Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snow in October

I know it is almost November, but it is still October. It is not a joke. You can't see 10 feet from you as it is so heart and wet snow.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Back Hone and...

Back in NYC for the weekend. Sukiyaki bowl with Natto rice. I feel I am home. Someone was looking at me like, what on earth you are eating, but I didn't care as I was happy.
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Many Languages?

I guess it is typical products in Europe, but not this many. English, French, German, Portuguese,... I now know Europe is not one country even some company tries to business in the European market in a similar manner to the US.
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Walking Around Amsterdam

It turned out to be a great weekend weather wise. I decided to go to Amsterdam. It was a great decision, even though it is already pretty chilly and you need a jacket and scarf.
I was not quite sure where I was but there were boats for sightseeing. Usually it costs about 15 euro for 90 minutes tour or so, and I wonder how the view is different from the one from the eye level.
I heard about it but did not know it exists. Yes it does. There were several floating houses on the canal - very similar to the ones in Seattle. Every one looks similar structure - one story obviously and 2 rooms or so.
Wanted to do some shopping, which I ended up not buying anything, at the shopping district where you find all high-end stores. Some of them were closed as it is Sunday while majority of them were opened. This means I can come back here any weekends if there is nothing else to do.
Close to this district, there is a big park, I guess it is like central park for new yorkers. I don't know why but the trees here don't change their colors that much but the leaves just die. Not pretty...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day Trip to Antwerpen Belgium

It was a nice sunny day so I decided to drive - and the destination was Antwerpen in Belgium, which is just about 100 miles away (south) and it took just about 100 minutes.
The first thing I visited was this castle... I don't know the history well, but it seems it was occupied by Roman at some point and there are many status of showing how big these people were.
This is the main reason I came down all the way here today - the church where main characters in the animation in Japan died, which I don't quite remember. I think this is a beautiful church but it seems only Japanese know about the story.
This is the inside of the church. There were many famous paintings, and one of which was the one the characters saw at the end of the story - sorry no picture as I did not go inside of the church.
Next to the church, there is the city hall, which has obviously Belgium's flag along with EU's one. It gives you more European feeling than Amsterdam/Haarlem at least for me.
In front of the city hall, there is a famous water fountain. If you look at closely you can see the water is actually coming from some of the body parts, e.g. from the wrist at the top.
After some sightseeing, I was ready for good food, which was actually the main reason why I came to Belgium. It is konwn that Belgium is famous for food, while the Netherlands is famous for not-good food. I did not do any research on the restaurants, but I found this nice French restaurants, Alaville, several blocks away from main attractions. Glass of red wine was nice with this chicken dish which came with a lot of root vegetables. It was so worth the trip down here.
On the way back when I was waiting for the traffic right to change, I noticed the red is not circle but HART shape. How cute this could be. I didn't see at any other places so I guess this was the only place?
I will come back to Antwerpen or at least to Belgium during my stay in the Netherlands, for food and chocolates. I bought 500g of high-end chocolate, which I asked at the information booth, and it costs only 10 euro... Really cheap.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mansion Tour

We visited one of the mansions in NYC as it was an open house weekend. This is no longer occupied but it had a lot of furniture they could have used. This was in one of their bedrooms. There was no plumbing so this was how they did the business at that time.
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Saturday, October 15, 2011


Back in NYC this weekend. It got a bit chilly so we decided to do nabe, Japanese pot dish. We have not cooked Chanko before but it came out pretty nice. A few types of fish and chicken meat balls. Nice to have home cooked meal after being away for a while.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday in Amsterdam

Finally I decided to go to Amsterdam. There are trains from Haarlem every 10 minutes or so and it takes about 20 minutes. This is the central station in Amsterdam. In front of the station, there are several boats for tour on the canals (no picture, sorry).
I took a tram to the museum as it was rainy (it should be about 20 or 30 minutes walk). There were many people still waking the city for sightseeing with/without umbrella. BTW, you might be able to see "I Amsterdam" sign way back.
I guess I did not mention which museum I went. Of course Van Gogh, what else, right? There were about 30 people waiting at the entrance, which was not too bad. In side, there were a lot of people.
There are three floors and the 2nd floor was a special exhibition area - how Japanese culture and paints (Ukiyoe) influenced European arts and specially him. You might know at least a few prints he copied Japanese paints.
After spending a couple of hours appreciating his art, I went downstairs to have lunch at the cafeteria. For some reason I think I saw the TV show featuring their cafeteria, and it was not too bad (at least not too expensive). Egg salad sandwich (egg is a big thing here as my hotel carries boiled egg every day), and their apple cake (like apple pie).
On the way back, I sneaked at the flower market located in between the museum and the station. I can imagine that it would be very nice during the summer, or at least if it was a sunny day.
Overall, I am so glad I got out the hotel and Haarlem today. It was more exciting and I needed some sort of change on how I spend the weekend here in the Netherlands. But again I am not sure I will come back here before my stay in the Netherlands ends in a couple of months (yes, I will be here for a WHILE).

Saturday, October 8, 2011


To burn SOME of the calories, I went for a jog. I have not gone to another section of the park in front of the hotel, but this time I ran further, and there were several wild deer. Who knew.
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Food, Food and Food

Finally it is Saturday after another long working week.
I started the day with a hotel breakfast, which has a variety of breads, cold cuts, cheeses, fruits, and today's choice was these. I try not to eat that much meat but smoked salmon which is good for the body.
After reading the paper at the room (it sounds cool, right?), I decided to take a walk to the center of Haarlem (I thought I would finally go to Amsterdam, but it is not super sunny day, so decided not to). First stop was local pastry store, where I bought this banana cream puff. It is like banana cream pie in the puff form. Very nice whipped heavy cream, which I really wanted. I even did not ask them to wrap it and I ate it with my fingers (with a lot of licking).
Next stop (this case I did not eat anything) was this pop up deep fried sweets store, selling interesting shaped donuts.  I am sure I will try it before it disappears but today was not the day.
Fish is very popular here, and at the market held on Saturdays in the city center, there are a few shops selling fresh seafood and fried ones you can eat right there. I had one of fried fish just came out of the hot oil. Mild white fish and it couldn't go wrong.
There was a very familiar shop at the market selling several types of cream cheese based spreads and bread with whole. I asked the person selling them and he said it is originally from Greek. I was telling him that I am from NYC and we have very similar thing, bagel, which I am not sure he knew or not. I have not tasted it yet (maybe my dinner or mid-night snack), but I am guessing it is like bagel without chewiness.
I heard from coworker the other day that there is a famous baked good in Haarlem (or Amsterdam). It is like ice cream waffle with caramel sauce in between. It was still warm and moist  as they were cooking in the shop and tasty. I wish I could had it with a nice cup of coffee though.
There were a few interesting shops at another market on the way back - fish store and the store only selling root vegetables (potatoes and carrots mainly). I have never seen a store specializing only these without selling other vegetables.

It was a very nice day even though there were showers every 30 minutes but sun came out after the shower every time. Very interesting weather patter here as well.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Traditional Outfit

A shot at one of the surveyor stores. Girls were wearing very animation like outfit. Kind of cute though.
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lazy Sunday in the Park

Debated if I should go Amsterdam or just stick with Haarlem. Obviously I did not go to Amsterdam. Usually shops are closed on Sundays but for some reason,they are open today. Many people are enjoying the day like this outside.
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Good Start

It is always like this in Haarlem. Very foggy in the morning even it's a sunny day. It's like San Francisco. A view from the hotel room which has a small terrace. A park is in front of the building so it is actually very nice. I should go for a jog.
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Saturday, October 1, 2011


Finally it is Saturday after a long week of work (and a flight from NYC last Sunday night).
For some reason, I woke up early as usual, while I was hoping I could sleep till mid-day.
As we are sharing a car among three people, I got a car today this weekend, so why not go for a drive as it is a very nice weather (warm and sunny)

I wanted to see famous windmills while the weather is still warm (before the winter comes), so I decided to drive to the town, which is just 15 miles away. Did you know it has canvas on each wing? I don't think it is in use anymore, but it is really cool to see the real thing in person so close.
It is one of the most visited places in Amsterdam, so there are a lot of tourists - no Japanese but a lot of Koreans and Chinese, of course.
They area many sheep and they do make cheese (I am not sure they do make THERE) and they displayed the facility in the building where you can buy them too.
Of course there are famous wooden shoes. There was a museum of the history and a store next to it. Look at a variety of shoes. It looks there are traditional ones through modern looking ones, even though the shape is all same.
Who can forget about the food. As the Netherlands is surrounded by the ocean (if it is not ocean, at least by water), there are a lot of seafood places selling fresh seafood and cooked (mainly fried) fish. Flounder seems very nice, and I will try it sometime, but not yet.