A brief weekend adventure to Amsterdam. No real plans except to wander around the canals, eat pancakes, avoid herring, drink hot chocolate, and soak up some Van Gogh inspiration. At the end of the weekend, all these goals were fulfilled and more. A few of the quaint sights below

Flower market, still colorful even in December
Bicycle city! Dedicated lanes, routes, and traffic signals
Beautiful architecture squeezing in between the canals
It's all about being beside, against, with, over, or under the water
Did I mention everything is done by bike?
Famous wooden shutters

All these little houses are 30 feet wide, and 200 deep! Makes for an interesting composition as each aims to stand out against the rest but with similar elements throughout.

Van Gogh museum

On the only sunny day all weekend, we went inside and spent longer than expected listening and seeing the story of Van Gogh’s life. Well worth the visit for the timeless colour and expression of his paintings.

Cake art

After the museum, and our last stop in Amsterdam: colour and expression through cake at a fun little cafe.

The marketing theme for the city is iamAmsterdam. Can’t say I felt Dutch after the visit, but for a few brief days I was swept away in the style and magic of this city built in some senses ‘with’ and in another ‘against’ nature. I’ll leave it to you to decide on which side their recreational drug laws fall…


3 C’s

Cassia, Christmas and Cake!

A few weeks ago, one of my oldest friends from Canada, Cassia, came to visit from London for the weekend. What a treat to be freshly back from Africa, in the depths of Scorpio month, preparing for Christmas, and sharing it all with, what has often been, my other half of the last 20 years.

Thinking back, the highlight of the weekend was just being with Cass- being enveloped for a weekend in her wise perspective, Calgarian enthusiasm, and hilarious stories. As we wandered around Zurich together, we could have been in any cute old Euro city as we poked into antique book stores, sniffed out chocolate shops and gazed at church stained-glass. But seeing as it was Zurich, my cute old Euro city, it felt even better to be back from Burkina, in a place where I feel so comfortable, showing it to my blonde half. It all added up to a lovely weekend.

We were able to take advantage of a christmas market in a mountain town called Einsiedeln. Not only did we have an adorable market to wander through, it even ended at the famous monastery at the edge of the village. 

Einsiedeln monastery and market stands

Two of my friends also came with us, Andrea and Maja, and we determined that there are 3 things that compose a Swiss Christmas market:

1. The stands will offer, at minimum: candles of all shapes and sizes, the standard delicious swiss christmas cookies, mulled wine and other warm beverages…. at every corner, hats gloves socks etc. required for the unacclimated tourists, things carved in wood, and just enough kitsch.

2. The lighting will be twinkling, possibly in forms ranging from cheesy (santa and elves) to sweet (stars and icicles)

3. Snow will be prevalent: real or fake

Andrea reviewing the cookie selection
Snow, warm drinks, better gloves- check

That evening, we gathered at a friend’s house for a tasty dinner, mulled wine and a special birthday surprise for Cass and I! Such sweet friends- a professionally decorated chocolate zucchini cake!

Cass checking out the mulled wine supply. Paco checking for a slice of cake.

We concluded with a bottle of pear champagne from the market. There exists an endearing video of me trying to get the cork off…. for 8 minutes… with plenty of commentary concerning leverage, strength of a thumb, and my potential targets in my friend Nico’s new apartment (no permanent damage done).  

Thanks for the wonderful visit!

Season in full swing

Didn’t hesitate to get right back into the whirlwind of Zurich.. hence the lack of posting. A few quick pics to update on last month’s highlights… yikes I’ve already been home for a month…

New roommate inauguration- pancake breakfast

My cousin Caylin moved into the 3rd room in our apartment…. been plenty of fun so far having her young spirit full of the highs and lows of being a teenager. Sigh.

Christmas cookie factory

Made my favourite, cinnamon stars, and these jam filled creations with strawberry or pumpkin jam!

Candle pulling

A Swiss tradition, making your own candles by pulling string through a pot of liquid wax. Slow, contemplative and a great way to start our Christmas party.

Christmas tree

Gotta keep the Swiss busy, so while a few were cooking up bruschetta toasts, pumpkin soup, and an amazing fondue, others were making christmas tree decorations. Yes, you may be spotting aluminum foil garlands and ‘stained-glass’ cookie ornaments. A lovely ‘Swiss Family’ of internationals and locals turned up.

Next week…. no more work, loads more snow, Christmas in Schluein and more stories of weekends with Cassia and wandering the canals of Amsterdam. Stay tuned…