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First weekend (sort of) in Amsterdam

July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!! I am sure many of you are at the beach, at bbqs, out of town, and working on your tans. I wish you all the best! I can’t really believe it is July already, and that I’ve been living in Amsterdam for just over two weeks. In many ways, I feel like I have been here longer and in other ways it feels like I just arrived.

This past weekend was great. I realized it was the first weekend (of 3) that I haven’t entirely left Amsterdam. I say ‘entirely’ because Bram and I did leave Amsterdam on both Friday and Sunday, but they were short trips. Before I get into the weekend, I talk about my big 4th of July plans! (hehe). Today, I slept in and then went to meet up with Hajo van Beijma and his team from www.texttochange.org. I had met Hajo in DC a while ago, got back in touch over the holidays and we are now planning on putting together the first ICT4Drinks event in Amsterdam and are aiming for August. ICT4Drinks is a fancy way of saying happy hour for those working in the ICT4D space. I had attended a few events in DC and will be starting up the Amsterdam series. It will be an easy way to network, bring the community together occasionally, and most of all will be a great way to meet new, inspiring people. There is also a possibility that I may get to work from the new texttochange offices a few days a week once they move offices in August. The space looks amazing, and I am looking forward to taking them up on the offer!

Today I met up with Bram’s friend from high school, Tulika. She is fantastic and has lived all over the world working on human rights issues. In about 3 weeks she’ll be moving to Copenhagen for a new job, and I am planning on paying her a visit once she is settled in.

Tonight I am going to a crowd-sourcing/crowd-funding meetup event, and then Bram and I are heading to the pool to get in some training. So, a good day, but not all that patriotic.

This weekend was pretty great and also exhausting!

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On Friday, we headed to Utrecht during the day for Eelco and Diddy’s wedding. Eelco and Bram went to elementary school together and have kept in touch. I met them two summers ago and it is great to see them married now. I made it to the reception, which was fun and intimate in a restaurant in Utrecht. We met a lot of great people as well and I was able to practice some Dutch. We got home around 4am.

On Saturday, we had an appointment to look at a house. It is a small, cozy house with a roof deck and a yard! These two things are rare to find together in Amsterdam and its tough to find places with any decent sized outdoor space. After living in my apartment for 5 years in DC, with a balcony and roofdeck, and Bram’s current place also having a roofdeck, we area bit spoiled and outdoor space if therefore a must. The one house we went to see is adorable, but needs work, and the city government is currently assessing whether the foundation needs to be redone (a common thing in Amsterdam). So, if in three years they decided that yes, the foundation is faulty, it could be a big (and expensive) undertaking….ultimately a risk neither of us are super comfortable with. While there, I spotted some people across the yard with the same looks on their faces as we had — the face of someone looking at an apartment to live in. We rode around the corner and found two open houses going on. These are newly renovated houses, but out of our price range. Still, fun to see what is possible in Amsterdam.

After that, we walked around the neighborhood and had lunch at this great cafe. They are very much into the Tour de France and we ended up paying 2 euros to join their pool. We picked 15 riders to make a team and can win things like free beers or a new bike. There is an interest in the Tour de France here similar to what we’d have in the states for NBA or football finals.

Saturday night we grabbed drinks with Bram’s friend Rutger and took it easy, which was needed.

On Sunday, we went for an 80 kilometer bike ride (about 45 miles) to the north of Amsterdam. We first took a little ferry boat from Central Station to ‘north amsterdam’. It reminded me of the Staten Island Ferry, but the trip is 5 minutes compared to 25. We rode and rode and this is the basic gist of the ride: flat, farmland, cows, sheep, farm animal smells, flat, blue sky, white clouds, windmills, wind turbines, rivers, rivers, flat flat flat, strong headwind. It was a tough but beautiful ride (the wind was killer). At one point we took another little boat across a river (see photos) to continue on. We rode through Beemster and Adam, both of which are cheese-making villages (or they were originally).

We didn’t leave until 4pm for the ride, since we got distracted by the Tour de France team time trials….so we got home a bit late as well.

And that was the weekend! I am missing other details…like grocery shopping, etc. but those were the fun parts. Until next time, happy 4th!

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