Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Brouwerij de Molen Beer Festival

The Brouwerij de Molen (Brewery Mill) is one of the best Dutch breweries in Holland. Chad has been in love with their beer for two years, since we first discovered it at the Dutch beer bar, 't Arden's Nest, in Amsterdam. Their bottles all have a plane white label, with the windmill logo, and list contents and facts, along with their interesting names like "Bloed Zweet en Tranen" (Blood, Sweat, and Tears), and "Ziel & Zaligheid" (Soul and Salvation).

We were happy to learn that they hold an annual beer festival at their brewery in Bodegraven, near Gouda. So, this weekend we went there with our fellow American beer lovers, Jake, Erin, Tim & Becky. At the festival, you get a small souvenir tasting glass, and tokens which you use to buy samples of the different beers (of which there were over 100!).

This year they held a contest between all of the visiting breweries. Each brewer made their own version of de Molen's "Vuur & Vlam" beer (Fire and Flame). You could sample each of the varieties, and then vote on your favorite. It was interesting to taste the differences each had, even though they used the same general recipe. I personally liked the original from de Molen the best.

While the Belgians are probably better known internationally for their wide varieties of beer, the Dutch can also make some damn tasty brews themselves. Who knew? We had a blast sampling the local spirits, and the background of the windmill and canal made it a perfectly Dutch afternoon.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

World Harbor Days

Tis the season for festivals in Rotterdam. The 33rd annual Wereldhavendagen (World Harbor Days) was held this weekend along the Mass river. Tons of boats and activities line the entire riverfront and harbors (Veerhaven, Leuvenahven, & Oudehaven).

Most of the activities are right outside our doorstep, between the Erasmusbrug & the Euromast. They have boats of all sizes, including large military, shipping & construction boats. You can tour most of the larger vessels, and even go on the bridge & talk to the captain.

The Royal Navy gave a demonstration on how they handle hostage situations on boats. Some fake pirates came up to a boat and took them hostage. The people on the boat even put their hands up in the air. Then, a naval helicopter swoops in from across the river, drops a line, and several men in full combat gear repel down the line and onto the boat, taking it over from the pirates. There was some fake gunfire and explosion sounds thrown in for good measure. It's pretty fun to watch. Then, all of the guys attach themselves to the repel line from the helicopter & it flies back and forth around the river while all the men are hanging on the line. I think that is the coolest part.

Saturday we met up with our friends to walk around & check things out. Then Jake & Erin came back to our place for some pizza and football, as this was the opening weekend for college football (woohoo!). At 10, we all met up again and went down to the river to watch the fireworks display.

Then on Sunday, Linda and Arjen made their first trip to Rotterdam with Tomas (Lukas is too young). We also met up with Dom & Caron & their two daughters, Daisy & May. This day was much different than Saturday, because we got to see things through the kids eyes. It was interesting. Everything they saw was fascinating: firetrucks, large & small boats, police men, shipping equipment, etc. There were also some boats that can be used to put out fires on ships or buildings, and they shot a stream of water so high that it was sometimes taller than the nearby skyscrapers!
Since we live in the city with the largest port in Europe, and the second largest in the world, it's nice to be able to take advantage of the local industry. We've enjoyed walking around this festival each year, touring the ships, and seeing all of the boats on the water. As it looks like this will be our last September in Rotterdam (*gasp*), we definitely took full advantage of the opportunity, and the great weather, this year.


Check out more pics on Flickr:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

UPC (still) Sucks

Preface: Chad recommended that I wait a few days from this original incident, to let myself cool down a bit. So, I have... but my post hasn't changed, haha.


As the name of our internet router suggests, UPS SUCKS. The lovely cable & internet provider for millions of unhappy customers in the Netherlands has again proved they are the best, at being the worst.

I’ll try to make this long, boring & complicated story short.
  1. We shared a cable/internet subscription with our upstairs neighbor, Simo. We have one account, one modem, and two cable boxes

  2. Simo was moving back to Finland end of August

  3. Simo & Chad both called UPC Customer Service (at 10 cents/min) a total of three times, to confirm that they understood that only One of the Two cable boxes was being returned, and the other box, along with the whole account, should be left active

  4. Each time the CS agent assured them this would happen as they wished, and the account would not be cancelled

  5. September 1: the entire account was cancelled, and we have no cable, and soon to be no internet

  6. Chad calls CS again. Not happy (understatement). 20 minute conversation later, it seems our only option is to return our current cable box and modem, because they cannot reactivate our old account, and then we must go to the UPC store downtown, open a new account, and pick up a new cable box and modem

Let me make sure that is clear, so you can understand how ridiculous it is. We currently have a cable box and a UPC modem in our apartment. They cannot do anything with these boxes, cannot reactivate them or transfer them to a new account. We must mail them back. Then we must go to the store and get new ones, along with a new account. GAH!

Every time something like this happens I think to myself, “I should no longer be surprised by stuff like this.” But, each time I am. My brain can’t comprehend their lack of common sense.

Chad was then transferred to the complaints department, and luckily spoke to a very calming lady. She took down the complaint for the two CS agents who assured Simo that the account would not be cancelled. She also promised to refund us the charge for the CS calls, since they did not resolve our issue, as well as refund us the new setup charge we will have to pay for our new account.

The silver lining to all of this hassle, is that when Chad signed up for a new account we also got 6 months free of the Film 1 channel, because of a promotion they were running.