Reading and Writing

Of course, as soon as I blogged about cold weather and ice skating in the Netherlands, it started getting warmer the very next day. It’s mostly stayed above freezing since then, so I think the hopes of many for the 11 Cities Tour have been dashed for the moment. But who knows? Maybe we’ll have another cold streak next month.

This weekend was a rather gray and rainy one—much closer to the typical Dutch winter weather we’ve come to know, yet not quite love. It was a great weekend for staying in and reading books and watching movies though. I flew through New Moon, Stephenie Meyer’s second book in the Twilight series. I enjoyed it, and it was certainly another page-turner, but I didn’t think it was as good as the first book. Jim read Barry Eisler’s The Last Assassin, which he really liked. Apparently, it’s the fifth in a series of action novels. (I haven’t read any of them.) I also watched The Lake House, which is an enjoyable but kind of cheesy Sandra Bullock-Keanu Reeves movie.

I also worked on my other two blogs, Amsterdam in Photos and TechKathy.com, a bit. When I started out blogging in November, I got really excited and had lots of ideas about what I wanted to do. Now that I’m three blogs in, I’m realizing that they’re actually a lot of work, so I think three blogs is it for me. I still have quite a few ideas for new site designs, and I’m toying with the idea of creating my own WordPress design from scratch, but I think that’s a project for later on down the road.

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My New Photoblog

Thanks very much for visiting my blog. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been thinking about creating a photoblog for a while now. Since then, I decided to use one of my personal URLs, www.kathykeating.org, for that purpose. If you’d like to see some of my Amsterdam photos, please visit my photoblog, which I’ve titled Photos of Amsterdam, at www.kathykeating.org. Thanks!

It’s been a really cold winter so far in the Netherlands, which I’ve actually enjoyed somewhat since it’s meant little rain and sunny skies. The Dutch have become particularly excited, because these few weeks of cold temperatures are freezing the canals and lakes across the country.

The Dutch love to ice skate—and not just casually around a rink—a surprising number of people speed skate. Every winter, I’ve seen skaters out on small rinks around the city and speed skaters at a large outdoor rink in the suburbs. And while they enjoy skating at these places, they really love to skate outside on the canals. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to do it much in the past decade, since the winters in Western Europe have been relatively mild. But this winter is changing that trend.

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Like just about everyone else on the planet, I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about the current economic crisis / downturn / recession. Although it started in the U.S., we’re definitely feeling it here in Europe too. I had a sort of vague understanding of what happened – the housing market was crazy and out of control for quite a while until it sort of crashed and burned last year – but I (obviously) couldn’t explain it very well to someone who asked me about it.

My problem was that most of the stories I was hearing and reading seemed to assume that readers had a basic understanding of the situation. Of course, my ignorance was my own fault; I hadn’t seriously looked for an in-depth explanation. However, I serendipitously found one last week in podcast form.

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Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year! Last night was pretty crazy in Amsterdam, as it often is. I shot a short video of the fireworks at midnight from a balcony looking out over Vondelpark (a friend has an amazing apartment there!). Amsterdam sounds like a war zone from about 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., and I think this video gives you a little taste of it. Sorry it’s not a great one – I just used my digital camera to film it! Have a very happy 2009!

© Kathy Keating and “Life in Amsterdam”, 2009.

Christmas in Berlin

My husband Jim and I spent Christmas in Berlin this year. I love going to Germany and Austria during the Christmas season, because they embrace Christmas so fully with festive lights, decorations and traditional Christmas markets. Visiting the markets has become one of my favorite things to do each December.

Berlin had more Christmas markets than we could get to in our week there, but we enjoyed the ones we did visit – each one seemed to have its own character. We stayed in the center of the city (Mitte), and our hotel was adjacent to the Gendarmenmarkt, a beautiful, upscale Christmas market with an excellent selection of goods by local artisans and great food and entertainment. We also visited four other lovely Christmas markets: the market at the Opernpalais (the opera house), the market at Potsdamer Platz (by the Sony Center), the market near the Berlin zoo and aquarium and one of the large markets near Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower.

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Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone has very happy holidays!