Holland May 2010 
Thursday/Friday April 29,30

Saying goodbye to my family and friends for my summer/spring adventure was with mixed emotions. My excitement to travel and meet new friends is always countered with the thoughts of separation and missing fun times with those I love!  But thanks to internet, I really don’t feel so isolated or out of touch!

Warm & cold weather were in the travel forecast, so packing this year was especially challenging.  I really try to keep it simple, but it simply… “isn’t simple!”  I’ve found that weighing my 2 check-in bags at home and then again at the airport BEFORE approaching the counter saves some embarrassment but darn, at the airport I still had to shuffle 2 ½ lbs. out of 1 checked bag to stay at 50 lbs.  Keep in mind, only 1 bag has ALL my clothes & shoes, and the other bag is horns/instruments! I also take on-board a heavy, carryon that holds my CD’s, horn stands and sound equipment and finally, my laptop bag rides on my shoulder. Needless to say, it was tricky when I arrived in Amsterdam and had to board 2 trains, 1 tram and then walk 2 blocks with these 4 pieces! I looked like a pack mule and fortunately, a few strangers gave me a hand on the trains and tram. When I got close to the hotel and was seen, my “buds” came to the final rescue.

The flight transfer in Memphis was a CLOSE call... they were calling for final boarding when I got off my plane arriving from Tampa at gate 4 and I scurried
to gate 43 to catch my international leg. Let me add that Memphis is a much bigger airport than I'd have ever guessed!

Once in Holland, I spent 10 euros on train/tram tickets, but didn't get checked by the train patrol at all!!  I hate when they don't check me...
even though I'm super honest, it feels like I wasted my money! Darn, the stupid ticket that doesn’t get punched!  (... ha ha…silly me!)

It feels like I have only been away from Kurhaus about 2 or 3 months and I can hardly believe that over a year has passed.
LOTS of happy, familiar faces welcomed me and I'm immediately back in the swing of the triple kiss greeting!
(kiss left cheek, kiss right cheek, kiss left cheek) ...AND they have put  me in a delightful room this time! It hasn't been renovated yet,
but that's OK with me. It's very spacious and has a little outside patio w/ table that faces the beach. I can open the doors and hear the ocean! 
AWESOME,awesome, awesome!  BUT, it's also been WAY too cold and drizzly to keep the doors open!

I'm THRILLED about being given internet in my room this year. A BIG hooray!  Now I don't have to go to the library every day for internet! 
Things are VERY GOOD! 
I made a cup of hot tea while I unpacked and it cracks me up... why do I love drinking hot tea here??!! Never at home, but it tastes (and feels)
so "right" in this environment!  I’ll make sure to pick up vanilla, camomile, lemondrop  and red berry while at breakfast , then I’ll have the
extra good tea bags in my room stash!

I was also tempted to nap in the afternoon, but I knew better, so I went over to the gym instead! The gym was empty (as always) and
all “my” machines were just as I left them last year!

Finally to finish the day, a nice meal of beef broth, a small chicken Caesar salad and a couple glasses of Chardonnay. Jaap, a friend from last year joined me at the end of my meal and we had a nice catch up chat! I’m guessing the wine helped me have a great 10 ½ hours of sleep on my first night here.  YESSS!!

Saturday, May 1st

After my wonderful nights rest, I enjoyed a couple of coffees and took my breakfast to the room to eat later, usually about 1:00. FYI- This carry-out breakfast which becomes lunch will continue to be an everyday routine.

Would’ve loved to have gone down to the beach but it’s raining and too cold.  Instead, I headed to the gym and enjoyed my alone time! It’s a combo of cardio, weights and then relaxation (which I especially LOVE, LOVE, LOVE) When I stretch out on the floor,
I see up and out of the windows at such an angle that I can watch the seagulls soaring and gliding on the
strong wind currents. They absolutely seem to float like magic outside the windows. The “suspended” seagulls
are one of my favorite memories from last year. In fact, every time I hear my relaxation music
(no matter WHERE in the world I am) it takes me to this peaceful, feel good “place”.   

I know first impressions are important, but convenience seemed better at the moment,
so after my workout and (still in my “gym” look), I introduced myself to the (new to me) F&B mgr.
and we discussed my work schedule and misc. issues. His name is Michael and he is Dutch.
Because he has worked in 5 star hotels in Asheville and Washington DC,for awhile, his English is perfect! 
Nice! I’m sure I’ll like working with him!

After leaving Michael’s office,  I anxiously got my equipment set up and tried to test the PA system with my hook ups! Arrrggghh!! This part is always nerve racking for me!  Things (of course) didn’t work properly and so they call “tech dept.” The tech department is also known as the “maintenance department”! LoL!   So here comes Nicco, a super nice guy that tries to help the situation!  He looks to see if I’ve plugged into the electrical outlet!?!?!  Ha ha !  Geez, who would think of that???  Ha ha!  After his inspection revealed that I had indeed properly plugged in, he had NO idea how to get the mixing board to play through the house speakers! Fortunately, when the bartender arrived 30 minutes later, he went to the locked storage room, turned on an amplifier, flipped 2 switches to aux. and tah dah…  I had immediate sound in the massive areas of restaurant, bar, rotunda and galleries! 

Work went very well and I’m sure Michael was happy to see that his new pianist had showered and cleaned up after her initial sweaty introduction! (tee hee) 

It was busy all night in both the restaurant and lounge and I started at my usual 5:30 PM.  Because it was so busy, I didn’t stop for my scheduled breaks and finally finished at 12:15AM (45 minutes after I was supposed to finish)!

I MUST break this nasty habit! I’ve done this for years, but it really is TOO long to play without breaks!  I’ll work on this resolution for sure!

First night working again!
My friend from last year, Vladimir!
And, he brought his father in too!
Sunday, May 2nd

Sundays are always hectic!  We serve a beautiful brunch from 12:30 – 3:00 for which I play (and try to sing… hey, it’s mid-day) and then I start back again at 5:30 for the regular evening schedule, so there’s no time to go out or have any down time.

However, I did get a phone call about 4:00 that Frits, (a musician friend) had arrived to see if he could fix my tenor sax! (Those of you who read my blog last year might remember my crazy story of taking a bus to a “barn” located in a dark field in front of a factory about 45 minutes away to hear Frits play) Anyway, It seems Albert the bartender called Fritz and told him of my sax problem and he came right over to see if he could help!! Wow… isn’t that awesome??  And yes, he got it going again and said he’ll drive me to his sax repairman if it doesn’t stay! 

I love these people!!! :-D

This is a band that Frits plays in!
These ad posters are for their upcoming concert!

About now I figured it was time to head to my favorite little pub in Den Haag, The Fiddler. I remembered that last year they offered Monday night meal specials, (remember I’m cheap) so I headed over there and enjoyed a pint of cider and fish & chips while reading more of my “current” murder mystery book by James Patterson!

Next was a trip to the grocery store where I enjoying perusing up and down the aisles and admiring the cool foods they have ( and sad for the things they DON’T have, like Hazelnut Creamer)!
I bought a couple of items and then headed out for Central Station to buy a Strippenkaarten.

A strippenkaarten is what the locals buy and use to ride the trams and buses because it saves a lot of money!  It was about a 20 minute walk to the main train station, but I knew they had a kiosk that sold them and it had stopped raining!  Well, I got there about 30 seconds too late. The controllers (tram police) were already standing behind the last customer in line and said they were closed. I asked the officer about a strippenkaarten and he told me I could buy one at the Albert Heijn grocery store located within the train station! Here’s the part (where we can roll our eyes)... that’s the same grocery store chain I ‘d been shopping in 20 minutes earlier. If I’d had known, I could have purchased one at that time and saved the walk across town!  LMAO!  Now I know!! Ha ha…(I certainly laugh a lot here in Holland, don’t I?)

Home again by 9:00PM and it’s still light outside! Doesn’t feel so late, but once the curtains are drawn, I convince myself that it’s time to sleep!

It was an ugly day with super big waves crashing on shore and it was raining, so I was in NO hurry to head out for some MUCH needed shopping!  Oh yeah, I forgot to share that on Saturday night, I totally BLEW UP my flat-iron (for my hair)!  Guess my ” little beauty appliance” wasn’t happy about the power conversions and man, the mini-explosion scared the crap out of me! 

Around 3:30 that afternoon, I borrowed a big umbrella from the front desk and fought through the drizzle and howling winds to the tram stop… I almost looked like Mary Poppins a couple of times!  20 minutes later, I was in Media Markt in Den Haag purchasing some batteries for my camera (yippee) and my flat iron (double yippee).
Monday, May 3rd

My Day-Off! I waaaayyyy over-slept today! I had tossed and turned most of the night and finally got up around 4AM with a very upset tummy. I thought the shrimp in my bisque tasted funny.. guess they WERE funny!! Finally, I returned to sleep about 5:00 and didn’t awaken until 11:30!  Geez! 
Those that know me will tell you I am frugal (cheap), so here’s my funny part of this story!!. After making my battery purchase on floor 1, I saw a big battery blowout sale on floor 3.  25% more batteries for 40% the price!  Well, I HAD to return my purchase and buy the better value (of course)!

As an American, we are accustomed to (and not necessarily a good thing) fast, rush, get in, get out, hurry, hurry ALL the time! Well, let me assure you…. I was NOT in America anymore!!!  LOL!!  I went to customer service for my refund where the young woman politely said she’d hold my unpaid items until after my refund and then pointed me downstairs. Ok fair enough! So down the stairs I go, to the basement level, where I have to take a number and a seat!  This is the layaway area, questions answered desk, computer support, help given, refunds, “God knows what else” department!  It’s actually funny since all I needed was a “quick” 16euro refund on a purchase made 10 minutes before! So, I sat my butt down and enjoyed being a local! I smiled to myself several times during my 45 minute wait (really, 45 minutes!) I know… it’s a stitch isn’t it?? I thought that when a number was called, it was from a lotto drawing!  People actually smiled, held up their number and proudly walked up to the desk as if it was a huge accomplishment!! Tee Hee Hee (my entertainment for the day, for sure). So, #59 is FINALLY called and I proudly hold up my ticket and walk up to the counter for my refund!  Poor me..  I actually thought I was going to get my refund at this point but, nooooo!  All I got was “THE” blue ticket and instructions of…  “now you can go back upstairs where the lady at customer service will kindly issue your refund!” I’m not making this up!!  Gotta love it!!
Nasty, big waves crashed to shore over 24 hours,
creating mountains of foam!
Tuesday, May 4th

Another day off! I love it!

I was up at 7:15 (yes, AM) and working on this blog about an hour before heading down to the restaurant!

During my coffee time in the restaurant, a young, Asian infant about 9 or 10 months old continually stared at me. It was laughable. Both her Asian parents were very
embarrassed because she would NOT take her eyes off of me! I assured them that it was ok, but I can’t help but wonder why I looked so
strange/weird/mean/beautiful/odd to her? …it did make me smile though!  The parents both apologized again when they left for her “intrusion” on me during my coffee!  

HOORAY….. Yes, FINALLY some sunshine!  It’s only 45% outside, so I can’t get tooooo excited, but I bundled up in my sweats and enjoyed a long 1 ½ hour walk down the beach and then back up the promenade! I’ve never seen sea foam like they have here and I wonder if it has anything to do with the volcano ash?  It was up to 12 inches deep in parts, and would roll like tumbleweeds!  Strange! However, I also learned NOT to walk down there, as my (only) gym shoes were ucky, dirty and smelled like the ocean! I had to lightly hand wash them when I returned to the hotel but otherwise, no harm done! 

Another LONG, LONG walk in the afternoon because even though it was cold, the sun was shining and it was so pretty!! With my scarf tied securely, my gloves pulled up snug, and my jacket zipped half up, I explored a different part of Scheveningen and was happy to be semi-lost! I fortunately have a built in compass so I was never “lost”, but after walking in an quiet isolated park for 30 minutes, I wondered if I’d ever find my way out??    I photographed some beautiful homes, gardens, driveways, playgrounds… you name it! People would almost always smile as we passed on the sidewalk and I once again adored the creative bicycle configurations 2,3 4 people riding on 1 bike and also admired the ages of everyone riding. I walked by great-grandmothers pedaling and a pack of 3 little ones… all with training wheels. Women with multiple grocery bags in tow and workers with their tool sets riding along! It is an amazing culture!

Once I got back into town centre, I located a bank so I could exchange currency … surprise… the answer is “Naa” (no).The ONLY place I can get currency exchanged is at Central Station in Den Haag!!! :-O  I have been considering opening a bank account and I think this will kick me into action! Several reasons are… I can’t buy “discounted” train fares without a Dutch bank account, I can’t use my credit card everywhere, (American credit cards don’t contain a chip and pin), I can’t use ATM’s without a double service charge!  Soooo…. tomorrow I am heading down to the public service department and applying for a “whatever” number so I can open a bank account!  $$$  LOL! Hey, it gives me something to do!!!

So, back to my room and AIM’d with my hubby and Skyped with a couple of friends while enjoying a glass (or two) of my South African wine from the grocery store! (glad I purchased it while I had a few Euro left!) ha ha!

Tuesday night... from my room... while I am updating this blog!

And, I've realized that when I board the Prinsendam in July,
we will probably sail right by here!!               Ironic, huh?
Four "roads" here... grey is for pedestrians, red is for bikes, main road for cars, final lane is for trams! Cool, huh? .
These carts (on the front of the bike)
     hold up to 4 small children!
see the ship?
Wednesday & Thursday May 5th &6th

While Americans are celebrating Cinco de Mayo at home, I was touched and appreciative for the holiday that the Dutch celebrated on May 5th. It is their Liberation Day… marking the end of Nazi occupation during World War II. It is a day of reflection and remembering the soldiers whose lives are lost (similar to our Veterans Day in America). In respect and honor of the victims of the war, the entire country observed 2 minutes of silence on Tuesday evening at 8PM.  Nice! Then, Wednesday was a national holiday, so most people had the day off. Stores, banks, post office, etc. were closed and I stayed “home” all day enjoying the gym, reading, transposing some music and enjoying some internet!

Thursday morning was beautiful! The sun was shining for the third day in a row and even though I wore my jacket and scarf, it was relatively mild in temperature. I took my gloves but didn’t need them and eventually took the scarf off my neck and tied it around my purse strap!  Oh, things are terrific!

I walked down to the public service department to get a BSN number… so I could open a bank account… so I could have a card with a pin…. so I could use the ATM’s…so I’d have cash… so I could apply for discounted train tickets… (whew)… but, guess what??? Naa!!! No number for me! The pleasant lady behind the desk graciously gave me the telephone number for the immigration office and said I needed to ring up immigration and get an appointment with them in order to receive this “elusive” BSN.

I was hoping to get an after lunch appointment and thought I should have all my documents in hand before making the phone call! So, back to the Kurhaus, not only for the call but to also get my work contract. This will be my needed “proof of a residence” and confirm that I’m not a homeless vagabond!

I also discovered a neat little animal farm for children as I ventured a “side route” back to Kurhaus. The farm and playground were very cute with goats, sheep, cows, chickens and quite a few children running around in the fences! Some goats ran to me at the fence, anxiously anticipating some food! Once they determined that I wasn’t in possession of a goat snack, they promptly trotted off with some attitude! This gave me a nice chuckle as I continued my walk home!

I stopped at the front desk on my way in because I learned last year that it’s tricky to make phone calls here. This country has a strange (to me) calling system and the “help” phone prompts are in Dutch… not helpful for this poor girl!   After my co-workers gave me a hand in making the phone call (it was a small struggle for them) I got my appointment!  …..May 27th , THREE WEEKS AWAY… LOL!!  I won’t need a bank account much longer after that, but the experience in obtaining this “golden” number will probably make for good blogging material! 

The public service department is located next to the library and so I popped in the “bibliotheek” since I’m almost finished with my current novel I learned last year that to get a library card (to check out books) is expensive… BUT they have a sale table within the library and these books are offered for .50. Woo Hoo, I am the proud owner of 4 “new” books… although 1 book was specially tagged for 1 euro instead of .50???  dang, I hope it’s worth that extra .50.. tee hee! 

Fri. May 7th

I have been enjoying my room and ocean views immensely. The weather isn’t overly inviting and I find that I love watching the waves, birds, distance ships, horseback riders, kite fliers, romping dogs, and running children… all from the comfort of my warm room! I look forward to Betsy’s arrival (from Toledo) next week, as that will get me out on sightseeing missions again. In the meantime, I’ve been quite content to stay in my room and work on music, read and of course enjoy my computer… blogging, Skyping and watching my friends/family on Facebook!

I still spend a couple of hours (almost) every day in the resultroom (fitness center) and that keeps me from getting too lazy in this life of luxury! Which reminds me…? I LOVE that name resultroom!  It reminds me that if I work hard, that’s exactly what will happen… results!! Ha ha, it makes me smile every time I see the name plate!

The piano is above the red carpet that is our lobby area and front desk. See the people coming up the stairs into our "main" room?
Here's a side view!
My view from the elliptical!
Resultroom Elevator Button
(From my Facebook) - Will ANYBODY out there send me some pity??? I just came to my room for a one hour dinner break (between sets) ... here is my soup and salad!! Plus, my washed and folded gym clothes are in those boxes... delivered while I was working!
A few days ago, I noticed several fenced mounds of sand along the beach. It seemed
curious at the time, but now I understand … it's a sand sculpture exhibition and they
are indeed spectacular.  I took a few photos but must admit that the photos don’t
do these works of art justice! 

And, while I was outside with the camera, I shot a photo of my room from the beach side…..

I had planned to go for some exercise down the beach and had just started trudging through
the thick sand when I spotted my friend Hiib at "The Eldorado" beach cafe. I spontaneously
made a small detour from my walk to say hello and hoped to surprise him with little kiss
sounds from behind. After 10 or 15 minutes of chatting, I finally accepted his second offer
to sit for a coffee. Hey… I’m trying to consciously slow down my American “rush, rush” characteristics
and take things more gentle as they appear to me!  Hiib has lived in Scheveningen for 78 years and it is
endearing to hear him tell (with great Dutch pride) his many stories including how his father had built
so many of the early buildings here along the beach! I’m beginning to understand his accent a little more
easily and thankfully, don’t have to ask him to repeat  words nearly as often! I do treasure this sweet, kind man!

My beach walk never happened, but that’s ok… I still made it to the “resultroom” for a short 50 minute
mini-workout before getting ready for work.

I enjoyed another AWESOME night at work! My job is so fun and I especially love when I can get several groups going with requests, laughter and sometimes sentimental tears!  Last night was one of those nights.  I had a very sweet elderly couple celebrating their 50th anniversary, a lovely bride and groom “in wedding attire”, a family of 6 people brought me an “appreciation” bouquet of beautiful roses, another couple from Friday night returned and promptly sent me a glass of wine, (I’ve had at least 2 glasses of wine sent to the piano every night since I arrived) and I had 9 or 10 of my “regulars” that popped in throughout the night. Yes, a thrilling evening and that much excitement is quite exhausting… I slept like a rock!

Saturday May 8th
The bottle of wine was a gift on Wednesday night,
the flowers from Saturday!
my "home"
Sun. May 9th

Happy Mother’s Day!

As I’ve previously blogged, Sundays are a double shift and overall pretty tiring. Today was especially hectic because of Mothers Day! The restaurant was full capacity and the noise level pegging a red zone! I still don’t have a monitor (speaker) by the piano, so I REALLY struggled to hear my vocals and backing tracks! The focus and concentration (while looking cheery and carefree) is pretty demanding and sucked the energy right out of me. Tonight my butt was dragging and it was difficult to conceal my drowsiness, although I had 2 fun groups near the end that helped inject some interest!

The BEST part of my day was Skyping with my family while they were all gathered at a party in Florida… it was almost midnight here in NL, but hey, it was STILL Mother’s Day for all of us!

Monday, May 10

I woke up refreshed and ready to sightsee in Den Haag under the beautiful blue skies!

I must confess that it looked much warmer from inside my cozy room and I did have some regrets the entire day that I had not dressed a bit warmer. Thankfully, I did have my knitted scarf and gloves, but dang that wind was extra cold and cutting though my jacket and thin shirt.

My first idea was to find the immigration office where I have “the” appt. in a few weeks.
I had a nudging feeling that I needed to pre-locate the address, as most addresses here are tricky to find!  I don’t know if it’s a true language issue, but the street names (if and when they’re posted) are horrifically difficult. It took me one hour to locate the office, and that was with the assistance of one woman, two policemen, a flower delivery person and a mailman! Geez… you’d think it was a top secret facility!!  Once I could physically see the front door, I sighed relief and triumphantly walked towards the nearest tram!  Before reaching the nearest intersection, a poor British lady with a single arm crutch and beads of sweat on her face stopped me for directions!  She was desperately trying to locate Stadhoudersplantsoen 24  (the elusive immigration office) for her appointment and was struggling in a lost stupor. She was exceptionally happy and appreciative that I was able to help her!  :-D

On exiting the #1 tram this morning, I had one hour to get my “immigration egg hunt” completed and still have a valid ticket to ride into Den Haag. I was pretty certain that my hourglass was on the last grains of sand when I ran to catch the #17 tram for my relatively short ride into town center. My breath had just returned to normal when 3 tram police boarded to check tickets! Geez… of ALL frigging times! I so diligently punch and pay for my trips and this time, I wasn’t 100% sure I was valid. I tried not to show my anxiety while being checked, but was certainly relieved when he handed it back with a pleasant “dank je wel”!

A cute name for a cute alley!
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the bibliotheek (library) in Den Haag. They have more in-stock sheet music then ANY music store I have ever stepped foot in!

And, here’s the BEST part…many COPY machines for our convenience!!  After making copies of several songs (that have been requested), I was lucky enough to be able to “rent” the piano & practice room for 30 minutes for 1.25!  I LOVE this place!!  I also learned that there is an electronic keyboard with headphones available for free use! Again, I LOVE this place!

I popped into the vvv-tourist information for some maps and to get some information on “what not to miss” this visit!  The young lady behind the counter saw me and gave me a big hello and welcome back!  It was “Myleen” ! She worked at the Scheveningen tourist office last year, but that office has unfortunately closed. She cheerfully gave me LOTS of assistance and I left with a weighted down bag of goodies, including a cycle company that does tours and sells used bikes!

I’ve been kicking the bike idea around for over a year now, but I seem to have some uncertainties. I’m concerned that I might do something stupid and
cause a wreck or actually be in one! Every single Dutch person owns at least one bicycle, and they ride with no hesitations. Everybody totally knows the how’s, why’s, where’s, and when’s of riding. It’s amazing to watch the cars, buses, trams, pedestrians and bikes weave through town without a glitch! 
Even when it’s raining and cold… out they are… pedaling away!  Tomorrow I have booked a 3 hour Haag Cycle Tour!  If I love it, I might try to find a used
bike to buy and resell when I leave! I’ll let you know!!!

So, my biggest adventure today was outside of the Embassy of the United States of America! I didn’t step through the blatantly open gate, but I did take a picture of the pretty wall plaque on the side of the building! That’s it, that’s all I did... I sure didn’t see any signs saying I couldn’t do that! However, I had a “deer in the headlights” look when I saw 3 guards coming towards me, snapping MY pictures!! Holy crap, I was scared to death! They asked if I worked there, why I was there and why I was taking pictures. Even though the guard was strict, he wasn’t too mean, but I was still shaking in my shoes… they probably had a good laugh once I left!  I was sufficiently warned that my picture was being processed and added into their data of possible suspected persons in the vicinity taking photos!!   Good Lord… I certainly don’t need government problems!!

And finally, I jumped on Bus #22 in great anticipation of a wonderful Italian meal at my favorite little restaurant back in Scheveningen. Dang. Dang, Dang they now close on Mondays so I hung my head and walked back home! Booo… maybe tomorrow!

Before getting all the way to home, I bought myself “poor Debby”  treats at a little store...  (baked) potato chips and one small single piece of dark chocolate! The chocolate here in Holland is brilliant! That was the first piece I’ve allowed myself and I WILL have to be vigilant and responsible with it.
3 hard boiled eggs and some almonds topped off my dinner menu for tonight but, I WILL make up for it next time I get to that Italian restaurant! Look out garlic bread! :-D

A pub garden.. delightful to be alone in this haven!
My scary moment!

When the 3 hours were over, I felt pretty self-confident and ready to be a REAL Dutch girl and own my own bike!  Soooo... BIKE SHOPPING I went!

After stopping for a coffee to warm my FROZEN body and hands at The Fiddler Pub (I NEVER thought I’d see the day that I’d order coffee in The Fiddler), I made some inquires for used bikes at several shops!

Bikes are extraordinarily expensive here and used ones are no exception.
I finally found a bike in my price range, but wanted to “sleep on the idea” and ask the hotel if I could park it in our bike area. Plus, I needed to get some additional cash to buy it! 

Then, the final stop… Lasagna, garlic bread and a nice red wine at my favorite cozy & quiet Italian restaurant!  Ummm, a terrific way to finish a terrific day!

Tuesday, May 12

What a great day I had… AGAIN! :-D
The day started with 3 ladies requesting I take their photo in front of the beautiful Kurhaus, which of course, I happily agreed! The giggly part was when a motorcycle policeman drove behind the ladies and also posed in their photo! Very cute! As I sat waiting for my tram, I had regretted not having my photo made  with the policeman too!  I couldn’t acted like I was in (more) trouble from my embassy encounter … ha ha!  Ahhh, never mind now, but it did seem funny to me at that time!
Lucky me… I was the only person for the bicycle tour today!  Arthur, the bike shop owner introduced (my private guide ) Bom, as “the mayor” of Haag!  And, it didn’t take long for me to realize that he wasn’t exaggerating too much… Bom knew everyone and they knew him! 

Bom (Bomb) is an emcee for many music events, concerts and
productions and is very known in Haag. An upcoming rock
concert has posters and billboards of Bom plastered all over the
city. He’s even on the side of Tram #17!  Fun!

So, off we go on our 3 hour cycling excursion. We had many laughs,
perhaps the best one was when we asked some city workers to
please take our picture in front of the Peace Palace! We told
them we had just gotten married… ha ha!  So, the rest of the tour
was our joke of being on our honeymoon and I said he was
my “rent-a-husband” for the day!

Bom gave me some nice details of Haag history, showed me
some pretty courtyards that are tucked down alleyways,
explained (at my request) traffic signs, and we had 1 stop for
coffee at a cute little café.  We were separated from the café
by a canal ,  but there was a small flat-bottom boat attached to
a rope/pulley system and Bom  shouted over to another customer
to please crank the rope out! It was a clever little idea and
worked great for getting us across! 
Wednesday, May 13

I woke up with excitement of the new day and with anticipation of my pending bicycle purchase. It wasn’t the prettiest day to be outside and the periodic drizzly rain dampened my eagerness. After getting permission to use our hotel bike parking and learn the entry locations, I took the tram into Haag, cashed in some US $ and bought my new (used) purple friend.

I’ve named her “Paars Philomena”, which means
"purple beloved friend of strength"! 

I would've liked to have bought this Ferrari instead of my bike.
Because the weather was relatively poor, I rode home with only 1 photo stop in front of some pretty flower beds and no accidents, squealing breaks or horns blown at me!

Yeah, success!
Thursday, May 13

How the heck can my days race by so quickly? It is impossible for me to understand how my days fly by, especially when I’m ALWAYS out of bed well before 9AM!

I haven't been too successful with rehearsing, learning new material and writing in transposition chords (for my low alto singing voice) but after several hours of music, music, music today in my room, I was ready to perform some songs that I haven’t done here yet! 

Even though my red “do not disturb” tag was hanging on the door, the housekeeper came in!  During her cleaning efforts she looked and admired all my horns sitting around the room! She thought it was fascinating to see the "expensive" horns and looked at them as if they were  red hot Ferrari’s in a showroom!       It was sweet and sad all in the same breath!

Our housekeepers generally aren’t from Holland and I’ve learned that most don’t understand English (because they’re not from Holland).  They are very sweet and work their butts off but sadly, I’m guessing their salaries are very small and the cost of a horn for them is well beyond comprehension! 

These are moments that reinforce and remind me to be thankful for my many blessings! I work 5 hours a day in a job that is extraordinarily fun and truthfully, most days I would pay to do it!
Friday, May 14

I love to read a good story and it’s only when I’m away from home that I take the time to read! I’m almost finished with my second book but I’m finding it more difficult each day to find time to read… at breakfast and at bedtime!  Man oh man... where is my time going???

After an hour in the fitness room, I took Philomena (my bike) out of the parking barn and enjoyed pedaling into Den Haag under blue sunny skies. The temps were mild and even though I told myself I was only going to take the quiet paths, somehow I ended up smack dab in the center of downtown Den Haag with the traffic. However, it was all ok and I would tuck in behind other bikers,follow their lead and kinda watched and learned!
At one point there was a small little traffic backup when a delivery truck blocked a narrow,one way street. While the cars blew their horns and impatiently waited for the truck to move, I followed a mommy with her child riding in the front bike basket!  We did a slow weave between cars, to the left and then across to the right. Her basket was quite wide… making me feel safe and lucky to get a lesson in maneuvering in stopped traffic! We weren’t riding or walking. It was more like, sit on your seat and push your bike along slowly with your feet on the ground. It felt gratifying to circumvent the whole jam!  :-D

I rode about 20-22 km and returned to the hotel just in time for a shower and get ready to work!

Saturday, May 15

Betsy arrived a little before noon in the Den Haag train station and we found each other easily at (good old) Burger King!!

As we headed to Kurhaus to get rid of her bags, we took a quick hop off the tram for some "Welcome to Holland" tulip pictures!

After dropping her bags off,  we walked out the backside of Kurhaus to see the sand sculptures and eat some lunch!

As luck would have it, we coincidently bumped into my friend Hiib, walking a friends dog. He suggested a restaurant for us and the 4 of us (including the dog) went in for lunch.

After lunch, Betsy and I walked the beach, through the downtown area and then back to Kurhaus so I could get ready for work!

For 4 guys!
Sunday, May 16

While I worked my usual Sunday double shift, Betsy visited the beautiful Keukenhof Gardens. I would have loved to gone along, but I AM supposed to be here to work!!  darn… Haha

I had the BEST surprise on Sunday night! Let me regress…  Last year, I visited the wonderful town of Volendam and on a silly whim, went into a photo shop where I dressed up in a Dutch costume and had my picture made! I struck up a conversation with Cees (the shop owner) and we have remained friends ever since!

Well, on Sunday night, Cees and his lovely wife Rose took a bus and then train (2 hours) from Volendam to Kurhaus to visit me and celebrate their 35 anniversary!! It was the highlight of my day for sure. Their old friends Heidi and Marius from the Hague joined them and it was a wonderful evening for all of us!
Monday, May 17

A slightly late start to the day, but Betsy and I headed off to the historical old town of Haarlem. We were going to walk through this pretty, pretty town, and also visit a friend of mine (from last year) Pieter, at Adriaans Windmill, where Pieter is a volunteer guide!

Pieter  was expecting us and after enjoying a picnic lunch on a park bench directly across for the mill, Betsy and I enjoyed the tour. We also had the unexpected joy of meeting Pieter’s 26 year old daughter Olga and enjoying a drink with her after the tour. Olga is a beautiful young lady (I immediately thought of Paris Hilton) FULL of life and we had such laughs listened to her stories of the many places around the world that she has already lived and worked (and played) :-D !

Our day HAD gone very easily and without problems… note the emphasis on had!!  We were excited to drag our luggage to “our” Holiday Inn 2 blocks from the train stop, even commenting about the wonderful convenient location! However, they did not show a reservation for us and it turned out that we were booked at another Holiday Inn Airport  that had been sold and was now a Park Plaza Hotel. Our reservation was confirmed by the helpful girl at our “wrong” hotel, and she politely allowed us to leave our luggage while we went into Amsterdam for dinner and a short walk in the city.

It was a short 10 minute metro ride (subway) into the center of Amsterdam and we decided rather quickly that we’d have a nice Argentinean steak dinner and then take a walk around town… specifically into red light district as Betsy had never seen anything like it before!
“Slow Down, Betsy”
I had quite a chuckle as Betsy was shocked and embarrassed by the bikini clad university aged girls and (a few) older women displaying themselves. These working girls usually stand or half sit on a high stool in individual private booths and arefully on display behind a large glass wall with a glass door for access. They suggestively try to coax buyers with hand gestures, eye winking or body movements and some girls nonchalantly talk on their cell phones and half pay attention to the thousands of people passing in one evening. When an agreement is made, they simply open their glass container, let the buyer step in and then pull the door closed and draw the attached permanent curtain on the door for privacy. It really is something to witness at least once in your life, although I quite honestly feel that it would be degrading to be displayed like a Macy’s window mannequin. Oh well, to each their own!

The sun doesn’t set until after 10:00 and we slightly lost track of time.  It was close to midnight before we hopped the metro back to our “wrong” hotel, picked up our bags and then caught the train out to the airport, to call our hotel shuttle! Once at the airport, we VERY unhappily learned that our hotel shuttle had stopped making pickups at 10:30, and so we had to take a taxi for €30…(bummer).

While checking in, we inquired about the return shuttle for the next morning and were told “sorry, our shuttle is only free of charge coming from the airport, not going to!”   After a small “discussion" and some whining from us, the young lady waived our morning shuttle cost!
Once we got to our room about 2:30 AM, we decided to cancel our second night with them due to their inconvenient location, and return to our beautiful Kurhaus, maybe even eating at my favorite Italian restaurant!

More sand sculptures
Tuesday, May 18
After checking out of our hotel and taking the train to Amsterdam’s  Centraal Station, we found the locker storage, ditched the bags and headed upstairs to the bus terminal to catch one of the several buses that go out into the “Lake District”. This region is a short and scenic 30 minute ride from Amsterdam and includes the picturesque “Disney” towns of Edam, Volendam, Marken and Monnicicht.
A visit to any of them is worthwhile.  

Because my friends Cees & Rose were expecting us, Volendam was the destination of the day. We first stopped at the tourist office to get a map and any suggestions that the helpful information desk could provide. We decided to take our own walking tour and Betsy was the guide! She also enjoys reading maps and I wanted her to tour the town in her own way. Even though I had already been there, she still walked us through some areas that were unknown to me... FUN!

We browsed through a grocery store and I (of course) found the bakery reduced price area.. Woohoo! I splurged on 2 decadent apple pastries that we enjoyed later on a waterside picnic!

We stopped in almost every tourist shop for a quick browse and I bought a couple of TOURIST shirts (LOL) and a cool hat and Betsy bought 100 tulip bulbs to be shipped home! Yes, 100!! :-D

Finally, we visited Rose & Cees in their photoshop! They promptly hung their closed sign and that’s when the fun began! After chatting for a bit, Betsy, Cees and I were dressed in Dutch costumes and Rose shot dozens of poses with many backdrops! We all laughed most of the afternoon and finally when the town closed at 6:00 we caught the bus back to Amsterdam and ultimately the train back to Scheveningen (for that yummy Italian meal I had hoped for)! 
I have been the display girl for the past year!!   LOL!
Rose & Cees
Wednesday, May 19

We rode the tram into Den Haag and walked for a couple of hours through the beautiful city. In my opinion, Den Haag is a much more enjoyable city to stroll then Amsterdam. I’m guessing that I’d have people disagree about my next statement, but to me, Hague is more like Washington DC  and Amsterdam is more like Las Vegas.  Both have lots of tourists and things to do, but the energies and heartbeats are different! 

Betsy and I enjoyed our leisurely walk and stopped for our picnic lunch in the Queens Garden. Yes, this garden is in the back of the Queen’s residence.  Bom (bike guide) had shown me this beautiful, green park and I bookmarked it in my memory as a lovely place to return! It’s not crowded or loud, but has just enough activity to make it alive and cheery! We selected a bench directly in the sun, removed our jackets and over shirts and soaked up the warm rays of sun on our arms and faces! Glorious! We sat beside a playground and enjoyed watching the kids creatively play on the stark equipment that was placed on rubber covered hills, ride their trainer bikes (no pedals), run little races and Betsy even made friends with a dog that loved having his belly rubbed. And funny, the owner said the dog spoke Dutch and English!! Ha ha!
After a final stop at the Fiddler Pub (I HAD to share this favorite with her) we took another hour to once again relax in the warm weather and people watch. After returning “home”, Betsy used my bike for several hours while I worked. After hearing her stories and seeing her pictures, I’d agree that she had a great ride!
One of my new  Holland Tourist shirts!!
How about these heels??
Thursday, May 20

Delft.is a storybook town at the end of the #1 tram route which is a very easy 30 minute ride from Kurhaus.

We arrived late morning and after a stop at the tourist office for a map and questions, we began our stroll. Delft has a canal around each city block making a perfect picture spot at every turn! Very narrow streets (of course) and the few cars and delivery trucks must share as best as they can!

Betsy made an observation that I had not considered before. The cars must parallel park beside the canal and there is NO curb!!  Argghhh… tight fitted parking, plus this scary obstacle.  Hmmmm, not sure I could manage it!

I’ll stick to walking and pedaling!

I would NOT trust my parking skills here!
Thursday is market day in the main square and we were lucky to have this fun experience!

Everything is sold at the market. Meat, cheese, bakery, sewing supplies, clothes, hygiene (soaps, deodorants, etc.) shoes, hardware, dishes, antiques, greeting cards. I mean everything! To add to the atmosphere, a calliope (sounds like a merry go round) was playing music for the whole square to enjoy.

Very festive.
Baked Goods
After another  "sit in the sunshine" while the world walks by, we explored over to the edge of town and watched in fascination as a bike bridge turned to make way for a boat.

We put our Dutch reading skills to the test and tried to figure out an electronic sign that was obviously counting the fiets (bikes).

After an enquiry to a lady passing by, we learned it meant….”your tax dollars at work for this bike bridge”!

Over 4440 bikes had already crossed over the counter THIS MORNING!

We watched it count a few dozen bikes while we stood there… unbelievably!
The turning bridge !

Friday, May 21

Den Haag is the World’s International City of Law.
All foreign embassies and government ministries have locations in this city, and The Hague is also the de facto judicial capital of the United Nations, being the location of its primary judicial institutions.
Thanks to (American) Andrew Carnegie, the BEAUTIFUL Peace Palace was built in the early 1900’s. It is often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice (which is the principal judicial body of the United Nations), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.

I have wanted to tour the Peace Palace since I was here last year and remembered to make the written request several weeks before Betsy’s arrival. We fortunately were given a time slot for a 10:00AM English tour and were out the door early on this day!

The tour is very worthwhile and upon leaving, I WISHED that all the efforts for desired world peace could be achieved within those walls….  (sigh)

Walking, talking and sitting outside at a couple of different cafes… a great way to finish a relaxing, sunny day!

Saturday, May 22

Bye, bye Betsy!  I loved having Betsy here to visit me, meet my Dutch friends, see my extravagant working conditions and have time to just catch up with each other. It was terrific and she will be missed!

After seeing Betsy off on the tram, I got myself back in the gym for a couple of hours and then gave myself a much needed manicure, pedicure and hair treatment after a hot shower. I intended to relax for the next few hours in my robe, drinking hot tea and catching up this blog… argghh, one phone call later and that all changed!! 

One of the girls at the front desk called to say they had a BIG problem and needed my help. The hotel was completely full AND they had overbooked many rooms… “Would you please mind moving to another hotel this evening”??  Well, I wanted to say no, but really didn’t want to act like a prissy diva…. so, I had to start packing all my stuff up. Luckily, the hanging clothes were able to stay hanging, and the bellman loaded everything for me on a luggage cart and took it down to the housekeeping room for the night.

I checked into my other hotel home at midnight with a laptop case and plastic bag with my necessities! I laughed at myself thinking how I almost looked liked a vagabond!

Sunday, May 23

My "room for one night" was very clean, had a lovely view and I slept well!

Breakfast was included, so I went down to have many cups of coffee and nibble on something. LUCKY me, I got a table in the corner that was surrounded by windows and was overlooking one of the busiest intersections in Scheveningen! Yipee, people watching at its finest!!

It was going to be a very warm day and the beach was definitely the place where ALL of Holland wanted to be! Incoming traffic was piling up and the people were walking shoulder to shoulder towards the waterfront. Fun, fun!

9:30 AM - While waiting for the traffic light, a blond “smutty version” of Suzanne Somers and a “tired, partied out” Rod Stewart were seriously making out in a “pimp” looking car that she was driving!  They BOTH wore lots of jewelry and lots of makeup and I amusingly watched them thinking they needed to “get a room”!  Here’s the humor, 13 hours later, around 10:30 that night, guess who came strolling into Kurhaus bar?? Yes, the two blondes and they still needed to “get a room”!  

Monday, May 24

Today, I rode about an hour and a half on two trains to visit  's-Hertogenbosch ( Den Bosch).
I visited Den Bosch last year and remembered it was a nice town to see!

This would be a great way to spend my day off, enjoy the excellent weather and to meet Ed Metz. Ed is a friend of my arranger Lindsay and he was playing drums at a jazz festival in Den Bosch that day.

Music filled the narrow little streets and they had 8 or 9 different stages with live bands playing, all within 6 or 7 blocks! Needless to say, there were lots of people! One thing that I noticed was that many women were wearing very sexy short skirts and stiletto heels. What makes this so astonishing is the streets are cobblestone!! Now THAT is a trick to walk gracefully and without falling in high narrow heels, especially with a beer or wine in your hand! I salute them!! 

These girls were my biggest fans all weekend!

Clever bridges of NL
I wonder if they sell talent at the Talent Factory??? lol
One of first things I wanted to do was inquiry
about the 50 minute Binnendieze boat ride.  Last year, it was closed for the season on my visit, so I for sure wanted to do it this time!

The binnendieze is a canal network hidden under the city and at one time, spanned 22 kilometers. It started out as a regular river, running through the city in medieval times but due to lack of space in the city, people started building their houses and roads over the river.  In later times it functioned as a sewer and fell into disrepair. In recent decades, the remaining sixth of the old waterway system has been renovated, and it is possible to take boat trips through it.

I bought my ticket and was waiting 10 minutes early (as I had been told), but still almost missed getting on. My Dutch has improved enough to understand that a group of 6 elderly ladies had missed their tour because they had been drinking and were demanding that room be made for them on one of the 3 boats.

For some reason my name wasn’t on the “reserved” list and 2 of the 3 boats had already departed. It was obvious that the boat man was disgusted with arguing with these women and was leaving too! I had to wave my ticket at him and tell him I was NOT with those irresponsible ladies and I had a valid ticket, please take me along! He reversed the boat, grabbed and read my ticket, looked at his list, and reread my ticket. I clearly was booked, but a screw up had been made somewhere!! LOL… oh my luck!!! Ha ha! 
The tour was very enjoyable, although it was only spoken in Dutch.  I read an English translation page that gave the history and details and I think if the driver had not been in such a tizzy from the start, he would’ve given me a little help in English. It took awhile for his blood pressure to return to normal and I didn’t want to push his buttons anymore!
Once the music started, I stood up on my large concrete block, to see better! I guess it seemed like a good idea because a young Dutch girl (maybe 10 or 11 yrs. old)  asked if she could stand beside me! She was swaying to the music and singing along to “When You’re Smiling”… I was shocked! When the song finished she enthusiastically clapped and clapped.  After I understood that she knew some English, I told her I was surprised that she knew the words! She proceeded to tell me (in English) that she LOVED jazz and her parents listen to it at home and that’s how she knew the songs!

Jazz is jazz is jazz! … yes they play it the same way here! Band plays, trumpet solo, piano solo, trombone solo, bass solo, drum solo, band plays, song over. Next song, same idea… everyone will solo before the song is finished!  Ha, Ha! Jazz is jazz is jazz! (This was for Ron who is smiling and rolling his eyes right now! :-D )

After my boat ride, I was sitting in the sun on a large tent anchor block, having a glass of wine, waiting for Ed’s band to start playing. And, people watching of course!

A little girl kept getting upset because her ice cream cone was melting too fast and making a mess on her. Her poor mom was attempting to enjoy her glass of beer, while licking the ice cream “tidy” for her daughter. I silently chuckled to myself and thought … “There’s an example of a mother’s love!” …beer and ice cream…yuck! About 15 minutes later, the mom starting speaking to me about the festival and I told her of my earlier observation. She laughed and said how awful it had tasted! 
Tuesday, May 25

Today is supposedly the last sunny day for several days, so I wanted to be outside!

After coffee and the gym, I took Philomena out of her bike rack, strapped on my book, towel and lunch and started pedaling towards the dunes! I wasn’t really sure where I was riding but I thought I’ d get away from busy Scheveningen and find a quiet beach area to read and soak up some sun!

It only took me 2 stops to realize that the cold wind coming off the sea was not conducive for reading in the sunshine.  Because I was enjoying my bike ride so much, I decided that I would just keep riding for the day and see where I ended up! After pedaling up and down the dunes for awhile (phew) I was able to take off my jacket. (ok at least I was getting some sun!)

I came to realize that the dunes are where the sport bicyclist’s go for their workouts! I seldom see racing bikes, helmets or special bike clothes in town, but not the case out in the dunes!  Of course, there were also families, and regular folks like me pedaling their regular bikes, horseback riders and hikers, each having their own trail! It was really enjoyable and extra safe!

These were some of the more interesting signs during my ride
(left) Horse Trail,
                  (middle) Bike Trail,
                                 (right) Walking Trail
(left) Walking Trail,
                  (middle) Bike Trail
                                        (right) automobiles
I figured out how to read the bike maps...
duh, it's EASY!
And the best part is these routes keep you on bike paths throughout Holland...
AWESOME planning and organization!
Road signs for Bikes:  Red and White...
Road signs for Cars:   Blue and White!!
From the top of a dune...
          A great view of Hague in the distance
I don't know what this is???
About ½ way through my ride, I stopped for a cup of coffee and much needed dames break! My book and lunch stayed packed for the day, and I didn't even miss them!
It seems that I have established a tradition of eating at La Lacunda’s (Italian place) on Tuesday nights!

I really enjoy their food and the quiet atmosphere! Tonight, a big dog was also enjoying the restaurant, not an uncommon site here. The dog was well behaved and just laid calmly while his owners ate!

Brigitte (a friend of Frits from last year) had invited me to join her and some friends for “singers” night at a café in Den Hague and so after dinner,  I took the tram into town to take her up on the sweet offer.

The pianist was an excellent jazz player and the other fellow played upright bass, flugelhorn and sang. They were both VERY good musicians and invited people in  the cafe to come and sing a jazz song.

About 7 or 8 people took turns getting up to sing (like  karoke) and all of them were good. Brigitte was the best in my opinion, as she has a strong voice and good movement! And no, I did not participate! :-O

At the end of the night, Brigitte and her sister Jennifer drove me home to Kurhaus! It was a fun night with lots of laughs! 

Franz, Jennifer, Me, Hank, Brigitte
Good night to each other in the underground car park!
Wednesday, May 26

A cold, cloudy day that was PERFECT for getting caught up on this blog! Hooray, now, let’s see if I can keep up again!???!!

I'd say there are "enough" enjoying the beach today??
Thursday, May 27

Even though the alarm was set for 7:30, I was excited about getting my BSN number and was awake at 7:00!

I had time for 2 cups of coffee, before grabbing my passport, work papers and jumping on my bike to head into town! It was helpful knowing where the building was located and I locked my bike to a pole at 8:55, yeah!
I unlocked my bike at 9:20, boo!

The bad news was I needed to live here at least 4 months before I could get an address registration!

The young lady and 2 of her colleagues suggested I try for a sofin(?) # and said the office was beside the HS train station (the far side of Den Haag) .... I thought what the heck and like a REAL Dutch girl, set off in a light rain for Holland Spoor!  (Let the rat race begin)

Here’s the super short version…the first place I went, had closed 2 years ago, the new office
               (behind Centraal Station somewhere) I couldn’t find! 

OK, my inner Pollyanna says “That’s ok, I just got a LOT of experience riding in the city traffic”!

I made a few downtown stops for some purchases, and as my bungee cord securing my bag started getting more stretched, I thought how nice a basket or saddle bags would be?? Hmmm, lol!

My BEST purchase of the morning was from the bookstore. I now own an awesome map of the bike routes in Den Haag and Rotterdam areas. There are 1,000’s of bike paths just in this region and this map shows the posted routes and how many kms between the location points. I feel empowered and quite giggly right now!!

This view is from my Kurhaus room, Sunday afternoon...
ummmm... and I parked where???

We had an “interesting” evening in the restaurant tonight!  Kurhaus hosted a huge theme party for Girls Night Out -Sex in the City. We had 300+ women arrive around 6PM, drinking, talking, eating, talking, laughing, talking and leaving (talking) before 8:30 so they could watch the movie première of Sex in the City!  Hey, I’m a woman and I would’ve been doing the same thing ha ha (talking)! I wouldn’t want to host this kind of evening too often, but it was definitely different for a change!
I was finished working early because of our event, but I got to my room even later than usual!!

Why???? Because I was TALKING!!!  Ha ha!

I had several friends stop in for the night, and we all hung out in the make shift bar having some drinks and laughs! My friend Frits even worked on my alto sax, which had been giving me troubles!! What a BUNCH of nice folks I know here!
Huib and  Frits
Huib and Jaap
Frits working his magic on my alto and chatting with Bas, our restaurant manager!
My sweet, sweet bartender Albert who
ALWAYS keeps an eye out for my well-being!
Friday May 29

People Watching Observations
I derive great joy from watching and listening to European’s! Because I truly don’t know what they’re saying, I think it gives me even more pleasure!  Eye contact, body language and facial expressions speak a universal language… we all know that, don’t we??

(1)Just Married!
A non-smiling, new bride dressed in her long, beautiful white wedding dress and her husband in his formal tuxedo came into the restaurant to enjoy dinner after their (obvious) wedding ceremony! My smile came when I saw him place the tiny infant carrier with their new baby up on the table with them!!
(2)I Gotta Gripe!
I’ve noticed that many children around the world are allowed to run around a restaurant, as if it were a playground outing!  I apologize if this is offensive to you, but darn, it’s just not courteous for parents to allow this bad behavior! Last Sunday, I saw a lady get up and ask the parents of some really rowdy children to please settle them down.  The kids had been running the stairs, shouting, and loudly squealing   for at least 30 minutes… I wanted to stand up and applaud her (but of course couldn’t!).   She later came to me and apologized for that “inconsiderate” family that was disrespecting my music and gave me a nice tip! Wow!! :-O}

(3)Reinforcing Good Behavior!
I watched a family with 3 young children (3, 5 and 7 “ish”) have several meals in the restaurant. The oldest and youngest were cute boys and there was a blonde haired “middle child” girl; reminding me a LOT of my kids 20 years ago!  These children were extraordinarily quiet and well behaved! At breakfast one morning, I stopped to tell the whole family hello and share with them how delightful I found the children’s excellent behavior. The parents were obviously appreciative and told the kids (in Dutch) what I had said… the kids got BIG smiles, sat up very straight in their chairs and glowed with pride! Cute!
(4)A Lucky Lady!
A very old and fragile woman with a pretty face and sweet smile greatly needed assistance from her son and daughter-in-law at breakfast.  As I watched, I thought how kind and gentle they were treating her and quietly hoped and wished that we “all” could have tender love and care (like that) when becoming elderly! (LOL.. Kassidy, Dakota and Keathel, are you reading??... hint, hint!!...  LOL)
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