one more holland post: herring

I get asked a lot of questions through this blog (what’s it like being married to a medical student, whether or not I know Minnesota gets cold…) but by far the question I am asked the most is what do you look like while eating raw herring?

Well, I finally have an answer for you.

Obviously I wasn’t impressed. I did, however, have several delicious meals while in Amsterdam. If you need recommendations, hit up Liz. She is consistent. Our favorites from her list:

And here’s a video…set to a breakup song. But at least it’s an upbeat breakup song that mentions Amsterdam!


In Amsterdam, we took a self-guided walking tour of the Red Light District. Maybe because I have an idealized view of Europe–and everything is just so much older over there– I was kind of expecting the prostitutes to look like they stepped out of Moulin Rouge, wearing corsets and bright red lipstick.

Instead, the girls looked plucked directly out of Tigerland (a collection of slightly trashy bars off of LSU’s campus) and looked bored. They sat on stools, staring off into space and eating sandwiches or distractedly texting on their smartphones. Needless to say, It wasn’t quite as glamorous as I expected.

But that 30 minute walk was the only disappointing part of Amsterdam ( and to be honest, it wasn’t that disappointing… I had an amazing waffle with nutella and banana).  


Weekend lessons v. 4

01. If you put in enough time as the significant other of a medical student, they let you graduate, too. (Okay not really… I got my own master’s degree. But I should have at least gotten a certificate for my roleplaying skills.)

02. Y thinks very highly of himself. In the days leading up to graduation, he kept trying to whistle Pomp and Circumstance…but what came out was the Presidential March.

03. The beginning of your birthday month is the worst time to move. I just realized I’m going to miss all of the gift cards that stores send out during your birthday month. As I’ve gotten older, that has come to be one of the few perks of birthdays. 

04. There is this video… from The Mickey Mouse Club... that involved Ryan Gosling, JC Chasez, and Justin Timberlake doing some kind of body roll. I had never seen it before, but at least 2 members of my book club remembered this dance move as something that made their elementary school hearts beat a little faster. Do you remember it?

05. I had a really important idea for an invention this weekend: a parental control-like feature that doesn’t protect users from inappropriate adult content… it protects users from SAD STORIES ABOUT ANIMALS. They’re EVERYWHERE. I can’t do it anymore. But I can’t not click when I see Baby Rhinoceros Cuts Off Tusk to Save Dying Sloth or whatever Huffington Post is reporting on at the moment. 

06. Becoming a doctor doesn’t change a person too much, apparently. Y has spent his first few days of doctor-dom watching 30 Rock reruns and coming up with a code name for the walkie-talkies we have for our 16 hour drive to Minneapolis. He’s trying to choose between Tin Sparrow and Bronze Viper. I think I like Bronze Viper….M.D., obviously. 


I’ll be back with some more Holland pictures next week, but I wanted to brag about a really mature decision I made.

Y got a list of his new co-workers last week, complete with pictures. The people he’ll be spending approximately 112% of his time with. 

And I’ve decided that I am not going to Facebook stalk them. 

I know, right? Some major restraint on my part.

I just couldn’t take Ike’s judgmental eyes anymore. 

Holland 3: Keukenhof

Really popular tourist attractions always seem like a great idea until you remember that they’re really popular tourist attractions.

In Holland, the most popular tourist attraction (outside of Amsterdam, I guess) is Keukenhof. Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden (my sources tell me seven million flower bulbs are planted there each year) (my sources are Wikipedia), is only open for two months of the year and the best place to see famous Holland tulips. It’s also home to the largest collection of foreign tourists in Holland, boasting approximately 20 loud tour buses per day. Its fanny pack exhibit rivals that of Disney World’s. And the organ… the organ is in a class of its own.

When we walked in, this authentic Dutch organ was playing mood music. After a few seconds of careful listening, I turned to Y. 

“Is that…” I paused, trying to think of the name of the song. Was it something I remembered from childhood? Maybe a traditional Dutch folk song? The lyrics came to me as the organ started playing the chorus. 

Tell me more, tell me more, did you get very far?”

Y looked at me in horror. He hates cheesy touristy things, and although I had warned him that Keukenhof might be full of tourists, he was not prepared for an organ playing a song from Grease.

Scratch that, friends. The organ was not playing a song from Grease, we soon found out. The organ was playing the entire Grease megamix. The same medley you might hear at a Bar Mitzvah party just after the chicken dance.

It was silly, and we would have rather stumbled across a field of tulips on our own than paid 20ish euro to walk around Tulip Disneyland. But we didn’t let that stop us from enjoying Keukenhof, which really was beautiful. We just made sure to do the hand jive the entire time. 

Y’s favorite part was talking to this Keukenhof worker about windmills. This guy was legit: not only was he wearing clogs, his mother was born in a windmill and I’m pretty sure he had a “van der” in his last name. 


Holland 2: biking

In Holland I, the four year old, was our official family translator. Apparently, playing with Dutch children at preschool all day is a really great way to learn Dutch quickly. (I don’t know if I would recommend this if you’re over the age of, say, 6.)  By the time we left Holland, I was fluent. But when we got back to the States, I think it took me approximately one Texas summer to ditch dank je vel  for thanks, y’all. Suddenly, I was no longer bilingual. 

I was hoping that when we landed in Amsterdam, all of my forgotten Dutch would come rushing back to me. But it turns out I remembered only four phrases:

dank je vell (thank you)
alst u blieft (please/you’re welcome)
bent u klaar (are you ready)
zet ‘m op slak (hurry up, snails*)

Let’s rewind to four years ago, when Y and I visited New York for the first time. We were there for about four days, and were so frustrated with our inability to understand the Subway system that we gave up and walked for our entire trip. Subway maps, need I remind you, are in English.

It took us about 5 minutes to understand the public transportation in The Hague and Amsterdam, written entirely in Dutch. It was slightly trickier to figure out the country-wide biking maps, but we did it with only 1 wrong turn that deposited us in front of castle ruins. 

 And “hurry up snails” was not part of the directions. 

I don’t really know what my point is here. Maybe my pride was bruised in New York when I, a self proclaimed whiz with directions, couldn’t navigate the public transportation. Maybe I just needed to prove to anyone who might have seen me angry in a Subway station that I’ve still got it, okay?

Now that that’s out of the way…

A bike rack at the Leiden train station. (The one in Amsterdam was three stories and about 10 times as big as this one.) 

From Leiden we rode through some picturesque countryside villages, complete with windmills and what was left of the tulips.  

*My favorite game as a kid:

Holland 1: The Hague

When I was three, my family moved to The Hague, which is the capital of The Netherlands. We lived there for three years, and for about 12 glorious years after we moved back to the States, I had some really great material for the “fun fact” every person should carry around in their back pocket: I lived in Holland and have been to almost every country in Western Europe. 

Eventually I got lapped. My friends started doing foreign exchange programs. Month long backpacking trips across Europe. Biking tours of South America. Teaching English in China. Basically, I had to get a new fact. Good thing I’m left handed and Jewish.

The first leg of our Holland trip was spent in The Hague. We explored the city by bike and visited my former house, which is on the same street as my preschool and across the street from gorgeous dunes that border the beach and the North Sea. 

{1: the beach, 2: the dunes, 3: my street}

I remember a lot of things about my neighborhood: leaving empty wooden shoes out on Christmas Eve for Sinter Klaas to fill with presents (apparently he doesn’t discriminate), getting stung by a bee in our back alley, the fact that you turned right to get from my house to preschool. But I cannot for the life of me remember there being a beach. I don’t particularly love the beach now… apparently it’s never impressed me. 

Some other pictures from the Hague: