Wednesday, January 30, 2008

World travelers?

When ever did that happen?
From not having traveled for years, besides the trips to Spanish shelters for me, I just had to get a travel insurance with world coverage.

At this moment I am trying to get ready for visiting Jack in a few weeks. The same stuff as last time, making sure I have someone to care for the dogs,thinking about a haircut, which I won't do. Just so everyone knows in advance....
But also decided, with the plans Jack and I talked about to get a travel insurance for a whole year.
Which is easy these days, you get them on line. I did decide to go with the company that takes care of my health and other stuff.
The advantage was that I got an honest answer on a few questions I did have.
Like, does my health care covers the costs of ending up in hospital in the US for example. Well, it didn't, so I had to take care of that.
Always a good idea I think when you travel with a 13 year old who just found out he loves to scare his Mom with joining Jack in his adventures that involve heights.

Got a little kick out of pressing the button, World wide or Europe.
I know, childish, but world wide sounds so much more adventurous than Europe...

Monday, January 28, 2008

A fun day

After a week that seemed to last forever, it finally was time for the annual beach walk of the rescue group I volunteer for. The walk takes place on the other side of our country, in the Hague. This year I could only bring the youngest of my dogs, since the two old ones can't travel by train.
When I arrived I soon found out that it would be a really good day, a lot of people came. And, our guess is between 130 and 150 dogs.
The weather couldn't have been better, it was sunny, around 10 degrees Celsius and windy.

I thought you might enjoy a few pictures of the day.
My galgo mix Paquita pretending she doesn't see Jan.

This is Mike, brought him with me from Spain two years ago. Hard to believe he got this big.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


to enjoy....

Monday, January 21, 2008

New toys

Being tied to the house, my last piercings went terribly wrong and I am on antibiotics now, I decided it was time to see if I could figure out one of Jacks presents.
Being the optimist he is, he thought I would be able to figure out an iPod.
Not being really sure I wouldn't mess it up, I waited until my son was at home, so I could ask him in case of emergencies. But it looks like it is working.
Right now Robbie Williams is finding his way to my iPod I hope. Soon he will be followed by Blof and John Mayer.
Those guys will make the long train travels bearable and in the near future also go with me on runs again I hope.

Yep, should be going back to running because there is one thing going terrible wrong when Jack and I are together.
We both love food. LOL, a bit too much and in my case it shows. Also because we stopped smoking over a year ago. And it is so easy to start eating than.
But after x-mas I decided enough is enough. So all extra's are thrown out of the diet and it is going to the gym twice a week.
Now I just have to figure out how to give Jack that kick in the butt to get him going again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Piercings, miniskirts and the red light district

Funny how two people can spend a day together and can sometimes tell totally different stories.
And that is what I am going to do here, tell what Jack doesn't want or dare to tell maybe?
That last day was wonderful, it was the only day we spent together without having any obligations to anyone but ourselves.
There was someone taking care of the dogs, so we were in no hurry to get back.
All we had to do was enjoy ourselves, and we did.

The Groninger Museum was clear, we were both interested, just like going for kibbeling (one of the few ways I do like fish) What Jack didn't know was that I had been planning to add more piercings the first time I was in the city, so when he asked what we could do, I told him that I would have it done if I saw a place where it was possible. Actually, it only was adding 2 more earrings to the 6 I already have, so it wasn't a big deal.
Although, from the look on Jacks face he thought differently when I suggested he would have one done also LOL.
The piercing was part of the shopping we did, another, that we actually had fun with was looking for a skirt for me. I mean, he did had to see if the skirt looked ok, didn't he? Men and fitting rooms, you never know what to expect.
Anyway, I ended up with a skirt that could be called mini.
When we were on our way to the museum Jack spotted the small street again that has the old town look on it. It is on the way from the center to the train station.
When we walked by something happened, I really don't remember what, but I told Jack that that street was the local red light district. He could hardly believe it was so close to the center and even kids could walk past there.
So I turned around and took him through the street, he reacted like I thought.
There is nothing adventurous about it, it actually looks sad.
The women sitting in the windows, waiting for their customers in a totally empty street.

It was fun to show Jack other things than the usual and I really appreciate that he lets me, be me, with my piercings and tattoo.

The rest of the day was wonderful also, the museum was fun, looking at the beautiful illustrations the Russians made over hundred years ago for their fairy tales, looking at all those people making interesting faces and talking about their knowledge of art.
Really fun was the modern art, from which I seldom can say I like it. In which case 'interesting' is always a good word to use. LOL.
To our surprise we also found some beautiful x-mas decorations in the museum shop.
To anyone ever visiting Groningen, the building in itself is already worth a visit.It looks strange but inside it has its own beauty.

And Jack is right, we had a wonderful time at the Balkan restaurant.

Not just that, the whole time Jack was here was wonderful, we had such a good time and I can't wait until the end of next month.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It Never Lasts Long Enough

I'll jump to the last full day of my trip to spend the Christmas holiday with Petra. I hate that feeling that comes over you during the last couple of days knowing that it will soon end and you have to go home. Oh well, we still put in a very busy day on the eve of my return.

We spent the biggest part of the day in the city of Groningen. I really like this place. It is a University city so it is full of activity and energy. I was looking forward to repeating some of what we did the first time Petra took me to Groningen. Go to the outdoor market and have some of the best fish on earth, kibbeling. It is great. Then a little later we had to stop by the outdoor store that sells the best ice cream on earth, Australian Ice Cream. So good. LOL

We shopped, something neither one of us really like doing, and then we wanted to go to the very modern museum that was featuring Russian artwork displaying European Fairy Tales. Something I learned was that unlike what I think of as American fairy tales that are basically childrens stories, European ones were much more aimed at adults and dealt a lot with the darker side, full of battle and creatures. It was very interesting. We also spent a long time going through the other exhibits. It's a great museum and I even got to see works of some of the best Dutch painters.

After a long day in the city we spent our last evening going out to dinner at a very nice Balkan restuarant in the village. We had a chance to think about the trip and all of the things we did together. I enjoyed every moment of it. When we were on the go and when we were at home being a normal couple. Thanks for a wonderful time Petra.
You will notice these pictures are not nearly as interesting as the ones in my other posts. That's because Petra added her great pictures to those. These two are mine and you can sure tell. LOL

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Memorable Day

One day I will never forget is when Petra's parents took us to Westerbork. Westerbork was a transfer camp primarily for the Jews during World War II on their way to the death camps in Poland mostly. Auschwitz and Sobibor the two main destinations. Well over 100,000 people passed through this camp. Most never came back. Being a student of history it was something I wanted to see but had mixed emotions on how I would feel. I'm very glad I witnessed it first hand. Even now I cannot describe exactly how I felt being there. All I know is I will never forget it. I had the strongest emotions when standing on the spot where Anne Frank was housed up until the day she too was sent to her final destination.
I was fortunate in that in the museum there were books translated into english and I bought a couple. I just finished one written by a survivor of Westerbork and Auschwitz.

The area is not only a memorial to the events of the past but is also now a science research area that explores deep space. There were several displays along the route to the camp that were very interesting and it was good to see on a cold winter day in December that many people were there to learn about both the past and our place in the universe.

After spending several hours walking around Westerbork Petra's parents drove us back home and Petra treated us to a wonderful dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the village. I can't wait to go back there again. It was really, really nice. It was a full day and one I will never forget.

Sorry, but just have to...

but it is only 41 days and we will be visiting Jack over there.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Museums and More

I read once where The Netherlands has more more museums per population than any other country in the world. I like that since I am a big history lover and I believe it also. There are museums everywhere.

In the town that Petra lives we visited the Toy Museum one afternoon and it was great. I was amazed with the amount and quality of the displays in this local town museum. There was even a traveling display of toys, including wonderful kites, from China. It is nice to think that these things exist and are busy even in the smaller towns.
Museums over here tend to be located in the cities unless it is a town of some historic significance and then it is directly related to that event that made the town important in our history.

What was especially fun was that at the end of the tour there was a shop that sold old fashioned toys, some that I was familiar with but some things I have never seen before. I bought a few items and later at Petra's parents house they showed me how to use them. LOL

Then on another afternoon the three of us went into the city of Groningen and went to the cinema to see "The Golden Compass." It was a very good movie. I can't remember the last time I went to the theatre. I noticed a difference from our theatres right away. First, it was a very nice theatre with big comfortable seats but also there was a bar that you could purchase wine or beer or all of the other stuff typical for the movies. No bars at the movies here. LOL That was a fun afternoon. More to follow.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Christmas 2007

The nice thing about spending Christmas in The Netherlands is that they have two official days of celebration. I am surprised we have not adopted this over here. Any chance to get an extra holiday and create a reason to spend more money sounds so American. LOL
But it is nice in that you can spend one of the Christmas days together and use the other one to visit family.

We had a great relaxing Christmas together, shared the time, exchanged gifts and enjoyed it just as I had hoped. I even helped Petra make Christmas dinner. LOL
It may sound funny but I love to go to the grocery store with Petra. I see all kinds of new things and I have a hard time keeping from adding them to the cart. I even found the ingredients to make mexican tacos which is something we eat a lot over here as a quick and simple meal so later in the trip I made tacos one night for Petra and I. LOL Not very fancy but hey, for me..........

The second Christmas day we were invited to go to Petra's parents for the evening and dinner. What a great time that was and a wonderful meal. It was a huge table full of foods to cook right there at the table. There was an indoor grill set up and a fondue pot to prepare your choices. I have to say that was just a great time. I hope also next time to visit Petra's parents and explore the area a little more. It looked very interesting. It was great to get together with the whole family again. I have very little family left and no one near so being able to feel a part of a family was very special to me. I truly appreciate and thank Petra's parents for making me feel welcomed.

Enough for this time. Lot's more to share later.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

a few pics to Jacks update

Walking the dogs on that beautiful morning.

Sunset the day we visited my sister.

A Great Trip.

Time to start giving you my impressions of a great trip. Up until the trip home, it couldn't have been any better. I'm sure Iceland is a wonderful place to visit, when there is some daylight, but my experience on Icelandair was not the greatest. The plane was cramped, the food was absolutely horrible and being in the airport in Iceland was dark and lonely feeling. I guess just a few days before I arrived they had the shortest daylight of the year, 37 minutes. LOL I would be climbing the walls after just a couple of days of that.
Seriously though, it seems like a very interesting place and in daylight I am sure it would be a great place to explore. Just not sure I want to eat their food. LOL

The first couple of days with Petra was like a winter wonderland. There was a very heavy coating of frost on all of the trees and it looked absolutely beautiful. We don't get that kind of frost over here like I saw there. It was a great way to start the visit. Definitely felt like the Christmas season.

Our first event was going to a birthday party for Petra's sister and brother in law. Petra's parents picked up us and I got to see a lot of the country on our way to their house. What a good time I had. All I can say to any americans is that the Dutch sure know how to celebrate birthdays! Birthdays are typically an all day event with family gathering and eating and drinking for hours. A great way for everyone to get together and talk and play with the kids. After eating and drinking way too much Petra and I went out for a walk and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the area.

I think I will stop for now. We did lots of things and also just enjoyed doing nothing although I think Petra is right. I really wanted to see and experience everything I could. It is a beautiful country full of wonderful people.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Time for an update....

It is well over a week ago already that Jack went back home, so it is finally time to tell a little about the last visit. The reason I hadn't done that yet was because there are a few changes in the galgo rescue group I volunteer for, so I had been rather busy with a few things.

But back to Jacks visit, it was wonderful to see him again, even better to have him here where he could meet my family again. I mean, they do have to get used to him being around.
Plan was to make this a relaxed week, no running from one place to another, but simply enjoy each others company.
I think we did, but we also went from one place to another. LOL, I got the feeling Jack feared to miss out on something if we spent more than half a day at home.
Anyway, we met my family at my sisters birthday, with x-mas and spend a good time together with my parents during our visit to Westerbork and dinner.

I'll leave it to Jack to give an impression on what we did.
After that I will add some pictures and comments I think.

What I do want to say is that we hope to meet the end of February again and right now it feels like that is way too long.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Back in the US

I had hoped to post something as soon as I got home but my trip back was full of problems and a trip that should have taken about 12-13 hours total, including travel to and from airports, ended up taking 35 hours. UGH. On top of that I developed a really nasty head cold the day before I left Petra's house so sitting in airports or on planes with piles of tissues blowing my nose was no fun at all. LOL

I will post much more as soon as I feel back to normal but I want to say that this was the best Christmas I can remember thanks to Petra and her family. I felt so much a part of the whole holiday season and so relaxed being a part of a wonderful group of people who took me in as a friend. You all will never know how special you made me feel.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's 2008 now

A very Happy New Year to all