St Martin, St. Martin…

That’s what all dutch kids have been singing for like a week now. why? In preparation of today, St Martin’s Day. St Martin’s day is celebrated in the evening of 11 November in Flanders, parts of the Netherlands – primarily the southern and north-western parts – and most areas of Germany and Austria.

Children go from door to door carrying paper lanterns and sing traditional songs about Sint Maarten to the householders in return for sweets and goodies, a custom which can be likened somewhat to the American tradition of ‘trick or treat’ at Halloween. I seriously just opened my door to 50+ kids(a group from the creche) singing and holding out bags. It was cute, but also scary as they were all knee height and pushing towards me for candy.

Chocolate Letters!

Around this time of year seasonal dutch treats start popping up in the supermarket or in outside stands.


Chocolate letters are in almost every store.They come in dark chocolate, white chocolate, and my favorite, milk chocolate. I had my first of the season this past week! An S of course. I’ll probably consume the rest of my name before the season is over. >.< While looking around for the origin of the chocolate letter tradition, I found some interesting facts!

*Only the Dutch have chocolate letters and they consume many million a year.
*They’re only sold between October and December 5th
*after the season is over they dont sell them for a discounted price, they send them back to the factory to be melted and used for other candy!
*The best selling letters are M and S. O and V are the least popular

hello november


Halloween has come and gone. Even though the Dutch don’t celebrate it, Me, Dev, and our friends surely did! Dev and I threw a “party” at our apartment. It was basically pre-partying in costumes before going out. I officially got wasted and spent some of the night dancing on a table at the club. It was a lot of fun! Mission accomplished! A great way to say goodbye to October

And Helllloooooo November!

This month is a great month for concerts! Tomorrow I am going to see Volcano! at paradiso. I MAY be seeing CSS on Friday. I say may because I don’t know if I want to spend 22 euro on them. I absolutely love them, but that’s a bit pricey. Seeing Okkervil River and Hot Chip next week with Rob, Andrew Bird at the end of the month, woo! excited! I’m also planning on going to Paris this month. oh and I’m writing a novel.

No. Really. I am! I’m participating in NANOWRIMO. Nanowrimo is a creative writing project in which participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. This is my third year participating. Sadly, I did not actually complete the novel the last two years, but THIS YEAR is the year baby! I’m going to try my darndest to finish it. As of now I only have 0 words! Yea, yea, I know. I should get started. I am! I have a few pages of ideas and I’m going to get started after I finish yapping here.

November is a really exciting month for me! The only thing I have to complain about is the weather. ughh! It’s starting to get to be that shitty Dutch weather I hated so much last year. You know the one. With rain and wind blowing against you no matter which way you turn! I HATE it! But that shitty weather signifies the return of yummy Dutch treats. Mmmmmm! Be prepared to hear all about my favorite Dutch treats within the next few weeks!

thriller

I’m back in the netherlands. woot

The flight here was ok. I slept the entire time thanks to my lovely sleeping aids. Hopefully that will help against my jetlag. So far, so good. I’ve been awake since 8 am and no sign of tiredness yet. Memphis was nice…yup. That’s me, the mississippi river, and the bridge that connects TN to Arkansas.

TOMORROW is halloween! My roomie and I are having a sort of get together/party thing. I’m kind of nervous because we haven’t done anything to prepare for it. Oh well, beer+our friends+music+costumes=fun times anyway.

and if it starts to suck we can always just go out 🙂

what?

at the bar
at the bar

Last night was the most random night I’ve had in Amsterdam in a long time. I was going to type ever, but sheesh…I’ve had some random nights here. It started off with me telling Devynn over and over that I wouldn’t be going out. A few beers later and the added company of Devynn’s friend, American Annie who is new to Amsterdam, changed my mind. We had a few beers at our place before heading out to hit the town! We walked around the Red Light District. Hahaha. Sounds like I go there a lot. I don’t! Well, I do, but only to show people who haven’t been. Anywho, while debating over whether to spend money on a sex show we saw a boat of boys….errr, men going down the canal. Not something out of the ordinary, but what was out of the ordinary is that we waved, they waved, and they seriously put the boat in reverse and invited us in. And who are we to turn a boat ride down? So, we jumped off the side of the canal and into the boat with about 9 men.

boat
boat

Turns out they were a group of German/Canadian business men in Amsterdam on business. The guy leading the tour was some awkward Dutch guy who was completely Dutch. Maybe THE definition of a Dutch guy. I mean…when Dev and I told him, “You are REALLY Dutch” he responded, “I am, but most Dutch people cannot afford a coat like my jacket. This is REALLY expensive jacket”. bwahahahha, proving his Dutch-ness even more. I should write a blog about what I consider to be “Completely Dutch”. Anywho, he led our “tour” which was basically drinking the business guys’ beers and talking. I honestly thought that our boat was going to sink. The weight was unbalanced and there was water at the bottom! Throughout the ride, Captain Dutchie kept making us switch sides to even it out. After 45 minutes of boating through canals, we arrived at our destination/their suite of their hotel which was right in the red light district. I failed to mention that during this entire boat ride I had to pee. So badly! As soon as we docked I ran to the nearest available bathroom. Which happened to be in a sex shop. I ran in, got permission to use the bathroom and pulled up my dress and fell INTO the toilet soaking my purple leggings! Arghh! Typical soph. The dress I was wearing was far too short to go leggings-less so I was forced to buy a 15 euro pair of skanky thigh highs from the sex shop. A sight to see 🙂 We ended up hanging out at the business guy’s suite for a while. They were pretty nice, the suite was…sweet (muahahaha, I had to), I got to play DJ Pinkie and there was free booze and food. Eventually, we left with Captain Dutchie and went to another bar which was way crowded. We left there, biked(no drunken falls) to Leidseplein where we got snacks, peed, and continued our way back to our place to pass the hell out. Random, right?

busy apartment

It’s been pretty busy at the apartment lately. On Sunday, Tony and his friend, Yulia from Siberia, came to spend the night. They wanted to spend one last day in Amsterdam before Yulia departed again for Siberia. When Tony comes to town it’s like Christmas! He works for a company on an American military base that has an American store. He always brings goodies with him! Including poptarts! Which are my favorites and unavailable in The Netherlands.

Thanks Tony!

I had a lot of fun while they were here. I didn’t plan on going out on a Sunday night, but Tony convinced me and Devynn to join him. We ended up walking through the Red Light District and hanging out at a bar for awhile. I was a bit sloshed. Mostly due to the jager (another gift from the American place) I consumed before leaving the house. Fortunately, we were able to catch the last tram home and I got 8 hours of sleep before working the next day. UNFORTUNATELY, that didn’t help my hangover at all. I was under the weather until around 3 that afternoon. Didn’t stop me from going out that night though! Manon invited me to a jazz/burlesque show at The Sugar Factory. I didn’t drink, but I had fun. It was an interesting show. The jazz was good and of course the girls were hot. At one point they brought a pole out and a really talented and flexible woman with the most perfect butt showed us her skills. It was…great. 😉

On Tuesday, Devynn officially moved in to the apartment and Jenna from Minnesota came to stay for a few days! Jenna was just passing through on her way to Ghana/Liberia to do research. I had a good time while she was here. Exploring the city and discovering new things. I think I know a lot about t he city and then I turn down a wrong corner and find something I never knew about! I love it! I gave her a tour, by bike aroudn the city. She had one spill! Over the tram tracks. I was impressed.

The first few months I lived here I got my tires stuck in the tram tracks constantly. but then again I am a bit of a klutz. :/

an era

Today marked the end of an era. A 6 month era of Sophia and Manon living together.
meandmanon
She moved out today. It wasn’t an emotional goodbye. In fact, I was playing Warcraft when she left. And no, it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’ll still get to see her ALL the time. “Our kids” go to school together and she only lives a few blocks away. Thank goodness. BUT I’m sure going to miss dancing with her in our kitchen. 🙁

However, I do get to move into the bigger room. Score! *moving into the big room dance*

Ahem. So anywho, I cooked a nice dinner this evening. I was very proud of myself. Those of you that know me, know I’m a terrible cook. So, I’m sure this will surprise you. It was actually quite delicious! It was such an easy, “soph proof”, dish. I made pink and green pasta. Which is just zuchinni, creme fraiche, onions, shrimp, and farfalle. Easy peasy and yummy yummy!

It’s nearly 3 am and I am awake. Why? No idea! I didn’t have caffiene, I’m not playing WoW, and I’m definitely not excited about tomorrow. Ughhh. Tomorrow. Tomorrow is Monday. I barely even work on Mondays, but just the fact that it is a Monday depresses me. I hope the tradition of finding an unexpected postcard from Sweden (coincidentally, on my bad days) at my door continues! It’s always the perfect cure for a poop day. 😀

Currently reading- “A Turn in the South”. So far, so good. It’s a non-fiction, travelogue about the American South. I’m also getting back into the Fables loop. If you don’t know about Fables, you fail. No need to fear! Pinkie is here to educate you on Fables. Fables was actually reccomended to me by Micheal. (If I never thanked you for introducing me to Fables, then I do now! 🙂 ) It’s a comic series starring well known characters from fairy tales/fables, such as Snow White, The Big Bad Wolf, etc. “Fables” live in a small section of NYC after being kicked out of their homelands by an unidentified guy/thing/power called “the adversary”. Sounds scary, eh? The comic illustrates their struggles/battles/love/everything else. It’s pretty awesome and easy to get hooked to. Just ask my EX roomie about the time she, a non comic reader, sat down and read one of the volumes.

back, back!

Two of my friends are moving away. That’s the crappy part about having au pair friends. They eventually leave. Chloe’s moving to Sweden and Jacqui is travelling around Europe until she goes back “down under” in October. The upside is going away parties…as if we need an excuse. Friday night is Chloe’s night. Were just going to drink and hang around the city. On Saturday, Jacqui is having a barbeque and drinks with friends. When we’ve had enough, we’re going out in the city for dancing and more drinking. Fun, fun! In light of “losing” friends, I am going to make an effort to make new friends. I’m already off to a good start! Tuesday, I met a girl that works down the street from me and tonight I’m having drinks with a guy I met on Koninginnenacht.  And soon(next week, soon!) an American girl i’ve been in contact with via facebook is moving to Amsterdam. Go, me!

playdoh
I’ve been working a lot lately. I know this picture of play-doh “me” and kid looks like a lot of fun and not much work, but trust me! It’s a lot of work (and fun!). There’s much more to being an au pair than parks and play-doh. It’s been very tiring lately and will get even more so with summer holidays coming up.

museum
I went to the World Press Photo( An independent, nonprofit organization based in The Netherlands supporting and promoting professional press photographers internationally) exhibit. Finally! I’ve been planning to go since it opened and I only just went a week before it moves to a different city. Pinkie the procrastinator! It was a very moving exhibition. I only wish they sold postcards of all the wining photos. I fell in love with one. A portrait by photographer, Kara Walker. It was beautiful and you can take a look at it here!

and yes, I know I haven’t mentioned anything about the Dutchies loss against the Russians last weekend that kicked them out of the Eurocup. Apparently, that’s what you do. You never mention it!

HAI

Long time no update. Hmm….well,  Amsterdam is orange again! This
time for a different reason. The 2008 Eurocup! The games began a week
ago and everyone is excited…that’s an understatement. They are
fanatic about their National Dutch team. The entire city was orange
about a week before the games even started! Streamers, balloons, anything
that the Dutch can find is painted orange and strung up in front of
buildings. My roomie and I even spotted an orange cow! Not a live
one…Anywho, we watched the game from Rembrandtplein (one of the huge
entertainment squares in Amsterdam). We were a bit late. We missed
the first two goals, but we were updated as they happened. We were updated by two random girls outside who, upon seeing us decked out in orange on the tram, screamed out the score to us. And the second time there was a guy yelling to some people in a restaurant from outside. The bars everywhere were packed and
people spilled out of them into the terraces. Thank goodness
Holland won.  I would have hated to see that crowd if it was a lost.
Next game is Friday v France. They are going down!

(me, my roomie, and a statue from “nightwatch” by Rembrandt)
Hup, Holland, Hup!

In other not so orange news, I am sick. I have laryngitis. I’ve had it
for about a week now. And it’s not getting better! in fact, it’s
getting nastier and nastier! *enter spoiled American whining* All I
want is some non-drowsy Sudafed. Is that too much to ask for Holland?!
Is IT!? If I had sudafed I would be over this already…

and to continue spoiled american whining. I  am dying without an air
conditioner! It’s not even summer yet and I am burning up. I just find
it really uncomfortable to sleep without AC and just a window open.
Even when I sleep (sorry if this is TMI) in the nude I still wake up
in sweats.
I’m also currently experiencing my first toothache. I went to the
dentist and after x-rays they concluded that I need a root canal. It’s
really expensive and now i am officially broke. After the costs
associated with that and the repair of my laptop(yea, the one i sent
off in MARCH!!!! still not back), i don’t know how I wil survive until
July 1st.

Ok the whining is over! 🙂

So, now my three week July vacation is up in the air…not sure where
I’ll be going. I was thinking London, where I can crash on my
aunt/uncle’s house and eat their food, and not have to spend any money
and it would still be a vacation.

Let’s see what else has been going on…

My friend Martina, from
Memphis who’s studying in Germany for a semester, came to visit this
past weekend. She loved Amsterdam and I really enjoyed her being here.
It was like having a little slice of home.

and I went to a going away party for a friend. A costume party, my
favorite! I went as my default black cat and my friends went as the
most random things. One as a Swedish lamp! haha


the beginning of the night

and by the end of the night 🙂

Koninginnedag in Amsterdam

Koninginnedag, or Queens day, is a Dutch holiday celebrating the Queen’s birthday. It’s celebrated yearly on April 29th or 30th which is not actually the present Queen’s birthday. It’s her mothers birthday, but she decided to keep the holiday on that day as a tribute to her mom. How sweet. 😛 Queen’s Day is basically a big party. A big party where everyone in the Netherlands gets drunk and wears orange. Partying starts the previous night, Koninginnenacht. You party all night then wake up in the morning to attend the markets. My koninginnenacht was fun.queensnight

My friends and I pre-partied until about 11 then went out to hit the town. We lasted long, surprisingly, after all the tequila I had. Got home around 5 and woke up around 9 to head to the market. Markets are basically little kids selling their old stuff or services. My dutch family, my hungover friends, and I walked to Vondelpark(the central park of Amsterdam) to attend the markets. There were people everywhere and kids selling ANYTHING! Some kids along with their friends learned dance routines and put out a coffee can for donations. Some had “hit me in the face with an egg” booths for a euro. Some sold really shitty stuff, like coloring they did in a coloring book. I almost got ripped off by this kid trying to sell me a hello kitty McDonald’s toy for 10 euro! Luckily, her mom was there to calm her and the price down to 50 euro cents. I also scored a European adapter for my gameboy for 5 euro (score!). market

 

 

After 2 hours of marketing(not even over my hangover by this point!)my friends and I were ready to join the rest of the country in partying. We walked around…at a very sloooooow pace. There were millions of people(or at least that’s what it seemed like) in the city. We walked to the Jordaan where a DJ was playing and drank/partied/danced there all day.

 

kdagHalf way through the day my friends left to head home for a nap. I, being the trooper I am, stayed out to enjoy the day. I met up with some boys I met on Queens night (hehe!) and partied with them until I was tired. All in all, my first Koninginnedag was a blast! Can’t wait to do it again next year!

party boat
Party boat! the canals were full of these boats! And they were full of dancing drunk people!
*note to self* procure party boat or at least hook up with someone who has one.

oma
An older woman lived above the bar on the street we were partying on. Every now and then she would come out and dance a little or cheer. Someone from the crowd even bought a beer for her!

oranje
The entire city was orange!