Walking in the Red Light District with a Baby

Now who among you parents out there would bring out your little ones in the Red Light District or locally known as “De Wallen ” in Amsterdam?

img_4362
Red Light District in Amsterdam or locally known as De Wallen

Nope, it’s not the Disneyland of Amsterdam, and if its your first time to see Amsterdam sure thing it has many attractions  that might catch you off guard! I have written before how to enjoy the free things in Amsterdam but this one is totally different. Different in a way that the Netherlands is a country more than sex & drugs! You really need to see the country for you to have an impression since what you read in the internet is not always true. This country is totally laid back and relaxed, highly tolerant and the Dutch people are very liberal. No wonder that Dutch Teen pregnancy rates the lowest in world standing, and as what the experts and studies shows,  Dutch kids are the happiest kids in the world.

Okay, I’m sure most of you who have traveled in the Netherlands specifically in Amsterdam knows the “Red Light District “that I am talking about. But for those of you who are clueless, here’s a brief description of what Red Light District is all about. Before I had our trip, my vision of the Netherlands is mainly of Tulips, clogs, cheese, canals, and beautiful architecture of the leaning gabled houses. Even the taste of Poffertjes and Stroofwafels are unknown to my taste buds so imagine my surprise when my husband & I with our 1 year -old daughter took a walk along the streets near the Zeedijk up to the Oudekerksplein.My husband is Dutch and visited Amsterdam frequently but He rarely went to the Red Light District. So for people who think that Dutch people are fond of taking drugs and fooling around in the RLD, on any given day, then you are completely  wrong!  I noticed that this place really thrives on tourists and visitors and not the locals!

We decided to pass by the streets of the Red Light District in the morning, where there are less crowds. We had previously explored the city and thought of having a break from the Museums since my daughter easily gets bored and in dire need of playtime.So then we found ourselves strolling through the alleys where its best known to be a public display of prostitutes and marijuana! Yes, prostitution and drugs is legal in the Netherlands! It is also came as a surprise to me knowing that the Netherlands is the first country to legalize gay marriages. The red-light district in Amsterdam  consists of a network of alleys containing approximately  three hundred one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who display their goods and offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. These “kamers” are the most visible and typical kind of red light district sex work in Amsterdam and are a large tourist attraction. I have read about it but seeing these girls , totally made up as early as 10am in the morning  still gives me a different experience. In the broad daylight,they all looked bored and there’s so much in their stares, some are just playing with their phones and fidgeting with their shiny underwear.

img_4363
Street sightings in Amsterdam

De Wallen, together with the prostitution areas Singelgebied and Ruysdaelkade, form the Rosse Buurt (red light areas) of Amsterdam. Of these, De Wallen is the oldest and largest area.The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, a sex museum,brothels, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana, legally. My 1-year-old  certainly had no idea what these are all about and doesn’t pick up anything about what is in the billboards and signage. Taking photos of the ladies is highly prohibited and the whole area is on surveillance of camera so every visitor is expected to be discreet.

So, am I a bad mother for dragging my innocent daughter into this place?

After we’ve seen the Miffy  (or Nijntje ) exhibition in Museumplein, then we took her into a place full of things she doesn’t even have an idea of what it is. Well, as shocking as it may look to the world that a toddler can have a glimpse of ladies parading their almost naked bodies, I find the whole experience normal.Just like in other cities. Of course we didn’t get inside of those Sex museums or lounge in the Coffee shops, we merely passed by to take a look. Strolling around the Red Light District with a toddler was peaceful, calm, and safe. The only disturbance we’ve had is my toddler’s whining and wanting to run all over the place.

Although the Red Light District is for adults, its  only after dark that there are throngs of people just walking around to soak up the atmosphere, I too, as a visiting tourist have spent some good times just watching the world go by.Most of the tourists there are actually not there to indulge in those activities,they’re just there simply to watch. I found it a very  relaxed friendly place. Although I don’t recommend to go in there at night , and yes, not even with a baby with me.

img_4356
Street art in Amsterdam

Amsterdam city centre has a romantic image. I truly enjoyed the cozy strolls along the city center and now I know why Amsterdam is such a vibrant city. The city is gorgeous and a place for kids to enjoy. Sure it has its seedy and naughty parts of the city but its a beautiful place to explore and I am even grateful that my daughter experience the benefits of traveling at such a young age. The neighborhood is full of interesting shops, pubs, fantastic restaurants, leaning gabled houses and the city’s most charming canals. It is the same location of the Nieuwmarktsquare, the gothic Oude Kerk  and just a stones throw away,you will be in Amsterdam’s Chinatown, the Zeedijk (also home to an impressive Buddhist temple). It is unbelievable that after a few minutes strolling along the RLD, you will be in another place, a totally different atmosphere.

img_4359
Dutch Gezelligheid

Our trip to Amsterdam became a memorable one, and not because of the things we’ve seen in the Red Light District, but because, it is a beautiful city that is rich in culture. More than the bike culture, Amsterdam will always be special for us. It was our first trip as a family and I am sure, I can tell stories to my little girl that during the first year of her life, she had been there…through the secrets of the Red Light District!

If you want to visit Amsterdam and have a look in the RLD, this page might give you some interesting information.

Would you stroll along the Red Light District with your baby if given the chance?

 

 

The Dutch life: Habitual Element of Surprise

Do you like surprises?

If there’s any inspiring quality out of being married into a Dutch family that  I could share here with you, it is the Dutch’s habitual element of surprises.You might wonder why,  but aside from their lifestyle full of ‘Gezelligheid,up to their unbelievable generosity despite of the infamous Going Dutch‘. I found Dutch people, particularly the family I’ve married into, to be very good in making surprises.

img_4333
My Dutch Parents-in-law enjoying the busy stalls in Souk Mubarakiya in Kuwait. They were surprised to see the famous kissing Dutch figurine here.

Even here in my own Blogging community , I have met  Dutchies who are worth mentioning. When I was a newbie in Blogging (Still I am..!) here and made my first 5 posts, Frank Jansen of Dutch goes the Photo is  very supportive through his meaningful comments. He took time to comment and give me encouragement, even boost my confidence by giving me my very first Blog award– the Liebster which I really find to be a kind gesture. His Yoga tree photos are total stunner and if you love fine photography in your own wall, check it out Here. There is also my good friend Ann, of Grubbs ‘n Critters , a fellow Expat-Mama, who is actually married also to a Dutchman.She made a wonderful surprise to me when she sent over a box full of spices! How cool was that? Now everytime I cook, I remember her. It was just purely coincidental that we have met here and shared common parenting stories and  I often steal her luscious recipes! Finally, I was really thrilled when  Diana,a total congenial person, a Book Author by heart, and the soul behind Myths of the Mirror became one of my reader,we’ve beautifully connected and eventually  I felt I belonged, to the right circle in internet. I love the fact that I have these people in my life. All of them came also by surprise, along with all my friends here, as fate leads me to know them through their Blogs. If you have time,make sure to check out their Blogs and if you are a bookworm and still thinking of a gift to give to someone you love, you should check out Diana’s books  that will leave you in trance!

Now back to my subject, who doesn’t like surprises, I guess everybody does. I am talking about a good kind of surprise, not the prank type, obviously a good kind of surprise is always great, personal, always unforgettable and lastly,  full of fun.

img_4330
FIL enjoying the beautiful sunset along the Arabian Gulf in Kuwait

On the side note, I can only talk about my own experience with my own Dutch family. I don’t know how is it with other Dutch interracial marriages  so this post really doesn’t intend to do a rationalization of Dutch people.

“Surprises are beautiful because they come without waiting! “

My Parents in Law (PIL) are really unique and one of a kind individuals. First, my FIL (Father-in-Law) subscribed and reads my Blog so obviously He will read this post and how cool is that?! They are two people who loves to plan out surprises for us, without giving us the hassle of waiting.

There’s something about having a surprise from unexpected people and time. It is the element of surprise that keeps me on high and really appreciate the thought of it. Since I was married into this Dutch family, my life was full of surprises that made me fall in love with them even more, each day. Here I wanna share with you why my Dutch family are people who have a thing with habitual surprises  and their surprises keep on blowing my mind away each time they do it. Call me old fashioned, but I find this a rarity.

“Surprise them once in a while and let them know how special

they are!”

img_4327
A beautiful surprise with a unique Dutch Baby tradition – Beschuit met Muisjes

My PIL surely knows how to let us feel loved. They gave us special surprises on their visits while we are still living in Kuwait. I find it special when they surprised us in coming over to our wedding with such a very short notice from us. Once we came back from our short stay in our hotel, we found out that our flat was fully decorated with colorful buntings and balloons! Something that I never expected because I wondered how they got the key. Later on, they gave us a photo book of our wedding photos which came from all the photos which my MIL took. She really loved taking photos and  wrapped up  a beautiful surprise and of course, a film made by my FIL.

 

Then again, they brought another strange yet  unique Dutch tradition of Beschuit met Muisjes  when my daughter was born. Far away from Holland, they have made us so close to home. They are not that young anymore, but they are full of vigor, strength and vitality. They have brought 2 suitcases full of gifts for my daughter, they have collected cards from our relatives in the Netherlands prior to going to Kuwait. I was amazed with their organization skills when they lay out all the gifts that fit the whole couch ! Their effort was worthy of appreciation.

img_4328
My MIL wearing an Abaya during our visit in the Grand Mosque in Kuwait

“Surprises are better than promises ! “

When my daughter celebrated her 2nd Birthday here in Germany, they came for a week- long visit. The surprise came in later when they asked us to check out the door and my face was full of delight to see my husband’s sister and her whole family came by to join my daughter’s birthday!It was totally unexpected,even my husband is clueless. It was such a crazy surprise for me because we don’t even have enough plates for more than 5 people, I haven’t even prepared enough food to feed them ! Despite the frenzy preparations, in the end, it turned out a great day because indeed, surprises are better than promises!

img_4224
Trying out Indian food in Germany where we reminisce the grilled foods ,kebabs, flat bread and Hummus in Kuwait.

 

Last week, we were planning to go to Nuremberg to visit the Christmas Market, also to have a weekend trip to celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was planned from last month but was postponed when my daughter got sick. We were still having second thoughts  because my daughter still had a bad cough and the weather is always grey, and gloomy, it’s not just the mood to do some sightseeing. While taking a walk before we do our grocery shopping, a car pulled down in front of us and there they are again–my PIL smiling and waving at us! They did it once again. Totally out of the blue, they came to join us to celebrate the weekend with us for my husband’s birthday. We spent a great time in the Christkindlmarkt ,drank Glühwein, visited the Nativity or the Krippenweg, and devoured Schnitzels and curry wurst with delight.

img_4354
It was their turn to be surprised and get mesmerized by Kuwaiti food !
img_9256
Now I know that a couple who  travels together, stays together.

“Expect Nothing. Live Frugally on Surprises! “~Alice Walker

Again, they filled our home with their sunshine and made everything better.I know that they can always come over to our place from 6-7 hours drive from the Netherlands but still, they do it in a beautiful surprise. When I saw the face of my husband and the delight in my daughter’s face, I couldn’t agree no more because I am, too, was overwhelmed. They know how to bring us cheer, and they are so good at it.Also, every time they bring tons of goodies which we all enjoyed, then who am I to complain?

img_9257-1
Enjoying the waves of the Arabian Gulf, my PIL finds it Gezelling despite the winds!

The surprise continues when they brought Sinterklaas to my daughter in line of her celebrating  her first St. Nicholas here in Germany. My MIL packed a handful of my favorite spices like Gehakt and Spekulaas which I really find it sweet. We are so overwhelmed with the Sinterklaas goodies they’ve brought like the Chocolate letters,Kruidnoten, Stroofwafels,Gevuldekoeken, so much more. They know that my husband adores these things and I am a convert now myself. At the end of their visit, I was surprised again to see another ornaments in our little tree. I was so busy that I didn’t notice it hanging in there. They adorned it with their love. Another lovely surprise.

fullsizerender-30
Airport moments while leaving Kuwait

Near or far, they  always try to bridge the gap and cross the distance to let us feel loved. Habit or not, my Dutch family has certainly a trait that I’ve learned to appreciate. Beyond gifts and everything, it’s their thoughts behind it that really matters. I have learned to appreciate surprises but right now, I am enjoying the Dutch’s life habitual element of surprises!

And how sweet that this post falls as my 200th post here ! Surprising that I have made it this far, Thank you my friends for following and reading my posts!

How about you, when was the last time you’ve made a surprise ? Or the last time you’ve been surprised?

How was your experience?

 

7 Signs that shows you’re becoming like Dutch

Well, some of you already  knows that I’m married to a Dutch guy , Oh Yes, the Almighty Dutch syndrome is in my system and I can’t deny it. My daughter is even growing up more and more like Dutch , and no one’s to blame, she’s Dutch for a fact. It’s in her genes. I have tried feeding her more rice and Adobo   but she prefers bread (Brood ) of course with chocolate Sprinkles –Hagelslag!  What a way to raise a chocoholic, don’t you think?

Over the years, I found myself turning into somewhat like my husband. I couldn’t believe it’s happening before my eyes.I am Liking what He likes, and end up doing what  he normally does. Does this sound weird?

But NO– I would never be converted into eating the raw Haring and Drop.

Anyway, here  I’d to share with you 7 top signs that shows you’re becoming like Dutch, what has become of Me-like I am slowly being Dutchie-fied!

  • You eat potatoes. Everyday– Fried. Smashed. Boiled.Baked. Name it all. Friet. Frieten.Patat. Pommes. Goodness gracious, If  we don’t have potatoes in a week, we are going to be doomed. Even for the chips snacks, we preferred potato chips, but only Paprika flavor simply because in The Netherlands, the only flavor of chips that Dutch most adored is Paprika! I’ve never eaten so much potatoes in my entire life since I’ve been married to a Dutch guy.
IMG_0787 (1)
Potatoes, french fries, friets, anything goes with it . Schnitzel with pommes, why not?

 

  • You cycle everywhere you go. No matter what.- It’s universal truth-the Netherlands is the cycling capital of the world. Nothing beats them when it comes to cycling. You are practically married to your bike or in Dutch they call it ‘Fiets’(pronounced as ‘feets’). Every Dutch has a bike, even more than one. The first functional gift you could ever give to a Dutch toddler is a wooden bike or a walking bike. Only the Dutch parents can prove to the whole world that it is both legal and alright to transport another human being along with their bags and groceries, plants, & pets at the same time. Talk about genius when you see their ‘Bakfiets’.  Everything goes in two wheels. When you move to the Netherlands, you will definitely buy a bike. When my husband moved to Kuwait with me, his bike also fly to Kuwait to be with him. Best Buddies eh!
FullSizeRender (48)
Just turned 2 and already a Cycling enthusiast! 

 

IMG_1323
Typical Dutch Mama with her ‘Bakfiets’ and kids..and canals-Welcome to the Netherlands! (Photo credit to wojofoto on flickr)
  • You give Three (3) Kisses Right cheek, left cheek, right cheek. This is the right way to give Three Dutch kisses. If a Dutch like you, they give you three kisses.  Today I met a new German friend,she was so nice and we had a great time chatting and as we part ways and say Tsüss, I found myself giving her 3 kisses. She just looked at me smilingly and I thought, I just really like her.Period.

 

  • You can run in steep stairs even in pitch dark nights – Ja, I did it and I don’t mind. I could run and climb these stairs without vertigo. You need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, it’s in the 2nd floor-No problem!  My daughter climb these very steep stairs from my parents-in-law when she was about to turn 1. Wonder how in the world Dutch people put those furniture up there in the upper level of the house? It runs in the family. Have you seen steep stairs of Dutch houses yourself?

 

 

  • You own one of these. A Dutch staple during showers.- A washcloth or Washandjes. Don’t panic, this is only a piece of a towel which Dutchies use in showers.While I grew up using Loofa, sponges and stone, my husband introduced to me the use of these wash cloths. They are very handy,hygienic, easy to use and don’t easily fall, easy to wash, and great if you have babies. You can use it as long as the threads doesn’t fall off, not like the sponges that you need to toss after 2-3 weeks of use, or else, it’s Yuck!
IMG_1316
Dutch’s Washandjes- they even have a disposable one. Very handy for travelling with toddlers.

 

  • You memorized the Dutch’s Birthday congratulations and song – Ever been to a Dutch’s birthday party? One of the first things I’ve memorized so far and sing in Dutch. This is probably one of my culture shock since I got married and learn about Dutchiness. It’s totally different from the Birthday celebrations in Philippines or in Kuwait. I have never attended a birthday party before eating only cake & coffee.Yes- Only in the Netherlands!
  • On any given occasions, you put balls in your mouth– Why it’s round I don’t know, the Bitterballen, Ollieballen, Meatballs, ( Gehaktballen) Kroket etc. Dutch tends to loved deep-fried good old balls and sticks. It’s always a clean plate whenever we have these. My daughter’s personal favorite is the Krentenbollen.Yum! Anything I have missed? I must say that I mastered the art of making ‘meatballs’and ‘Gehakt spices’has become a mainstay in our kitchen.
Bitterballen-justbluedutch
Typical Dutch Food you must try !

 

 

What Dutch things you have loved yourself? I’m curious, what do you use during your showers? 🙂

 

 

The mills of Kinderdijk (A Dutch icon)

Do you know the old  tale about the windmills in the famous Kinderdijk in Holland?

The name Kinderdijk is Dutch for “Children dike”. In 1421, during the Saint Elizabeth flood of 1421, the Grote Hollandse Waard flooded, but the Alblasserwaard polder stayed unflooded. It is said that when the terrible storm had subsided, someone went on to the dike between these two areas, to see what could be saved. In the distance, he saw a wooden cradle floating on the waters. As it came nearer, some movement was detected. A cat was seen in the cradle trying to keep it in balance by jumping back and forth so that no water could get into it. As the cradle eventually came close enough to the dike for a bystander to pick up the cradle, he saw that a baby was quietly sleeping inside it, nice and dry. The cat had kept the cradle balanced and afloat. This folktale and legend has been published as “The Cat and the Cradle” in English

[ Excerpt derived courtesy of Wikipedia ]

IMG_1396
Cycling in Kinderdijk

This is one of the fascinating things I have learned about mills & Kinderdijk  when I explore Netherlands. Seeing these original, iconic & wonderful windmills for real and up close  is really a great experience with my daughter & our  family. This is absolutely a top family destination, definitely a place for young & old to enjoy cycling, biking, hiking or just have a lazy stroll while learning about the mills’s history. It has complete amenities such as tourist vessels, water buses, group tour arrangements, restaurants, museums, restrooms & souvenir shops. I am  sure your kids will thank you for exposing them to world-class  sights such as these.

If you come during winter, they have a special threat to warm you up. In the souvenir shop “De Molenhoek” of Kinderdijk you always can eat or drink something you like plus
they will  serve delicious warm pea soup. This is the time to experience another Dutch gastronomical delight, the typical Dutch pea soup.

13840bb0867b2b6efd8e0ec6c36d2403
Dutch Pea soup  (Photo courtesy of Kinderdijk)
ad56d4823abdc1a085cba2557804f004
UNESCO World Heritage Site , Kinderdijk in Holland (photo courtesy of Kinderdijk)

When it comes to beauty, the 19 polder draining windmills of the Kinderdijk are top one. Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a masterpiece of water management in a typical Dutch landscape. In 1997, the windmill complex of Kinderdijk was added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list because of its unique character. UNESCO considers the polder area with its dykes, boezems, mills and pumping stations to be proof of human inventiveness in reclaiming and protecting the land.This is worldwide recognition of the fact that this unique area must be preserved for the future.

IMG_1411--
A journey through time with the mills.

The nineteen (19) mills in Kinderdijk  were constructed around 1740 as part of a larger water management system which prevented floods. Now they’re a symbol of Dutch water management.

c1590de36a0d416de572d62ade441927
Old photograph of the mills in Kinderdijk (photo credit : Kinderdijk)

We got inside the Museum Windmill Nederwaard and we are so grateful that we did because we learned a lot how a real Miller works, let alone seeing a REAL one!  There is a short film about the history of it and inside it was a full-blooded miller and we are able to explore the mill, which has been preserved in its original state, from the inside and from the outside. If there is sufficient wind, the mill might even be set in motion! Fortunately my daughter was just busy tumbling down the chairs and doesn’t mind the loud noise from the movie. It was dim inside because of the film so we were not able to took some photos. There is a distinct motor sound that would really identify a working mill. I could still hear it in my ears. When we got inside the real windmill in the Museum Mill, we are able to see what’s  in an authentic Windmill which can be traced from 1950’s. There is a steep ladder going to the top, and I was able to climb only up to the 2nd floor because I wear my baby in a sling & I find it difficult to enter the small passageway with other people trying to get in. The original bedspace areas, or called “Bedstede” (alcove bed ) was still preserved. We were even lucky to see the local Miller, and he’s wearing Dutch clogs of course!

11af978d5057448bfea0a0f6b0f55cb2
Old, yet still standing through time: Kinderdijk Mills  (photo credit :Kinderdijk)

I have dreamt of seeing a windmill someday. When I was young, I used to daydream that I would be able to visit Holland and see a real one. My dream came true. Finally, seeing it for real is even more meaningful because I have learned an important culture of the Dutch people. Before I only see it as a landmark, I have no clue that it has an important function, Re: preventing floods. When I knew about this, my mind was opened and appreciate its beauty even more. I have great respect for the pioneer who engineered these masterpiece.

There is so much more to say and write about Kinderdijk and mills, but its all up to you to see it for yourself and create your own story.A visit to the Netherlands won’t be complete without seeing this. If you wanna know more about Kinderdijk and how to explore this place, they have a wonderful website with all the information such as the tickets, opening times, location etc that you need to know. You can check it Here.

Do you want to experience the life of a Miller?

If you are adventurous enough , then in Kinderdijk  you can have the chance to  get an exclusive look into the construction and maintenance of windmills. You will also get to know more about the profession of a miller such as how to build a windmill,maintain it or what is it a day in a life of a Miller? You can really be in a real threat because It’s an unforgettable experience in a typical Dutch environment.

What’s in your Bucket List?

What was the last Unesco World Heritage Site you’ve visited?

Hope you have a wonderful time making your dreams a reality just like I did. Thank you for reading & Safe travels!

 

 

Landgoed Singraven : Sun is warm, grass is Green.

The world is better when it is Green.

We found another perfect green paradise and as always, Nature never fails to amaze me. I am a lover of beautiful buildings & modern structures, but nothing compares to a visit to nature. The allure of the sound of the gentle waters slushing from a flowing river, the crisp green plants, the warm and bright sun that touches our cheeks with the gentle breeze.

Its all priceless.

 Do you know that your mood changes the moment you are exposed to green outdoors? It’s a natural  booster.

Or haven’t you realized  that strolling and walking outside can even increase your creativity?

I grew up playing outdoors a lot. My childhood memories are full of  playing & running in the rice fields, catching spiders and spending so much time as if there’s no tomorrow.It was so much fun compared to the modern games of iPad now. Now that I am a mother, I am so concerned about this especially with a wandering, active, feisty toddler who wants to be out, all the time! Studies show that playing in the dirt (soil) outdoors helps kids stay healthy. Bacteria, viruses and other gross things in the soil actually help the immune system, and brain develop. Playing the dirt can also improve a child’s mood and reduce anxiety and stress. There is really a great insight why spending outdoors in green settings can do so much to our overall being. This is also one of the reasons why Dutch kids have a very active & happy childhood. They are so blessed with natural greens.

IMG_1743
The wandering Toddler

We’re so glad that we stumbled into this hidden Green Oasis and a gem tucked in the woods. It”s  a secluded place of imaginary fairies, lotus, and serene river Dinkel tucked away from the busyness of the city life. There we heard only the sound of Nature. Nothing else. Everything is green. Everything is fresh. Even the sun has a special rays. It is gentle. The breeze is cool. We felt instantly at home.

Langoed Singraven estate is beautifully situated along the Dinkel near the village of Denekamp. In here are many special monumental buildings, including the state house Singraven, the rear coach house and the ancient water mill with three wheels. Singraven offers a versatile landscape with woods, alleys, fields, meadows, marshes, and the ever-present Dinkel. If you visit Holland, don’t miss to see this place. It is worth your time.

This place has  fascinating cultural history, soothing and interesting nature, active leisure activities such as cycling or walking and much more. My daughter just simply loved lounging on the greenest grass that we have ever seen! She climbs everywhere and licked the grass, pinch it, and tasted it. I cannot blame her, the place is like an oasis to us. We haven’t had these amazing greens in Kuwait, so we really indulge.

 

11817228_1204123882937225_5964527325509159688_n
Even the water in the river celebrates nature. A reflection of quiet green bliss.
IMG_5100
The Langoed Singraven  ( Singraven means Large Canal )
11750687_1204134962936117_8728186557496284064_n
Of Mid Summer Night’s Dream ,with clear River Dinkel on the side.
IMG_5099
Dutch Watermills (Watermolen)

Now one of the fascinating things about Netherlands is their Watermolen (or WaterMills).The Singraven watermills were first mentioned in 1448 and inspired famous 17th century painters like Jacob Ruysdael and Meindert Hobbema.

 This watermill is unique because of its three mill wheels: one oil mill (inactive), a flour mill and a saw mill; both of which are fully functional and still in use. Current buildings date from around 1880. So much beauty &  history on this place.

Singraven has a manor which is sometimes open to the public and a watermill. The watermill has three functions: oil-mill, flour-mill and a sawmill.  Today the oil-mill is a restaurant but the other two are still functioning with the of volunteers.

The first house of Singraven dates back to 1415 but it was demolished and replaced by a new house in 1661. Several different Counts and families lived in the house. Almost all of them made improvements to the house. The last owner is  Willem Frederik Jan Laan donated the estate to a foundation.

74679922
The River Dinkel that flows through Singraven

There so much activity that this place can offer. Its perfect for families with little children who wants to explore and roam.The vast area is perfect for Hiking, cycling, walking, strolling, or just enjoying a quiet meditation. The place has a park, a range of restaurants , Dinkel shop, Watermills, Carriage Houses that can house a function, Dinner or Luncheon meetings. You can even marry in this lovely place. This could be a perfect setting for a romantic garden wedding.This is also the ideal place to learn more about Nature. Estate Singraven participates in the project “Education on Location”, organized by the Foundation Museums in Dinkelland. Other participating institutions and museums are: Huize Keizer, Natura Docet, Mill Foundation Lattrop-Tilligte the Open Air Museum Ootmarsum and Cosmos Observatory. If you want to learn mohre about this place, you can check their website (Dutch ) Here.

Do you enjoy green landscape of Nature like this? What do you appreciate about country living?

Hope you have a chance to visit a green place just like this. Here’s to #theworldneedsmoregreens!

 

A Dutch Farmhouse {Boerderij}

IMG_1224
A Dutch Humble Farmhouse : Red Doors, Black Roof & Brick walls (2015) in Full color.

Local Sightings – A Striking Dutch Farmhouse

F A R M   O F   T H E   H E A D -B O D Y  T Y P E

 On exploring the countryside of Holland, I found this beautiful farm which turns out to be one of the pride of this place.This farm house belong to the estate of  Almelo. The farm  is designed &commissioned by the Count of Rechteren Limpurg in around 1939 by Architect Jan Jans, an architect with his designs made ​​much use of traditional Twente elements. The farm is north of the Gravenallee outside the moat (canal ) around the castle but in the sight of it, with the back towards the castle. On the back is the entrance to the yard, a wooden fence between pillars Bentheim sandstone. This head-body type is constructed of red brick under saddle roofs with black glazed Dutch tiles. The gables are shot, the right windows closed lower stretch are covered with shutters .  The façade  of the house is articulated by two Negenruits ( Nine small windows ) sliding windows on the ground floor and two zesruits ( 2 six small windows ) windows in the gable. Between them is a sandstone made ​​with the coat of arms of Almelo.

 

Crossing Borders and taking the Leap!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The other day, February 29 is a Leap Year Day!  Have you known? I asked this because I have a funny trip to Memory Lane unconsciously…Sometimes I really need to check the calendar what date it is, or what is what on a particular day.

Yes, this year we have 366 days as opposed to a common year which has only 365 days.

Were you aware that in our present year 2016, we have an entire extra 24 hours? Oh how I wished I have this extra 24 hours to make up on sleep. For new Mamas out there, I know you can relate to this. Really,I’m telling you, Sleep has never been the same since I had my daughter 🙂 But this post is not about sleep- deprived mothers or calendar tracking. This is about Taking the leap & crossing Borders.

Now there is a long-winded, mathematical explanation why we need Leap years to keep our modern day Gregorian calendar in alignment with the earth’s revolution around the sun.Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat in the equivalent of 24 hours period, calendars that have the same number of days in each year  drift over time.

Imagine, if we don’t have an extra day in February every 4 years , then after only 100 years our calendar would be inaccurate by 24 days!

IMG_2006
Border stone between Nederland & Deutschland

I resonate  the nostalgic feeling of a Leap day  when Crossing borders. Crossing Borders meaning that you are physically taking a step into boundaries. It is a whole state of yourself being in two places at a given time. Its the frozen moment that you want to hold as a memory. A leap that you have made. In Metaphysics, the theory of Impenetrability does not coincide in this where in quality of matter whereby two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time. When we try to incorporate science in our daily sane lives, it gets a bit complicated so I’ll just stock to my own account of events.

In my experience, I was really thrilled when I did the ” crossing borders”. I find it fascinating. It  takes a courageous heart to do so. There is a sense of haste as you go through the journey. A hype feeling knowing you have the liberty to roam around, without limit, without control.

IMG_2004
The path along the long journey  into taking small steps into  Leaps.

The journey maybe a long-winding road, but it could also be the most worthwhile ride you can have. Personally, I did not focus on the length of the journey, rather, I  linger on the beautiful scenery that we passed along. I let my eyes feast on it. The towering trees and the shadows it casted, the unusual plants & the blooming flowers ,  that distinct character and detail I have seen in the local neighborhood such as the post with a different paint, or a beautiful detail in the roof of the houses ,  I record everything in my mind and created a mental slideshow. The smell of the woods. The footprints in the ground. A memory.

IMG_5095
Signpost : Do not forget where you came from and where you want to go.

Now a border stone, pillar or obelisk can stand as a hurdle in your life that you need to struggle to make a leap. A border fence is somewhat a present day barrier that confines you and make you less free to wander.

Do you ever felt you are trapped?

Do you see your weakness as Border stones that can never be overcome? and making you hesitant to take the step to leap on?

I knew this feeling.I have been there many times. I felt like my life is only moving sideways,and not moving forward. But I took the chance, the risk, and I overcame.

IMG_5096
What struggles have you won  or leaped to ?

In Crossing borders and taking a one step leap , the possibilities are endless. The best thing about what I have learned from this approach is that you won’t be losing any precious times. Crossing borders means going out from your comfort zone, taking chances & risks, and overcoming a struggle. A leap is the first step you do to make these things happen. This two goes hand in hand. Your heart, your mind and your body working in harmony.

Have you tick something in your Bucket List  lately? (something that can be done in 24 hours , or a long weekend)

When was the last time you have enjoyed a long, lazy brunch with your family or close friends ? This is the best and precious gift we can give to those we love. (Bonus : leave your phone silent, inside your purse and don’t make a selfie )

Have you thought about paying a visit to someone you haven’t seen for ages?

Have you tried sending a meaningful snail mail to someone you knew who lived miles away from you?

I wish you all the best in making the first steps to make a Leap, and crossing that Border.

 

 

 

Cube Houses in Rotterdam

Cube-houses-rotterdam
Kubuswoningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Have you’ve been to Rotterdam? The Cube Houses is one of this city’s iconic landmark and pride of the Netherlands.

Imagine living in a square tilted Cube House with  walls and windows that are angled at 54.7 degrees, with only a  total area of around 100 square meters, but around a quarter of the space is unusable because of the walls that are under the angled ceilings.

And everytime you look up, it seems that the ceiling is just touching your head,and all you can see is corners? As I explore more of the rooms, I was thinking that this house needed special furnitures and the thought of living above a pedestrian bridge is overlwhelming!

IMG_1406
Great view because of the sloping windows.

Structurally, the cubes sit tilted on a hexagonal pole. They are made up of concrete floors, concrete pillars and wooden framing. Inside, the houses are divided into three levels accessed via a narrow staircase. The lower level is a triangular area used as the living room. The middle level houses the sleeping and bathing area, and the highest level is a spare area used either as a second bedroom or another living area.

cube-houses-in-Rotterdam-piet-blom-537x312
Kubuswoningen

This is my impression when I was inside of the model Cube House when I visited Rotterdam in Netherlands. Outside it was a striking structure, more of like an eye-candy, totally unique & brilliantly made.

IMG_1394

“Living as an Urban Roof ” – Piet Blom

This is the concept behind the “Kubuswoningen “or locally known as Cube Houses in Rotterdam, Netherlands designed by Dutch Architect Piet Blom.  It was  built in 1982 and was completed in 1984 which is a perfect example of “Structuralism”. He tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. His design represents a village within a city, where each house represents a tree, and all the houses together, a forest.

IMG_1391
Cube Houses in Overblaak Street in Rotterdam,Netherlands.

There are 38 small Cube houses and so-called  2 super-cubes attached to each other. If you want to experience what is it like to live on top of a tree trunk,  ( in an Archetypical way) then make sure not to miss this when you visit Rotterdam.

Do you want to Visit the Cube Houses?

There are three ways to see the interior of a Cube House:

  • By making friends with a resident (not very practical, unless you get lucky with a “Looking for a Cube House buddy” ad on Craigslist).
  • By booking a bed at Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam, a Hostelling International youth hostel that opened in the Kubuswoningen in 2009.
  • By paying a small fee to visit the Kijk-Kubus, or “Show-Cube,” a model dwelling outfitted with custom furniture (designed by the museum director) and several exhibits about the project and its history.

The Kijk-Kubus or Show Cube is open daily from 11 a.m.to 5 p.m. Follow the signs to the entrance, which is simply a doorway beneath one of the cubes. (Be prepared to climb a steep flight of Dutch-style steps; at the top of the stairs, you’ll enter the cube dwelling’s living room, where you can buy a ticket for a few euros.)

For more information, Click Here.

What is the most interesting piece of architecture you have seen lately? How was your experience?

 

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Amsterdam for Kids, Why Not?

Have you’ve been to Amsterdam? I mean, with a toddler toddling with you?

Amsterdam is a wonderful city. Full of vibrant and definitely a top Family destination.Whether you are travelling with babies, toddlers or children, this major European city is a hub for adventure and family-friendly sights that would make your stay worthwhile. Now before anyone raised their eyebrows and rant about this city’s tag for lascivious scenic spots , coffee shops & brothels, let me get this straight. We went there not for those reasons.

As for me, Amsterdam is a sure winner for travel destination for kids.Besides that this is my husband’s home country, I can’t argue anymore why this city stands out. Its up to you to discover its charm. You as the parent is the sole responsible for your trip to make it or break it. Period.

IMG_9244
Little Miss N in front of her favorite Ninjtje 

 

On our recent trip to the Netherlands, my daughter had a blast and we can’t wait to be back soon this summer. I want to share with you what I’ve learned from this trip especially from our visit to the newly renovated  Rijksmuseum , but this time with my daughter.

Both me & my husband are excited to explore the Rijksmuseum .We are both lovers of Architecture and Arts  so we thought that this should not be missed from our trip.We booked our tickets online & we managed to squeeze ourselves quickly away  from the rain and morning frenzy in the tram. Finally  we’re at Rijksmuseum. We are excited. My daughter was not. She preferred Ninjtje over Rembrandt.Am I a bad Mama dragging this little toddler to admire the works of Van Gogh & Rembrandt?

IMG_9411
Sculpture at the reception Hall of Rijksmuseum

On the contrary, Rijksmuseum was striking & beautiful . It really exceeded my expectation. But not the busyness inside! It is something that I did not expect since we were  there early. After depositing our things at the baggage deposit counter, we headed to see the Grand Hall. We take our time to adore the famous “Night Watch Galleryin the grand hall of the Great Masters. For the first time in over twenty years, the Rijksmuseum again organized a Rembrandt exhibition, giving every generation the chance to renew its acquaintance with the great Master of the Golden Age.This is something that we don’t wanna miss. We don’t see this everyday so we wanted to make the most of it but unfortunately, it did not happen that easily.

IMG_9359

Shooters district XI under Captain Reynier Reael, known as “Lean Company” Frans Hals and Pieter Codde, 1637

IMG_9349

Shooters district II, led by Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, known as the Night Watch, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1642

 

IMG_9353

My daughter was busy biting the leaflet and looking at the crowd. Maybe she was wondering why there is no Winnie the Pooh ? Soon I have noticed that there were quite  a number of visitors with babies tagged along with them, but most of them looks older than her. I felt unsure though that soon she might get bored and start to whine since she doesn’t like to stay in one place.She likes to roam around so we move on. I skipped the crowded areas, especially with so many people coughing! I was really surprised to see so many Koreans inside Rijksmuseum.

One thing that I find difficult is accessing the elevators. They were centrally located but then it was so busy,  its difficult to navigate with a stroller.I find the size so tiny compared to the ample sizes of elevators here in Kuwait.

IMG_9375
Beautiful tainted windows inside Rijksmuseum

Knowing that my daughter is super active, I give her a treat and let her loose in the adjacent hall. She loved the tainted windows, and she had some wooden benches where she climbed on.The sight was new to her. This was also my personal favorite. There were interesting patterns in the floor that kept her occupied, but not that long. Its almost lunchtime so we decided to check out the Museum’s cafe, but as I expected, there was already a long line waiting for a table. Its obvious that we can’t wait that long to be seated. I was not even sure if they have a high chair. I personally needed a breath of fresh air. So we decided to head out and check out Ninjtje Parade in the Museumplein.  

IMG_9192
Museumplein with the Rijksmuseum in the background.

She loved this, who doesn’t? She was actually mesmerized by each sculpture. I just let her ogle on each sculpture. She climbed them, touch them, maybe they had a quick téte-a-téte! Then we let her climb over the I am Amsterdam Letters with delight. She was so thrilled by the huge letters to climbed on. After she got exhausted, we decided to have a picnic , rest for a while and watch the ducks in the pond. Now that’s what I called “We time “.

IMG_0403
Can I take you home Miffy?

So what have I learned from this trip?

I don’t blame my daughter for the short-cut of our visit in Rijksmuseum, in fact, I was grateful to her. She have taught me to take it easy by slowing down & paying attention to what really matters, Afterall, a happy child equals happy parents.

Expat Mama Travel Tip!

  1. Be flexible and make it simple – Don’t complicate your itinerary. You know your child better. You know what makes them cranky. Bring them to destinations where both you & your children can be flexible and relax as much as possible . Amsterdam is surrounded with beautiful green landscapes and sceneries , make the most of the clean oxygen. The best memories are made outdoors! If your child doesn’t like being in crowded indoors, search for the nearby garden or take a stroll in the park.
  2. Don’t forget to have fun-Make sure you are enjoying yourself. If you become stressed out, your child will definitely catch it. Take time to talk to your child while you admire the scenery. Your tone can either set the mood  & soothe her and helps her to calm down.
  3. Do it together- If you are travelling with a family, then allow other members to interact with your child. This can ease the child-overdose you are feeling if your child is constantly clinging on you.

Don’t forget to make lots of memories of your trip!

If you like this post, then maybe you would be interested to know what are the top free things you can enjoy in Amsterdam as a family. Do you have 24hours in Amsterdam? Then click this Link Here to know more.

How about you,what is the unforgettable part of your trip with your children?  Do you enjoy travelling with kids? how do you handle the impromptu changes ?

Safe travels!

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 

5 Free Things to do in Amsterdam

You want to explore Amsterdam but don’t want to smash your budget ?

I know touring Amsterdam can really be expensive . There is so much fun things to do and so much to see . But I wanna share with you how we survived it .  Here’s my Top 7  Free Things to do in Amsterdam that would definitely let you have a taste of its culture , and learn why this charming Dutch metropolis is one of top Europe’s travel hub. I highly recommend these things even if you have young kids travelling with you . It’s all about location . You don’t need to stress out yourself , Amsterdam is  beautiful  &  diversity is all over the city & deserves to be part of your Budget-friendly destinations  in Europe .

1. Go to the Bloemenmarkt

Holland is famous for its Tulips and other beautiful blooms , so why not indulge yourself into amazing array of flowers displayed in Bloemenmarkt. There’s no charge to wander past the stalls of the city’s wonderful floating flower market , the Bloemenmarkt (daily opens at  9am–5pm, some stalls close on Sunday), which extends along the southern bank of the Singel. Popular with locals and tourists alike , the market is one of the main suppliers of flowers to central Amsterdam, but its blooms and bulbs now share stall space with souvenir clogs, garden gnomes, Delftware and similar souvenir keepsakes .

IMG_9478
Tulips blooms in Bloemenmarkt

 

2. Discover Begijnhof

Ah,This one is my favorite . If you’ve been into the busy streets of Amsterdam that is packed with tourists then why not have a Breather, right within the city . Go to Begijnhof . Its  little gateway on the north side of the Spui leads into this hidden gem, where a huddle of immaculately maintained old houses looks onto a central green. This is one of the city centre’s most beguiling sights, and totally free. It was founded in the fourteenth century as a home for the beguines – members of a Catholic sisterhood living as nuns, but without vows and with the right of return to the secular world.

IMG_9548
One fine afternoon in Begijnhof

3. Listen to lunchtime concerts at the Concertgebouw

There are regular free lunchtime concerts at this impressive Arts venue, home of the famed – and much recorded – Koninklijk (Royal) Concertgebouw Orchestra. It has become renowned among musicians and concertgoers 
for its marvelous acoustics, and after a facelift and the replacement of its crumbling foundations in the early 1990s it is looking and sounding better than ever.

4. Walk or take a Nap in Vondelpark

This is a famous park in Amsterdam and if you want some peace & quiet ,then find yourself a space near the lagoon in Vondelpark then just admire this beautiful place.You can feed the ducks ,people watch , or just ride your bike along its bike paths.There are many artwork and sculpture displayed in here that might catch your attention .Amsterdam is short of green spaces, which makes the leafy expanses of the Vondelpark, the city centre’s main park, one of its best attractions. The park possesses a wide variety of local and imported plants, an excellent rose garden, and a network of ponds and narrow waterways that are home to many sorts of wildfowl. There are other animals too: cows, sheep, hundreds of squirrels, plus a large colony of bright-green (and very noisy) parakeets. We had a lunch picnic here and my daughter enjoyed it .

IMG_9203
Lush greens in Vondelpark

5. Take a stroll along the Red Light District 

With a kid tagging along with us , I feel squemish of bringing along my toddler  in here . I mean this place is known for scantily- clad women displayed in red framed windows! Most parents will raise their eyebrows for exposing your child to sights like that. But when I observed how quiet and safe the place is , i didn’t see any reason to miss this area . If you go here in the morning , you can see packs of men, young and old , couples holding hands and pointing in shock of it all, giggling groups of women ,teenagers , and busloads of Japanese tourists toting cameras and making selfies. This is proof enough that De Wallen deserves a visit, if not a little look in.  But photography of the women are strictly prohibited ,so be careful .

It’s your choice ,you need to experience passing by the RLD and  then probably you will understand what i felt when i see this place.

6. See Amsterdam’s finest church

If you are an Architecture buff and interested in religious building such as old churches, then you wouldn’t wanna miss the finest churches in Amsterdam, all can be reached by foot .

zuiderkerk
Zuiderkerk as seen from Prinsengracht

The Westerkerk, is the biggest church in Amsterdam  just along Prinsengracht,  The church still dominates the district, its 85-metre tower – without question Amsterdam’s finest – soaring graciously above its surroundings. This church became the symbol of this city . The church was designed by Hendrick de Keyser and completed in 1631 as part of the general enlargement of the city, but whereas the exterior is all studied elegance, the interior is bare and plain.Zuiderkerk is the first Protestant church in the city . During  summer season, its tower may be climbed offering the nice view on canals and old houses of the area.

7 .  Watch people climb the I Amsterdam Letters in Museumplein 

Finally , You are in Amsterdam so what’s the best way to make memories of it than to take a selfie & watch people clambered on top of the letters . Discover why people of all ages climb on top of it , or why  Tourists flocked in here each one of them  striking their signature poses . Museumplein is an amazing place  and totally crazy in Summer.

IMG_9222
People watching at Museumplein

Have you’ve been to Amsterdam ? How was your experience ? I would love to hear your comments from your trip .

Thank you for stopping by and reading !