Category Archives: Uncategorized

Holland Part 6: Thanksgiving in Leiden

Holland Part 1: Falling for Amsterdam
Holland Part 2: Jewish History in Amsterdam
Holland Part 3: Snapshots from The Hague
Holland Part 4: Meet Mondrian
Holland Part 5: Welcome to Leiden

It was June when we visited Leiden, but this post is particularly timely as we approach Thanksgiving.

What does the small city of Leiden, Holland have to do with American Thanksgiving? Everything apparently.

Many early Americans, including the Pilgrims, lived in the Netherlands before they journeyed to America. With its religious tolerance and proximity to England, Holland was a natural place for the religious dissenters to settle.

According to The Smithsonian, a group of Pilgrims settled in Leiden in 1609 and lived there until 1620 when they boarded a ship called the Mayflower. Some suggest that the holiday of Thanksgiving is based on a customary Dutch feast in October commemorating the lifting of the Spanish siege of Leiden in 1574.

We were able to see a piece of that history at Pieterskerk (St. Peter’s Church), a looming gothic building where John Robinson, the Pilgrims’ pastor, is buried.

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We also stopped at the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, a tiny and quirky museum dedicated to the Pilgrims’ life in Leiden, run by Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs. Bangs is an American who has lived in Holland for over 30 years.

The two-room museum sits in a typical Dutch home from the Pilgrim time period (although not one that actually belonged to one of the Pilgrims) and contains a hodgepodge of artifacts, relics, and books related to the Founding Fathers.

IMG_0879IMG_0442Bangs wrote his own tome dedicated to the Pilgrims’ life in the Netherlands.

IMG_0449This is an example of the kind of books the Pilgrims would read about the New World as they investigated options for a new home.

IMG_0452The first room is made up like a 17th century Dutch home.

IMG_0497Here is Bangs showing M a map of the New World.

IMG_0530IMG_0621IMG_0769The second room next door contains an assortment of antiques like these plates and jugs.

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Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading! As I write this post – now nearly six months old – M and I are back in Europe and enjoying Berlin. Updates to come!

 

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A Hate Letter To New York City

Dear New York City,

We’ve had our good moments. In my youth, I spent a good six years roaming your streets, soaking up the thrill that only you seem to offer.

Maybe I am just getting old, and that’s not your fault. But, with age comes crankiness, impatience, and a need for a modicum of personal space. As I sit on a non-air conditioned subway car, clinging to a pole for dear life with five other passengers, listening to the conductor blare for the fourth time: “Ladies and gentleman, we are delayed because of train traffic ahead of us,” I can’t help but think: Thank God I don’t have to do this every day.

When I was young and sprightly, your quirks were charming. Newsflash: It is no longer charming when maneuvering up 6th Ave. feels like an episode in the Hunger Games. I am not certain about much in life, but this I know: That is not a normal way to live.

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When I was young, you were exciting and accessible. Who wants to get something to eat at 11:30 p.m.? Who wants to take a 3 a.m. bus to Washington D.C. from Port Authority? Why? Because we can. This is New York City for goodness sakes.

You are never boring, and there is something to be said for that. I’ve enjoyed your museums, your restaurants, your soaring buildings, your constant indulgence for more, and the shopping – we can’t forget the shopping. I’m still very much a city girl. I like the options, the hum, the productivity – and did I mention the shopping? – that comes with city life.

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New World Trade Center Oculus transportation hub

But you are the edgy, sullen friend that appeared oh so very cool when I was in high school. Now, you are just a colossal pain in my ass.

Or maybe – in the spirit of “its not me, its you” – you are the one getting old. Your arthritic infrastructure heaves and sighs beneath the weight of eight million people competing for meager crumbs of space. Maybe your subway tracks need a new jolt of life (or a complete overhaul). Maybe you need a custodian (read: mayor) more concerned with livability than ideology.

Either way, we will be forced to grow old together. You are home to my favorite people in the world, and so this relationship will carry on. I’m sure we will have good moments ahead of us and many more f-bomb laced bad ones.

Sincerely,

Nam

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Review: Priority Pass in Dulles Airport

The Priority Pass lounge card gives you membership in a network of 900-plus lounges all across the country. It now comes free with several credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige card.

In the past, I have primarily used Priority Pass in Europe, where the lounges are more plentiful, but I was excited to try out Priority Pass in Dulles since we flew economy to Iceland.

Here’s the catch: Due to the influx of new members, many priority club lounges have placed limits on when you can enter. For example, the KLM lounge in Dulles’s Terminal 1 (closest to Iceland Air) is only open to Priority Pass members from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m. The British Airways lounge is only open to Priority Pass members from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. We arrived at the airport  at 5:00 p.m. during peak travel time. So we headed off to the Turkish Airlines lounge – the newest Priority Pass lounge.

It was great! While on the small side, there is a fantastic spread of food and drinks, comfortable seating, outlets, showers, and even a nap area. While Priority Pass is not a perk I use everyday, it is the perfect perk to alleviate the pain of flying economy on an international trip.

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IMG_9627As Priority Pass becomes increasingly popular, it may become increasingly useless for members, but for now, we were able to make it work.

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2016 In Review

2016 was a very busy, eventful, miraculous year. A crazy election…my first surgery… got engaged… Cubs win…whirlwind tour of Spain… A year ago, I had no idea that any of these things would happen.

With a boyfriend/fiancé in tow, I ended up driving a lot more instead of flying or taking the train on local trips. I took more short-haul trips and fewer big vacations, including countless road trips to Pennsylvania for work, a bunch of family visits in Maryland and New York, and trips to Chicago, Cleveland, Utah, and of course, Spain. With a wedding to plan and our usual hectic lives, I expect 2017 to be another busy one, but I hope M and I can add a country or two to our list.

2016 in numbers:

0: New state visited. I have still visited 39 out of 50 states.

1: New country visited – Spain.

2: New national parks visited – Arches and Canyonlands.

2: New credit cards. This is very low for me, as I’m trying keep the numbers down so I can apply for some Chase cards.

3: Countries visited, including the U.S.

15: States visited, including Washington D.C.

15: Amtrak trips taken.

23: Flights – half the amount of last year’s 43.

3,539: Amtrak points earned.

17,698: Number of miles flown, 30,000 less than last year.

160,000: Number of miles redeemed. This includes two tickets from D.C. to Barcelona in business class and two economy tickets from Madrid to D.C.

361,690: Number of points redeemed at hotels, including one free night due to credit cards. This includes six nights at the Westin Palace in Madrid, 1 night at the AC Palacio De Santa Paula in Granada, four nights at the Alexandra Barcelona (Hilton), two nights at the Courtyard St. George (Zion National Park), and four nights at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

Too many to count: Car trips to Pennsylvania (along with some stops in Baltimore, New York, and Pittsburgh).

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