Tag Archives: Netherlands

S is for Snacks


by Lillian Csernica on April 22, 2016

When you’re traveling, especially long distances, you want to keep a munchie stash with you because odds are good you will get stuck somewhere waiting for longer than you expect.  Low blood sugar makes the trials of traveling even more irritating.  These are my favorite snacks from all the places I’ve visited:

France

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Pain au chocolat (Chocolate croissant)

Germany

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Sausage (bratwurst)

Pretzels

Japan

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Daifuku mochi — Depending on the characters used, this treat is called either “big belly rice cake” or “great luck rice cake.”  The traditional filling is anko, or red bean paste.  Crushed melon is also used, and in the springtime strawberries are popular.

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Anmitsu: It’s a traditional Japanese dessert that has cubes of agar agar jelly, fresh fruit slices, red bean paste, and a dollop of ice cream.  In this case, green tea ice cream.  Looks really weird, doesn’t it?  Pat and I had this at the Haneda Airport during our twelve hour layover.  Not nearly as sweet as an American ice cream sundae, anmitsu combines flavors and textures into a unique and tasty dish.

Mexico

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Galletas (Cookies)

The Netherlands

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Stroopwafels are two large, thin cookies with syrup in the middle.  The size of stroopwafels vary, and you can get them dipped in chocolate, topped with whipped cream, etc.  A small package of these is just right for a snack.

United States

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Northern — Potatoes.  Baked, fried, or scalloped, I do love the starchy little devils.

Southern — Hush puppies and corn bread.  I love hushpuppies.  I would live on them if it weren’t for the fact that by the end of the first week I’d be able to actually hear my arteries hardening!

Eastern — New England clam chowder.  With lots of black pepper.  I do not eat the red stuff.

Western — San Francisco sourdough bread.  Whenever I order breakfast in a restaurant, I get sourdough toast.  No matter where in the U.S. I might be, the yeast starter probably came from San Francisco.

cheeses

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Central — Cheese.  I love cheese, really I do.  String cheese, cheddar on my burger, grilled cheese sandwiches, alfredo sauce, you name it.  Can’t have bleu cheese because I’m allergic to mold.

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Q is for Query


by Lillian Csernica on April 20, 2016

 

I thought it might be entertaining to list some of the questions I’ve asked and been asked in my many travels hither and yon.

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Where’s your horse?  (Do people in Europe still think all Americans are cowboys?)

Do you live in a grape field?  (I didn’t know what to say to that until I realized the person asking the question meant a vineyard.)

Is this your mother?  (No, she was not my mother.)

Does your husband want to be in the picture too?  (The person with me was not my husband.  My husband wasn’t even in the same country at the time!)

 

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Where are we?

Are you sure that’s where we are?

Then why aren’t we seeing ( insert name of offramp, landmark, national monument, etc.)?

 

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Where’s the bank?  It’s inside the post office?  Where’s the post office?  (The local branch turned out to be about a mile away, on the far side of the Yokohama train station, on the third floor of an office building.  I would never have found it had it not been for the very helpful Japanese security guard who kept talking to me as if I really did understand most of what he was saying. At that time, I didn’t, but I caught enough to get me to the third floor.)

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In French:  Do you speak French?

Non.

In German: Do you speak German?

Nein.

In Nederlands: Do you speak Nederlands?

Nay.

In English: Do you Speak English?

Yes!

(I was on the train back to the Netherlands from Germany when a nice German customs official needed to know if I had anything to declare.  He was so patient with me.  It must have been obvious I was really nervous and didn’t have a clue about what I was expected to say.  I’d already been asked for my “papers” {passport} twice.)

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L is for Lost


by Lillian Csernica on April 14, 2016

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No collection of travel stories would be complete without tales of the times I’ve gotten lost.

On my first trip cross country to Toledo, Ohio with my father, I remember how we got lost with in Missouri on a dark and stormy night.  Even at age ten  I’d watched way too many horror movies.  I hadn’t seen “Psycho,” but I was pretty much on the lookout for the Bates Motel.  Just when Daddy was about to turn around and try again, we spotted red and blue lights ahead.  I think Daddy would have been happy to see a policeman at that point, just so we could get some solid directions.  The lights were the flickering letters on a hotel sign.  Never have I been so glad to see neon!

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When I was still in high school, my mother drove me up to Pasadena, CA so I could visit a friend at CalTech.  The important part of the story comes at the end, when we began the drive home.  At one point we had to change freeways.  I still don’t understand how Mom could miss the same off ramp three times in a row.  Seriously.  Three separate tries, three separate misses, even with me navigating.  I have to chalk it up to the lateness of the hour.  We got lost in the Chinatown area.  It was so late at night that nobody was around other than two Chinese men out behind a restaurant’s kitchen door.  I’ve never been able to speak much Cantonese, so I couldn’t ask them for directions.  Sheer dumb luck got Mom back on the right road to the freeway and headed home again!

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One night while I was staying in the Netherlands, I missed the last train home from the disco because I was busy dancing with a gorgeous Dutch soldier named Andre.  He’d just turned eighteen and came home on leave for a few days. He asked me to dance, which is one reason Phil Collins‘ “Against All Odds” will always be one of my favorite songs. 

When we realized the time, my host sisters and our friends had already left the disco.  Andre and I ran through the streets to the train station.  It was locked up for the night.  My luck was golden that night because Andre had a friend with a car. This was very uncommon at the time.  Andre and his friend were willing to give me a ride.  (I know, this sounds insane, right?  Every mother’s worst nightmare.) Fortunately, I’m good at remember landmarks.  That’s how I got us all the way from the disco in one town, along the highway through the dark and to my host family’s front door.  The girls were all sitting up waiting, expecting me to walk all the way home.  I think they were miffed to know I actually got a ride!

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On yet another of our convention adventures, Pat and I drove down to San Diego, CA for ConDor.  This really wonderful con is held at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center. This place is huge, as you can see from the map.  It is located on a road referred to as the “hotel circle.”  We arrived late on Thursday night and did our best to figure out where on earth the street numbers were posted.  We went around the circle three times!  I tell you, we were both ready to scream.  We could see the lovely white buildings, we just couldn’t get to them!  We did eventually succeed.  This was a very special trip for me, because San Diego is the city where I was born.

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D is for Drinkable


by Lillian Csernica on April 5, 2016

In my many travels I have encountered a variety of drinks.  Here are a few of the more entertaining beverages, notable for both their flavors and the stories that go with them.

 

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Apple jack or Apfeljack — During my visit to the Netherlands, my host sisters and I would spend Thursday nights at the disco in the next city.  The cover charge included a two drink minimum.  In late June the Netherlands can still feel like November in California, so my preferred drink would be apple jack.  I strongly suspect the drinks were watered, which was probably a good thing.  One night somebody told me a particular guy wanted to dance with me.  Turns out he was a big, gorgeous Dutch soldier who had just turned 18.  Andre and I enjoyed more than one dance.  I tell you, apple jack makes for excellent antifreeze when you’re running to catch the last train home!

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Bottled water — These days you see people carrying spiffy personalized water bottles all the time.  When I was in Paris, this was a strange sight.  I chalked it up to one more thing the Europeans did differently than people from the U.S.  When it comes to “sparkling water,” that does make a good alternative to soda if you like the fizz and don’t want the sugar.  As I continue to battle my Coca-Cola addiction, sparkling water is my friend!

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Dragon’s Breath — There are so many recipes and so many individual variations that I can only point you to Google.  Back in the days when I was working at the Renaissance Faire, before I got married, I had a close encounter of the personal kind with a homemade liqueur named Dragon’s Breath.  In those days I worked for a jeweler.  Our booth was set up right next to the legendary Cardiff Rose, the fencing booth designed to look like a privateer vessel.  One day a pirate privateer came calling with a jug of Dragon’s Breath.  I knew the fellow by sight as one of our Faire neighbors, so I felt fairly safe in taking a swig of the brew in the ceramic jug.  Oh my stars and garters!  Imagine mulled wine with a good dose of brandy.  Before my shock could fade, said privateer grabbed me and kissed me.  Ever chewed a peppermint or cinnamon candy then inhaled really fast?  The kiss felt a whole lot like that!

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Melon soda — I first encountered this divine beverage at the Toei Kyoto Studio Park.  It came with the meal I ordered at one of the park’s restaurants.  Not overly sweet, similar to honeydew melon, and even better when made into a float with vanilla ice cream.  Bonus: the melon soda came in a souvenir mug shaped like the hanging paper lanterns that decorated the Park.  The Park’s name and logo are written on the side in kanji.

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Seattle microbrews — My latest trip to Seattle for Norwescon 39 featured a pumpkin beer party that also furthered my acquaintance with a few more of the spectacular microbrews of the city known mainly for coffee.  I regret not writing down the names of each beer.  One tasted of coffee and hazelnuts, much to my delight.  Another had plenty of ginger.  A strong, bitter brew left me thirsty for plain water.  I’m just happy nobody took photos of me there.  The dress code required me to borrow a helmet made from half a pumpkin with some horns stuck into it!

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A is for Amsterdam


by Lillian Csernica on April 1, 2016

 

When I was 18 years old, my father sent me to the Netherlands to spend the summer with Jennet, the AFS exchange student who had been my lab partner in Physics and my good friend.  She lived in Enschede, on the east side of the country, so when we decided on a day trip to Amsterdam by train, we were in for quite an adventure.

Amsterdam is one of the greatest cities of the world.  Everywhere I turned, there was something new and fascinating waiting for me.

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For someone used to the concrete vistas of Orange County, I was delighted to travel around the city via the canals.  The private boats hitched off to either side of the canals provided a genuine local charm to the areas I passed through.

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 If you like flowers, then you haven’t lived until you’ve seen the floating flower market in Amsterdam.  All the tulips you can imagine, plus a whole lot more!
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 Amsterdam was the first place where I saw police officers patrolling their beats on horseback.  The two officers I spoke to were quite friendly and allowed me to take their photograph.  There’s something very imposing about a police officer looking down at you from that height!

 

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www.world-wide-gifts.com

 There are a lot of sex shops in Amsterdam.  As a know-almost-nothing 18 year old, this freaked me out.  What you see here is a resin refrigerator magnet.  Looks like a cookie, doesn’t it?  This was the only image I could possibly post here that wouldn’t get me busted for Adult Content.  If you care to Google the amazing range of possibilities available to you in such a shop, have a good time.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😀

 

 

 

 

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