Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rain and Shine

We had an amazing time yesterday, cycling around. As you may know, Scott uses a bicycle as his main form of transportation in TO. I hadn't been on one for 20 years, but the old saying is totally true! Apparently, many tourists find cycling trecherous here - kind of like driving in Rome. We loved it, but then S has familiarity going for him and I'm a crazy badass. The key is confidence. I mean, they're not agressive. Totally the opposite. They don't even wear helmets - which, in Toronto the Good will land you a ticket - and the open judgement of every observer. I admit to being scandalized by the ommission of safety gear on infants. Especially as parents drive 2 or 3 to a bike...

In TO, everyone criticized Scott for riding M on the rack at the back of his bike for the first 10 years of her life. (What? You ever tried to get a whining kid to school on time on a January morning??) Seriously, people took the opportunity to malign him at stoplights. Here, the practice is commonplace. Note: it also has the benefit of developing an excellent centre of balance!

We had the bikes booked again today but the weather has not cooperated, and I don't have one of those hideous rain slickers people wear and I'm not going to spend the day wet for the pleasure of riding around. Sorry, Scott.

I'm loathe to tell you more about the food - which continues to rock my world - cuz I'm worried you may think I have a disorder. I will say that I spent an enjoyable 30 minutes at a grocery store; I love to see how other people eat. The store is half the size of one in North America. In Canada, we have 200 kinds of cookies. Here they have 20 - and they all look kind of similar. The produce is very expensive, but lovely. The dairy section kicks ass. People, the Activia yogurt comes in glass jars! They have wacky dairy desserts, the likes of which I find very appealing. Everything is caramel - nature's perfect flavour. The chips come in brands we would recognize, but in super fun flavours, like Paprika.

I've learned something new about myself: I'm a hotel breakfast eater. I don't know if this will come as a shock to anyone - as I love eating in hotels, even in my home city - but it has finally crystalized that I cannot bear to wander around in search of food while my blood sugar plummets. I am overwhelmed by breakfast, in general. I can't eat before I drink coffee. I can't eat till I've been awake for at least an hour. I must have 2 fried eggs, 3 slices of bacon and an espresso, without having to work at it. (To the amusement of my workmates, this is what I eat at my desk everyday at approximately 10:00 am.) All of this bread and sweets before lunchtime freaks me out. Pancakes symbolize the worst of it! I can't stand the thought of syrup on bread.

On this psychologically ambiguous note, it is time for me to brave the rain. Lunch awaits, after all. And you may be relieved to note: for that meal, all bets are off.


  1. I love Amsterdam. You ARE going to the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, aren't you?

  2. I think people over here tend to get way too uptight about child safety and safety in general. Do you suppose they make the kids there use booster seats until they are basically in high school like they do here?

    Sorry about the rain, I'd sure be happy to take it off your hands if I could. :-)

    I think it's cool to hear about the different foods from different countries. And I'm all for fewer choices of things like cookies--mostly because I hate wading through all the others trying to find the ones I want. Sometimes we have too many choices.

    Glad you are enjoying your trip. Sounds like a great place to visit. :-)

  3. Ha! I live in the NL myself (but I'm not Dutch), and any comments of bike safety and helmets for infants will get you snarky responses from locals like "Only overprotecting parents would do that. Or Germans".
    By the way, you're not visiting Rotterdam by any chance, are you? If you do let me know!

  4. Couture: I want to but I'm getting a bit of static :-)

    CGC: I know - isn't the car seat thing out of control?? There may be fewer choices for cookies (which does make it easier) but they are all so insanely good, it's a problem.

    Irene: Hilarious! I should mention that my kid, when she rode on the back of Scott's bike, was wearing a helmet :-) Not going to Rotterdam, unfortunately...

  5. Oh, Amsterdam cyclists! I rode all over that city on the back of my friend's bike, and she only complained once about how heavy I was.

  6. If you want to see glorious produce, see if you can find a farmer's market. I know in Gronigen when I was there, they had a large market day once or twice a week and the produce was amazing! I would bet Amsterdam has one too. You might even catch some farmers wearing real wooden shoes ;-)

  7. It sounds like carb heaven!

    A friend told me the women all wear high heels riding their bicycles in Amsterdam. Is that really true?

  8. So how do you get this fab breakfast on your desk at 10 am? When I worked in NYC, I could manage only an apple for breakfast, also at my desk.

  9. Ray: You must have buns of steel! I find it so uncomfortable to do that :-)

    Kim: I've been trying to get to a farmer's market since I arrived, but it hasn't happened yet.

    Susan: Many of them do! But in truth, they're all into the more clunky footwear (heels, but modern and stable). Works better on the ancient streets when walking.

    Miss C: There's a caf in my building, just down on the main floor. I can go down for a coffee and get bacon and eggs from the grill area, all in 5 minutes - and for 5 bucks. Best part about being back in my former building (for the new job). In truth, I figure out where the eggs are and then I make sure to get them. Only one building where this was fairly impossible and I had to go for microwave scrambled ones and fake bacon. Ugh.

  10. It makes me smile, reading your comments on 'our' eating habbits and stores. And Paprika chips is the first thing you eat s a child here...nice to read about the differences you observe!

  11. Yes, Amsterdam rain. I spent lots of time in museums there... (thankfully, I like museums.)

    I stayed in Haarlem, not Amsterdam, and liked it much better. Haarlem was low key and lovely, with an amazing farmers market on Saturday in the central square. And it was only a 20 minute train ride into the city.

  12. Jos: I love that! You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful - and yummy - place.

    Reethi: I've heard others say that they LOVE Haarlem. I want to go there next time.