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Het land van

I took my Dutch test on Tuesday to see if I will advance to the second level. I think I did pretty well and I will know for sure today! I actually can’t wait to advance to the next level because everything is so much better now that I can understand some sentences, I can use some basic Dutch at the supermarket or in a cafe and I can listen to a song and get the gist of it. Speaking of, here is my latest Dutch discovery: a song called “Het land van” (The land of) by Lange Frans and Baas B. It basically describes every aspect of the Netherlands. I learned a lot from this song. It made me research Pim Fortuyn, Theo van Gogh, Balkenende, Abe Lenstra and much more. You can listen to the song below and can see the lyrics and the English translation here: http://tulips-and-tomatoes.deviantart.com/journal/Het-Land-Van-lyrics-English-and-Dutch-320863597

I hope you enjoy it!

Till the next post.

Much love,

Roxanne

 

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2 locks, no luck

I’m officially a year older than I was when I wrote the previous post! Hoera, hoera! Gefeliciteerd, me!

It was an eventful week, I must admit. In a good way and in a bad way. First I lost my favorite necklace, which was a gift from my husband. Then I got sick 2 days before my birthday. Then I cut my foot pretty bad in an unbelievably stupid way. It still hurts. Then my bike was stolen and I still cry about it. But at least I had a lovely Saturday in Rembrandtplein, saw these guys http://doemarwa.nl/ play our wedding song, went to Julius for a pre-birthday dinner and got lovely wishes and gifts.

Let’s go back to the bike being stolen part. I am gutted. For 3 days it was all I could think about. Sunday was the worst because the weather was amazing for a bike ride and I didn’t have mine anymore. It wasn’t an expensive bike. It was a used, plain bike. And I had it for only a month and a half. I know you need good locks and good luck to not have your bike stolen in Amsterdam, but apparently I only had 2 locks and no luck.

Now I have to go to Otto bikes, where I got the first one and hope to be as lucky to find a new bike that hopefully looks like my first, now gone, bike. Wish me luck.

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Word!

umbrellas

Frusciante is eating weetabix while attending a webinar in Albuquerque

This sentence contains four of my favorite words. Yes, I have favorite words. A lot of them, actually. Some words have a nice sound, some are funny because you would never guess their meaning, some I love because they have amazing stories behind them. Inevitably, since I’m taking Dutch lessons, I now have favorite Dutch words. Here is a 6 of them (4 of them unsurprisingly food related):

Knoflook: I first saw the word in the supermarket and immediately thought it sounded funny in my head. I then realized it means garlic and I was ecstatic! How much better does garlic sound as knoflook?! It’s like having a great protagonist in a book and then suddenly he gets a really cool alias and he becomes instantly better, like Bruce Wayne, alias Batman. Knoflook is the Batman. And yes, I love garlic. Here’s a small recipe for ttalattouri (τταλαττούρι, one of my favorite words of the Cypriot dialect): ttalattouri is very similar to tzatziki, it is basically its Cypriot edition. Take 250ml of strained yoghurt, 1 tablespoon olive oil (buy the expensive one), 2 knoflookteentjes – finely minced, a pinch of salt, half finely diced komkommer (I’ll get to that!) and 1 teaspoon of dry crushed spearmint. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, put it in the fridge for about an hour and there you have it! Meatballs, fries, bread, everything tastes a little better with ttalattouri!

Komkommer: I’ve mentioned it above. Komkommer is cucumber! I don’t know how this happened, but for some reason komkommer got the best name in every language. Allow me to demonstrate: cucumber, komkommer, pepino, angouri (αγγούρι) and angouraki (αγγουράκι), krastavitsa, concombre, cetriolo, salatalik. See? Awesomeness!

Sinaasappel: or China’s apple. Care to guess what it is? What apple comes from China? If you said mandarin, you are close! Sinaasappel is the orange! Apparently they thought it’s an exotic apple that comes all the way from China and so they where calling them China’s appel (China in Dutch sounds like Shina) which turned into sinaasappel. I don’t really know if that’s true, but I love this story! By the way, orange juice is sinaasappelsap.

Aardappel: There is a very specific reason I like this word. Aardappel is potato. It translates exactly as apple from the earth. Here is the mind-blowing part. In Greek, the uncommon word for potato is γεώμηλο (yeomilo), which translates exactly as apple from the earth. Whaaaaaat?!

Paraplu: sounds like a kind of boat. A small, cute boat. “We’ll get the paraplu and take a ride around the canals”. Or like a french cuisine thing. “I had the paraplu and the escargots”. But this is actually the umbrella! Umbrella also has a nice sound, but please, imagine Rihanna singing “You can stand under my paraplu, plu plu, under my paraplu, plu plu”. Instant anthem!

Lol: Dutch people are very, very forward thinking. The whole country looks like the perfect example other countries should follow. They think way ahead. That is why they were “lolling” before anyone else. I’ll explain. Lol is not laughing out loud. Lol is an old Dutch word that means fun, joke or laugh. They were lolling before anyone else in the world! I don’t know if rofl is an old Dutch word too, I’ll look it up!

So, do you have any words you really love? Let me know in the comments!

Till the next post.

Doei! (this should be on the list!)

Roxanne

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My two new friends!

Learning Dutch can be a challenge at first. This is my experience so far. I’ve struggled with the pronunciation and with the fact that every rule has an exception, or even so many exceptions that you can’t actually consider it a rule. And don’t even get me started on telling the time! When our wonderful teacher explained how to tell the time in Dutch, I immediately had one question. How do we say “Sorry, I don’t have a watch?”.

However, I’m on my fourth lesson now and if anyone is looking for Dutch courses I highly recommend Koentact. After just four lessons (and a very exciting speurtocht-treasure hunt) I can honestly say I know how to speak a little Dutch. Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands! I don’t know if others feel this way, and if you do please share your experience in the comments, but it is such a nice feeling to finally get words and not just noise! I can count, I can introduce myself, I can order and pay and I can wish someone on their birthday! Or, you know, congratulate them!

Another great thing about learning Dutch is of course learning more and more about the culture of this country. This is guaranteed to make you feel more welcome. And trust me, Dutch people get so excited when they see foreigners trying to learn Dutch and they are happy to help you with the pronunciation. In my quest to familiarize myself with the Dutch culture, and after a recommendation from my Dutch teacher, I came across my two new friends, Bassie and Adriaan! If you are Dutch and reading this, please, oh please, tell me how was it for you watching this show as a kid.

For those of you who don’t know, Bassie and Adriaan where a Dutch circus duo starring in the homonymous TV show. Bassie is a clown and Adriaan is an acrobat. Their TV show made its first appearance in 1978 and ended in 1995 (thank you Wikipedia!). For me, these two guys are my new friends and valuable helpers in learning Dutch. I’ve watched so many videos of them, trying to find words I recognize, learn the alphabet, the numbers, the seasons and so on. Let me tell you, it really works! It also gives you a nostalgic vibe, it takes you back to the time when kids shows were actually kids shows, no one was killing anyone, monstrous characters and superficial non-heroes were not the norm and things were just innocent and… childish!

You can see below two of my favorite videos from Bassie and Adriaan. One will help you learn the alphabet and the other is a song about the four seasons! Enjoy!

Till the next post!

Tot ziens,

Roxanne

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Cycling-a-ling-a-ling

One of my best experiences in Amsterdam, and let’s be honest, in my life in general, has been getting a bicycle and roaming the streets of Amsterdam. I was very afraid to try it at first and now, after about a month, I feel that my fear was absolutely ridiculous and unjustified. It really is the best way to see Amsterdam and you feel more like a local. I believe that wherever you go, you should try to feel like a local. I read a story about a guy who was getting his hair cut every time he went to a new city or country, just to get the local vibe. I love that idea!

I also love associating songs with experiences in my life. I have songs I like to listen to when I’m doing the dishes, when I’m reading, when I’m cooking, and many more categories. Now, I have a new category: songs I listen to when I’m cycling! I picked out my top 5 at the moment and I hope you enjoy them! Hop on your imaginary bicycles and let’s go for a ride around Amsterdam!

1. You just got on your bike. Trying to balance a little bit. You see a pretty girl with a flowing skirt pass by you. She has a basket on the front and you can see she bought tomatoes. Then you look on the other side and it’s a glowing red rosebush. And then it hits you like a big pizza pie! Hit it, Dean Martin!

2. You feel quite comfortable now. The cold wind in your face, your hands relaxed, your legs are so good at this! I mean look at you! You are a natural! And now the stress is gone, your mind feels actually relaxed and you have a huge grin on your face! You deserve it, honey! Shake it out!

3. This feels great. You feel like a king! Let’s bring Elvis, mama.

4. Maybe you should call a doctor too? Ride away, rite away! Right on!

5. You have reached your destination. You get off the bicycle, lock it and try to walk away from it. What is this heavy feeling? Why are muscles you didn’t know you had sore? What is happening?! Did the cycling do this to you? Oh…Well, it was worth it! You are so hooked on this! Maybe go to the park later?

What are your cycling songs? Let’s share some music!

Till the next post.

Much love,

Roxanne

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Pride and no prejudice

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-What did you like the most about the parade? she asked curiously.

-If I have to say one thing, the people love people vibe, he answered and then took a big bite of his extra bacon.

The protagonists of this dialogue are of course me and Mike. We were sitting yesterday at Grannies lunchroom (more on this in a bit) and we were discussing Saturday’s canal parade. If you were there, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. If you weren’t, I really hope you can make it next year!

First, let me tell you about Grannies lunchroom. My amazing husband decided to surprise me this Sunday and take me somewhere new for breakfast, as a thank you for taking him to Trela Plein last week. He is cute like that. I had a very yummy omelette with bacon and Mike had what seemed to be a huge portion of eggs on toast. It was delicious! Also try the freshly squeezed orange juice! Everything seems like Sunday at grandma’s, if your grandma is a cool lady who makes great food.

Now, for the parade! It started with tears pouring down my face and ended with me soaking wet from the pouring rain. Everything in between was so much fun though! About 15 minutes before the parade, two boats carrying AIDS campaigners and Aids Fonds colleagues of the victims of the MH17 crash paid tribute to those who were so horribly taken away and I just couldn’t help it. I was crying as hard as I was applauding. The boats carried a red ribbon made out of roses and signs reading “Our work goes on. Together we will beat the virus” and “Remembering our colleagues on MH17″. Mercedes Sosa’s “Gracias a la vida” was playing and everyone was standing silently, crying and clapping, still numb from this senseless thing that happened. It was a very intense moment for me, because even as a foreigner here, I felt part of this, I shared the pain of these people and I really hope paying this tribute has helped them with their grief.

On a more positive note, the rest of the parade was really fun, some of the boats were very entertaining, others had very clear messages and great purposes (like the first ever Dutch Moroccan boat!), but every single one of them was spreading love and positive vibes! Dana International and Conchita Wurst of course gathered huge cheer from the crowds, as did the Dutch police, the army and the post office! As a Cypriot, you cannot imagine my awe when I saw the police and the army participating in this event.

In Cyprus, the first gay parade ever was organized this year and while some tried to ruin it with a ridiculous demonstration, it gathered more than 4000 people and everyone had a great time. This was very surprising for Cyprus, where still a lot of gay people are afraid to come out, many gay people have been shunned from their families and awareness regarding LGBT people is zero to none. But when I saw how successful the first Cyprus’ Gay Pride was it made me happy. Honestly, I was watching the photos and I was sad I couldn’t be there but so happy for how it turned out. And mostly, I felt proud! Some people say that gay pride events are unnecessary and provocative and sustain negative stereotypes. I say get a life to these people! It takes a lot of courage to stand up to hate and criticism and bigotry, so yeah, be fucking proud about it! And celebrate it! And what better place to celebrate it than Amsterdam and what better way than a canal parade and a huge party!

Thank you Amsterdam Pride and please, if anyone reading this will be participating with a boat next year, consider inviting me! After a couple of beers I’m the best party guest you’ll ever see!

Till the next post.

Much love and pride,

Roxanne

 

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Sunday, lovely Sunday

Unexpectedly amazing/interesting days are one of the things I love about Amsterdam. Yesterday was one of these days.

It all started when I saw this http://www.amsterdamfoodie.nl/2014/trela-plein-best-spaarndammerbuurt-cafe-amsterdam/

Go check it out and make sure to come back for the rest. I’ll wait here.

Ok, read it? Good! When I saw the title “Trela Plein” I laughed because I thought “Oh this is funny, this is like saying Craziness Plaza in Greek! I wonder what trela means in Dutch”. But then I read on and I realized that this was actually a post about a Greek cafe in Amsterdam serving bougatsa! I decided to surprise the hubby and tell him that we are going to get breakfast at this new place I found that has really good food. I had him at food. The day was promising weather-wise so we hopped on our bikes and after 30-35 minutes we were there! You get a friendly vibe the moment you get there. The people are super friendly and ready to help, the space is cozy and the smell, oh the smell, just makes you want to eat bougatsa and drink frappe! We ordered the spinach feta and the vanilla bougatsa and 2 frappe. We felt like classic Cypriots and we liked it. We sat outside and enjoyed what turned out to be a glorious morning. You can find the guys on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/TrelaPlein?fref=ts

Before we leave, we talked with one of the owners, Alexandros, who very enthusiastically explained that they have plans to make Trela Plein a cool place to hang out and also a place to host some nice cultural activities. I really liked a thing he said, that “everything you do, you have to do it joyfully”. Really good vibes!

After leaving Trela Plein with a smile, we decided to chill out at the park for a while and then head home for a lazy Sunday afternoon/night. We went to Westerpark, which is like a 2 minute bike ride from Trela Plein. We found a nice spot, sat on the grass and watched the kids play, the dogs run and the people relax. We were sitting on the hill opposite Westergasfabriek and we noticed that there were a lot of people there and what appeared to be a small market. We decided to check it out and I’m glad we did! It was the Neighbourfood Market!

The Neighbourfood Market happens every 3rd or 4th Sunday of the month and you can taste a bunch of different cuisines there or find little vintage gems. I did both! We had an amazing Japanese yakitori from a funky guy, a delicious piece of chocolate cake with dulce de leche and an empanada from two lovely Spanish girls, and a heavenly Portuguese tuna pastry thingy which reminded me of Cypriot bourekia! We were also amazed to bump into a guy selling old records who had a record from an old Greek rembetis, Yiannis Papaioannou. Seriously obscure and surreal!

Of course we couldn’t resist buying a few things. I bought my first ever pair of blue suede shoes! Elvis would be proud! And we also bought four different kinds of fudge (we are not fudge fans, but fudge it, why not?) from jackfudge.com, a small pot of salt with rose petals and also a lemon and herb aioli, a habanero mango aioli and a dulce de leche sauce from culishop.com. Let me tell you a bit about culishop.com. Find it and buy everything. That’s all I have to say!

You can enjoy some pictures below from our Sunday – fun day! What did you do this weekend? And what’s the plan for the next one?

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Till the next post.

Much love,

Roxanne