Randomness

Fountain at Janskerkhof
Originally uploaded by indigo_jones

Despite our anniversary being last Wednesday, we didn’t go out for our planned sushi dinner until Saturday. We went to Konichiwa over on Mariaplaats. Sadly, no toro (a type of tuna), but we did try something new: baars. It wasn’t until we got home that we found out it’s perch. It was very delicate and quite good, so we’ll end up adding that to our list of regulars, such as eel and salmon.

After dinner, we stopped by Graaf Floris café for an Irish coffee. (They don’t use whipped cream to top the coffee, they use proper cream poured over the back of a spoon.) We got a seat outside and enjoyed the last bright rays of summer sun and did some people watching. There seemed to be lots of Italians about that evening, as well as a handful of Americans.

Friday was a lovely evening as well, although we were a bit tired that evening and didn’t stay out very late. We met a large group of friends at Café Potdeksel; a group gathering of many of the people we’ve been fortunate to meet so far. The latest Dutch phrase I’ve been taught is lekker ding (eye candy). Today, Lip, one of the lovely people we’ve met, is getting married. I hope everyone has a great time.

Tomorrow I’m going to go finalize my residency stuff and get my ID card. (Hopefully, I won’t be asked to show it often, as the photo is atrocious.) I had a moment of panic this morning, as I couldn’t find where I’d put the piece of paper I have to take with me. It was in the other safe place I’d put it. I had thought that I would have to go back up toward Amsterdam, but it turns out I can go to the IND office that is here in Utrecht. That makes things even easier!

This upcoming weekend should be good. Saturday is the Open Monument Day, where museums and monuments around the country open up free of charge. I need to make a list of places to go. I should probably just go to the tourism office in order to get a better of idea of just what all the places are. I’ve looked briefly at the Open Monument Day website, but the Dutch, of course, makes it a bit more difficult. 😉 There’s some sort of musical toy museum that I’m curious to see. Then on Sunday, it’s the Culturele Zondag (Cultural Sunday) event with the Utrecht Uitfest, which is going to be the opening for the cultural season. It seems to be a circus theme of sorts this month. The Utrecht Film Festival is this month as well, although I suspect we might need to know a bit more Dutch before we can truly appreciate that. 😉

Success!

I just took Pippo out for a walk and as we were coming back and reached the area where all the cafés/bars are, a woman across the street from me was obviously looking at me and speaking to me. The usual moment of panic set in, but then it clicked as to what she was asking. She was asking if all of the cafés there were closed. (There are three all in one little area, including our local.) “Ja,” I answered — and quickly walked on. They open in about an hour and a half, I think, but I don’t know how to say that in Dutch yet. Why ruin a good moment!

I was thinking of going to the bar tonight to watch the next Netherlands football match, since Giovanni is in Germany and René and Merian will probably be there, but I think I’m just not over this cold enough to do it. My head is still congested to the point where I can’t hear well, and I’ve got a nasty cough. I suspect a warm, packed bar probably isn’t the best place for me tonight. Oh well. The way they’ve been playing, they should make it through this match and I’ll have another chance to see them in a celebratory setting in the semi-finals.

The wall behind the sofa has been painted orange today. I’ll post pictures soon. It looks mooi!

ETA: I spoke too soon. I just ran out to the grocery store to pick up a few things and on my way back — weighed down with a heavy grocery bag in one hand and a bag of dog food in the other — a man stopped me and started speaking. Trying to juggle the heavy bags and explain that I don’t speak Dutch, he then asked me in English where the train station is. At least that I could basically help with that, although I was feeling a bit flustered — and a bit ill, to be honest — and wasn’t as specific as I could have been. Oh well, I pointed him in the right direction. I’m sure someone else will help if need be.

That little walk to the store really took it out of me, though. I guess I’m still much weaker than I thought. Stupid cold.

National Pride (of Lions)

A Pride of Welpies

Meet Welpie, the little lion given away with each €15 purchase at Albert Heijn, the local grocery chain. He’s in celebration of the Euro Cup ’08, which began Saturday. Sunday was the first match between the Netherlands and Italy, who happen to be in the same group. Bad luck.

We had a standing invitation at the local to watch the match there, with promises of civility and friendship, no matter the outcome. Originally, we weren’t going to go, since Giovanni was concerned about not feeling free to express himself during the match, when surrounded by a mass of Dutch fans. He decided to take a quick walk over and explain to Fred (the owner of the bar) and thank him for the invitation, nonetheless. When he left, I went upstairs to start getting ready. I suspected we would be going after all.

A smart move on my part.

He returned wearing a blue Bavaria beer t-shirt, which Fred had given him, saying they had convinced him to stay and watch and that Rene’ and Merian (the former owners of the house) were there as well. As soon as we stepped out of the house, I saw a sea of orange. Everyone seemed to be wearing some sort of orange shirt or hat or scarf. It was truly impressive. The bar was no different: a sea of giants wearing orange.

Have I mentioned just how tall the Dutch people are? Giovanni, despite the blue shirt, seemed to disappear into the crowd. I’m used to being one of the taller people around; now I’m average if not downright short!

Anyway, the crowd, as promised was surprisingly friendly and supportive of the one Italian supporter in their midst (I was neutral, happy either way). They became even friendlier when Italy began to lose. Oh yes. Italy, World Champions, lost the match 3-0. It was one of the best matches to watch — in terms of game play — up to that point in the tournament, but the outcome was a bit depressing. As the match wore on, Giovanni received sympathy from various people in the crowd, along with a few beers. Many people even tried to make him feel better, pointing out that Italy was playing fairly well, and certainly better than the French had played in the match earlier in the day! (France is also in our group, along with Romania.)

Despite the loss, Giovanni wasn’t too sad. He’s more than willing to support the Netherlands and would be happy to see them continue through the tournament. It’s not over for Italy yet, but they’re at the bottom of the group at the moment. Hopefully, things will go better on Friday during the next round of group matches. After the match, people were taking to the streets, cheering Holland’s victory. It was peaceful and joyous and a lot of fun to experience. At the end of the night, Giovanni was also gifted with an orange version of the t-shirt he’d been given earlier. This way he has something to wear for the next Holland match.

Hup, Holland, Hup!

Fastest Installation. Ever!

Almost by the time I finished posting, the installation was done. Incredibly fast and easy, it seems! So we now have a washer and dryer.

We went to the grocery store afterward, in order to get stuff for dinner, and while we were there, we decided to get some laundry detergent. Most of it smelled awful, particularly the Albert Hein store brand, but we found one that should be ok. After smelling them all, I almost had the beginnings of a headache. But that was cured by a stop at one of the other bars at the end of our street. (Our local was closed.) We had our usual witbier (they’re small, don’t worry mum!) and now we’re going to cook dinner. It’s some sort of mystery dish. It’s pork/bacon sort of stuff wrapped around some sort of mystery stuffing. I should point out that it’s a mystery only because we don’t read Dutch. To go along with it, we’re having a sort of mushroom, leek, lettuce salad that’s quite lovely. (ETA: Thanks to Merian, I now know that the dish was slavink. Check the comment down below for the history. It’s fascinating!)

Tomorrow morning, we’re heading over to the hardware store to buy some paint so I can get to work on our bedroom. I’m thinking of white walls with an accent wall of sage green where the headboard will be. It’s inspired by this bedroom.