Friday, June 16, 2017

First festival of the year!

The festival season has started in the Netherlands, the land of festivals!!
As it coincides with spring and summer, I can say it's the most thrilling time of the year and I simply love it.

My list of festivals to attend is quite long this year and I'm very excited.

As a matter of fact, my first festival of this year is a fact. It was exactly one week ago.
I went to Bacchus Wine Festival with some friends. As the name already says it, it's a festival dedicated to wine...
It's quite a small festival taking place in the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest)... with no less than 250 differents wines to taste!!
Of course we didn't taste all of them, but we did taste some really good wine and spent a wonderful evening with some music in the background (and a karaoke mini-van).

Next week, new festival on the planning... Keep you posted ;-) Cheers!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

D-Day in France

Today feels like D-day in France. Indeed, today we are electing our new president.

It has been a tough campagne, one of the toughest so far. Living in the Netherlands, I could shut myself down from this whole mess. Being an expat, you feel that you're not as much confronted with all the problems in our home country. But on the other hand, I could not keep my eyes closed and ignore what is going on in France.

For this reason, for the first time since I've been living abroad, I went to the French consulate in Amsterdam two weeks ago to vote. It felt extremely important to have my voice heard and to honour this right we all have in a democracy.

Ironically, today, on the second and final round of this election, I'm in France. As you have to vote where you live, that would mean I wouldn't be able to vote. Even though that might not have bothered me a few years ago, I couldn't accept it this time. My voice has to be heard and I have to do my part to avoid the rise of populism and extremism in my home country.

So I arranged for a friend of mine to vote for me. I'm so thankful!

Let's hope my home country won't fall into dark times tonight. I'll already be on my way back to the Netherlands when the results will be communicated.

For now, I don't want to worry too much. My part is done. I just want to enjoy a nice lunch at home, with my parents...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Xmas in Holland

This year, for the first time, no Xmas in France for me. I had to get used to that idea, but having to work till the 23rd made the decision easier. So we invited my parents to our place for their very first Xmas in Holland.

If we couldn't go to France, then we had to get France to us. Xmas has to be traditional, in some way or the other...
That means traditional dishes like stuffed turkey with chestnuts. Hmmmm. As a real French girl, Xmas wouldn't be Xmas to me without this dish. Even my Dutch husband has quickly adopted this new tradition and wouldn't like to spend Xmas Eve eating something else than turkey.

So, that was that: my parents were here, the food with perfectly Xmassy and the house was magically decorated.

But we also added a new tradition to our family's traditional Xmas: the 'Kerstsamenzang' of Amstelveen. On December 24th, at night, between 1.500 and 2.000 people are used to getting togeher on a small square to sing and celebrate Xmas Eve together.
It was cold, but oh so nice!

My parents were amazed by the Xmas lights in Amsterdam (so was I, every time again and again) and by the fact that so many people were out on Xmas Eve: on the square, in the caf├ęs and in restaurants. Struck by the Dutch 'gezelligheid'.

On Xmas Day, it was time for a Dutch twist. No traditional French dish, but 'gourmet', which is so common in Dutch households during the holidays. The 'gourmet set' is placed on the table and warmed up and everyone chooses what they want to eat: small pieces of meat, fish, vegetables, etc...

We had a great French-Dutch Xmas in Holland. Hope you did too, wherever you were.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Being an expat and dealing with loss

Being an expat also means being far away from your family and that's far from being the best part of it. But sometimes it's even harder than others...

In times of loss, it can be very confronting and hard to be an expat, to live in another country. I've learned it the hard way and so have others around me...

Last summer, my lovely grandma passed away. I knew the end was near for her. My parents were at her side and kept me updated. Unfortunately it was impossible for them and doctors to say how long she had left. At that moment I was painfully confronted with what it meant to be an expat: it meant not being able to go home at night or for a day to be at her side and at my parents' side. In the end, I got that fatal call from my parents... My sweet, sweet grandma was gone.
In all this sadness, I still had the chance to say a final goodbye at her funeral. My sister, also an expat, didn't have this chance. While I've been living in the Netherlands for 13 years, so just a few hours drive from home, she's been living in California for 15 years. It was simply impossible for her to get several days off from work and the tickets were too expensive. She had to say goodbye on her own and all we had to be together was Skype.

Today, I've heard that one of my dearest friend is confronted with the very same, painful situation. She too is an expat. Last week she heard that her aunt was seriously ill. So she decided to fly home (to France) to see her aunt 'before it was too late' as she told me. Waiting for the kids to finish school and for the chance to get some time off from work, she booked plane tickets for Monday... This morning, Monday morning, I opened my Facebook to discover her aunt had passed... on Sunday!

My thoughts are with her and her family.

Yes, being an expat is a big adventure, a very enriching adventure, but missing our families makes it tough, especially when facing loss.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Soccer time!! FR-NL

It's the story of a French-Dutch couple going to a soccer game.., France-Netherlands

My very first soccer game in a big stadion. And that in the prestigious Amsterdam Arena.

Last Monday, France played against the Netherlands in a qualification game for next World Cup. And I was there with my Dutch husband.
So, you could see it both ways: as a French expat, both my countries are playing against each other and for me that means winning anywway... Or good reason for a fight at home!

But no, we're a civilized mixed couple :-)

For the fun he dressed in orange and I wore my 'France' tee-shirt and blue colors. I did sing the French national anthem loud and clear and didn't care for the 'looks' I got. Yep, I was one of the only Frenchies around. The French supporters were sitting on the other side of the stadion. But I also sang (parts of) the Dutch anthem (thank you karaoke version on the big screens).

The short version is as follows: France won!! Of course I was delighted, but barely noticed the goal cuz there were not enough French supporters to clearly hear them. And to be honest, I would have like the Dutch team to score as well so I could feel the excitement in the whole stadion. You have to admit: the Dutch supporters are probably the best and most enthousiastic in the world.

Well, the conclusion is simply that I had fun and would love to go to another game!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A sunny Sunday afternoon in Amsterdam

September the 25th: the sun is shining and the temperatures are still quite summery. So what to do on a Sunday afternoon?... Bike to Amsterdam of course!

I have the chance to live at only 30 to 40 minutes bike from the city centre. While biking through a part of the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest), I feel so lucky with where I live. It's leafy, quiet and busy at the same time, with people lying in the grass, playing football (soccer) or biking around with their kids. Just a few minutes further, we arrive in the busy city centre and while a tram full of tourists passes by, I feel proud to be living here and to be biking around in this wonderful city.

And what to do in Amsterdam on a sunny Sunday afternoon when you're a 33-year-old woman? Shop of course!! I didn't shop till I dropped though cuz I was with my husband and didn't feel like dragging him for too long in shops, but just enough to go home happy and with two jeans, a shirt and a hat.

But we also enjoyed the weather on a terrace. Actually at one of my favorite spots in Amsterdam. De Drie Graefjes! It's just right next to the Dam and the Royal Palace, in a small street, so typical of Amsterdam. And there you can enjoy the  best cookies, pies, muffins and cupcakes of the city. Hmmmm I love it there!!

And you know what's so great about all that? You don't feel that guilty about enjoying a delicious red velvet cupcake because you're biking back home!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Yet another festival...

Exactly a week after Mysteryland, I went to yet another festival: Lief Festival in Utrecht. 'Lief' meaning 'sweet/nice' in Dutch. And I have to admit that it was pretty 'sweet' and 'nice'.

I'd been there last year already with a couple of friends. And as we liked it, my friends offered me tickets for this year's edition for my birthday... Yeah, I know! I've got great friends!
And what a great birthday present it was!!

While I spotted and heard quite a few groups of French speakers at Mysteryland, that wasn't the case at Lief (except myself and my two French friends with our own Dutchies). But no big surprise, because Lief is a smaller festival and less known... That doens't mean it's not as good!

While Mysteryland impressed me by being so huge and overwhelming, Lief impressed me by its intimacy and atmosphere.

Once again, the Netherlands have proven to be such a wonderful country for festivals.

The weather was good, the setting wonderful, right by the water, the people extremely friendly and the music fantastic. We didn't stop dancing until the music stopped and we had to go home.

We started at a quieter area while the sun was shining. Just dancing and chilling on house music, before moving to the main stage. What a blast we've had!! With DJ's such as La Fuente and Sick Individuals, we danced until we couldn't feel our feet anymore. And the fireworks at the end were just the cherry on the pie!

What a country, what a day, what a sweet, sweet festival!
See you next year Lief!