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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas 2009

Five days of eating, drinking and unwrapping gifts...

But the eating took up most of my time by far... On Christmas Eve Shos and I went to Weert and prepared a nice meal for my parents. Due to a train delay we barely were in time to do some last-minute Christmas shopping but we managed to make it! Of course the food was way too much, but with some perseverance we managed to eat all of it ;-) Add a couple of glasses of wine to this and some presents and you automatically have a good evening.

On Christmas day we didn;t do a lot but kind of waited for my sister and her boyfriend to come over so we could all eat together. We did a very traditional Dutch thing called: "gourmetten". In the middle of the table is a little stove and everyone has his/her own little pan. Everyone also has a bunch of little pieces of meat and fish and some cut of veggies which you then slowly prepare in your own pan. Sounds kin of dorky but it is a very nice thing to do when you are with a group and nobody wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Before we had food we distributed all gifts by means of several games and after dinner we played more games with which you could steal presents from other people. Not everyone ended up with exactly the thing (s)he wanted so there was some vigorous trading going on at the end of the night.
video
The following day Shos and I worked at restaurant Parc de IJzeren where we assisted the Chef in preparing the food for that evening. It was a nice evening and after quite a few hours of work we ended the night with some well-deserved cold beers.
Because the restaurant closed for the following week, I was allowed to take home some meat that would otherwise go bad. Therefore I once again invited some people over the next day and we had more delicious food! Later that night we went out and got home way to "early"...

On Sunday my grandmothers visited us, so it was a day of sitting at home, talking and relaxing. We paid a quick visit to my sister's new house and had more food in the evening. After that Shos and I went back to Utrecht because I had to work again the next day.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Hastelafietstas,
Ruud

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Doornroosje & Boom Chicago

The holiday period is approaching and so are all the parties...

Last weekend Shos and I went to Nijmegen to meet up with Mark and Judith and a bunch of our Dutch friends from Kunming. A couple of weeks before we decided to go to a party at a club named "Doornroosje". Bonne assured us it would be an awesome party and we believed him. After a very nice warming up at Susan's place we went out and party till it became light out again... Bonne was right!


This week I also had a couple of Christmas celebrations at my work. On Tuesday I went to Cap Gemini for a couple of drinks because of the closure of a project and on Wednesday my team from ING had a small celebration. After work we all went to Boom Chicago on the Leidseplein in Amsterdam for food, drinks and improvisation comedy. It was a good evening to chat to colleagues on a mroe personal level and have a laugh with the comedians on stage.
Today and tomorrow I am doing a project management training in Amersfoort (Prince2) and in the weekend I will go down south to visit my parents and check out how my sister's new house is coming along (might need to help with some painting). On Sunday Shos will be back from a weekend in the Belgian Ardennes and come back with me to Utrecht where she can enjoy her vacation while I have to work... Life is unfair ;-)

More stuff after Christmas!!!
Happy holidays to you all!

Ruudje B.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sinterklaasje in Utreg!!!

Een gezellige pakjesavond met oud-Hollandse spelen!

First of all, sorry for not updating for such a long time. Not that I haven't been doing anything, but for some reason things I do here inHolland seem less interesting or exciting as when you are not "home". My weeks are spent working, my evenings with drinks with friends, movies and some cycling and the weekend I go to Shos either in Maastricht or in Weert. But since the begnning of this month Shos and I both have an OV-card (public transportation card) with which we can travel all over Holland for free.

So last Friday Shos came to Utrecht because we were celebrating Sinterklaas here together with Mark, Sven & Ron (Mark's girlfriend Judith was ill unfortunately). We all both small gifts for a total of €10 and piled them in the middle of the room.
Then we started rolling dice to win gifts (1=pick, 2=give away, 3=unpack (but not keep), 4=steal, 5=switch seats clockwise & 6=game). The games we had were: spijkerpoepen, koekhappen en hamertje tik. Short explanation: with "spijkerpoepen" (nail shitting) you tie a nail to a string ang tie that string to the back of your pants. Then the nail gets a push and starts to swing, then you have to squat and get the nail into the opening of a bottle within 30 seconds.

With "koekhappen" (cake biting) you hang up slices of "ontbijtkoek" (breakfast cake), you get blindfolded and have to eat the cake within a two minute time limit (check out the movie for a demonstration...).

video
And finally with "hamertje tik" you have to hit a nail into a block of wood. Do it within 3 hits and you get 2 gifts, within 5 you get one gift, but f*ck up the nail and you have to give one of your gifts away. Fun guaranteed!!!After the games we went out in Utrecht and had a good night at a bar with lots of 70s and 80s music. On the way back from the ATM I got lost and needed Mark's instructions over the phone to get back... that's what you get when you live in a new city for a short time!
That's all for this time! The next post will follow a lot quicker than this one...

Cheerio,
Ruudje

Friday, November 14, 2008

Utrecht & Maastricht

Two beautiful cities with two important things...

Like I told you last time, I got a room in Utrecht. Very nice location and not too expensive. Got a couple of kewl house mates as well and start to know more and more people that live in Utrecht. And it saves so much time going to work every day... great!


Last weekend Shos and I went out together with Mark and Judith. We went out in Maastricht since that is where Shos lives and studies. Judith never had been to Maastricht and the rest of us was fine with Maastricht for a change. We had an awesome night together! They did some shopping, we went to see Shos's volleybal game, had some dinner at home and finally went to the city for a lot of fun. Sweeet night!


Next time I will tell you more, but since most of my life is spent on working these days, there is a lot less to talk about. Nevertheless I will make sure there is something nice on the blog next time.

Groetjes,
Der Rudolph

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Cuckoo

New job, new friends, new experiences & a new room

After enduring the 4 hour travel time per day to get to get work and back I now am moving to a place close to work. This place is also known as Utrecht, where I found a nice room on the Cuckoo Square (isn't that an awesome name...)! It is close to the train station and the city centre (click on the picture to check it in Google Maps). Trains to work only take 17 minutes and go very often. And if I feel a need to go out in Amsterdam, trains ride all night long :-) The only disadvantage is that I'll be even further away from Shos, but well, it wasn't like I was going there every day. We see each other in the weekends and whether that takes a 1 hour trip or a two hour trip doesn't make a difference.
(Click on the picture to view the location in Google Maps)

This Sunday we'll be moving a bunch of my stuff over to the new place and do some of the usual "moving-to-a-new-crib-stuff" like cleaning, painting, fixing and so on. Of course pictures will follow! But to give you an impression of what it is:a 16 sqm room with a build-in closet in a house where 7 more people live that are all about my age and who share two kitchens, two bathrooms, a balcony and a roof terrace.

A couple of weeks ago Shos, my parents and I went to the south for some a little walk to enjoy the nice weather. First we visited Thorn, the white city and had "pannenkoeken". After that we went towards Vaals. The south of the Netherlands (het Limburgs Heuvelland) is one of the only hilly parts of the country and home of the three-country-point (Holland, Belgium, Germany). This resulted of course in a nice day and some nice pictures.


After the weekend I'll bother you with some pictures of my new room!

Cheerio,
Ruudje & Shos

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Weekend in Amsterdam

Canals, Red Light District, Rijksmuseum, Wolfgang...

Last Thursday Shos came to Amsterdam. Not just to spend the weekend there with me and sightsee Amsterdam, but also to say hi to our good friend Wolfgang from China. After picking both of them up at the train station and dropping our stuff at my friends' appartment we went out for dinner. We found a good Greek Tapas place and had a couple of drinks afterwards in some nice brown bars.

On Friday Wolf left for Paris, Shos went to see Amsterdam and I had to go to work. That afternoon, evening and the next day Shos and I spend sightseeing the city. No rush because we will be in Amsterdam many more times. We checked out the canals, "de Wallen", the Rijksmuseum (to see de Nachtwacht) and walked through big shopping streets as well as through cute, little old alleys. Shos and I had a very good time! But I still like visiting cities better when you can walk around in a t-shirt ;-)


That evening we had a double birthday party of two of my colleagues and I went home with a couple to many beers in me! That Sunday I haven't done anything and I have to say that it was pretty nice to spend a day doing nothing but eating and watching tv...

This weekend I'll spend in the south (Maastricht) with Shos and we will go to my cousin's birthday. I still need a room/appartment in Amsterdam/Utrecht so if you know something, don't hesitate to contact me!!!

Till next time,
Ruud

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My new job

ING Trainee Operations & IT Banking (OIB)

Since the first of October I work at ING in Amsterdam. The first week all new OIB Trainees had a training in Six Thinking Hats & Lateral Thinking. Very nice course given by a very good teacher! It was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other. This week was my first real working week. I got to know all my colleagues and figured out what is it exactly that I am supposed to do for the coming six months (after that I'll switch to another project).
There also was a nice drink on Thursday and that once again was a good chance to informally chat with other INGers. So far so good, I really enjoy being there and am looking forward to all the challenges that come with the job! (all I need now is a room somewhat closer to work, preferably in Utrecht!!!)

The previous weekend was a pretty intense one: My sister moved to her new house (and of course I had to help her move) and it was Sven's birthday which meant that we had to go and have a "couple" of drinks on Saturday... Nevertheless it was a great, but heavy weekend ;-)

This week Wolfgang will pay Shos and me a visit from China. I'm going to pick him up on Thursday and the plan is to spend a couple of days in Amsterdam. That has to be fun!

Cheerio,
Ruudje

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A lot of Frietjes and a Fair

Old work, fun and new work...

The entire last week I spent working at Parc de IJzeren Man, the restaurant where I used to work when I was still studying. The restaurant is situated near horse stables and there was a big horse auction that week. My main job was to provide the visitors with French Fries :-) Nothing spectacular, but for me it was just nice to be back amongst the people I worked with before I left. And I have to say, it was an awful lot of fun once again!!!

This weekend there was also the big fair in Weert. Lots of rides, candy shops, gambling machines, food and drinks all spread out over the cities seven main squares. Of course Shos and I had to try several of the rides and drank a couple of beers with our friends later on.



One of the rides Shos and I did is called the Booster. It's a 50 meter high machine that makes that you spin around in a big circle very, very fast... The video below shows you what that looks like and you can take a guess what was going through Shoshannahs brain during the ride! Haha!
video
This week will be an intense one: I start my job at ING, it's Svens birthday and in the weekend my sister is moving into her new house and I have to celebrate the fact that Shos and I know each other two years! Besides that I still have to find a room in Amsterdam, so if you know something...

Greetingzzz,
Rudi

Monday, September 22, 2008

Krakow, Poland

Tyskie, Zywiec, Cellars, Zurek, Auschwitz, Bar Mleckny, Snow.....

Mark and I left on the 11th for a well-deserved trip to Krakow, Poland. And it started out with a big surprise... in the train to Brussels we ran into a guy (Bart) who was also going to the airport. Since all of us were way too early for our flights we decided to go for a beer in Charleroi. There it turned out that Bart was a "hobby-magician" who also did trick with balloons. And of course now Mark and I are expert-balloons-men ;-)
The Hostel we ended up in is called the Let's Rock Hostel from the Goodbye Lenin hostels, just 2 minutes from the main market square in Krakow. The hostel had a great vibe to it and an awesome breakfast was included (oh yeah, and all-day-long free, good coffee!!!).



So why visit Poland and Krakow in particular? Well, it's cheaper than i.e. Spain, they have good bear, there is a long history and we heard it simply is a great place to spend a couple of days. First thing we noticed it that beside historic buildings, they also have historic cars and they did cause a laugh or two... The most famous spot in Krakow is the Main Market Square, supposedly one of the largest mediaeval squares ever built. Just look at the photos to get an impression.





Another famous attraction is Wawel, a castle/fortress with a cathedral on the premises for the old Polish rulers. We were lucky since we had very nice weather (the only nice day we had during the entire trip...) and could enjoy the sights. Although neither of us is really interested in religion, the church was pretty impressive (although the interior was pretty "tacky"... haha).




The place we really enjoyed is known as Nowa Huta. This is a neighbourhood built especially for the laborers of the nearby steel factory which was owned by the (at the time) communist government. Therefore all the buildings in that area are very commie as well. All similar, big slaps of concrete surrounding an even bigger and emptier main square. Efficient, yes; pretty, no! But the best experience of this trip was our visit to a local bar. No one spoke English or German, but we still managed to make new friends and celebrated these new friendships with a couple of beers and vodka-shots. But the greatest guy ever was 95-year-old Jan, who was so sweet and nice we almost wanted to take him home with us!



When in Krakow a visit to Auschwitz is almost compulsory. Not that it is a fun trip but it is just something you have to have seen (I had been there already once about seven years ago, but joined Mark anyway). The story of Auschwitz is well-known, so no reason for me to elaborate on it. Just check the pics...






Time for some active things. We took a bus to Zakopane, which is knows as the place to be in Poland for skiing in winter and hiking in summer. We decided it still was "summer" and went there to go hiking for a couple of days. But the weather was being a bitch. It rained non-stop and on the morning we wanted to go for our hike it even snowed... but of course we went anyway and it proved to be beautiful! The day before we enjoyed a healthy, heavy dinner and were totally prepped for a good walk. During the hike we had absolutely no views of the surrounding mountains and lakes (which are supposed to be beautiful...), but we saw snow, snow and more snow. Nevertheless I loved the hike and it was a good opportunity for some pretty pictures. After our 6,5 hour hike we still felt great but decided to leave this area and head back to Krakow.




Back in Krakow we planned a trip to the Wielizcka Salt Mine. Amazing to see and a lot cleaner than for example a visit to a coal mine. The place is enormous and is very nice to go to on a rainy day (as we had every day...). They even have a church and restaurant 125 meters below the ground. Of course Mark and I had to take this chance and we drank our deepest beers ever ;-)



On the last day we walked to a fortress with an akward cone in the middle... kind of a strange description but it was a strange place as well. In the old days it was used to defend the city against intruders and now it is a symbol for Poland's independence.

Of course we also had quite a few drinks, heaps of food, the occasional party, lots of fun, but I won't bother you with any stories but will show you some pictures. The only thing I do want to say it that I really love Krakow's underground scene, in the literal sense of the word. Almost all bars are underground. This is a result of raising the land around the main square, causing old living rooms to become cellars. And these cellars is where you find the most relaxed places for a beer and music.





That's it... quite a lot, but worth it. This week I'll be working at Parc de IJzeren Man and going to Amsterdam. Also there is a fair in town this weekend, so I'll have something to show you before my working life starts ;-)

Hastelavista,
Ruud