My friend Karen in the Netherlands: 4 nights, 2 countries, 5 cities (Part 3, Eindhoven & Den Haag)

Eindhoven & Den Haag

I wish I'd had more time to show Karen Eindhoven's city center, but unexpected things happened and we ended up hurrying to catch a train to Den Haag. How come? First of all, and as you well know, it wasn't raining so the possibilities were endless! Anyway, after having visited La Piazza's underground bike parking lot, seen Sissy Boy's organic architecture from the inside with its original jungle-style restaurant, eaten a yummy toasted sandwich at Krok Madam and while hanging out at Van Pierre, she saw a book on Escher and exclaimed, "Escher! Such an incredible mind!" Oh, I thought, should we go to Den Haag?Can we? Should we? Do we have enough time? You might understand how I could not miss catching a train to Den Haag and visit Escher in Het Paleis

     Before we get to Den Haag, I'll like to share two tips. One, have an extra OV-chipcard for your guest. You save lots of time and, most importantly, money. The fee difference be…

My friend Karen in the Netherlands: 4 nights, 2 countries, 5 cities (Part 2, Nuenen)

Nuenen & 
The Potato Eaters Sculpture

     The morning after our trip to Koblenz, and after I'd come back from tutoring at ISE, we got two of our bikes out of the shed: one for Karen and one for me. Before leaving, my sweetheart adjusted hers since she wasn't used to a high seat. After that, off we went! Hands up to Karen who biked around 11 km from Eindhoven to Nuenen and back! 

     The Universe is big and conspired by giving us a perfect autumn day, milky skies and a crispy breeze. Crispy. Why is crispy ideal? Because when you bike, you sweat! Sweaty clothes are not nice, not to me at least. I get sweaty and stinky, although I've found out that wearing cotton fabrics is the best solution. As long as my clothes are not synthetic, the smelly problem is solved, kind of; but enough of this, I think my thoughts are giving away too much personal information so let's go back to the bike ride. 

     At first, on our way to Nuenen, stopping at the traffic lights was difficul…

My friend Karen in the Netherlands: 4 nights, 2 countries, 5 cities (Part 1, Koblenz)

     My Mexican friend Karen has many gifts.One of them is being a mentor. Her mission is to empower educators by giving them sparkling red shoes and leading them through the yellow brick road of understanding. As if with a magic wand, and while I was still in Mexico oblivious to the fact that a few years later I'd move to the Netherlands, she showed me all the fun there was not in helping students learn but in leading them to understand. I'll forever be grateful. Thank you, my dear Sagittarius. (Our birthday is on the same day!)

     This October, after eight years of friendship where both of us endured broken relationships, sickness, loss, fought battles, personal growth, and even her daughter's wedding in between, she made a dream and a promise come true by spending a few days in Eindhoven before arriving in Israel, her final destination. It was my turn to build life-lasting memories. During the few days she stayed with us, she got to experience Koblenz, Nuenen, Eindhove…

Don't like opera? A guide on where to start

You don't like opera. Could you please bear with me for a few minutes? I have wonderful news!

     It's not that you don't like it. Rather, one must develop a taste for it; and once you do, believe me, there is no turning back. 

What is so special about opera?
     It's a feast to the senses, a thrilling experience. You listen to an orchestra and superb singing, voices that have trained for decades; see the lighting, costumes, and stage production; and by combining it all with superb acting, you get to escape to another world and experience romance, drama and tragedy, even humor. 

Can you fall in love with it?
     If you choose to, totally yes!

As David B. Devan said, “Open ears and a warm heart is all you need.” Whatever your profession or background is, you can find something to relate to. It's a matter of will. It's up to you.The music is sublime. It can take you to places like the underworld (L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi), a bullfight in Seville, Spain (Car…

Bluetooth and Artificial Organs: Dutch Inventors!

It's 6:30 am. I'm merrily biking to the pool. Merrily, happily, sleepy and all. It's dark and chilly. I love dark and chilly and quiet, rustig. There's mist everywhere. It feels as if I were interrupting someone's spell. While at it, I'm listening to a Dutch podcast, Zeg Het in Het Nederlands. (We've talked about it before.) It's episode #11. It includes the story behind the Bluetooth, and I think to myself..."what a wonderful world..." Just kidding! I do think, "How interesting. Just now my earphones are connected via Bluetooth to my phone, and the app Schwung is using the same technology as well."

     Later, after having swum, taught, cleaned and cooked, I asked my sweetheart, "Did you know a Dutch guy invented the Bluetooth?" He said it didn't sound like it. He said maybe a Danish. At first, I hesitated since my Dutch is not so good (een beetje slecht) and many, many times I do get things wrong. But did I really…

Learning Dutch and the Difference Between White and Brown Eggs

To buy eggs,

or not to buy...

That's not the question!

     The question is: Why do people keep buying brown eggs even when they are more expensive than white ones? Maybe you already know, but I had no idea! Last Monday at Dutch school, my classmates and I finally learned the answer to this spooky question!
How did the teacher introduce the topic? By watching an educational show on SchooltvWat is het verschil tussen witte en bruine eieren?
Which eggs are more expensive? Brown eggs.
Which eggs are the most sold in the supermarkets? Brown eggs.
Where lies the secret of the egg's color? In the chicken's earlobe! In de kleur van de kip oorlelletje!
What?! Yes. If the earlobe is red, brown eggs. If it's white, white it is!
Is the quality different between the two? No. It's exactly the same. Identiek.
Why, then, are brown ones more popular? In the past, chickens were usually kept in battery cages,legbatterijenBecause of their grotesqueness, most Dutch people decided to switch to free…

Dutch singer Maaike Ouboter : Why you must know her and listen to "Dat ik je mis"

I'd guess you have listened to her while riding the bus, on the radio, in a store or restaurant. Maybe it's even on your playlist! It is on mine. Now, why would I want to tell you about her today? Because I would love for you to understand where the lyrics of this song come from, and to know what she's achieved in spite of her pain. To me, she's simply inspiring.

     This is how it all began: I was on the train on my way to Leuven while listening to the song Dat ik je mis. I went to stay for a few days with my high school friend Camila who currently lives in Dubai. Why was she in Belgium? Believe it or not, she was taking a Dutch summer course! Why, for goodness sake, if she lives in Dubai, right? It turns out she is married to a wonderful Belgian man, they have three lovely daughters, and she thought it was about time she started speaking better Dutch. 

     Anyway, let me get back to the song. On the train, I decided it was a song I must come back to study becaus…

Weekend Getaway: Camping in Relles Mühle

Our First Camping Trip Relles Mühle

Two years ago, my sweetheart and I talked about the possibility of camping. I got overexcited, as I tend to do when an adventure awaits around the corner, but he said, "Maybe next year." I was not pleased, but he was right. He usually is, not always, but quite often. (Don't tell him or I will never hear the end of it!) Why was it better to wait? To begin with, I had just moved to the Netherlands from Mexico. On top of that, we were trying to figure out: how to be together, who we were as a couple, and which were our new roles as individuals and as a family.
     Fast-forwarding, I'm delighted to report that it's been two years and we feel... Well, I'll leave it to the amorous you to complete that phrase. I don't want to be too corny, as my darling would say. 
     Anyway, now that the hard part is over, we are focusing on enjoying more of the simple things in life, like camping! Today, I'll be sharing our first camping…