Romantic Iceland – Hiking in Húsafell

Romantic Iceland – Hiking in Húsafell

For our first full day in Iceland, we decided to see some waterfalls and go hiking, and I think that’s pretty much the best and most beautiful thing to do in Iceland. There must literally be thousands of waterfalls in this country, of all sizes and shapes, each one more beautiful than the last. It’s a feast for the eyes and the soul.

There’s one major waterfall just ten minutes from where we’re staying, so we decided to start there.

This is Hraunfossar, which means “lava waterfall”, because it comes down off a lava field.

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Romantic Iceland – Highlands Photoshoot

Romantic Iceland – Highlands Photoshoot

It’s not that easy to find the perfect photographer for your romantic Iceland photoshoot if you don’t live in Iceland. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Because we already have! If you are in need of a photographer in Iceland, I highly, highly recommend Gunnar Jónatansson. Not only is he a talented photographer, but he and his wife Rósa took us on a fantastic tour of some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. And if you’re wondering why the quality of photos on my blog has suddenly improved so drastically, it’s because all the photos in this post are courtesy of Gunnar.

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Romantic Iceland – Northern Lights and the Cottage in the Woods

Romantic Iceland – Northern Lights and the Cottage in the Woods

We took a 21:30 flight, so by the time we arrived in Iceland and were shuttled to the place where we were picking up our rental car, it was well past midnight and I was tired and somewhat questioning the wisdom of leaving after work on a Friday. Then our shuttle driver announced that the Northern Lights were outside, and did anyone want to see them. Of COURSE the entire building full of new arrivals in Iceland wanted to see them. We all trooped outside and improbably, miraculously, there they were.

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A Day Out in Giethoorn

A Day Out in Giethoorn

My in-laws are here visiting, and we wanted to take them somewhere picturesque and typically Dutch. When I heard about Giethoorn, the pretty little village with canals instead of streets, I knew it would be perfect. Especially since we were also planning to go up north to visit Groningen, so it was right on the way. We're trying to do some more exploring and get to know this tiny country we call home.

Giethoorn is another corner of the Netherlands that somehow recalls the Shire to mind.

We rented a boat, as one does. They happened to be out of the basic metal boats, so we were forced to get an amply sized one with cushioning. Which in retrospect was totally worth the extra €15 anyway.

Here's our skipper and our mini skipper, at the wheel.

The place is unbelievably quaint and photogenic.

House after immaculate house surrounded by flowers.

The houses themselves are quite colourful as well, with many of them sporting the typical brightly painted shutters.

And of course, since the "streets" are actually canals, instead of cars they have boats.

The waterways are periodically crossed by wooden bridges.

We stopped near one of these bridges to find a shop to buy fresh bread for a boating picnic.

Tony, bless his heart, followed directions and ended up walking all the way back to the boat dock for bread. But meanwhile we discovered a cheese shop with tasty samples.

Right next door was a mineral store full of all sorts of treasures.

It was almost like a small museum, complete with impressive fossils.

Axa and Raj took the opportunity to find a surprise gift for Grammy.
Next to the town is a wetlands nature preserve with a miniature lake.

Here's a closeup of that traditional boat someone is sailing off in the distance.

There's some cute farmland. Even the horses were miniatures.

We also found a little treehouse.

At only a couple of hours by train from Amsterdam (and less by car) Giethoorn is a perfect day out if you want some delightful and unique countryside. We definitely enjoyed our time there!

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Graduating from Dutch Primary School

Graduating from Dutch Primary School

Dutch education is neatly divided into primary school (ages 4-12) and secondary school (ages 12-18). So there’s no in-between. The kids basically go to high school at age 12.

Now, I’m not usually one of those moms lamenting that they can’t just stay little.


But I admit that this whole school thing sort of threw me for a loop, hitting as it did (not uncoincidentally) squarely simultaneously with puberty. Yesterday she was a little girl. And today she’s a grown up young woman going off to high school in a couple of months.

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A Day Out in Gouda

A Day Out in Gouda

Several months ago my kids’ school started offering free Dutch lessons to parents. I jumped at the chance, not only to help reinforce to my kids that learning the language is important, but because I actually do want to learn Dutch. Juf Ricky, who teaches the lessons, also teaches the kids Dutch as a second language. She’s not only a great teacher, but also a really nice person. Today she took us on a tour of her hometown, Gouda.


Yes. Gouda, as in the cheese. What a delightful little town! We all met up at the Amstel train station and took the train there together. It’s about 45 minutes by train.

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Book Reviews: Girl on the Train, Exit West, Slade House, The Miniaturist, and Hard-Boiled Wonderland

Book Reviews: Girl on the Train, Exit West, Slade House, The Miniaturist, and Hard-Boiled Wonderland

Apparently it has been three years since I published a book review on this blog. Have I read any books in the meantime? Yes, yes, I have. Although I don’t think I did crack a book for my entire first year in Amsterdam. That’s how immersive and all-encompassing of an experience this city is. Besides the fact that I was working full-time in a different time zone. I hope I never have to do that again.

At any rate, then I started reading again but didn’t post reviews, I think because I joined a fabulous book club, which filled some of the need to tell the world what I thought of the books. I kinda missed writing these posts, though. So here you go.

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Nudist Librarian 

Nudist Librarian 

So there’s this book that you’ve probably read, or someone you know has certainly read. Pretty much everyone I know seems to have read it and touted its genius and capacity for transforming one’s existence.

Which is nothing less than the premise and the promise of the book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This was a book that I vowed I would not read. Probably at least 85% of the fights I had with my mother when I was a teenager revolved around the state of my messy bedroom, and the stuff she wanted me to throw away to remedy it. Every time I moved to a different place at university, I would be up late in the night, battling with all my junk. During one of those moves I remember going out to the dumpster at midnight with my roommate to throw out six giant pickle jars (empty of pickles, but full of pickle juice, which I reused to pickle baby carrots, apparently in truly monumental quantities).

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A Little Update on Italian Citizenship

A Little Update on Italian Citizenship

Well, the road to true love never did run smooth. Which is the ongoing refrain of this decade-long quest for Italian citizenship. As I mentioned several weeks ago, I did submit all my documents using the Italian Ministry of the Interior’s online application process. Not having heard from them in a while, and being concerned about the six month document expiration rule I mentioned before, I emailed the extremely helpful Adrianus at the consulate, and politely asked how things were going. 

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Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

A couple of weeks ago when all my Facebook friends were posting about seeing Wonder Woman, I went to book tickets on the spur of the moment for myself and Axa and discovered that, unaccountably, it opened weeks later here in the Netherlands than practically anywhere else in the world. Undaunted, I used the intervening time to get as many friends as possible to join me with their kids after the film finally opened. We ended up with 29 of us and a pre-movie dinner at Wagamama. Some of the kids were even persuaded to pose for a photo doing Wonder Woman arms. 

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