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Learning Dutch

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Dat is mijn fiets – That is my bicycle

It is hard to learn a new language at 45 years of age.  Especially  when all of the locals want to speak English (why I don’t know).  In Germany, I had to learn German, while most Germans spoke English it was easier to break ice if I spoke Germany.

Now that life in the Netherlands is mostly settled and routinized, I decided to start learning Dutch.  I am starting with Rosetta Stone .  It is new to me.  Most of my education from learning a foreign language including German involved textbooks, classes and lots of red marks across my assignments.  Yes I am a slow learner.

I am enjoying the program, I spend about 30-60 minutes every day going through the lessons.  It has been fairly intuitive matching pictures with words and using context to understand, but I feel like I am acquiring basic knowledge that I did not get in a traditional class.


Even more exciting the terms coffee – koffie and bicycle – fiets are already in the second lesson a huge motivator.

I think  Rosetta Stone will help me learn enough that I will be able to communicate in a day to day basis – shopping, touring, eating out and basic conversation with the neighbors.

I know the more Dutch I learn to more I will enjoying living in the Netherlands for the next five years.

Heller Route or Hellerrondje

On Sunday, a nice warm day (40 F), my wife and I decided to try out a hiking route, the Hellerrondje, that starts about a mile from our house and goes for about two miles, making it about a four mile hike from our house.  The hike was relatively easy.  The only difficulty was the sheer amount of mud along the route.  My wife put her trekking poles to good use traversing the some of the muddier points.

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Three Lands Point – Belgium, Germany, Netherlands

Last week I received an e-mail from long time friend and bicycling buddy that he would be in Germany flying in from WV, USA and planned on coming to visit me and Crystal for a couple of days.

Running in Limburg, NL

I have to confess when it comes to bicycling and rain, I become a recluse (I know send cheese with this whine).   I don’t mind cold or wind, but rain stops me from starting a ride.

Kerstallendorp Schimmert or Christmas Village Schimmert

Several days ago, I saw a new sign posted as you enter town “Kerstallendorp Schimmert” .  Of course not speaking Dutch, I had no clue what it meant except it had to do with Christmas. I went straight to the all knowing Google Translate and got a translation of:   Christmas Village.  Instantly I envision something […]

Top 12 Events of 2012

Over the course of the year I had a lot of adventures and experiences, alone, with Crystal (my wife), with family and friends. It was both a rewarding and challenging year.  Below are probably the top twelve events for me. 

Thanksgiving in Nice

Nice Cycle Tours

Over the holiday weekend my wife had an opportunity to attend a conference in Nice, so  I joined her. Nice is an absolutely gorgeous French city.  It is even better on the off season when it is a little cooler and fewer tourists.  The weather was fantastic with highs in the mid 60’s each day.  […]

Boererij en Heemkundemuseum Schimmert

Recently, I pedaled over to the Boererij en Heemkundemuseum Schimmert. I guess it roughly translates to Ranch Museum.  The museum depicts traditional farm/ranch life in the early 20th century (1900-1950). It is a pretty interesting place.  The museum has gathered traditional equipment from around the Limburg, Netherlands region. The museum has a diverse collection collection from […]

Morning Tour – Sunday, 21 October 12

Taken with iPhone

Castle Rivieren, taken with iPhone

Sunday mornings have rapidly become my opportunity to explore by bicycle the scenery, the sites and routes in and around the area I live.  It has the advantage of less traffic and great lighting for pictures.   I get up at first light which right now is at about 0745 and just ride a random 15-20 mile loop. My goal is to stay on the country roads and not the main roads.  While the main roads all have bike paths on them around here the scenery is just not as interesting.

All week, we have had 60-70 F weather (13-20 C) with a bit of fog in the morning, so it was a pleasant  morning ride.  I headed East and South which took me through Aalbeek, Nuth, Klimmen and Hulsberg.

Harvest is in full swing now so the roads and paths are rough with farm debris, which makes for a dirty bike at the end of the ride.   Along the ride I saw piles of harvested sugar beets and potatoes.  Naturally all over there are the fall colors on the trees.

Along the ride I came across the pictured castle, outside of one of the little farm villages.  It looks like it has a couple of towers and a moat with a stone bridge.  The castle appears to be converted into a restaurant. Unfortunately pedaling early, I am not able to explore the grounds as it is closed up, but nice to look at from the road.

This area that I live in and ride through is fascinating to me as I run into castles everywhere and is littered with history predating the US.   My personal interests lie in I like biking, history and exploring new places combining all three makes its a great ride.  If there was coffee involved it would have been a perfect ride.

I guess I will have to come back another day to Castle Rivieren for a coffee!

Netherlands Update

It has been a busy week two weeks since my last post.

I have been primarily focused on getting the house settled in.  I think we are at about 90% unpacked and about 75% with furniture and stuff in the right places.

Good News.  Yesterday we got TV/Internet/Telephone.  I am not sure of the equivalent in the States but it all comes in over the telephone lines.  It is pretty good.  The internet is at least five times faster than what I was able to get in the Oberpfalz, Germany.  Television is international with a bunch of English Channels including BBC channels, Discovery, History, CNN and HBO.  Surprisingly the Dutch channels are made up of American programming with Dutch subtitles.

Bicycling.  I made two trips into a nearby town “Sittard” about five miles away.  I think it is one of the larger towns in the area, but I am not sure.    The market in the town is pretty incredible.  It is jammed packed with all sorts of temporary stands, trailers and the like.   I saw butcher stands, flowers, cheese, bakers.. It took up the entire market square and the roads leading to the square radiating 1-2 blocks in each direction.  It is kind of like Pike Street Market in Seattle on steroids.

A couple of pictures of the Sittard Market:

Image Image


I couldn’t help but get hungry and thirsty while I walked through.

The market area is a pedestrian zone with paid parking on the edge of the zone.  There was an area in the parking lot for bicycles.  It was monitored by an older gentleman who gave me a ticket (like a coat check) and I left my bike.  When I cam back I tried to pay but the man said it was free and would not take my money.  My best guess from the explanation is that the city pays for this service so the bikes stay out of the crowded market area.  Here is a picture:


Yes.  If Hank Robinson is reading this that is my ugly anti theft green bicycle in the Sittard Bike Lot.

I did get one more picture.  It is the landmark that I use to navigate visually by to get home (until I get a feel of the area).


This is the church in our small town.  I can see it for several miles.  In the bottom left of the picture is our house.  It is the the house with a tower (or so the locals call it).  My house is about two blocks away from the church.

My last piece of information… Yesterday I learned that our house lies on a long distance hiking/biking route from the southern part of the NL to the northern part it is about 400KM long.  It is called Pieterpad.  I think that will be my next major ride.  Anyone interested for Early October???

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