This year was a special birthday for Koen’s mom, Els – she turned 60! So to celebrate it in a special way, we wanted to surprise her with a party! We were very sneaky, telling her that we planned a lunch with the children in Zeeland, but to her surprise we invited family and friends to surprise her at Sand & Pepper Beachbar in Burgh-Haamstede!
When I found out our friend Rafaël had an exhibition in Rotterdam at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Koen and I planned a trip to see Chris and Hannah so we could all go together. Definitely worth visiting if you’re planning a trip to Rotterdam in the next months – we had so much fun!
For Christmas this year, we gathered in Breda for a potluck Italian dinner at Sofie’s apartment. Everyone prepared a different dish to bring for dinner. Koen made sourdough focaccia and I prepared pasta lazio, a penne dish with chicken, artichokes and sundried tomatoes.
I’ve said it before, but I’m so happy my best friend is also married to a Dutch guy! This means that from now on she will be headed this way on a fairly regular basis to visit Rafaël’s family. The first being now to celebrate the wedding in the Netherlands with Dutch family and friends.
For Els’s birthday this year, we celebrated in Amsterdam. We started out at our favorite café in Amsterdam – Beter en Leuk – for a delicious and healthy lunch. Beter en Leuk just so happens to be owned by Koen’s cousin Hanneke, and you can find organic vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc dishes and drinks for breakfast, brunch and lunch, as well as great cookbooks, clothing, jewelry, and other treasures! If you are in Amsterdam, Beter en Leuk is a definite must-visit!
After our feast, we took Els on her first metro ride to the center of the city to Dam Square. We visited the History & Royalty: Journey In Time exhibit at De Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) where I learned a lot about the history of De Nieuwe Kerk and its relationship with the Dutch Royal Family. After the exhibit we walked a bit more through Amsterdam before heading home. What a fun day!
My parents happened to be in town for Sofie’s birthday. Also in the Netherlands was Koen’s cousin Andrea and her boyfriend Ethan from Canada – so my parents didn’t have to worry about people speaking English. I always love getting together for family birthdays because it gives me the chance to catch up and see everyone! We celebrated at Sofie’s apartment in Breda and enjoyed delicious cakes and frietjes!
Now that it’s almost Christmas, I realized I still need to share my photos from Sinterklaas! In case you don’t remember from last year, the “surprises” are homemade gifts tailored to the likes and hobbies of the person whose name you’ve drawn. This year I drew Dook, Koen’s dad. Because Dook is the biggest wine lover I know, my surprise had to do with wine. I fingerpainted a map of the world, then created a pathway through the major wine countries. Starting in California, Dook had to answer questions about wine to move forward. After successfully completing the game Dook was able to open his gift!
This my last May travel post! At the end of my parents’ visit, they decided to spend a couple of days in Amsterdam. Because I had the day off and my parents had a lot of luggage, I took the train with them and spent a few hours enjoying the beautiful weather and a few sites in Amsterdam with my Mom and Dad. I have always considered Amsterdam one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited, so I loved being able to walk along the canals, buy tulips, and eat poffertjes with my parents!