Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sinterklaas is coming to town

Sinterklaas arrives in Amsterdam

Sinterklaas is pronounced almost exactly like Santa Claus and the two are very closely related. Sinterklaas is a shortening of Sint Nicolaas — you know, jolly old Saint Nicolas. You can read more about him in this Wikipedia article. Anyway, he’s arriving in Amsterdam by boat this morning, and there will be a parade this afternoon. It’s a very big deal here, and boats have been going by us all morning with children on their way to meet him.

This is also Zelma’s first birthday (she's the baby on Dandelion), so happy birthday, Z!

John and Zelma’s dad, Andrew, have been doing their part this past week to help with the Dutch Sinterklaas celebration. One of the canal boats at the marina needed to have some work done to get it running for today. With Sjoerd acting as their agent, the guys took care of everything. And our big outing of the week was a trip to the chandlery for parts and supplies.

At the end of last week, I also got to spend a few hours with my friend Marike. She was coming to the city to visit a Chinese store and get some CDs for her Qigong exercises and invited me to join her. We had a wonderful time. One of the stores we visited looks like a great source for kitchen implements and spices. I’m planning to take John there sometime since he’s in charge of the galley.

We also visited the farmers’ market at Nieuwmarkt. It was much less crowded than the one by us, which was nice, but what made it really special was that Marike knows a couple of the vendors and introduced me. I was especially impressed to meet a real Dutch farmer and get a close look at some of his produce. There were several root vegetables I’d never heard of like parsley root and black salsify. After looking it up on Google, I think salsify sounds tasty, and maybe we’ll try it one of these days. It certainly didn’t look very appetizing, but it seemed quite popular.

De Waag

To top off the outing, Marike treated me to lunch at a nice restaurant called CafĂ© in de Waag. We might meet Marike’s sister Gemma there one of these days. I hope so because I’d like to see her again too. One other thing is that we spoke Dutch the whole time, except for a couple of times when I lapsed briefly into English.

Photo credits: Sinterklaas came from Intelligent Travel from National Geographic Traveler, a pretty cool looking blog, but the photo credit belongs to the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Marketing. De Waag came from a Picassa photo album owned by BH. I left a note of thanks for BH, who seems to have traveled to many of the places we've also visited.

No comments: