Fall break

Finally, after a very busy couple of weeks during which I couldn’t really find (or didn’t want to have to search for) the time to create elaborate blogposts, here’s our fall break story. You’d think school breaks are about sleeping in, relaxing, walking around in your pyjamas all day, stuff like that, right? Well, not if you’re an exchange student. This was Zoé’s fall break schedule:

Saturday: taking a long walk in nature near Breda, collecting sweet chestnuts and going out for dinner to celebrate my dad’s 65th birthday.
Sunday: finish reading a book for school (this counts as chillin’ doesn’t it?).
Monday: going into town and to the movies with a classmate.
Tuesday: shopping in the beautiful city of Utrecht with another classmate.
Wednesday: THE trip to Amsterdam 😉 .
Thursday: doing a Geocaching winter trail of 31 caches in a forest near us.
Friday: visiting a friend in the nearby town where the scouting meetings are also held. Leaving for a hike with the scouting group later in the afternoon.
Saturday: hiking with the scouting group.
Sunday: yes, finally sleeping in and walking around in pyjamas all day 😉 .

The following galleries will hopefully give a nice idea of the activities that we did with Zoé. Please click any of the pictures to go into a gallery for more details.

And this is what I made later that week with our sweet chestnut harvest:

We’d also planned to (finally!) visit Amsterdam this fall break. Although the outcome of the September poll actually required us to include a visit to the Artis zoo, we skipped that. There was so much to see in the city centre alone and our guide had so many stories to tell and showed us around so many well known and lesser known beautiful spots that we didn’t feel like spending our time in a zoo. For that same reason we didn’t go on a canal tour either. We explored the city on foot and it was perfect. We took loads of pictures, the following gallery is only an impression of the day. Go inside the gallery for more information with each photo.

Thanks Dad for taking us on such an interesting and personal tour around Amsterdam!!!

On Thursday it was time for some serious Geocaching. We had actually introduced Zoé to this adventurous game before, but this time we were aiming for 31 finds in one go through a recently published winter trail. The area where these geocaches are hidden used to be a sand quarry and has been transformed into a recreational area. There’s a height difference in this area of about 50 meters and the land varies from wet marshes to dry moors, so moving through it was a bit of a challenge sometimes. But most of all we enjoyed the company and the beautiful autumn views. And Zoé did SO well! I’d say she found at least a third of the caches all by herself!

The weather was  just wonderful for the time of year, on the warm side even! So we were far from the only ones enjoying this trail. We ran into other geocachers all day and later found out that 20+ teams had logged it that same day 🙂 . Thanks Team Tabak for the superb preparations and fun day 🙂 !

That’s it as far as we can share in pictures and stories. An update by Zoé herself should be on its way in the near future and will be about the next big adventure: a scouting weekend “Margrethekamp” with activities yet to be revealed…


Halloween Office Space

Inspired by two fellow bloggers The Ann Arbor Exchange and The Monroes I thought it would be fun to give pumpkin carving a shot this year. However, the pumpkin I had planned to use for that got stolen from our garden before I could put my knife in it… A little discouraged I decided to skip the carving and go for slaughtering the second pumpkin we still had inside the house to create a pumpkin themed dinner party…

The day of choice for this pumpkin fest was one day after Halloween, because it was a Friday and our friend Patricia was coming over. She loves any dish with pumpkin in it. The curry recipe is actually hers.

Another theme for this particular Friday evening was a movie we felt Zoé should’ve seen at least once this lifetime…

Office Space DVD cover

Yeah, hiiii…

Food poll outcome

So, this was the outcome of the last poll (click it for full size):


Erwtensoep won by one vote. Problem is though that Harald and myself don’t “do” erwtensoep… But we can’t ignore the outcome of the poll of course and it is typical Dutch food that we think Zoé will actually like. So… if everyone’s schedule allows it, we’ll try and arrange for Zoé to go and make erwtensoep herself at my mom’s and eat as much as she wants of it over there. Don’t say we never did anything for you… 😀

Stoofpeertjes fortunately are runner up in the poll outcome and we happen to LOVE stoofpeertjes! So we’ve eaten those a couple of times already.


Raw herring has been tested and approved also, though Zoé found them a little too oily. We forgot to take a picture of her eating the herring the Dutch way, sorry about that…


We also like having boerenkool for dinner, so Zoé’s had quite a bit of that already too.


As for the rest of the food in the poll:
– Zoé loves patat and had a tasting session of Dutch fries and snacks (no pictures);
– We’re planning on baking oliebollen early this year, but only if time permits;
– We didn’t really have an opportunity yet to get Zoé poffertjes. We hope having pancakes often will make up for this…


Just like in the movies

We have a new poll!!!

Perhaps this is not an easy one for our international readers, but hopefully the titles of these Dutch pearls ( 😉 ) will actually ring a bell…

We’re looking forward to the results! This poll will be open until the 1st of December.

One day in Utrecht

Last Saturday morning, I took the train to Utrecht. Travel Active was organising a day for all the exchange students who are now in The Netherlands. The programme was to go to the skating rink and then to finish the day eating a pizza together.

I arrived in Utrecht one hour too early, so I walked in this huge station, looking for the meeting point. An half hour was necessary before I found somebody of Travel Active. The big departure board where we had to meet had disappeared… Luckily I went to the right place!

After an hour waiting everybody arrived, we left the station, took the bus and came to the ice-skating place. It was really great to see again all the people that I had met during the orientation week. We had lots of things to tell to the others. Everybody wanted to speak about his school, his family, his city… I think that in general everyone was happy with his first month in The Netherlands! And further, it was also a pleasure to speak French again! But it was so strange too! I couldn’t avoid saying “Ja” or “Wat…” in a conversation. Speaking English with the students from Thailand or Brasil was simply impossible for me. My brain can only speak Dutch anymore… Only for a while, I hope!

So we began to ice-skate, some very good, others very bad. In any case, it was very funny! A bit ice-skating, a bit speaking, but maybe more speaking than ice-skating. When everybody’s feet began to hurt, we stopped and went to the pizzeria. It was in the city centre, along the canal. A pretty place, near a bridge.

And then it was officially time to go. But we (all the students) didn’t want to already separate, so we decided to stay one or two hours more in the centre of Utrecht. We walked along the canal (which was really very pretty) and we glanced at the shop windows. But eventually it was time to go… I spent a really good time in Utrecht with all the exchange students. We have now to wait the next meeting, in November, to see us again!

The Little Things

By the lack of postings you might think we’re either really busy or really bored…
Neither is the case though. I suppose we’re just nicely settled in a daily routine.

School’s school, work’s work, daily chores are daily chores. In between all that two of us had a bad cold, so we had to take things easy for about a week and a half. It was also partly because of that that we didn’t do many touristy things these past two weeks. Zoé and I did explore our town some more, especially a biological farm nearby. And the  exchange organisation organised an ice-skating event for the exchange students currently in The Netherlands this past Saturday. More on that will follow in another blogpost.

All in all we’re enjoying ourselves with all kinds of “little things”. To give you an idea of what such things might be, here’s a gallery with pictures of the little things in life we enjoyed these past two months. There’s some more info with every photo if you look at it inside the gallery.

A new month, a new poll

It was because of a vote just yesterday that there was a “winner” in last months poll: Artis. We’re in the final stages of planning a trip to Amsterdam and have to see if there will be enough time to actually visit Artis during this (first?) trip. A visit to Artis could be combined with a canal tour from and back to Amsterdam Central Station, which is on the wish list too. But there’s so much to see and do… You’ll find out what we decided to do later this month!

Now for this months poll, first of all we’ve decided to position the poll in the right sidebar of the blog because we suspect readers simply don’t look at the polls anymore once there are newer posts above them. Until now we didn’t get as many votes as we thought or hoped we would get based on the number of followers and visitors. So we’re curious how this new poll setup will affect the number of votes.

But most of all: we are looking forward to your votes on typical Dutch food you think Zoé should most definitely have eaten during her exchange… Other suggestions are also very welcome!