Waar In Utrecht

Quizmaster and Burgemeester
Saturday afternoon we stopped in briefly at Café De Stad in order to attend the presentation of the 2011 Waar In Utrecht (Where in Utrecht) calendar. Waar In Utrecht is a quiz in which a photo of a location in Utrecht is posted either on Twitter or through the website — or is part of a calendar — and the player has to guess where that spot is located. It’s player-driven, in that the person who guesses correctly via Twitter is then the one to supply the next photo. There’s usually some small prize such as a free ice cream or stamppot for the Twitter version, and a variety of prizes for the calendar version (a new photo each week).

I’ve played — and won — a few times, and now it seems that one of my photos made the final cut for the 2011 calendar. The quizmaster/organizer e-mailed me last month to see if I had any Sinterklaas photos that he could use, and he found one of mine that he thought would work. I was pretty sure the photo had made it in to the calendar, but got my final confirmation this weekend when I saw this photo. That’s my photo of Sinterklaas! (Appropriately, Saturday was also the day that Sinterklaas arrived in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, I missed the arrival this year. Someone else will have to supply the photo for 2012.)

Alas, the calendar presentation party was packed, and we couldn’t stay long, so I didn’t get to buy my copy of the calendar. I’ll just have to order mine online, most likely. But at least I can say I was at the same party as Utrecht’s mayor. Burgemeester Wolfsen was the first recipient of the new calendar.
Burgemeester Wolfsen

Throw Me Somthing, Mister!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Between the Saints winning the Super Bowl and now Mardi Gras, these old beads I collected at the various Mardi Gras parades have gotten a lot of use recently! Mardi Gras, or Carnaval, is celebrated here in the Netherlands, although primarily in the southern Brabant region (the southern part of the country), with one of the big celebrations taking place in Maastricht, as well as in Eindhoven and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, among others. Although I haven’t experienced a Dutch Carnaval yet, from what I understand, it’s not that different from the New Orleans Mardi Gras with which I’m familiar. People dress up in costumes, there are parades, and generally it’s one big party. Having experienced the New Orleans version, someday I’d like to experience the Dutch version (and the Venetian and Brazilian versions, despite the massive crowds).

If you follow the religious aspect of this holiday and are giving something up for Lent, make the most of this fat Tuesday and enjoy yourself! Me, I’ll be noshing on chocolate eggs until Easter.

Party Time

In On The Act
(More photos of Saturday evening at Flickr.)
Saturday was a colorful day.

Colorful language dotted the air as we put the bed together, although ultimately it went fairly smoothly. Certainly easier than putting together the dining room chairs. It’s nice to finally be off the floor. Now if only the sofa would arrive so we could completely move off the floor.

The European Cup began Saturday, with Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Portugal and Turkey playing the first round of matches. We watched the first match at home and then went over to Cafe Podeskel to watch the second match. The bar was decked out in lots of orange in preparation for Holland’s first match of the cup — against Italy. Tonight. Despite the conflict of interest, we’ve been invited to the bar tonight to watch the match. They’ve promised no aggression through the first group round. 😉

Saturday was also night two of Night Fever, a city-wide party with bands and DJs performing at various locations throughout the city. Fortunately for us, one of those locations was on Lucas Bolwerk, the next street over from our house, and the street that runs in front of the bar. That was the reason for the pink wigs and other costumes on the bar staff that night (see above photo). A band called Sonic Groove played, covering a variety of songs. It was mostly soul, R&B and disco, so inevitably, there was much dancing in the streets.

Toward the end of the evening, as we were standing outside in the street watching the band, a man came up to us and introduced himself, explaining that he was a previous owner of our house! It turns out he and his wife were the owners before the people we got the house from. So now we’ve met the last two generations of house owners! We met his wife a little bit later when we had gone back inside the bar. They were very kind and friendly and said they were sorry to have to leave the house, because they loved it so much, but they had three kids and needed more space. They’re the ones who finished off the upstairs portion of the house and who built the kitchen addition. We thanked them for their remodeling, particularly the kitchen add-on!

Today we took a walk along the Oudegracht (Old Canal) and passed by the Neuwegracht (New Canal, built in the late 1390s), and now we’re trying to sort out our power and gas provider. It’s a bit confusing and complicated with choosing energy providers, who are separate from the companies that actually manage the service — or something like that.

Our stuff that we shipped over is still stuck in customs. They seem to think it’s too much to be simply household items, which is silly. It should hopefully be resolved soon. It’s not a major issue and our shipper is working on it. I find myself thinking now that I could probably live without half of the stuff I packed, but it’s much easier to think that way on this end than it is on the other end. Oh well.