I'm used to thick fluffy (or wet) Rochester snow. In Amsterdam we get snow pellets. They look like styrofoam but come down a lot harder. If they come with wind, I recommend goggles. The wind gusts were so strong at one point this past week that Brett was literally stopped in his tracks while riding a bicycle!
At lunch in the cafeteria here I've seen boxes of little chocolate sprinkles available for purchase. My colleagues said you put it on buttered bread. I didn't think much of it until I noticed a box on our shelf at home.
I tried a few and discovered that they're DELICIOUS. Waaaaaay better than US chocolate sprinkles. Think "portable chocolate frosting." Yum.
If you live in the Netherlands, you probably keep a "birthday calendar" on the back of the bathroom door. Since the bathroom door is usually directly in front of the toilet, there's a clear line of sight to view the upcoming birthdays of your friends and family. This always makes me chuckle, as my company sells photo calendars. Your loved ones could be looking right back at you as you do your business. In a house we visited last night, the calendar had pictures of the Dutch royal family in it. How patriotic :-)
The other interesting thing about Dutch bathrooms (referred to as "the Toilet"), is that there's ONLY a toilet in the room. Then, next door (or across the hall) there's another room with a sink to wash your hands and sometimes a true shower or bathtub. It always makes it interesting at parties. I never know which door to use!
Should I be concerned that my husband is addicted to a video game where you do things like pretend to talk on the phone with your Wii controller until you see a special signal? Then if you're too slow hanging up your "phone," a vending machine falls on your head.....and if you're fast enough a vending machine falls on someone else's head?
Did I mention he won top prize for his skill in this game at a work offsite? I'm so proud :-)
I'll just say it. I'm going through a phase of "mild fear of flying" right now. I'm not sure what brought it on (I've been through this before) - but it's back.
To set the stage, I've flown over 500,000 miles in just the past 10 years alone. I've traveled on 7 seat tourist planes, planes that never go high enough to pressurize (the windows even open), turbo props, regional jets, private planes, and "heavies," including 747s. I've flown in countries that have histories of poor aviation safety like China and Panama. I've even flown on helicopters a few times.
To calm myself over the years I've familiarized myself with the numerous sounds of various planes (flaps moving, landing gear deploying, water bottles thumping on the floor). I've listened to the pilots on United's "Channel 9" so I know why planes are turning, going higher or lower, or throttling their engines, and I've even read a book called "Ask the Pilot" that talks about the various activities on planes.
Overall I've been relatively nonchalant while flying.....a champion sleeper. Until this past trip to the US. On the flight from Amsterdam to Dulles I gripped the arms of the seat when we encountered the slightest bit of turbulence. On the flight from Puerto Rico to Orlando I was convinced there was something wrong with the plane. I could smell it. Smoke! The inside of my nose was burning and it was getting worse. I looked around to see if anyone else was alarmed, and upon seeing peaceful fellow passengers I asked Brett if he smelled anything. He said no, and I relaxed a bit. The smell became stronger again. I looked up to investigate and discovered....it was coffee. Just freshly brewed coffee being served by the flight attendants.
Needless to say I felt like an idiot after that one. I was a little bit better on my flights to DC and Amsterdam, and after doing some more reading about how safe flying is, I feel better. It's a good thing, because I learned Friday afternoon that I have to fly to London on Monday for work.
I've kicked this fear before. I guess it's time to boot it to the curb again :-)
On Friday I took an early morning flight from Orlando to Washington, DC and spent the day running errands before my 6PM flightback to Amsterdam. One of the stops was Wegmans - my favorite grocery store. I stocked up on a bag of fresh corn tortillas and put them in my backpack.
As I was going through security I noticed the screener's brow furrow, and then he called for a bag check. I've seen this look before, having had several embarrassing security incidents in my past - from forgetting about a box cutter in my bag shortly after September 11th to having my bag test positive for explosive residue.
The woman who came looked at the screen and said "Do you have tortillas in your bag? I need to look inside." After checking my bag and laughing, she let me take the "dangerous tortillas" and I went on my way. I was impressed with how she knew they were tortillas before even opening my bag.
It's not the first time I've been busted for tortillas. Several years ago I was traveling from DC to Rochester and was bringing my brother some fajitas from his favorite Tex Mex place near my house. I had carefully packed up the entire meal (chips, salsa, tortillas, meat, rice and even the beans). I got stopped for a random bag check and after looking through one side of my bag the screener said "Let me guess..... The tortillas and chips are in the other pouch?" I had to laugh and smile sheepishly as he discovered the rest of my loot.
Brett and I went to Safeway today to stock up on some American food. We were checking out and I noticed an elderly man at the end of the register putting a few of our groceries in a bag. I thought he was the customer in front of Brett, so walked over and said politely "I think those are ours." The man said "I know." Brett jumped in and said "Lori - they bag groceries for you here. Remember?" Oops. I felt like such an idiot and apologized profusely to the poor bag packer who continued to look at me like I was crazy.
In Amsterdam grocery shopping is a little more self serve. You unpack your basket and then have to furiously start packing everything up before the next person's stuff comes streaming down the belt - stopping to quickly pay somewhere in the process. They have a little dividing bar to make sure customer groceries don't mix - but we've still been caught "holding up the line" with bigger grocery purchases when the 3rd person in line is trying to get their groceries packed up, the 2nd person is still packing, and we haven't finished. Then you see the looks of disapproval from the customers behind you and the occasional annoyed look on the cashier's face.
That poor bag packer at Safeway. He probably thought the crazy lady was being mean to him - accusing him of stealing her groceries when he was just doing his job. Have I really been gone that long that I've forgotten standard grocery store protocol? Geesh. I'm an idiot (or jet lagged, or both :-)