Monday, July 30, 2012

NS Day Card #2

Quick note, I got rid of the dynamic blog view, I wasn't really dig'n on that too much anymore.



Saturday I used my second all day train card.  As you can tell from the picture at the top, the weather was not all that great for picture taking so I did not take as many as normal, but still got a few okay shots.

I started the day out by going to Maastricht.  It is pretty much the southern most part of the country and sits right between Germany and Belgium.  The city itself was interesting to walk around.  I also got to see the coffee shops which are now famous for not being allowed to sell weed to people not living in Holland (the law is only in effect in the south right now.)  Let me tell you, this is such a bad idea!  Nowhere else in Holland have I ever been asked if I wanted to buy drugs (well maybe once or twice the whole time I lived here) except for in Maastricht.  Now that it is illegal there, you see shady looking people all over the place asking you if you wanna buy weed/drugs.  Not cool, I got approached and followed about 4-5 times.  Netherlands you just need to tell the European Union to shove it up there ass, this country's drug policy has been working since the 70's and there is no reason to change it just because the EU does not like it.  This does not mean I want to do drugs, I can still buy them if I want since I am a resident, but I would much rather not have shady drug dealers around, not cool.

Next I hopped back on the train and was planning on going to Nijmegen but when I got to where I needed to change at Roermond, I found out the train to Nijmegen was not an NS train and my card was only good for NS trains.  By the time I figured that out, my first train was already gone, so I walked around Roermond for a bit.  Not too shabby but nothing too exciting either.

Finally I went to see ''s-Hertogenbosch (or simply "Den Bosch") this city turned out to be a bit cooler that I expected.  I did not stay too long though I was tired of waling around and wanted to get to Amsterdam to go drink some beer with my Dutch meetup group buddies.

It was a good day but nowhere near as good as from a few weeks before.  I think it was because the sun was not out and I was not really 100% feeling it with the cloudy humid weather.

Here are pictures from my trip they are in the Holland album, newest at the top:

Holland Sites

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Weekend to myself in Paris


Finally after going to Paris so many times for work and only getting to go around in the evenings, I took the whole weekend after working on Friday for myself.  I swear every time I am in that city I like it more and more, there is just something magical about it.

Being that I was there on my own time, I actually stayed right in the hart of Paris this time instead of Clichy as I normally do.  I would highly highly recommend Hôtel de la cité Rougemont if you're looking for somewhere basic, central, clean, and Parisian.  It was perfect, I was even surprised to have my own little balcony that was out on the skinny typical Parisian street.


So what did I do, I walked! and walked, and walked!  Wow, I saw a lot of the same things that I've scene before but in a way that helped me connect things to each other.  There were many times that I was just randomly walking around and all of a sudden I would know where I was.  Then I saw some other things as well that I haven't scene before, so that was nice as well.  My feet hurt so so bad at the end of the day but it was well worth it.  Here are all of my Paris pictures from this past weekend.


The next day I went to le château de Versailles which is another place I've been wanting to see.  I liked it, but there were way way way too many people there, OMG, terrible!  I got there at 8:20 or so (the place opened at 9) I wanted to make sure I had my ticket in time for the opening (I did not buy in advance because I did not know what day I wanted to go.  Well, the ticket office also did not open until exactly 9.  I was so pissed, I was first in line to buy a ticket, but the line to get in kept getting longer and longer.  By the time I had my ticket the line to get in was zigzagging at least 3 times and I would have had to have stood there for probably at least 1 1/2 hours.  I was not having that.  Luckily I overheard some people talking about a tour that you could take that would let you skip the line for an extra €7 (I had already paid €25).  Whatever, I took the tour, no way was I waiting in the line.  Turned out to be a good thing.  Got to actually go into a bunch of rooms that the other people could only look into.  Got some good pictures then went out to see the gardens they were huge.  The fountains were not on so I walked over to see the canal some of the grounds, and the other palaces.  It was impossible to see everything, there was just too much, I probably did more walking this day that I did in Paris the day before.  Finally 3:30 came and all the fountains were on until 5:00.  It took me just about that long to make it around to all of them...beautiful.  Finally at the end they ran the huge fountain for 10 minutes between 5:20 and 5:30, glad I waited to see it.  At that point, my feet hurt so bad, it literally felt like the skin was ready to rip in half at any minute.  Was time to go back.  Here are my pictures from the day.


At the RER station (RER is a commuter train in the Paris area) the line to get return tickets was out the door.  People were flipping out after having to wait in lines all day at Versailles.  I just laughed, used my prepaid ticket and went in front of the whole line.  There were so many people crammed into about the first 10 cars of the train, I just kept walking and walking, and then got in, I had a whole car to myself...stupid tourists!  :-)


After that, I had dinner in Paris, went back to my room and that was it!  I could not walk another step.  But no problem, I got to use that awesome little Parisian balcony of mine for some reading.


Great two days.  I love Paris.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Finally Acknowledged

Okay, haven't had a Dutch post in a while so here we go...
Don't worry, it's a good one!

Wow, I had quite a surprise today at work.  As you may already know from previous entries, I use Dutch all the time at work, almost always in meetings with my boss, with venders, people around the office, phone calls, and email.  That in itself is something that I am proud of, but there has always been a few people that always refuse to speak Dutch to me.  It used to bother me a lot, but in the last few months, I really stopped caring, thinking, I speak in English too, so who cares?  One of these people was my boss's boss.

Last week we had a conference call and he asked me if Dutch would be okay, I said yes of course, but there ended up being someone else from England who joined the call so we had it in English.  He did make a comment though stating something like "o we can't fool Nick anymore, he's been here long enough know and knows Dutch."  I was thinking to myself "huh?" "then why don't you ever use it with me??"

Well today two Dutch people came in for a meeting with him and I.  There were no questions asked, my boss's boss just started in Dutch and did the whole thing that way.  Normally this would not be such a big deal to me anymore because it's something that I do often now except for the fact that it was coming from him.  I was thinking wow, finally!!  Then after the two other guys left he came in my room and continued in Dutch discussing the meeting with me.  I almost fell over...  I was happy though.

One person down, now only one more to convince at work, but I think he is starting to break, especially since I am kinda blatantly using English around him now.  Talk to everyone around him in Dutch then to him in English, two can play at this game!  haha

After him, and outside of work, there is one more person that I would at least like to acknowledge my efforts.  But for right now, I guess that's not so important.

Fwd: AutoResponse

Could you imagine responding to your customers like this at work?  I don't know how these people can get away with it.  I would get fired if I waited 10 days to answer emails.

Begin doorgestuurd bericht:

Van: "+Priority Club Service Center \(EMEA\)" <priorityclubEMEA@ihg.com>
Onderwerp: AutoResponse
Datum: 16 juli 2012 20:45:31 GMT+02:00
Aan: "Nick Ferrara" <xxx@xxx.com>

Message

Thank you for your email. Due to high email volume, we are unable to attend to your concern immediately. We will respond to your email within 10 days. If you need immediate assistance, you may contact our office by clicking the following link: http://www.priorityclub.com/rewards/us/en/customer-care/contact-us


Monday, July 2, 2012

Walking through the Dunes



Today I got the chance to walk through the dunes in Zandvoort and Bloamendaal like I've been wanting to.  Nice!  I was going to go to the gym, then I looked at the weather, it was going to be a prefect evening and then rain the rest of the week.  I could not pass up the opportunity to do something a bit more exciting and outdoors than the gym....

Side note:
Sometimes I need to stop making sure I go to the gym all the time no matter what, I can miss out on good opportunities like I got to have tonight.  There are other ways to get exercises than just in the gym.  While this of course does not mean I am going to stop going (I still like to go) I am just going to start being more open to other opportunities for exercise when the weather permits.

I took the bus to Bloemendaal and just started walking .  I hit a couple of dead ends and also ended up in a bunch of campsites (wow, by the way, these campsites had there own grocery stores!)  but then I figured out the heading towards Zandvoort had the better places.  I made it onto a paved path and started going through the dunes.  Really cool.  So many wild flowers (great smells everywhere) and the were rabbits everywhere running around.  Then I came to a path that you can take with a sand walk that went all up and down through the dunes and with no one else (except for rabbits) around.  Really nice to just walk through there listening to your iPod and just taking in the sights.

Ended up exiting in Zandvoort somewhere in a residential area.  Was a bit lost for a while (but that is part of the fun of these excisions that I go on) but then I found my way back to the main part of the city and got a bus back home.

Nice way to spend the night.

By the way.  I've been home now for about an hour and the sun is still out! :-)

For pictures from tonight, be sure to see my Holland Album:

Holland Sites

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Good Day in Scheveningen and Den Haag






Today was a last minute decision after I got back from the gym this morning to finally go check out Scheveningen which is the (famous) beach town right outside of Den Haag.  It was a great day so I figured, why not?  I WhatsApped Sammy and he ever said he would join me there.

So I hopped on the train, grabbed an ov-fiets (rental bike) and I was there pretty quickly.  So...this beach was way better than Zandvoort and Bloemendaal.  The absolute coolest part though was the Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel!  Wow, just so old timey and beautiful:


Sammy and I walked around a bit since it was my first time, walked down the pier and were thinking about doing the bungy jumping, but not for €70!  Walked around a bit, had a few beers they he left.  I wandered around some more, took some other puctures, then biked back to Den Haag and wandered around there for a bit.  Happened to run into Sammy again(!) so sat and had a few more beers with him and a friend of his.  After that, it looked like rain so was time to head back.  Altogether, was a nice day.

As usual, all of my Holland pics, most recent at the top:

Holland Sites