Archive for June, 2017

My Pit Girlfriend

June 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Harry Potter in Heathrow Airport

June 22, 2017 1 comment

Graduation, Dutch Style

June 21, 2017 Leave a comment

When someone in the Netherlands graduates from high school, the family puts out the country’s flag and hangs a backpack from it. 

I assume the backpack is what the student was using during school. 

A Happy Piper

June 17, 2017 Leave a comment

24 Hours in Paris

June 15, 2017 Leave a comment

We are in town for a big tech conference but now it is time to walk around the city a bit. There seem to be far more cars in the city versus Amsterdam! 

Our New Rides: Transport Bicycles

June 12, 2017 2 comments

After testing at least a dozen or more different bicycles over the weekend, we both found new bikes for our Amsterdam lifestyle. I was hoping for used ones, but none fit very well and used bikes here are pretty beat. Of the 6 or so brands we tried, one was a Giant and I saw a Trek, but otherwise they were Dutch bicycles.

As it turns out, I really prefer being able to easily step off the bike without having to swing my leg over the bike. Lots of guys in Amsterdam have figured that out too, even though the style is called “omafiets” (grandma bike). However, I found that most bikes have a very short reach, which was the only thing I disliked about them. Then I discovered one that has a bit longer reach, and the style is called “moederfiets”. That’s because it is designed to allow for a kid to ride between the seat and handle bars, so your arms can go around the kid and he/she isn’t pushed right up against your chest.

Yes, “moederfiets” means “mommy bike”; I ride a bike meant for moms with 1 to 3 toddlers since there is room on the front, middle and back of the bike for child seats. If it gets fitted with child seats, it would weigh 29 kilos (64 pounds)! So without child seats, it’s less than that, but still heavy. It is the most comfortable thing to cruise on that I’ve ever experienced.

The salesman at the store we bought the bikes at referred to them as tanks and battle ships, in both their style and weight. It wasn’t meant as derogatory, just factual. I hope I don’t find a hill to climb with these! Oddly enough, the salesman is also the father of the woman teaching our Dutch course.

Lorie’s bike has pedal brakes (coaster brakes), but mine are disc brakes on the front and back. Both are 3-speeds and made by BSP and come with the front and rear racks, plus a headlight and tail light. Mine is the “La Scala” in “jeans blue mat” color and Lorie’s is the “Metropolis” in “industrial grey mat”. Her’s is only 18.5 kilos (about 41 pounds). Notice the double legged kick-stand and the lock mechanism to keep the front wheel straight when parked or pushing it with a heavy load. These things are designed to carry a load, but we like them for how comfortable they are and we can hit any cobblestone and keep going.

NL Beach Trip

June 12, 2017 Leave a comment

We finally took the Volvo with its new license plate for a little road trip. About 45 minutes from Amsterdam is a huge beach that people had told us about, so we decided it was time. Some interesting things were the rows of beach huts, which we assume are private, a set of restaurants and shops, including the little ice cream stand pictured, and countless shells of some sort. They looked like long, skinny clam shells.

First Bicycle Ride in Amsterdam

June 11, 2017 Leave a comment

We rented bicycles on Saturday and had our first experience of riding around the city. We picked them up Friday afternoon, which started out pouring rain, so we had umbrellas and rain jackets, but later it got nice and warm. So in the photo, Lorie is in front of me wearing her rain jacket and a waterproof bag. I have the umbrellas strapped to the handle bars. Then Saturday, we took a lesson with a guy so we could get tips on the bicycle crossings, rules of the road and other details that are new to us when riding here versus the US.

Basically, bicycles rule the road even though they have their own lane. They even have their own stop lights, but they go with the flow of the car traffic which is often a little separate from the cars and foot traffic.

First bike ride in Amsterdam

Bicycles of Amsterdam: My Style

I seem to prefer the solid and sturdy utilitarian style. These are all single speed, pedal brakes, and can carry a load. When we get around to buying bikes, I’d like to have a rack on the front and back that can carry groceries or people (the 2 on the right). There are no flimsy bike racks here, they can all support an adult for those times when you need to give a friend a ride home.

The white one (bottom left corner) has the added benefit of having a built-in lock that comes out of the frame so you can lock the bike to something, in addition to the wheel lock.

Bicycles of Amsterdam: The Bike Lock

June 8, 2017 2 comments

All bikes seem to come with the wheel lock. When it is unlocked, your keys are attached to it. I’ve heard that the police will not be very happy with you if your bike is stolen and your keys went with it. Same with insurance companies. Most people also have a lock to attach the bike to something immobile too. 

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