Monday, January 15, 2007

weekend in The Netherlands

We had a wonderful weekend in Mijdrecht, a suburb of Amsterdam, where we visited family friends. The girls got to play a lot, the grownups had a great visit, and I think we all are at the point where if we are tired, it's not jet lag anymore.

We know our Dutch friends through family connections. My uncle was in airline food service, and met M's dad years ago when M's dad worked for Martinair. My aunt and uncle got to be friends with M's parents, and then M stayed with them when she was 19 and I was 16 and we became pen pals. Who would have thought that 20 years later we'd have attended each others' weddings (in Virginia and Delft, respectively) and now our children are teaching each other new languages.

So we left from Antwerpen Centraal train station on Friday at 1:30ish. It took about 2 hours to go to Amsterdam-Schiphol station at the airport there (not all the way into town). We all enjoyed watching the scenery go by. The further we got into TheNetherlands, the flatter the landscape became. The farms are really neat, the way the perfectly rectangular fields are separated by drainage canals. Each field seems to have its own crop, but since it's winter, all we saw were sheep grazing (I take it they can't swim since they were all in one field usually).

There was no need for a club car on our intercity train (which by the way was 72 Euro for the four of us since MeiMei rides free and JieJie is still 4). Every so often someone came through with a snack cart. We liked the coffee they served, and the girls shared a "wafel-suiker" (waffle with sugar).

We arrived at Amsterdam-Schiphol and found M's husband R and went back to their lovely home, which they just built a few years ago. I will close the door on the details since we were enjoying time with friends, but suffice it to say a good time was had by all and the highlight for the girls was probably a trip to a huge indoor play-park with go-carts and a big climbing-sliding structure, as well as a bicycle/tricycle track with little working traffic lights. I won't soon forget the sight of my girls dutifully waiting for the light to turn green!

We got back Sunday late afternoon, cobbled together a quick dinner (smoked salmon and peas over noodles) and settled in for the evening.

This morning was the first full day of school for the girls. We're getting faster with the uniforms. JieJie is really ticklish, so buttoning her collar and tying her tie makes her reflexively put her shoulders up to her ears and giggle. MeiMei is pretty good about things once she agrees to the uniform itself ("noooooooooooo, I don't WANT it!").

We've learned the route to the school fairly well but we still don't leave the apartment without a map. After school, which the teacher said went very well (yay!) we stopped in a uniform shop to get a few extra shirts and a crest for JieJie's jumper. Then we had an awesome pizza lunch at 118 Lange Leemstraat, a place called Blauw Water pita en pizza. The girls had Pizza Margerita (tomato and cheese) and we had Zeefruchten (Sea-fruits) with calamari and shrimp. YUM. I would absolutely eat there again! Toward the end of our lunch, a lot of school students lined up to eat there, so you know it's good, affordable food.

That's all for now - bye bye!

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