom and on my way saw how beautiful the sky was, bright orange. Then I went back to bed. Later in the day I went with the youngest boy to his music lesson while the oldest went to soccer practice. While the boy was in his lesson I went to Hema. I like that store for house things and paper/office supplies. They rule! I bought 2 cushion things for back home that you put your own cushions/batting in, I really like them! As well as special kitchen towels. The cushion thingies... The youngest boy went outside to play with a friend and then the ball rolled into the lake! So the father of his friend came first with a stick but it was not long enough to reach the ball so they all went with the inflatable boat and paddles to get the ball. Then at home in the evening I phoned my mother while she was at work. It was nice to talk in French again! I also watched a documentary on BBC1 from the Panorama series called "Hostage", where Iraq hostages that were freed/the family of killed hostages told their story. And at 23h I went to sleep.
I just watched Arlington Road on tele. I had seen that movie years ago. So it was nice to watch it again. I can't say much about it without spoiling the movie for those who haven't seen it... But yea... See it if you haven't yet!
I just went with the two boys to swim. But then the older of the two boys told me there was a spot closer to home where he went with his mom once. So it was not the beach I thought but some kind of wooden deck with steps to go in the water. At one end there were a few boys/teenagers drinking and smoking. So we walked towards the other end/middle where there was no one. It was a bit strange it was only guys there so I preferred staying out of the water and just putting my legs/feet in. The boys on the other hand had a great time jumping in, climbing out, jumping in. The youngest boy didn't want to go swimming at first but he's the one that seemed to be having the most fun. It made it worth it to see him jump in and laugh. Then we walked back home an hour later. If I go swimming here on my own I will take my bike and go to the other side of the lake. I think there will be less shady people there!
Today seems like it's going to be the nice sunny day for a little while. The boys, especially the oldest of the two, want me to take them swimming for a week now. I've been putting it off but now as it's the last nice sunny day I'll probably bring them swimming. I won't swim myself because I think it's too cold. There's a little wind blowing and that's all I need with the sun to keep me cool. If it was like 30+ degrees then I'd go in the water! Plus someone has to mind the house & bike keys, etc. It is a nice place though, a little beach on the opposite side of the lake from the house. You can see it here... In other news, Rock Werchter is approaching quickly! Saturday! I'm looking forward to it... I'll travel by train from Amsterdam to Leuven in Belgium. It's a big festival 3 days long but I'll only go to the Saturday. I wanted to see Rammstein but Nine Inch Nails and Audioslave are also there so it's even better! Here's a manipulated picture of me holding my ticket.
This morning I had breakfast outside in the garden with the family. It was nice, the sun was shining. A great start to a day. Then I decided to go to the centre to take a few photographs. I biked and walked along the Prinsengracht and the Leidsegracht and a couple of little streets inbetween. I love looking at the beautiful houses. I also went to visit the House Boat Museum. It was interesting but for 3 Euros there was not much to see inside! I made up for it by asking 2-3 question to the museum worker (about how much the boat moves for example). Sometimes I locked my bike up on a bike rack and walked around. At one place there was a lady there with her scooter. In a storage space on her scooter she had about 20 little stuffed toys and she was talking to herself. Then she saw I was having trouble putting my bike in between 2 other bikes so she helped me. I would have done it without help but... I think she was either stoned or sick in the head. She kept asking me what I thought about "a house in France". I left saying thanks for helping with the bike. When I came back there was a little stuffed toy bear on my bike! I didn't really need a stuffed toy there so I left it on another bike. The centre was really crowded with tourists compared to when I went during the week (then it was more crowded with cars!). So I biked back to my area of the town. I went by the lake for a look. There was cute little ducks/birds, lots of people walking/biking around, people sitting and sunbathing. The lake is a nice place to be around on nice Summer days! Here's a photo of the marina of the Sloterplas. Then I came back to the house. I spent some time in my room. Around 18h I went downstairs. The father of the family decided to put together their new little barbecue. So I watched him, helping a bit with the instructions. Then I helped put together a meal: salad, little bread rolls, sausages and chicken. He cooked it on the barbecue and we all sat outside in the garden to eat. It was "gezellig" as they say here! Then I watched a movie on tele, The Good Girl. It was just okay. And soon America's Next Top Model is coming on. I miss that show in Canada. I used to have it on Life Network but then they changed it for HGTV so there was no more A.N.T.M.!
I'm now tired. And when I'm tired I get easily annoyed. I am now annoyed by the warmth in my room, the bird that continuously pip-pip-pip-pip's at the back window and the people playing basketball on the nearby field in front of the house so there's a boom-boom-boom noise. They are also a bit loud speaking a language I don't know so that's annoying. I don't know if I should be annoyed, but I am a bit! Today was an ok day! The boy's father brought them to school, their mother picked up. I ran an errand and came home and didn't do much. Oh yea! I did watch the movie Shine, about David Helfgott. It was beautiful. I think I'll watch it once more before sending the DVD back.
This afternoon I went with the boys to a rowing club as one of them had a lesson there. It was near the Amstel river. We took two different metro&trams to get there and the boys loved the travelling! They mostly bike or go in the car so that was different I guess. Once at our destination station it was 5 minutes walking. But I wasn't sure where the south/north/west/east was compared to my map! A way to know would have been to use the sun but at the time I didn't think about it... So I asked 2 men who were having a conversation outside a building. They very nicely gave me directions. I was indeed going the right way! The boys were tired as it was really warm... While the one kid had his rowing lesson I played with the other boy: Yu-gi-oh cards (I still don't really understand), ping pong and teaching him how to take pictures. He took a couple which were ok. He's so cute. I took a few photos also. Here's one of the river Amstel... And one of a bird that made a nest on one of the quays...
This morning at around 9h I left for the city centre. It takes about 10-12 minutes biking to get to the Westermarkt and the nice canals. The Westermarkt/Westerkerk are right near the house where Anne Frank and her family hid during the war. Here's a bike parked at the corner of the Westermarkt... And the Westerkerk... Anne wrote she heard the bells of that church ringing everyday... It is possible to go in the tower. I still haven't gone up there. But I think I will sometime before going back to Montreal. Then I decided to take the Herengracht to go towards the West (and the start of the main shopping street). Here's a bike that was attached to a bridge that goes over the Herengracht... Further along the Herengracht was kind of closed to cars/bikes because they were repairing the street so I went along the Singel canal. I took a lot of pictures. It's nice to bike along the canals. So peaceful. But yea... You have to be careful because when there is a car behind you that wants to pass there is not much room for a car and a bike to ride side by side... The streets are pretty narrow. I then went shopping on Rokin and found a lot of nice stuff. The best was that it's Summer sales so everything I got was 50% off! 2 tank tops from We, 1 pair of pants from We and 2 tank tops from some new shop I didn't know Bershka. Don't worry mom, I'm not spending all my money!! I love shopping on the Rokin. After that I biked back home and stopped along the way on the Prinsengracht. There were some very pretty houses like these... One day I want to buy a house/appartment in a house like that on one of the centre's canals. They cost a lot but they are so pretty! It's way worth it I believe! Look at the lovely architecture at the top of the houses. There are different kinds, some square, some Louis XV style, plain, some elaborate, etc. It's what makes the charm of this city I think. I love looking up and seeing all the different houses. On beautiful days like today (30 degrees, sun) it's popular for the Dutch to call in sick and take advantage of the weather. Some do that by going on a boat ride on the Amsterdam canals. At home I had a yummy sandwich with fresh bread from the bakery and extra belegen Goudse kaas, extra mid old Gouda cheese. It's delicious! I love that cheese.
Here are two photographs of the boys that live here, the family where I'm staying. They are adorable. Both were wearing Ajax shirts today... Ajax is Amsterdam's soccer team. They enjoy soccer computer games... And playing it also...
On Friday I left home at around 18h30 and I was at the airport at 19h. There was a bit of traffic on Dequarie as usual but the rest went smoothly. It cost 22 something so I gave him 25$. He was nice and helped me bring my luggage from my appartment outside to the car and then from the car to the curb. It was really quick to check in, 3 minutes or so! No waiting. I was 3 hours in advance too though so I guess people from my flight were not there yet. It's best this way. Instead of waiting in a line I can wait sitting! The security were effective also. They didn't ask about anything that was in my backpack. I had a nailclipper and camera and such. Usually they ask to see the items. They only asked to take the laptop out of the carrying bag. I beeped through the machine because of the buttons on my jeans, my watch and a hair clip. The security guy was talking to me in English. I kept replying in French. He finally caught on and spoke in French back. The airport gates have been renovated. It looks nice but I could only find electrical plugs where there are no seats so it's not handy. Thankfully I have a good battery on my laptop! There was a cleaning lady going around now cleaning the nice leather seats and little tables, picking up garbage. Pretty good! The stores they have at the gates are a little boring. The usual magazine store, souvenir store, Tie Rack and local artist made things. Could have more. I found a quiet seat at gate 55 (mine was 58) but then a party of four came to sit right near me while the whole gate area is free (2 people). But thankfully they left. So I was back to the quiet haven. Compared to actual gates that are being used it was so calm! Here's where I sat waiting for my flight... At 20h54 I came to my own gate and sat. I found that there is indeed quite a few electrical plugs! They are on poles with a light at the top between rows of seats. I just didnâ€™t notice them beforeâ€¦ I guess thatâ€™s what they call integrated design! In the plane I sat next to an old lady and her husband. They were traveling with two children which were seated 2 rows in front. The old lady was really concerned about that. They spoke only Spanish and French. After departure, I went to the bathroom. When I came back I saw that my headset had been torn apart! Someone ripped it out and the plug was still in but the headset was broken! I asked the old couple what happened and they blamed it on me for leaving it on my seat. Itâ€™s my seat. I should be able to leave whatever I want on it without it being broken! A lady on the other side of the alley gave me her headset. So I watched The Jacket with Adrien Brody. A bit of a strange movie but ok. British Airways do not allow you to pause the movie or start it whenever you want. Singapore Airlines was better for that! The meal came. It was lasagna which surprisingly was alright with salad. The dessert was the best! A kind of chocolate cake/mousse with raspberry coulis. Delicious! Then I went to the bathroom again. I was in there a bit longer because I also brushed my teeth. Then someone knocked on the door asking if I was alright. I replied yes. And as I came out the flight attendant told me they had to perform routine security checks. Iâ€™m not a terrorist that is making a bomb in the toilet! Then I went to sleep. I tried with earplugs but could still hear talking. So I put on my favorite CD to sleep/relax to: Matthew Good â€“ Avalanche. Throughout my Australian trip it was almost the only CD in my player. And now it was being used again. I woke up when everyone was still sleeping. Why? The lady and the man besides me shook me and asked that I get up so they can go to the bathroom. They expected that within one second I would stand. But I was sleeping. So I was sleepy. The man was irritated. At first I only moved my legs to let them space. It would have been perfect for any normal person. But no! Not for them! They wanted me to stand. So I did. Then I tried sleeping again but couldnâ€™t. I just sat with my eyes closed listening to more music. Here we are on the map about to arrive in London. What kind of name is Aberystwyth for a city?! Landing in London went fine. I took the shuttle from terminal 4 to terminal 1. Then I started the wait for the connection flight. There were quite a few shops around but my bag was heavy and I was tired, it was 6h back home and I had only 1h-1h30 of sleep. So I didnâ€™t feel like walking around much. I sat and played around with designing in Photoshop. The flight was supposed to be at 12h30 but was delayed until 13h. Here we are leaving Heathrow Airport... It was very short, 1h or so and I landed in Amsterdam. The two kids (now 9 and 7 years old) were very happy to see me! I was happy to be in Amsterdam again...! Here's a shot of a part of Holland from the sky.
I love the view from my room here in Amsterdam. It's in the attic of a 4 storey house, so pretty high, with a view on a lake. It's simply beautiful. Especially when it's time for the sun to set (which is pretty late here!). So I thought I'd share two pictures of the sun setting... Sun's going down... Beautiful sky...
Still not able to completely update my weblog but here's a bit anyways... I went biking in the Amsterdam centre this morning. I like that my bike is a bit old, typical Dutch bike. The tourists usually have a big tag with the bike rental company's name on it. It screams tourists. Locals somehow act differently when they see these rental bikes arrive... I love Dutch houses and the canals. When I am biking I often look up (to see the houses) and not just looking at the street. It's just so pretty. This photo was taken on the Keizersgracht looking to the Leidsegracht bridge... My laptop update. I did buy a cable for the Internet network. But then another problem with electrical plug adaptor. I brought one along from Canada... But I was the wrong one! I had two home, Australia and Holland. And I grabbed the Australia one without double checking. If you're leaving for a faraway country make sure you have the good adaptor! So today in the city centre I found a suitable adaptor finally! So tonight I should be able to connect my laptop to the Internet in my room. The adaptor... I also bought new shoes. They are different shape than the ones I have now so when I put them on it feels strange. The salesperson was surprised that I was not Dutch, that's how good my Dutch speaking skills are! My new shoes...
I've arrived in Holland! I have typed out the whole story of the trip but it is on my laptop. I am now using the family computer... So although I want to share how the trip went I won't be able to just yet! It seems the cable for the Internet upstairs in my room has been taken away. I hope there will be a new one...! Or else I'll miss surfing the web and updating my weblog before going to bed!
I'm leaving in 2 hours! I don't know when I'll have the Internet connected on my laptop again, so might not be able to update the weblog for a while. I know there is an high speed connection and router where I'm going but I don't know if I'll be able to configure my laptop to it! I'm not so good with that kind of stuff... See you in a while!
I am so mad/frustrated/angry at the printer right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GRRRRRRRR! It was working fine. Then the black ink ran out. I replaced it with the new carthridge I bought yesterday. And now it's not working! I can clearly see the ink coming out of the thing when I take it out to check but when it's in no ink comes out and it prints blank. I did the nozzle cleans, tests, etc. Still nothing. I am so annoyed!!!