Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Needless to say, these new "firsts" - combined with the Christmas holiday - have kept us quite busy.
We started on the interior of our new apartment today (23rd) and will be continue with it throughout the next couple of weeks...we need to paint, put in a new floor and an entire kitchen! Not to mention, we need to buy some key pieces of furniture! Whew...! I know it will look great when we're done and I am really looking forward to it. You're all welcome to come and visit :)
As I mentioned, we also managed to buy a used boat from one of my colleagues for a very good price! This will be a fun Spring project...just need to get some of the rust off, give it a fresh coat of paint, a new name, and then we're set for some Amsterdam canal-cruisin' :) It's one of the most popular and pleasant things to do here in the city on a sunny warm day!
And, in the midst of all of this, Arno surprised me with a cute and real Christmas tree! This is my first time not going home for the holidays, so I really wanted to make it cozy and Christmas-y in our (current) apartment. We went retro and used color lights - it seems most people go for the all white lights these days...alas, we won't have any presents under that tree though because a house, furniture and a boat will just not fit! (Also, the Dutch have a holiday earlier in December called Sinterklaas and we exchanged some gifts then).
We've got all we wanted and more this holiday and we wish you all the same. May your gifts, friends, family and holiday season bring you much cheer and love.
Monday, December 17, 2007
For these shots below, I went for the 'antique photo' look :)
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
There haven't been any posts for a while, but that's because I really haven't been anywhere special lately! To take advantage of my last bit of free time between being a full-time student and a full-time worker; however, Arno and I traveled to a small village called San Vincenzo ('c' is pronounced 'ch' in Vincenzo) in the Tuscan region of Italy, approximately 80 km south of Pisa (for those of you who know Italian geography). It was just spectacularly gorgeous. So picturesque. Really, when you think of Tuscany, this place is what you'd envision. Rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves as far as you can see, quiet villas here and there, and the Mediterranean sea in the near distance. So what did we do for an entire week in the villa where we stayed - nothing but relax! We went to the beach one day, walked loads, visited a very yummy Michelin star restaurant overlooking the landscape, played cards, napped, sipped wine, and read A LOT. We had to travel back to Pisa the day before our flight giving us a full day and night in the city. I really liked it! It's a bit rough around the edges but perky - if you can use that word for a city. The leaning tower of Pisa was doing its job and I was surprised to find that there is actually a beautiful Duomo (domed cathedral) next to the Tower as well as some other great, old buildings that are somehow overlooked in peoples' descriptions of the Tower area.
Another highlight of Pisa was visiting the River Arno! Of course we made some photos of the two Arnos together at last. :o)
Take a look at the rest of my photos by clicking HERE!
Friday, September 21, 2007
The 700-year-old red light district is a big tourist attraction
The city has reached a 25m euro (£18m) deal to buy 18 buildings and turn them into shops or housing.
The mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, said that although prostitution was legal in the Netherlands, there was too much of the sex trade in the city centre.
He also said that the trade involved exploitation and trafficking of women, and other kinds of criminal activity.
Prostitutes in Amsterdam's red light district ply their trade in neon-lit street windows and the area's seediness has always been part of its attraction for tourists.
Under the deal, 51 of these windows - a third of the total - will be sold.
The Wallen, as the area is known in Dutch, is in one of the oldest and most picturesque areas of Amsterdam.
But the city's authorities say the windows are a magnet for crime and money laundering.
Mr Cohen said the move was not intended to get rid of prostitution entirely, since it is part of the area's history.
"What we do want is to get rid of the underlying criminality," he said.
De Rode Draad
However, the plan was criticised by the Dutch sex workers' union De Rode Draad.
"We believe that less windows means more exploitation of women," spokeswoman Metje Blaak told Agence France-Presse news agency.
"If the windows close down, women who are being exploited will be hidden somewhere else where union representatives and health workers can't make contact with them," she said.Prostitutes hire the windows for around 100 euros (£70, $141) for part of the day. One window is usually used by several prostitutes a day.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
I would just like to inform you that I will begin working at Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders in English and Artsen Zonder Grenzen in Dutch) here in their Amsterdam office beginning sometime in October. My start date is dependent on when I get my residence/work permit, which should be the end of September/early October.
For those of you who are not familiar with this organization - it is a well-known, very admirable humanitarian organization which operates around the world providing medical aid in emergency situations, i.e. conflict/post-conflict areas and in regions affected by natural disasters. They were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 for their work. Also, they cooperate closely with various United Nations' agencies, the International Red Cross, and many more international and non-governmental organizations to provide humanitarian assistance to people in need around the world.
My role will be to work with the Director of Operations in managing the coordination of the various field operations. The Amsterdam office is one of the main operational centers for MSF so it will be a very exciting and rewarding job. I hope to assume a great deal of responsibility in facilitating the field operations. At this time I will not have to travel to the field, but it may be required in the future if working in another capacity with the organization (which I am not ruling out at this point in time).
To read about MSF and their work, see their website here: http://www.msf.org/
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
By the way, if you can read this article without starting to feel even slightly sick to the stomach, please do not let me know...
Monday, August 27, 2007
Most people are probably not even aware that Germany has some islands, but in fact it does and this one in particular is very beautiful. It is a nature reserve and family beach resort and was formerly part of East Germany. There are a few parts of the island with the good ol' Communist housing blocks. However, for the most part the houses are cute, quaint and beautifully situated.
You may notice that some of the photos aren't so great and that's because we had to use a disposable camera! We brought our digital camera and had forgotten to charge the battery and bring the charger!
Enjoy the rest of the photos by clicking HERE.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Photos from top: South Beach; Jared, Susan and myself; storm in SoBe; Arno and I in Savannah.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Arno, unfortunately, became seasick the first day and was actually the only one to become so the whole week (sorry, babe!). The rocking took a bit of time to get accustomed to but once we did, standing still no longer felt so normal! I remember going to dinner on one of the first nights and literally felt like I was dramatically swaying from left-right the entire time ...so strange how the human body can adapt so easily to such different circumstances!
All-in-all it was wonderful and very relaxing. I got a nice tan and learned a little about sailing. I will definitely do it again! Thanks, Jaap!! ;)
Please enjoy the rest of my photos by clicking on this link and, be forewarned, there are LOTS of the boat and of me and Arno!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Saturday, May 05, 2007
L-R: Robert, me, Arno, Marnix, Nike, Rudy, Jeske, Jeroen
Thursday, April 12, 2007
L-R: Mirjam (Arno's good friend, and now mine), me, my friend's friend from Denmark, and Ulla (from Denmark).
L-R: Me, Arno, Mirjam and her boyfriend, Remy.