Friday, October 22, 2010

Dune bashing in the desert of Dubai

Unbelievable thrilling, exciting was this DUNE BASHING!! More exhilarating than ANY roller coaster ride!! OMG, so we got picked up from the hotel in this white Jeep that would bring us to the desert for our overnight trip. The first part was dune bashing... I had no idea it would be that fun!!

By the time we arrived at the desert ~ such a HUGE sand pit ~ you just can't imagine, everywhere you look hills of sand, and nothing else than sand!! As far as your eye can see. It is just before 5pm now and the sun starts setting and the sand is changing from this yellow to this bright orange... it is just MAGNIFICENT!! So beautiful, words cannot describe it to give it justice!! Flowing hills of smooth sand, and we are letting the air out of our tires to drive easier in this fluffy sand.. and there we go... FULL SPEED ahead, up and down, from side to side, to the top of the sand hills and all the way down, but not only straight, also side ways and the sand is blowing around the car, this is the BEST RIDE EVER!!

The girls LOVE it, giggling in the back of the Jeep, while I am holding myself tight... feeling my stomach turning and getting a bit nauseous after say 30 minutes of getting shaked, stirred and thrown upside down in this car... but I see a pit stop soon, so I am happy! It shouldn't have gone on much longer, and I am glad when we can step out and enjoy the massive sand around us and the gorgeous view! But how fun was this!! A great start of a fun day here in the desert of Dubai!

We even came across some camels who where enjoying their stroll in this huge natural sand box...

They didn't mind us bashing around in their play ground..

Finally having a stop, so we can take all this beauty in that surrounds us...

Just amazing how beautiful just sand can be!

And then the sun is setting and we are off to our next part of our trip, to the overnight camp..

But more about that later...
Is this fun or what??


Burj Kalifa ~ the Tallest Tower in the World

If you are in Dubai, you HAVE to go on the Burj Kalifa, the tallest tower in the world! (Burj means actually tower and Kalifa is the name of the sponsor). OMG ~ this is again a very impressive building in Dubai, there are many but this one tops the list!! (Click on the link to see more details and facts!)

How elegant, how futuristic, how gorgeous, how sleek, how AMAZING looking is this tower!!

Here a view from Burj Kalifa, looking down on the other sky scrapers in a morning fog.

It is not only the tallest tower in the world, but also has the quickest elevator in the world. It goes up 124 stories in less than 1 minute!! You feel if you are in a space shuttle, it has lights inside that goes on and off and you feel it in your stomach and ears when you go up and down. Then when you are on the highest floor that the public can go, the observation deck - 124th floor - you look down on other SKY SCRAPERS and you think they are toys!! It is just mind boggling how tall this building is!!

The world is not stopping anywhere even though there are many barriers coming ahead of them which include terror attacks, natural calamities and so on , but all over the world the Race for the Tallest Building is still going on and there are many towers being built to take place of the Number #1 Position

Just to give you some facts and figures:

Basic facts

1. Burj Khalifa is located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

2. It’s 828 metres tall (2,717 feet).

3. The exact height was not revealed until final stages of the construction.

4. It was officially opened on Jan 4, 2010.

5. It was previously known as Burj Dubai.

6. Burj means Tower in Arabic language.

7. It’s renamed after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi.

World records

8. Tallest building – previously Taiwan’s Taipei 101 (509m).

9. Tallest free-standing structure – previously Canada’s CN Tower (555m).

10. Tallest man-made structure – previously USA’s KVLY-TV Mast (629m).

11. Tallest man-made structure ever – previously Poland’s Warsaw Radio Mast (647m).

12. Building with most floors (160) – previously USA’s World Trade Center (110).

13. Highest elevator installation.

14. Highest outdoor observation deck (~440m)

15. Highest mosque at 158th floor.

16. Fastest elevators at speed of 64km/h, or 18m/s.

17. It would take just a minute to reach from ground level to top floor.

Architecture facts

19. Burj Kalifa has more than 162 floors.

20. It has 49 office floors.

21. It houses 1044 residential apartments.

22. It has a floor area of 334,000 square metres.

23. There’s 57 lifts in the tower.

24. There’s 28,261 of glass-panels on the exterior of the tower.

25. Its top spire can be seen from 95km afar.

26. The architecture features a triple-lobed footprint, an abstraction of the Hymenocallis flower.

27. The Y-shaped floor plan aims to maximize views of the Gulf.

28. Over 1,000 pieces of art from prominent Middle Eastern and international artists will adorn the tower and the surrounding Emaar Boulevard.

Environmental facts

29. The tower’s peak electricity demand is estimated at 50MVA, equivalent to roughly 500,000 100-watt light bulbs.

30. It’s expected to use an average of 946,000 litres of water each day.

31. During peak cooling conditions, the tower will require around 12,500 tons of cooling, equivalent to the cooling capacity of about 10,000 tons of melting ice.

Construction facts

32. Construction began in September 2004.

33. The tower’s architect and engineer is Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (Chicago).

34. The main constructor is Emaar Properties, a joint venture by Korea’s Samsung C&T, Belgium’s Besix and UAE’s Arabtec.

35. The construction project manager is Turner Construction Company.

36. Bill Baker is the chief structural engineer.

37. Adrian Smith is consulting design partner.

38. It took some 22 million man-hours to be completed.

39. On downside, foreign construction workers were pay as little as $4 per day.

40. Over 45,000 cubic-metres of concrete, weighing more than 110,000 tonnes, were used.

41. Concrete used was enough to lay a 2,065km-long pavement; and equivalent to the weight of 100,000 elephants.

42. Total weight of aluminium used is equivalent to that of five A380 aircraft.

43. Total length of stainless steel bull nose fins used is equal to 293 times the height of France’s Eiffel Tower.

44. The foundations were dug to depths of 50m.

Financial figures

45. Total cost estimated at US$1.5 billion.

46. The price for the offices spaces reached as high as US$4,000 per sq ft.

47. Residential spaces as high as US$3,500 per sq ft.

48. The building is part of the a 490-acre flagship development called Downtown Burj Khalifa.

Random stuff

49. Burj Khalifa is about twice the height of Empire State Building (443m).

50. It’s taller than Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak (552m).

51. It’s the first world’s tallest structure in history to include residential space.

52. It will feature the world’s first Armani Hotel, which occupies 15 of the lower 39 floors.

53. The exterior temperature at the top of will be 6°C cooler than its base (some say 10°C).

54. Jan 4, its opening date, was the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton.

55. Around 12,000 people are expected to live and work in the tower when it’s fully occupied.

56. The tower’s official website is


Here some of our pictures from the observation deck on the 124th floor, looking downtown Dubai.

Below you see the Address Hotel, located in the happening heart of Downtown Dubai, the hotel has the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa and the stunning Dubai Fountain on its doorstep and is flanked by The Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping and entertainment centre.

We are standing on the observation deck and looking up to the rest of the tower, on the right side you see a reflection of the tower in a pole... I thought that was a cool effect to photograph. You only see 1 tower, since there is only one. But see how high it still is!

Down below we went to see the Dubai Fountain, another impressive sight. It's a record-setting choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubai development in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was designed by WET Design, the California-based company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 25 colored projectors, it is 275 m (902 ft) long and shoots water 150 m (490 ft) into the air (equivalent to a 50-story building), accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and world music.[1] It was built at a cost of AED 800 million (USD 218 million).

Nothing is NOT record setting here in Dubai!! Everything just blows your mind away, you are constantly in awe...

Just amazing the fountain, the water sprays on music with a huge light show!

And here a picture of the Burj Kalifa when we are standing next to the fountain.

Dubai is such a wonderland!!
I really enjoyed this amazing city!

PS: Annie, show this post to your son, I know he will love all the facts and figures :-)
PPS: My next posting will be about the Overnight Desert Safari :-)


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dubai Mall and the Souks...

So on Thursday we had the Overnight Desert Safari, but because we are leaving Dubai the next day, we had to buy my camera in the morning, since that was my whole mission for this trip! And I haven't even told you about our visit to the highest building in the world, which we did last night, so that I will do also another day...

So after waking up first shopping in the gold, fabric and spice souk in Old Dubai, because I really wanted to see these old shopping areas. We didn't have much time but it was a fun trip, bought some spices like Sumac and some shawls to wrap around our heads and some cute embroidered kaftan's. So we look more authentic when we go on the camel back safari :-) You know me by now, it all has to complete the picture!!

This handsome man (who loved to pose LOL) owned a spice shop and it was so fun to see this all so open displayed, it smelled just delicious in there. I could have bought kilos of these beautiful spices... but didn't!! Got me inspired though to cook more Arabian food when I am back home!!

Dressed for the part... we went to the Dubai Mall ~ OMG! A 440,000 square feet Fashion Avenue with 1400 shops and with the world's largest collection of fashion brands under one roof, The Dubai Mall is set to become the next fashion capital of the world!! They say Dubai is TOMORROW LAND! and that is so true, spectacular almost futuristic gorgeous looking is this dazzling city, there in NO city in the world like it!! Everything is shiny, gold leafed, with precious gem stones bedazzeled, the money is all over the city!! This is a play area for the wealthy rich!! Nothing is below 5 STAR, nothing, not even the toilets in the mall....

Of course this mall has to beat some records, OK China has bigger shopping malls, but...

Inside this spectacular mall is a record-breaking most magnificent aquarium featuring the largest acrylic panel, bigger than the one at Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa. The aquarium features around 33,000 fishes and sea animals of 85 species. Just inside the mall....

This mall is just AMAZING!! You get totally lost! So huge, so glamorous, so pretty, so bling bling, you NEED to go there when you come to Dubai!! They have restaurants, cinemas, entertainment, all the luxurious brands in the world, every floor has its own theme from electronics, to toys, to shoes, to clothing. Think about something and they SELL it there!! And good prices, since Dubai shopping is TAX FREE!! So I am a happy camper with my new NIKON D300s ~ a real beauty!!

I will keep you from telling how we had run from side to side to find the camera store we had seen the night before, because this mall is so gigantic and since we didn't have much time left anymore before departing to the dessert it was quite a hectic morning, but we succeeded to buy everything we wanted...

Now off to the dessert.... we are all 4 very excited to see what our adventure will be!!
But I will tell you about that tomorrow!

This week is crazy for me, since I am a room mom at school we had to prepare for Halloween crafts, some parties to go to like a 40th Birthday party for my friend Candice, a wedding to attend from my other friend Olimpia, some Halloween parties and book club meetings... it is just a crazy week!! So no time to blog or do anything else....

By the way: HAPPY HALLOWEEN y'all! The girls are dressed up as Thai Socialites LOL this year (more pictures to come on that theme)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mall of the Emirates & Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Wednesday we spent a whole day of shopping in the Mall of Emirates, which is a huge mall with more than 500 shops, cinemas AND with an indoor ski slope! Although the girls were NOT interested in going for a ski session, so we just watched the other people going down on the ski slopes and having a good time. Magic Planet was what the girls were more interested in, so after a delish ice cream we went for an hour or so of fun at some simulated rides, some other carnival attractions and some bumper car rides.

Bought tons of clothing and shoes at Zara, Next, H&M for the girls and even some for me.... You could walk forever in this huge mall where you will find a large number of stores under one roof and the widest variety of shopping, from designer brands to teen fashion, furniture, electronics, accessories, jewellery, shoes, bags, toys, books…anything you could possibly wish for!


After spending most of the day here, walking and shopping, the 3 of us were so tired that we spend an hour at the pool of our hotel on Jumeirah Beach before Dirk picked us up and we went eating and doing some more shopping at this magnificent Souk. Souk madinat Jumeirah. WOW! This was a great experience, I would LOVE to go back there and shop and eat some more at this magical place!!

First we had dinner at a Shoo Fee Ma Fee (literally meaning ‘what’s up/happening’) a Moroccan Restaurant and bar, which was so lovely!! Tucked inside the souk area of Madinat Jumeirah, the trendy restaurant and lounge is designed to resemble a Moroccan majlis (traditional Arabian meeting space). We sat outside on the deck and watched some boats floating by as if you were in Venice. From the deck we also had a view of the largest hotel in the world which is build in the shape of a boat and is named the Burj Al Arab, which is so pretty looking and we tried to go in there after dinner, but unfortunately when you don't have a booking they don't let you even drive up to it!! So we just looked from a distance!... and felt like real tourist! LOL
The Burj Al Arab is one of the most photographed structures in the world, and consistently voted the worlds most luxurious hotel. Designed to resemble a billowing sail, Burj Al Arab soars to a height of 321 metres, dominating the Dubai skyline. Illuminated at night by choreographed lighting representing water and fire – Burj Al Arab is simply individual, inspired, impressive.

But more about this lovely Moroccan dinner we had at Shoo Fee Ma Fee, first we got some breads and dips with olives, which made my mouth already water and wanting more. First course we shared some shrimp and calamari pastilla, and some koftas.
Then for the main course Dirk had Cous Cous with lamb and I had a saffron infused shrimp tagine. It was so YUMMY!! Moroccan cuisine is complex and very under-appreciated, but I am going to change that in our household and starting to cook it more, because it is absolutely delish!!

I find that about Dubai, with almost everything that is build is build to impress! It must almost be qualified to top the World Records. The most highest, the largest, the most expensive, etc..etc... everything is so beautiful, no regular buildings, only ones that dazzle and impress you! It is a visual beauty to the eye. It really is impressive to see this city build out in the desert out of nowhere, I have NEVER seen a city like this in my life before... and I believe I have seen already quite a few!

More to come about our Arabian Adventure!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Atlantis the Palm Dubai

Dirk is still working and the girls and me are going to the huge waterpark here named Atlantis the Palm. Which is a huge hotel with a water park that is build on a manmade island in the shape of a palm. It looks amazing, so we are going to check it out today!

From thrilling Master Blasters to children's twisters, Aquaventure Dubai has slide fun for the whole family. So we are going to try out some or maybe all of these rides below! More pictures of our adventure will follow, look back tomorrow!

27.5m tall and 61m long, from the top of the Ziggurat the Leap of Faith catapults riders into a transparent tunnel and through a shark-filled lagoon, where guitar sharks, bow mouth sharks, white tip, black tip and grey reef sharks all reside.

Descend from the centre of the Ziggurat on one of our many water-coasters. Twist, turn and blast upwards along the power-jets of The Plunge.

Journey to the mysterious core of the Ziggurat through dark twisting tunnels before emerging slowly into the lagoon at a leisurely shark viewing pace.

This inner tube ride blasts you into the centre of The Ziggurat and guides you directly to The Plunge for your next adventure.

Starting at the top level of The Ziggurat this spine-tingling inner tube ride is not for the faint at heart! Twisting and turning, at times in complete darkness this water-coaster takes riders on a thrilling journey.

Blast uphill on this water-coaster, starting at the first level of The Ziggurat. Riders are propelled towards the river on inner tubes.

Splash down to Rapids River on this exciting water-coaster. Riders jet up and down and twist around before joining the river and heading around the waterpark.

No need to climb seemingly endless stairs! Jump onto The Conveyor and be taken effortlessly inside The Ziggurat where your next thrilling ride awaits.

These sound scary and huge.... I hope I will survive :-)
The girls are excited, I am not so sure if I am going on all these slides... More tomorrow.

UPDATE: It is impossible to take pictures on these rides, so below only a few ones on the lazy river, that goes on for a while with some wild water moments, but most of the part just a small stream and you just go on and on breezing through, this we enjoyed most of the day. See in the background the leap of faith, which is the one we DIDN'T do!! But the others we survived and enjoyed!!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Hilton Ras al Khaimah Resort & Spa

A mouthful the name of this resort we have spent the last 2 days! Since it was the weekend and Dirk didn't need to work yet, we decided to go first here before we are heading towards Dubai. This Hilton resort is located in another emirate just 2 hours from the airport at the northern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

The hotel is like a small Arabian village, with hundreds of rooms and small cottages in Arabian style, really pretty and special! We had a beach front villa so we enjoyed the ocean and the pools for the last 2 days.

Outside the hotel is NOTHING, and I mean nothing, just sand. This area is totally NOT developed yet, just some old buildings, most of them not finished and it looks a bit shabby, so when we arrived and came closer to the hotel I had my doubts, is this what we signed up for?? But then you enter the hotel and you are literally in a different world, glitz and glamour behind the hotel walls, just magical and gorgeous!! I wonder though what the people think who just live outside these walls in this huge sandpit??

The difference is stark, like black and white. Hilton is the only big hotel in this area, so it is not developed at all, maybe it is an up and coming area, but for now there is nothing around it, no shopping malls like we are used to in the Western world, no restaurants that we would go visit, no shopping areas, just sand and deserted buildings, and DUST DUST and DUST! Not a pretty sight, we tried to venture out a bit to a Souk and a Fish market, but both were not worth visiting, so we stayed inside the hotel walls in this magical place which is pretty beyond words!!

Today we are heading to Dubai for 3 nights, since Dirk has to work and we will stay closer to his office and relax and shop a bit by ourselves at the Hilton Jumeirah Beach. Close to the shopping, dining and ocean, so here we can venture out!

More of my own pictures tomorrow! Update: here some pictures of mine.

Have a good day,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dubai here we come!

THIS EVENING we are going to Dubai for a week! I am excited to go... not for the shopping like most people, no I like the OLD WORLD of DUBAI and the overnight desert safari we have booked!!

We will be doing some dune bashing, camel riding, getting our hands painted with henna, seeing some belly dancers while we smoke some Sheesha and have a delicious four course Arabic dinner at a tented camp in the middle of the desert... EXCITING!!

I want to go and see the Souks, the Gold Souk, the Spice Souk and the Textile Souk... These are great places to photograph, and I need to test my new camera, the Nikon D300s, that I will be buying on one of the first days I am there... so YES the new world is good for something :-) To capture the OLD world... LOL

But Dubai has 2 faces, the old and the new, which makes it an interesting mix... so I am sure we will not be bored to visit this interesting city on the Persian golf.

OH... and the weather is not too hot now (just kidding ;-).. around 97/99°F = 36/37°C. I mean it could be worse :-) But since we have a nice hotel on Jumeirah beach, we will be doing some relaxation at the pool and beach as well, since how much can you bear to do in this kind of hot weather??

So please let me know which were your highlights when you visited this city, which old or new things do I have to see?? I still have some time to add some trips or visits...

And last but not least here some Fun & Interesting Facts about Dubai:

-Dubai is the second largest member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
-It is the most important port and the commercial capital of UAE.
-Dubai is the fastest growing city in the world.
-Dubai has one of the highest per capita incomes.
-In Dubai, there are no taxes on income and there are no personal taxes either. (That's why so many expats like to live there!)
-In Dubai Emirates Mall, you can ski indoors while shopping, measuring 400 meters and using 6000 tons of snow.
-Burj Dubai is the world's tallest building, along with the world's tallest man-made structure.
-Eighty percent of the residents of Dubai are foreigners.
-Dubai is the Middle East supply hub for the jewelry market.
-Dubai is the world's second largest distributor of bullion (=precious metal).
It imports 360 tonnes and re-exports almost all of it (350 tonnes).
-Dubai made the world's longest gold chain during DSF-1999. The chain was made in 22k gold and measured 4.2 kilometers. --9,600 people bought the chain, in necklace wear and bracelet size pieces.
-In Dubai, jewelry is sold on gold price plus making charges, unlike in the West, where it is per piece. 95 percent of all jewellery
sold here is above 21 karat; the rest is 18 karat.
-On an average, one in every five person buys five pieces of gold jewellery every year in Dubai.
-Dubai has build the first man-made island in UAE, the Palm Island.
-No matter in which part of Dubai you are in, you will hear calls to prayer at least five times a day. Even in shopping malls, the
calls to prayer are put out over the speakers, to remind Muslims that it is time to pray.
-Dubai shares legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates, within a federal framework.
-Dubai has the largest population of all the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
-Apart from Abu Dhabi, Dubai is the only emirate to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the
country's legislature.
-Since 1833, Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum dynasty.
-Trade, real estate and financial services provide Dubai with majority of its revenues.
-Revenues from petroleum and natural gas contribute less than 6 percent to the economy of Dubai.

Have a good day!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Making Kimbap with Jasmine & Juliet

We are calling these Korean rice rolls “sushi” because at first glance, they do resemble the Japanese rolls that we Westerners associate with sushi. But kimbap is not considered fine or fancy fare in Korea, it's actually picnic and snack food that you eat with your hands. Traditional fillings include seasoned vegetables, egg, meat and/or imitation crab, but these days anything goes. From Seoul to NYC, fillings range from cheesy to spicy to fresh. Kimbap is like the Korean version of a sandwich- you can change the filling to fit any diet, palate, or occasion.

The girls love these to eat at school for lunch, although they are fast I haven't made them myself in the morning yet to give them to school, but as an easy dinner we make them often... or I must say I make them... but today was a different day... now the girls made them!! And they LOVED it, so we will add this food item for sure to our repertoire!

I only choose the items that the girls like.. so egg omelet with either crab or chives, tuna salad with cucumber, salmon with cucumber, or salmon with egg omelet, and then I had some carrots as well to add to the mix. But you can put anything inside really... what is also a good option is SPAM, the canned meat. But I didn't have that on hand...

Buy some nori (sea weed sheets) Boil some sushi rice, when done add some rice vinegar, some salt and sesame oil and you are good to go! Oh, and we ate some miso soup as a starter.... YUM YUM!

Make them with your kids, this is a fun, fast, healthy and easy dinner option!!

Here is a LINK from Serious Eats, that will help you assemble the kimbap and gives you some other filling options.

Have a good day,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kids just wanna ride bikes....

You would think so?!
Especially if you are the child of 2 NATIVE DUTCH parents... right??

Well, NO!

Not in our case! A typical case of nature vs nurturing??

Our girls are 8 and until this day, they didn't want to ride a bike!! When we told them last April that we were planning to buy some bikes for their Bday, they started CRYING!! REALLY!! So we bought them some BOOKS instead... and they were totally over the moon!!

But the summer is starting here, and this weekend we decided when we saw this AWESOME deal on 2 cute bikes, that NOW is the TIME!!

And guess what?? The girls LIKE it!! Suddenly they want to learn to ride a bike!! (I probably know why, they see more and more kids riding their bikes... )

So here they are trying to hold balance... riding one way... walking back the other way! LOL
Because it goes down a bit and riding up the hill is not easy.... (you have to really look to see that hill, but OK in their minds... it is a hill) And I am the last one negotiating now with them on this point... if they want to walk back.. they WALK back!

So this week, our project is to bike every day after school a bit, hoping that at the end of the week, the girls are RIDING their bikes UP and DOWN the street! I see already some huge progress on the second day!

YEAH!! These DUTCH parents who are practically BORN on a bike are HAPPY for this new milestone!!

Did you know that?

- 95% of Dutch kids bike to school every day!
- A bicycle is a transportation mode for the whole family!
- Americans use their bicycles for less than one percent of all urban trips. Europeans bike in cities a lot more often—
in Italy 5 percent of all trips are on bicycle, 30 percent in the Netherlands, and seven out of eight Dutch people over age 15
have a bike.
- There are 16 million bicycles in the Netherlands, which equates to about one for every inhabitant.
- Dutch people don't just use their bikes for fun - cycling is an important way of travelling, from doing the daily shopping to
going to work or school.
- The Netherlands is the perfect place to spend a cycling vacation. Its flat as a pancake, with a mild climate and has many
bicycle paths. The distances from one town to another are never great.
- The bicycle is always at hand in Holland. Individuals who find themselves without a bike, Dutch and tourists alike, can rent
them by the hour, day, week, or even longer. They can be hired at most train stations, or bicycle shops.
- Because so many people cycle, the Netherlands has special traffic lanes, rules and road signs to improve safety for bikes.
There are over 17,000 km of cycle lanes, indicated by round blue signs with a white bicycle on them. In cities these lanes even
have special bicycle traffic lights!

In the Netherlands with rain, sleet or snow, people still go on their bikes to work in full suit, wooden shoes or with computer bag!

In the Netherlands the bike is a family vehicle, young and old... you don't believe me... look at these pictures!

We even have space for the dog! Parking garages for bikes and navigation systems on it...

Now you understand why we are so THRILLED that the girls finally start a liking to biking... we could never move back to HOLLAND if the girls don't know how to bike! We want to go on Sundays and go biking, but till now we never did... soon!

PS: We started off wearing helmets, knee and elbow protecters but it hindered them.... since they are still going so slow, we decided OK you can go like this for now...

I am a happy camper!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

~ Bandana Day ~

Today is Bandana Day at the American School of Johannesburg!

The the Sunflower Fund supports children who suffer from leukemia. So when you buy the bandana from this charity you will support them. Although we didn't have and couldn't find these bandanas anymore the girls are still wearing their own bandana to show support towards children who have leukemia. It brings awareness to other children who suffer from a serious illness and to stand still by this fact that not every child is as healthy as they are. So a good cause in any way!

Have a great day y'all,

Monday, October 11, 2010

A day trip to Jacaranda City

Last week we made a school field trip to Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, or sometimes called JACARANDA CITY. And you can guess maybe why? There are lots of streets lined with Jacaranda trees. This tree is not indigenous to SA, but was imported from of subtropical regions of South America. These trees flower in October, so the trip was worth doing, just alone to see all these streets full of Purple blossom! An amazing view!!!

But of course we had a full program and our first stop was the Voortrekker Monument. This 50 year old granite construction commemorates the pioneers who trekked from the Cape in 1835. Inside the story of the pioneers are told with magnificent tapestries, paintings and a huge wall with the world's longest historical marble friezes that depicts the story of the women and children during the Great Trek.

The monument is a reminder of the courage, determination and persistence of the Voortrekkers. Inside is a huge long wall build out of marble with the whole story of the war of the Boers against the Zulus.

But not only is it shown in marble, another floor has the whole story on painted panels and another level of just embroidered tapestries, just amazing to see how well this part of history is being documented!

After that we had a stop at the Kruger house museum. The last house in which President Paul Kruger was to live, between 1883 and 1901, before he left South Africa to go into exile in Europe. The interior of the museum is exactly how he lived there, and the furniture reminded me a bit of my grandmothers era. This is how the houses looked like in Holland as well...

His living room...


and Kitchen.

Next stop we did was Church Square, the historic centre of Pretoria, but when we stopped with our bus I saw this small strip mall and had to smile...
A pawn shop where you can trade in your gold for cash to have surgery and then when the patient is recovering you can come and visit him/her and buy some fresh fruit. A 3 stop in 1.... how funny!!

The Square is surrounded by many historic buildings, some having been erected as early as 1891. Among them stand the old Raadsaal (council chambers), Palace of Justice, Centenary Building, Netherlands Bank and a few others.

Old historical buildings but also many Jacaranda trees...

In the middle of the square stands a large bronze statue of former president Paul Kruger, surrounded by the statues of 4 other Boers. This SA couple was posing with one of the Boers and I thought it was a nice shot, since the lady is dressed in an original ShweShwe dress.

After this it was time for a picnic in the beautiful gardens of the Union Buildings with its magnificent view of the city and its terraced gardens. We sat under a tree in the shade and ate our lunch.

But also celebrated a birthday of one of the ladies in our group, Orit, with Mimosa's and chocolate cake...

And while driving back home we came by a few more streets lined with the gorgeous Jacarandas...

A nice relaxing day, met some new women, chatted, laughed, ate all together and had great fun while learning some history of Pretoria. A good day!!



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