Near Central Station they are currently working on revamping a new building. This of course means half of the path being blocked off and unusable to commuters and locals for months. Of course, I’m exaggerating a little bit. Of course, they do provide little windows of sorts to see what its going on on the other side…
The words above the image say “Curious? Take a quick peek behind the walls!”
Of course, I did not take a picture of what was actually behind the wall, but I am sure you can guess what it looked like. :)
One of the more amusing things that we did in the Dutch course a few nights ago was look at headlines that might have double meanings:
With headlines like this:
Nieuwe baas Douwe Egberts komt van Mars = The new boss for Douwe Egberts [coffee company] comes from Mars… but they mean Mars incorporated, the candy/etc seller, not the planet. I hope.
Verkeer van Druten naar Nijmegen moet 3 dagen omrijden = Traffic from Druten to Nijmegen must detour for three days. What they actually mean is that the need for a detour will last three days – the Netherlands is definitely not big enough for a three day detour!
Eikels beschadigen auto’s in Hoog-Keppel = Eikels has two meanings in Dutch. The first, and what they mean here, is acorns. But it is also slang for the derogatory term ‘prick’ – which also makes sense in this context, though you’d never see it in a headline.
We also talked a bit more about the term “lekker” and the various ways it can be used. It is at times a hard concept to grasp for the non-Dutch. The easiest way is to use the term is with food, to say that the food is tasty (lekker).
But you can also use it with temperature or weather – Het is lekker warm buiten, with smells – Dat ruikt lekker. - with sounds – De gitaar klinkt lekker, and more. You can even use it sarcastically: Dat is lekker belangrijk (That is really important – but not really). Or Hij is lekker laat. He is late. Or the oddest of them all: Het stinkt lekker! Since things stink (but some people still like the smell).
Next week is herfstvakantie (fall vacation) so I will have a week off.
So… as I mentioned a few weeks back, I registered for a B2-C1 course. Originally I had registered for a course which focused only on the speaking component but that fell through, so I am now registered for a full B2-C1 course (speaking, writing, reading and listening).
It’s… interesting. I have been to two lessons so far (hence the blog post title). Het huiswerk? Daar had ik echt geen zin in! The homework? I had absolutely no desire to do that. But the second week seemed better, and more like a routine again.
You can tell that it is an advanced course – the emphasis is more on “the little things”. I learned a new term from our textbook Hogerop! De puntjes op de i – the term is prosodie (English | Dutch wikipedia). It’s the study of rhythm, stress and intonation of speech. How does it sound to your ear? Does it sound like a native speaker is talking? An example is using contractions like a true speaker would — ‘k instead of ik, ‘m instead of hem, and similar. Much like English would say “I wouldn’t do that” instead of “I would not do that” which sounds less natural.
There’s also an emphasis on uitdrukkingen or fixed expressions, like met een mond vol tanden staan, or ‘with a mouthful of teeth’ = not able to say anything.
So – it’s a class to round out the edges and refine your language skills. Officially it ends in early December, but I found out during the last lesson that that this is technically only half of the B2-C1 course, and that the other half is offered in the Spring. Hmmm. We’ll have to see what happens!
Over the weekend Marco and I were able to get a photo of a kitten. This was a remarkably calm cat who allowed us to come within a few feet of him (we had to walk past) and didn’t mind having his photograph taken.
Marco and I went out today for a cup of coffee, eventually ending up at the Buitenhof plein. The main reason for doing it today was that the temperature will drop after some rain tonight – and that marks the end of summer. Although I guess we should be glad we made it to October with 20c/68f days!
Of course with the beginning of autumn, you get to look forward to the upcoming holiday season. Unfortunately Halloween (English | Dutch wikipedia) isn’t as big here as it is in America (although it is growing in popularity).
And the changing leaves, and the crispness of the air…
But still, I am going to miss being able to have a cup of coffee outside.
A few days ago I came across another opportunity to do a sand-related post! The Hague has been celebrating Prinsjesdag this summer. One way they have been doing this is by creating a temporary sand art tourist attraction (read more in Dutch). This is quite similar to the photos I was able to grab in 2010 while here on vacation.
This year there were three sculptures done:
a sculpture capturing the arrival (“aankomst”) of William I in Scheveningen in 1813.
a sculpture of Willem I, with the older look on the left and a slightly more modern full body view on the right
sand sculpture about Prinsjesdag 2014, with the golden carriage in the front and the modern skyline of The Hague behind (words below are “200 jaar koninkrijk” or a celebration of the Netherlands being a kingdom for 200 years).
a sideways look at all three sculptures together
Yesterday I went out to eat with some friends to celebrate getting my NT2 programma II diploma. My taalcoach (language coach – from SamenSpraak) arrived with some gifts. There were three of them. One book about Dutch language (puzzles to help you learn the language), one 2015 daily calendar from Onze Taal (“Our Language”) and a third wrapped gift that was weirdly heavy.
Weird but cool! I got kinetic sand. Check out this YouTube video.
Looks like ordinary sand in the photo, no? Not quite. The sand particles only stick to themselves, which mans that it moves in clumps rather than separately. It looks really cool. Marco has already started playing with it a bit. Here was his first attempt:
And check out this picture to see how it moves together:
Note the pictures above show only half of the sand we were given; it was easier to keep the amount smaller to test what it looks like.
And finally, an image from the official website:
Unfortunately the vacation is now over. But I did come away with some nice photographs! We visited two Dutch cities – Arnhem and Maastricht. One of the places we visited in Maastricht was the caves of St. Pieter – the north caves to be exact. These caves were dug out to extract the limestone (or marl). At its largest it used to have 20,000 corridors and measured 230km. Now it measures about 80km.
Interestingly the first corridors were short enough that most adults would have to crouch to make their way through. As time went on and more limestone was needed, the floor itself was dug out, creating tall corridors that were easily 4-5 meters tall in some places. The guide also showed us ruts in the wall at some corners. The most efficient way to transport the limestone out was by cart and horse and horses tend to take the shortest way possible, which meant that they would push the wheels of the cart against the wall, creating the ruts.
The best part of the tour was when the tour guide asked us if we wanted to walk a bit of the caves in complete darkness. About 30 meters – this stretch had no turns on the left side for you to lose yourself, so all you had to do was keep your left hand on the wall and walk carefully/slowly. Note that this was an option – those who did not want to partake went on ahead with the lanterns and waited for us to arrive. It was incredible (and I humbly admit this was because it was in a controlled environment). I was nervous at a few points though!
Here are some photos of the drawings. Note that these were done in charcoal as that was the only medium that would not decay in this damp, cold environment (10c/50f year round).
When Marco and I returned home last night from our vacation, we found a note on a paper bag from Roger. He had left two slices of chocolate cheesecake in the fridge. Double chocolate chip cheesecake to be precise – one of the the three flavors we had at our wedding reception, along with strawberry and cappuccino. Marco and I also had some Prosecco in the fridge. That was the welkomstdrankje (welcome drink) at the wedding reception.
So – reliving memories one year later!
The cheesecake was from the Cheesecake Company in The Hague. I highly recommend it (and mention it frequently).
A year ago today Marco and I were married.
This morning he surprised me with this:
These were the wedding favors we handed out during the reception that night. :)