Autumn is here

Brooklyn

I usually called it fall. I have since learned that is very “North American”. Whatever you may call it; it’s still my favorite season.  Growing up in Louisiana, I didn’t usually experience the brisk autumn weather and changing of the leaves in September as the temperatures and humidity were still peaking.  Moving to NYC brought a renewed perspective on autumn.  Hook, line, and sinker…I was sold on this area of the country!  Each year with the passing of Labor Day, I was filled with the anxiety of a 5-year-old at Christmas time waiting to open gifts.  The autumn season is truly a gift to me.  I love the cooler days and invigorating crisp air.  The wind rustling through the trees in Central Park and warm shades of leaves sprinkled on the ground.  Football season is underway.  Sweaters are soon standard daily attire.  My friend H used to always call me when she had her first Pumpkin Latte sighting at Starbucks during her morning coffee run.  With that, I knew autumn was in full swing.

2005 - Apple picking in Warwick Valley, NY

2008 - A's portraits in Central Park

2009 - Williamsburg, VA

2009 - Bear Mountain, NY

H's Lil man says Who Dat?

Autumn, take 3.  Now I’m even further north and autumn in Amsterdam is an amalgamation of past years.  Rain/humidity in Louisiana + cooler temperatures in NYC = autumn in Amsterdam.  Leaving the house the other day required a tote bag full of the following:

  • Sunglass:  because it was actually shining at the moment;
  • Hat:  as the radar indicated rain clouds were coming;
  • Light jacket:  since I was wearing a tshirt and the temps were on a roller coaster ride;
  • Cotton scarf:  at times the jacket was too much and the tshirt was too little;
  • Rain poncho:  bike riding in the rain while getting soaked is miserable in cooler weather;
  • Bike seat cover:  would you want to get off your bike and look like you just wet your pants?;
  • Dry bag to carry SLR:  unemployment = no new camera if the current one is ruined;
  • Kitchen sink:  because I’m already hauling everything else, so why not.

When the sun is shining, it’s a beautiful time to sit canal side and enjoy a coffee or beer.  But when it’s raining, stay inside or gear up!

2010 - Vondelpark

2010 - Sunset in Vondelpark

On Saturday, the day/night was split into exactly 12 hours with sunrise at 7:32a and sunset at 7:32p.  The months of May, June, and July were ones with little rain and 15 -16 hours of daylight.  It’s the trade off for the rainy season that is now underway.  So I will adjust to this “new autumn” and hope for a few dry, sunny days in the mix ahead.

ps, A semi-annual reminder to check your smoke detectors.

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R & G’s B&B

A month ago we returned to Amsterdam after a great time with family and friends in the States.  The next day, we started visitor season.  It’s my only plausible excuse for the lack of blog posts lately.

It is a rather tricky time of year here with the weather.  One day is beautiful, sunny t-shirt type weather; the next day is chilly and won’t stop raining.  And then there is the teaser day that starts out sunny, and later becomes rainy—or vice versa—and you find yourself outfitted in the wrong gear.  So, either pack the kitchen sink or roll the dice when you head out for the day.  Sadly, our first set of visitors had to trek to Bruges to see that the sun does exist this far north.  G’s mom and her friend came to visit and they spent their week in Amsterdam under the refuge of a raincoat.

Rainy day on the Prinsengraft

However, after heavily bribing the sun gods and trekking a bit south to Bruges, we found sunshine!  Along with an abundance of Belgium beer, frites, chocolate, and waffles.  Loves for the tummy, but sworn enemies to my derrière.  Regardless, I indulged! Click here for a full photoshow.

Canals along Dijver

Bruges Canals

Minnewater Park

Driving back to Amsterdam, we couldn’t help but laugh as we crossed the Belgium/Dutch border and were greeted by, what else…rain! At this point, our guests were used to it and we toughed it out on their last day at Zaanse Schans to see the windmills.  Click here for a full photoshow.

Not a good open-air museum day

Still windy, but at least no rain for the photo op

A few days later, G’s pseudo-sister and her cousin arrived.  The weather made a complete 180 and showered them with mild temperatures and sunshine all week.  I think Mother Nature knew they would spend a lot of time on the bike, so she was kind to them.  C & K also made an overnight trip to Bruges and discovered my four deadly favorites.  With all its charm, Bruges again tops the favorites list with our guests.

Proost!

G & C at the Brouwerij

C & K waiting for dinner at Balti House

We bid adieu to C & K and prepare for G’s cousin and wife arriving the next day.  The weather is gloomy when they first arrive, but with lunch in our bellies and two rental bikes in the pack, we are ready to show them around.  When the weather cooperates, we love to bring our guests to the Brouwerij ‘t IJ .  Turns out this was a day that started ugly, but peaked during the late afternoon.  After a ride along the picturesque canals and the obligatory gawking in the red light district, we were off to the brewery to replenish our energy with some local beer and cheese.  Lekker!

Mid week they were off to, big surprise here……Bruges (and Boullion)!  With all the guests we have brought or sent to Bruges, I think we have earned a sizeable referral fee from the Belgium tourism department.  Or at least a waffle?!?

New to me was the nearby town of Utrecht.  When S & E returned from Belgium, we spent an afternoon/evening there enjoying the scenery, beer, and pancakes. Dutch pannenkoeken’s are best described as a cross between an American pancake and a French crepe—on the thinner side like a crepe, but served open face with the added items visible.  They are available all day and a typical pannekkoeken house has at least 50 varieties.  Sweet, savory, veggie, meaty, fruity, cheesy…hard not to find one that will suit your craving.  My choice for the night was sprek en kaas (bacon and cheese, super lekker!).

Utrecht canals

Canal reflections

E & S enjoying the scenery

Cousins toast with one last beer

As I brought our guests to the airport this morning, I couldn’t believe how fast a month went by and had to accept the fact summer is clearly over.  The days are getting shorter, fall weather is upon us, and the rainy season is around the corner.  The debauchery of my summer time fun has caught up with me so it’s time to hang up my hostess hat and put in some long hours at the gym!