ungraceful ballerina leaps

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A Florida girl’s dream – well, add the beach and 10 degrees, but close enough for me! Spring has finally sprung in the Netherlands, where temps reached a heavenly 72 degrees. I can’t begin to describe how amazing it felt to pull a white tee from my closet (not as a layering piece, but as a standalone) and trade my boots for skimmers – there might have been a few ballerina leaps (minus the grace) through the apartment, coupled with shouts of “I’m free! I’m free!”, but I’ll never admit to it.

Basking in the sun and soaking in the rays was not a question, but a given. But what were we to do? Then I remembered – last year when Joost and I were long distance, I “Just Because” gifted him with a picnic pack (much more manly than a wicker basket and complete with everything you need, including an insulated bottle holder and pouch), with a card saying nothing but, “can’t wait for picnics in the park + you in my arms.”  So, we packed our handy little pack and were on our way, hand in hand, to enjoy our first picnic together.

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We found a perfect spot in a nearby park and delighted in the sun’s warmth, a fresh lunch and each other’s company. While Joost began to study, I decided to people watch (one of my favorite past times). I found it heartwarming to see families biking, playing soccer, and throwing frisbees together; kids skateboarding, laughing, and playing tag; and of course, what’s spring without love birds? So yes, I enjoyed seeing love birds doing what they do best – be in love (I might have enjoyed being one myself).

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

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color burst

Before making my international move, a few friends joked that I was going to be a ‘ray of sunshine’ to the Netherlands. Stereotypically speaking, Europeans are known for wearing black and neutrals, where in my case, nothing is too bright, too bold or too blinged (Joost took a picture during one of my visits last year – you’ll find the Florida girl in a bright yellow coat and literally everyone else, decked in all black). However, I do have to give props to the men of Holland – colored pants are beginning to pop up everywhere and I love it (Joost’s, of course, still have tags).

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Speaking of color, you can imagine my excitement when Joost mentioned the fair was in town! What better place for bursts of color, neon lights, nearly impossible, yet addicting, games and an overdose of sugary goodness? Naturally, I threw on my brightest (neon kiwi to be exact) sweater and was ready to bounce from ride to ride and game to game.

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I was surprised to find the rides to be nearly identical to the ones I grew up with in America. Who remembers the one below? My childhood favorite, The Himalaya! I do have to say, I have no idea how my friends and I rode these rides for hours on end – the continuous spinning had me woozy from the ground – oh the joys of getting old.

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Post fair, Joost and I decided to settle down from our sugar high and enjoy the beautiful spring day. We obviously weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the sunshine and 50 degree weather – the city center was packed and full of life. I find it funny that most terraces face outward toward the streets – so when walking by, you feel as though rows and rows of people are looking at you, waiting for a slight trip in the cobblestone street (or maybe I’m paranoid as I trip every 20 steps – darn cobblestone). On the flip side, when dining at the terraces, it’s a perfect place to be entertained, as ‘people watching’ never lets you go away without a chuckle.

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After a short search, Joost and I found an open spot at one of the terraces and sat down for a drink (Cola Zero and Grote Koffie), natural Vitamin D and relaxation. A very important FYI – when ordering coffee in the NL, you always get a free, little treat – typically a small cookie or chocolate, but this cafe (now my fav), gives stroopwafels. Score!

Random tidbit – you never feel rushed by the waiters or waitresses and they certainly never bring the bill until you ask – so, you could sit and enjoy the terrace for hours with your one Cola Zero if you’d like. Why? Because they receive a base pay (tips are an extra bonus). Pretty sure we would have gotten the death stare in America if we camped out on a busy day with our one drink. Holland wins on this one.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

welcoming the lion

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Happy 3rd Day of Spring! This year I finally understand the phrase, “Spring comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”, as I’ve traded my bikinis, strappy sundresses and brightly-colored platforms for cups of hot coffee (RIP Starbucks iced coffee with sugar-free caramel and a little bit of nonfat milk), wooly sweaters and my current best friends, fleece-lined leggings. While I wouldn’t mind baking on the beach (I am borderline albino, which is a total Florida disgrace), I’m quite thankful for the ‘burr, it’s cold’ weather – could be because my closet, amongst other things, are on a ship somewhere in the big pond between America and Europe; so all I currently have is what fit in three suitcases (ie. all winter clothing). However, if there was a Holland heat wave, that would force a shopping spree… Hmmmm.

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Anywho, since moving to Holland, I like to begin my mornings outside on the balcony, warmed by a cup of coffee, down-filled blanket and cozy PJs. I’ve lived a majority of my life in a rush, going from one thing to the next, so it’s been nice to switch gears, take in the new surroundings, listen to the church bells and start the day on a calm and relaxing note. I encourage everyone to incorporate some ‘down-time’ into their lives – you will notice a difference. For those of you who already do this – where’s your favorite spot to gear-up for (or unwind from) the hustle and bustle of everyday life?

And no, these pictures were not taken in the ‘just waking’ hours and no, pictures will never be taken in the AM hours, as it will scare off readers.

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Being without cable and internet (thank you McDonald’s for the free WiFi), you learn to become creative with entertainment – also remember Holland is in the ‘lion’ phase of spring, so many outdoor activities are a no-go. When Joost visits, we oftentimes play games – board games, cell phone games (love RUZZLE – although I’m awful), card games… obviously any type of game. We recently played Ticket to Ride and even though I lost (and had to watch Joost gloat in victory – we are very competitive), it’s become one of my favorites – makes you think and strategize, but not too much. However, the best game will forever and always be Scrabble!

What’s your favorite game? Call of Duty or anything of the like is not a suitable answer. Any other ideas for entertainment as I wait for cable and internet hookup?

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

Hallo, Holland

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Happy Two Week Anniversary to me (you’ll find I tend to celebrate any and all occasions)!

Two weeks ago, I made the journey across the pond and began calling Breda my home. It’s been an exciting time getting acquainted with my new way of life and surroundings. I’ve enjoyed transitioning from driving to walking (weight loss!), car horns to bicycle bells, paved roads to cobblestoned streets and standalone buildings to a never-ending slew of shops, cafes, bakeries, and apartments – all connected along the city center streets. Of course my favorite transition, hands down, is going from Skype dates to nightly dinner and exercise dates (along with the countless hours of couch cuddling).

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The weather has been consistent – cold and snowy, but with beloved breaks of sunshine. Prior to this “photoshoot”, it actually snowed on three separate occasions (each time for about ten minutes) and in an instant, stopped, and was quickly melted away by the sun (thankfully, as this Florida girl does not do ice – except for in my sweet tea). The winter weather has been welcomed, as wearing cold weather fashions (current favs are cozy, oversized sweaters, cashmere-lined leather gloves, thick and wooly socks, super long scarves, beautifully colored coats… apologies for getting carried away) has been long overdue – Florida and Texas should be enough to explain why that is.

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Even with the freezing temps, I’ve managed to take my Florida roots outside and explore every day. My current obsession is the Grote Kerk (Big Church), which was built in 1410. Absolutely love the medieval and amazingly detailed appearance. While the outside is beyond words, the inside is even more magnificent – which I look forward to sharing in a later post.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney