Week 1 including Easter weekend

Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Wednesday, April 23, 2003

After almost a week in our new apartment, it is still a mess! I think we're finally realizing just how much stuff we have! On April 23 Chris has to go back to the U.S. to finish working through the end of the month. So, our goal of this week has been to inventory everything and make sure that it arrived safely. There are only a few minor items missing -- probably inadvertantly sent to storage. Everything else is accounted for.

Chris has spent the week inventory-ing, but also exploring. We now know where to buy household goods, groceries, chocolate, beer, toiletries, beer, cheese, bread and beer. Chris has found a perfect bike for Melanie at the Waterlooplein flea market. It has a basket, 4 speeds, a comfy seat, and big tires. The Waterlooplein has a large flea that is open every day and has all kinds of stuff. He's also been buying the Delft houses full of Dutch gin that KLM gives its first and business class passengers. A gin stores sell these for 29-89 euro, but Chris is finding them for around euro 10. He has even found the replica of the Anne Frank house and one of the Rembrandt house.

The owners are allowing us to keep our bikes in the back part of their gallery. This is incredibly convenient because bike theft is rampant in Amsterdam. Before moving here I spoke to another expat who had been here 3 years and had 3 bikes stolen. We have at least 2 locks per bikes and always chain the bikes to an immovable object when we go out.

We have found a fitness center for Melanie to join. It is very close to the apartment, so it is likely to be used! There are many classes and all very good, but different than in the U.S. They are much more "dancy" and the music is FAR louder than even the New York health clubs. There is less focus on proper form and more focus on having fun. Consequently, there is more twisting and turning which her knees are not happy about. This gets exaggerated because the instructions are mostly in Dutch so she is often going in the wrong direction anyway! Still, it's an excellent workout, the people are nice, and Melanie can now count to 8 proficiently in Dutch. She is very glad to have found a place quickly that is fun and close.

We had our first pancake dinner this week. There are many pancake houses all over Amsterdam where they make a large, thin-ish pancake (about 15 inches in diameter, about twice as thick as a crepe) and put all sorts of things on them. You can have sweet or savory, so we decided to have one of each. Melanie's had mushrooms, goat cheese, basil and tomatoes, and Chris' was topped with apples and raisins in brandy. YUM!!!

Easter Sunday was interesting. We usually go to Chris' parents for Easter, so we've never had to cook on Easter. We found a "mini-Amerikaans beenham" which we thought would be a mini American baked ham. However, upon opening it was evident that the ham was raw. The cooking instructions were in Dutch and were more complicated than "heat at tempurature x for y minutes". So, Melanie pulled out Joy of Cooking for generic instructions (in Farenheit and pounds to convert to a Centigrade oven and ham weighed in kilos) while Chris took the package and went out on the street in search of a Dutch person to provide translation. The first person told him it was cooked -- WRONG! Turns out the instructions were to cook at one temperature for 10 minutes, a 2nd temp for 35 minutes and a 3rd temp for 10 minutes per kilo. Very complicated. In the end, between that and Joy of Cooking, we had a fully cooked ham, asparagus, salad, champagne and some beautiful chocolates. The Easter chocolates here are amazing. There are all sorts of eggs of varying color and decoration. Beautiful!

For our anniversary, we decided to go to a small restaurant for rijstaffel -- an Indonesian rice table. The restaurant was very small and we managed to get a table separated from the others between the bar and the kitchen (perfect because there is no seating at the bar). Rice tables are very popular here. They consist of many small dishes with varying levels of spicyness which are eaten with rice. Terrific!

On April 23, Chris returned to the U.S. and Melanie was left with the cats and the remaining unpacking and organizing until the beginning of May.  
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