One of the frequent search terms people use that lead them to my blog is “beesie”. A beesie is one of the little toy thingies that the Albert Heijn grocery store was giving away during the World Cup period in 2010. The things showed up everywhere and we certainly had fun with them, using them as bracelets and hair ties, as well as home decorations. I still have a bowl full of them. Still, I’m always surprised when I find people still looking them up online. But then I see sights like this and think maybe it’s not so odd that people are still looking them up. After all, they’re still showing up in strange places, even after more than a year!
Yesterday we went to Overvecht, a shopping center outside the city center, and the home of an Albert Heijn XL. Albert Heijn is one of the major grocery store chains here in the Netherlands and they have stores in different sizes. There are the Ready-to-Go ones that carry basics and prepacked stuff good for those on the go wanting to pick up lunch or a simple dinner. Then there are the normal stores like the two we go to on a daily basis. Then there’s the XL, as in extra large, as in similar to the kind of large supermarket we have in the US. To be honest, the normal stores we go to here do just fine and we’ve never really felt the need to go to the XL, other than curiosity. Considering we have a small fridge/freezer, there’s no room for doing big weekly shopping trips.
Still, we were curious, so we decided to finally visit the store yesterday, since the weather wasn’t particularly inspiring for doing much else. With our normal grocery list in hand, we headed out and soon found ourselves in a shopping center like almost any other shopping center I knew in the US. It’s not a huge mall — we’ve got that in the city center at Hoog Catherijne — but it’s still a mix of typical stores. Clothing, food, wine, bikes, toys, drugstore … the usual suspects. For those of you in Greensboro, it’s similar to Friendly Shopping Center, but not quite so fancy. Like any shopping center in the US, the parking lot was also filled with minivans, station wagons and other family-friendly vehicles, as you can see in the photo above.
The grocery store itself wasn’t drastically different in its offerings. The same essentials were there, just with a few extra options sometimes. Plus they also had more of the kitchen-related items than our smaller stores have. They have a slightly more extensive “foreign” food section, including some American items such as marshmallows, boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, BBQ sauce, and Skippy peanut butter. None of it was that tempting, though, since none of it was stuff I regularly bought in the US, either.
They did, however, have Coleman’s Mustard Powder and the olive oil mister, both of which I purchased. Mustard powder isn’t found easily here, and cooking sprays are pretty much nonexistent except for bak spray (baking spray). I miss the convenience of the cooking sprays, and I’m tired of ended up with way more oil than I need when cooking, so it’s good to have this olive oil spray (pump, rather than aerosol).
In all, I’m glad we went, so we know what’s available there, but it’s not like we’ll be going regularly. We get by just fine here in the binnenstad (city center). On our way back home, I saw this view at a stoplight and still got a thrill. I do love the Domtoren (the tall tower in the skyline).
But it was also nice to see some leafy green boulevards while we were out.
It’s time for another World Cup-related post! The Netherlands plays Cameroon today in the last of the group matches. We’re pretty much set to go through unless some drastic mathematical events take place. Still, I’m hoping for a good game and a clear win today. We’re one of the few nations that have consistently won. (In a side note, I’m glad that the US has made it through, but wish they hadn’t waited until almost literally the last minute!)
Albert Heijn, one of the major grocery store chains here, has been giving out little toys with every €15 purchase. The toys are known as Beesies and they come in orange, red, white, and blue, natuurlijk. We’ve ended up with quite a few, so I had some fun with them the other day. First up was the Beesie Bouquet above. I took one of my tins and arranged the Beesies with the orange ones on the outside and the red, white, and blue ones in the center. It currently sits in our front window and has caught the attention of a few passing children. Then I started playing around with a couple of them on their own. They tend to remind me of Beaker from The Muppets, with their often startled faces.
I also had a couple of them checking out our predictions for how the World Cup would go. A few predictions obviously shocked one of them, but the other was quite pleased with our predictions for the Netherlands.
There’s a group on Flickr devoted to photos of Beesies in all sorts of spots. It’s definitely worth checking out.