Windmills of the Netherlands

30 04 2012

When the Japanese think of Holland (which in Japanese is Olanda), we most often associate the country with windmills and tulips and we may even be somewhat under the impression that the windmills are still in operation – the association is that strong.  In general, we only have a very positive image of the country which could be in part because of this: Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki.

I visited in the same tour as the cheese event, the windmills in Schermer, made into a museum.

I did see a woman who seemed to be living in a windmill close to this place.  She was tending to the garden when we passed by and there was a goat by her side.

Say Cheese!

29 04 2012

On my first proper day in Amsterdam, I did the very touristy thing and joined a pre-organized tour group on a half-day excursion to the town of Alkmaar where I had read that they organize a traditional cheese auction every Friday morning during certain months of the year.  While I knew that this was a specially organized (fake) tourist attraction, I was still intrigued to go and experience this market.

When we got there which was at about 11:30 am, it was swarming with tourists as though it were a rush hour in Tokyo.  I thought I wasn’t going to be able to see any part of this “auction” but I managed to go up close enough to see what was going on.

The people playing the part in the market are very serious so the auction looked rather real and interesting.  All the props they use looked authentic as well.  It’s a Disneyland-esque presentation and it works.

The tour next went onto see old windmills now turned into a museum after which we went through the city of Edam as in Edam cheese and went to a cheese farm in one of the neighboring villages which turned out to be more of a cheese shop than a visit to the farm which was all well.  The shop lets you sample the cheeses and that was yum.

After returning to central Amsterdam, I decided to visit a street market that’s open every weekday and where they sell everything so I took the tram to the Albert Cuypmarkt where I stopped by a cheese shop to pick up some local cheese that I would consume while staying here.

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And I tried the cheese I bought this morning and it was so good with a very nice sweet cheese taste.

Apartment Life in Amsterdam

26 04 2012

So after so so many hours of travel, I have arrived at my final destination, Amsterdam.  (I actually could have made it in a shorter period of time but chose to fly the way I did, via Paris with a long layover there.)

And I am settled in in a very nice apartment in the Jordaan neighborhood of central Amsterdam.  I have yet to walk around which the very nice landlord told me would get me easily throughout this compact city.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

25 04 2012

Rode the Narita Express for the first time in a long time.

And boarded from Shibuya for the first time.

Though the seats are very nice and comfy I think the Keisei Skyliner is more comfortable with less shaking sideways and perhaps quieter.

And obviously spotless.


And from Shibuya the journey is quite long – double what I normally do when I take the Skyliner from near where I live.

But as with all trains in Japan, it always runs on time to the second.

Off to Amsterdam via Paris.

Sunday Cooking Time

24 04 2012

So after all the eating and drinking that continued from last Thursday into the weekend, I decided to go very light Sunday night and picked up a low-calorie cookbook written by Japanese actress Yoko Akino.

The recipe I chose was of a Russian style soup with cod and “ukha” sounds as though that’s the closest thing though I have never had this ukha (never been to Russia!!).

It’s a very easy recipe and I was somewhat skeptical about how any recipe from this cookbook would turn out as the author is not really a chef but, hey, it was surprisingly good. 😀

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