Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pre-Christmas fun in Flatland

Before we headed down to France to reunite our trekking group for a snowy white Christmas, we had a few little adventures with our visiting Aussie friends here in Holland. Their arrival was much anticipated as Aurysia and I had been counting down for most of the year - their tickets were booked before we even moved countries. No visit to Holland would be complete with a trip to Amsterdam - a city you either love or hate (for me, it's always been love!). I hear so many people say how it's filthy, stinky etc etc but I don't know - Amsterdam just has a particular charm and I love walking along the canals admiring the pretty buildings, eating poffertjes or frites & mayo or shopping in any of the awesome little boutiques. Naturally, we had to introduce these guys to the giant yellow clog - it's a touristic rite of passage in this country :-)

Just before these guys arrived, Mitch and I found out we had to go to Den Haag ASAP to apply for Swiss visas (we are temporarily moving to Switzerland very soon - more to come on that!) so we decided to make the most of the trip across the country and take a detour past Kinderdijk on the way home. This was my third visit to this site but the first in winter - it was deserted, snowing lightly and freezing, but the windmills were as spectacular as always despite the overcast day.

The canals were semi frozen with a layer of ice on top and I guessed that it wouldn't be long before people were skating on them - but with the warmer weather we've been having lately, I wouldn't be surprised if they're defrosted again as our local lakes are no longer fit for skating :-( We did have fun skimming large chunks of ice along the frozen water and Aurysia and I put a lot of effort into trying to crack the ice with our feet (while holding onto something of course!) - it's amazing how amusing things like this can be for us Aussies!

--- skimming ice at Kinderdijk ---

I really love our little town & surrounding area but thanks to the miserable freezing weather, I didn't quite get to give these guys the grand tour (by bike of course - the best way to see the local countryside) - luckily they'll be back in just a few months for the summer as it's much more pleasant in warmer temperatures! We did do a little cycling however, plenty of shopping in town, some playing in frozen puddles in Lent (again - really very amusing!) and of course, the usual trip out to our favourite little pub just over the border in Germany.

--- fun jumping on an icy puddle ---

--- more fun throwing ice ---

--- an introduction to the Dutch form of transport ---

Being Aussies, snow is still very, very exciting - so when it started snowing heavily one night here at home, Aurysia and I were straight out on the balcony eating it, making a snowman and perfecting our snow angels on the roof! Yes, I know I'm in my pjs - I was too excited (or perhaps lazy) to get changed but regretted not donning my ski pants afterwards - brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr my legs were red and frozen!!!!!!!!

--- snow angel time ---

On the day we left for France, we woke up to a huge amount of snow outside - definitely the most I've seen here yet (and apparently we got out just in time as much more fell the next week!). The roads weren't plowed which is highly unusual and it was eerie and quiet on our normally busy street. It was slow going getting out of town but we made it and settled in for a white drive through Germany; white all the way to our first holiday destination of Strasbourg, France.

(you have to excuse the following photos as they were taken on my iphone - not the best quality on a dim dark day I'm afraid)

More to come on our white Christmas adventures...

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