Marco&Niki

A day out (Or: Hoog Catharijne mall in Utrecht)

A few weeks ago Marco and I went to Utrecht for half a day. It’s about a 45 minute train ride – when the trains ride properly anyway. There were some issues that day, so I think it took about an hour and a half to get there. Opps! It’s a city in the middle of the Netherlands with about 350,000 residents.

The main reason for this trip was to visit the Hoog Catharijne mall, which has probably been under renovation for years. At least it seemed that way. I don’t think it is completely done, but the parts that are done look really good. Check it out:

The area between the mall (pictured) and the station (behind us) is semi-covered by the artistic roof above, although Marco says it doesn’t help 100% when it rains on a windy day. Ha!
Inside the mall – looking down on one of the wings. The pretty big for Dutch standards (about 42,000 square meters) but American malls are generally larger.

And just outside the mall in one of the canals is a piece of art: a whale made of plastic. Of course, a statement on plastic in the oceans.

And a close-up look at the whale from the front:

In the background you can see the mall

It’s a nice day trip, especially when you a combine it with a tour of the older parts of the city (which we did a few years back).

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Categories: Marco&Niki, Shopping, Utrecht | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Sweet store displays (Or: Valentine’s Day by Hema)

❤ Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

Valentine’s Day display at Hema in The Hague

Marco and I exchanged Valentine’s Day gifts this morning. He got me a small bottle of cava (a Spanish sparking wine), a bag of Haribo gummy bears and a chocolate rose. ❤

I got him Winter-in-lov, a chocolate and rooibos tea, with additional spices like cinnamon, ginger and licorice. If you like tea with chocolate notes, I can highly recommend it.

Categories: Holidays, Marco&Niki | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Making oliebollen with Marco (Or: Yummy!)

We interrupt this blog post to say: Happy birthday, mom!

Here’s a look back at our oliebollen making attempts this year. (Quick recap: oliebollen literally translates to “balls of oil” and are sort of like doughnuts, usually with raisins found inside. They are a traditional New Year’s Eve treat for Dutchies.)

First, a look at the batter. Doesn’t look like much yet! Or it kind of looks like we are making chocolate chip cookies… But it still needs to be allowed to rise for about 45 minutes, too.

the oliebollen batter. We just used a mix from a box (Koopmans brand)

To make the experience a bit easier this year we bought an oliebollentang from Albert Heijn. It’s really just a glorified ice cream scoop. We also tried wetting the scoop in oil between each oliebol. It was still trial and error, but we finally learned the best trick for us was to use a large spoon to grab the batter, and then carefully place it into the oliebollen scoop, and finally put the scoop into the oil, releasing the batter under the oil so that it would come off (a bit) easier.

Time to fry them up! My favorite part is when the oliebollens start flipping on their own. Doesn’t always happen, but sometimes.

This is where I’ll say Marco did most of the work. I was supposed to be keeping time with my iPhone, but I kept forgetting. I did clean the utensils between each use, though!

They are already looking a lot like oliebollen. You only need to keep them in the oil for 3-4 minutes, but they should be flipped once to make sure both sides are evenly cooked.

Yum!

And the finished product, with a fair heaping of powdered sugar on top.

Categories: Food, Holidays, Marco&Niki | Tags: , | 4 Comments

5th wedding anniversary (Or: A trip to Breda)

My oh my, how time flies. It’s been five years since Marco and I got married! This year we went to Breda for a few days. Marco chose the location and hotel secretly. I must say – he chose well!

Breda is a city relatively close to the border with Belgium, with about 180,00 inhabitants. The only times I had been there was to transfer from one train to another, so it was new to me.

We stayed at the lovely Bliss Boutique hotel in the city centre. I can highly recommend it! Marco booked through booking.com, and thus didn’t have a chance to select a specific suite. However, it worked out wonderfully as we were placed in the Long Island suite.

It was perfect for us, as it comes with a separate sitting area (pictured below), an eating area, a king-size bed, a bath and double shower… the list goes on and on. The location was also great, being right next to the Grote Kerk (Church of Our Lady) in the heart of the city.

We also got complimentary prosecco and chocolates upon arrival, a welcome surprise as we hadn’t mentioned anything about it being our anniversary!

Bliss Boutique hotel, Long Island Suite, Breda

sitting area

Window at Bliss Boutique hotel, Long Island Suite, Breda

Yes, there was even a wooden boat hanging from the ceiling. And beautiful windows which let the gorgeous sky in…

While walking to the hotel, we went through Valkenburg park. It was beautiful, and luckily we had gorgeous weather for the mini-trip. We were in Breda from Tuesday to Thursday last week. Thursday was coincidentally the last day of summer-like weather in the Netherlands. Friday the weather suddenly changed and brought cold, wind and rain. We didn’t even need our jackets while in Breda. So much good luck there!

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After four years (Or: Pearl Jam back in the Netherlands)

This week shall officially be dubbed as ‘Pearl Jam week’ as they had three shows in the Netherlands. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ziggo dome and Saturday at Pinkpop, a huge outdoors festival. The last time they visited was four years ago, which I was a bit shocked by.

Pearl Jam in the Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, June 12 2018

The first night four of us went: Marco, myself, Roger and my mother-in-law. We had fan club tickets, specifically standing tickets, which meant we could go in a half hour before everyone else. It does have the downside that you need to pick up your tickets the day of at the box office as you are required to show an ID, though.

We arrived around 2:30. Let’s just say the line for getting the tickets was over an hour and the line for merchandise was about an hour and a half… So we did some divide and conquer: Roger and Marco got the tickets, while my mother-in-law and I got the merchandise – posters. There are unique posters for each Pearl Jam concert (Marco and Roger got them all).

Tuesday’s poster | Wednesday’s poster | Saturday’s poster

Marco also picked up a new ‘Safe travels‘ keychain, to replace the one he got about ten years ago.

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Categories: Friends&Family, Marco&Niki | Tags: | 4 Comments

5 years in the Netherlands (Or: Wow!)

Today marks five years to the day since I arrived in the Netherlands. It is amazing how time files… Yesterday was otherwise a very typical December day:

  1. We visited the Christmas Fair at the Lange Voorhout
  2. We went grocery shopping at the local Albert Heijn (this one being of the “XL” variety over on Elandstraat)
  3. We baked cookies (see below)
  4. We started working on Christmas cards… we are really behind on the international cards this year!

To mark the occasion of “five years in the Netherlands” I made lemon cookies. You can find the recipe in Dutch over at OhMyFoodness. It’s one of my favorite recipes to make. The cookies turn out very lemony and chewy – just the way I like it!

A plate full of lemon cookies

Five years! I couldn’t bake five years ago if my life depended on it…

Categories: Food, Holidays, Marco&Niki | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Eye-catching (Or: Photos from Amsterdam)

As mentioned in my previous blog post, Marco and I were in Amsterdam last week to celebrate our four year wedding anniversary. And I have more photos to share! Here is a look at the EYE Film Museum, taken from across the river IJ.

EYE Film museum in Amsterdam, from across the river, Sept 2017

It is the national museum of film, containing over 40,000 films, from classics to modern film. Their website states that there are four cinemas, an exhibition space, a floor reserved for educational activities, a store and a bar-restaurant. They also host film-related programs and debates.

Royal Palace in Amsterdam, Sept 2017

A look at the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, also in the heart of the city

Royal Palace Amsterdam - other side, Sept 2017

The lesser photographed “back side” of the building, including a 6 meter tall statue of Atlas carrying the globe on his shoulders

What are you reading board in American Book Center in Amsterdam, Sept 2017

And finally, the “What are you reading?” board in the American Book Center.

What am I reading right now? Open kaart, by Brenno de Winter. It’s a book about the OV-chipkaart system in the Netherlands, or the card used to travel on public transportation throughout the country. Specifically the book covers the historical security issues as detailed on Wikipedia, mostly related to how easy the card was to hack in the beginning. It sounds dry but it is a fun read… if you’re into that sort of thing, of course!

Categories: Amsterdam, Marco&Niki, Reading | Tags: | Leave a comment

Beurspassage in Amsterdam (Or: A beautiful shortcut)

Earlier this week Marco and I were in Amsterdam to celebrate our wedding anniversary (four years!). One of the places we visited was the Beurspassage, a small passage which connects two well-known Amsterdam streets (Damrak and Nieuwendijk). The passage itself is only a 5 minute walk from the central station. The top and sides are covered in art – including a giant fish!

Beurspassage in Amsterdam - fish sculpture - Sept 2017

A giant fish, just like I said!

Beurspassage in Amsterdam, Sept 2017

Towards Nieuwendijk

Beurspassage in Amsterdam 2, Sept 2017

Towards Damrak

Beurspassage in Amsterdam, Primark entrance, Sept 2017

Giant green shoes hang on the wall by Primark…

The only thing I would have wanted was that it was longer. But it was very pretty nonetheless!

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Hot and cold (Or: Brownie, ice cream and coffee!)

Ice cream, coffee and a brownie!Work is insanely busy these days! But here is a photo of:

  • Coffee! Yum.
  • Brownie. Handmade by Marco.
  • Vanilla ice cream. Also handmade by Marco!

That’s right – guess who got an ice cream machine for his birthday! Lekker! 

Categories: Food, Marco&Niki | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A burst of color (Or: Homemade pizza)

Friday night after work Marco made homemade pizza. With three types of paprika (bell peppers), onions, two types of cheese and jalapeños. On the left side you have sun-dried tomatoes while on the right side you have ham. Lekker!

Home made pizza - half ham, half sundried tomatoes

Categories: Food, Marco&Niki | 2 Comments

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