Christmas in Amsterdam

So I actually did a trip before this one – went to Mexico mid-month to see my cousin get married – but I guess I didn’t feel like blogging about it. Maybe I will later. We’ll see.

The pilot husband had a 51 hour layover in Amsterdam on Christmas so ever since we’ve known, we’ve tossed around the idea of me going with. I went back and forth on it. I was pretty exhausted coming home from Mexico and the flights – especially coming home – looked iffy. The original thought was to fly with him to Portland, then to Amsterdam, then to New York City (27 hour layover there post-AMS), and then home. However, all the flights back to DEN out of NYC (both JFK and LGA) looked terrible. So then we thought, what if I left AMS on my own and then found my way back? That looked better. Flights looked decent both to MSP and DTW and, more importantly, back home. We decided on MSP.

Still, it took until the morning we were going to leave from DEN to go to PDX via LAX that we made the decision. I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever packed for a trip.

Sunday, December 22

The one thing we did to make this work was NOT take the first flight out of DEN on Monday morning. Which yeah, technically breaks all of our non-rev rules, but meh. Our flight to LAX was a bit delayed leaving DEN, but we were able to make it on okay.

That’s where the first bit of trouble started.

Due to … something in LA, we got slowed up a lot going in. B was freaking out as he had a deadhead to PDX to catch. A flight that in theory we should have been able to make just fine, but combined with the delay and the slow plane? Yeah, it took off about five minutes after we landed. Thankfully, he got himself sorted out to make the next PDX flight and I got rolled over. We took the extra time in LAX to go walk out to find B’s car (make sure it still worked) and then walked to the In-N-Out close to the airport for some food.

We made the PDX flight okay, got in late … crashed out.

Monday, December 23

We had a few hours before we needed to get to the airport, so we had breakfast, got in a workout, got coffee (and a doughnut at some shop he likes (not VooDoo)). Got to PDX and I was thankfully able to get DeltaOne to AMS (ohhh podlife).

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But not before I went up to the flight deck to say hi to (read: annoy) the husband.

Flight was mostly uneventful – read some, started to get caught up on Star Wars (watched ep VII), slept not as much as I should have.

And, as I do, I took pictures of the food.

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Starters: “Harissa Shrimp with apple, celery and arugula slaw” (not terrible), “Baby Gem Lettuce with croutons, shaved manchego cheese, smoked roasted tomatoes and Caesar dressing” (not bad), and “Porcini Mushroom Soup” (tasty).

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We had quite a few options for dinner – a braised beef short rib, soy glazed Chilean sea bass, and ricotta ravioli … and what I chose: “Roasted Herb Chicken Breast with red wine reduction, cheesy truffle polenta, garlic broccolini and blistered tomatoes” (actually pretty good).

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I didn’t do the pear and caramel mousse tart or the fruit and cheese, but I obviously just had to do the sundae. It’s the best part of podlife (imho)! I did learn on this trip that you don’t want the bowl to be full of ice cream because if it is (like on my way back as you’ll see a bit later), the ice cream to sauce ratio gets screwed up for the worse.

I also tried both the Pinot Noir and the Cabernet Sauvignon on the plane. I think the cab was a bit better. I also learned that yes, the travel bloggers are correct in that hooch doesn’t help you sleep on planes … so I did not drink on the way back.

Tuesday, December 24

(Starting the next day here due to time zone wonkiness)

The arrival breakfast has gotten a bit better, but still not great.

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You could also get a granola and yogurt whatever, but I’m so picky with yogurt. So, what I got: “French Onion Quiche with Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon” (… meh). Definitely better than the frittata going to Italy. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Got off the plane (without forgetting anything!) and followed the other non-revs (relatives of the flight attendants) through the airport and customs to where the bus to the hotel was.

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And I got this photo.

Took the van to the hotel, got checked in (eventually … after like 2934723047 other crews), and passed out for a few hours. We woke up and then got on the hotel-provided cruiser bikes to venture out a bit. B took me to Winkel 43 for their apple pie which is apparently super famous.

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View from outside.

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Ham and cheese toasty just for a bit of protein.

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Pie and coffee. It was super delicious.

We took the cruiser bikes back to the hotel and then got a few things done before heading back out to dinner at a place nearby, the Number One Cafe (Eetcafe?).

B had some schnitzel, while I had a mixed grill of chicken.

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Salad.

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Dinner. It wasn’t bad. As B (and a few of the flight attendants agreed upon) said, the food in Amsterdam is good; it’s not great. I would have to concur with that given my limited experience.

Wednesday, December 25

Christmas is weird on the road away from home. Kind of like another day but also not. We woke up, grabbed breakfast from downstairs, and then went for a run to explore.

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Canals.

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B’s usual cafe, closed that day.

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Just up the street apparently was part of the Red Light District.

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Square.

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Us.

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Random arcade (taken with our new GoPro!).

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Aaaaalll the bikes.

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Rainbow (and it might be a double?).

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This was on the walk back to the hotel.

After the run, we did a few things and then headed back out on cruiser bikes to explore the city some more. Our goal was to find the one last remaining Christmas market (that had an ice rink near it) and check it out. Unfortunately … it was pretty terrible. I did manage to eat more poffertjes though … for the second year in a row at a Christmas market.

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So tasty.

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Selfie on the ferry that we had to take back and forth across the river (large canal?) from our side of Amsterdam to where the main downtown was.

We ate some lunch and relaxed a bit more before heading back out for the last time, but this time on feet.

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Of course we brought the dinosaurs.

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Holiday lights. On this same street, we bought an ornament and also visited the Venus Sex Museum. Because why not.

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Canals at night.

Since we didn’t see anything that caught our eye for dinner while wandering around, we just ended up eating at the hotel restaurant. I had schnitzel (which was good) and B had the daily special which was some beef something. Oh and we had more pie because Christmas.

Thursday, December 26

I had trouble sleeping this entire trip, and that meant I was up at 3:45a AMS time and couldn’t go back to sleep. Which meant I was completely fine for making my 7:25 bus back to the airport. B couldn’t go, but he bartered me a ride on the bus for me talking about IRONMAN to one of the captains. Sure I will take that trade. (And I would have gotten on anyway; the trade was just funny.)

Got to the airport plenty early and in time to clear customs, security, get my non-rev status changed, and get some food. And also a doughnut in what I believe is my 8th country.

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From the airport Starbucks. Not the best, but definitely not the worst foreign doughnut I’ve had.

Waiting for a seat internationally is a bit weird, but I was (thankfully) able to get a seat (and a pod!).

I was a lot smarter with my time management on this flight. I read, but not a whole bunch early. I got my movie started well before my meal (Star Wars episode VIII), and then I was able to sort of nap for about two hours. It was interrupted sleep as I kept waking up due to overheating, but hey. For someone who doesn’t really sleep on airplanes, I’ll take it.

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The starters: “Crusted Beef Filet with smoked pepper aioli and pickled cauliflower” (only ate the beef; totally mediocre), “Roasted Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Salad with Romaine lettuce, toasted pumpkin seeds served with dill honey mustard dressing” (… not that great. picked at it), and “Thai Coconut Soup” which I did not try.

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Again, quite a few options, with a grilled beef tenderloin, roasted salmon, and a fresh mozzarella and spinach panciotti, but I chose the “Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Thigh served over tagliatelle pasta with onions, bacon, mushrooms, chanterelles and garlic in a honey balsamic jus” (which was quite good).

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Chose not to try the chocolate truffon after seeing it (and poo on the cheese course), but obviously more ice cream. But see how much it fills the bowl here? Keeps the topping ratio off.

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I woke up just before the arrival meal. We had two options, a smoked paprika chicken over salad or what I got, a “Wagyu Pastrami Sandwich with Emmenthal cheese, caramelized onion, arugula and truffle mayonnaise” (too greasy and hard to eat … even with a knife and fork. other than that not bad).

I landed in MSP, cleared customs and security … and then proceeded to watch people get bought off the flight I was hoping to take. I waited until B landed back in NYC before figuring out my next step, as all the subsequent MSP-DEN flights looked terrible. We tossed around the idea of trying another flight … but rolled the dice and rented a car. So, I got in a car by 4:30p MSP time … drove to Lincoln, Neb., where I got about 4.5 hours of sleep … and then rolled into DIA around 10:30a on the 27th. And found out that if I had waited for the 8:30p flight … I would have somehow magically made it home. Live and learn, I guess.

Holidays, 2016

Not including Thanksgiving.

We kicked off our holiday season with a brunch at our house. Everyone does cocktail parties, so why not switch it up and do a brunch, right?

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Desserts.

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Muffins and lunch stuff.

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Bacon and nog toast. Egg nog french toast – only way to consume egg nog. Trust me on this one.

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Drinks. Plus we had coffee.

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Brandon’s corner (that is, the stuff he made).

This kind of ended up being an epic disaster, with people RSVPing and then not showing up and … terrible. We’re never hosting anything again.

In our continued adulting quest, we finally gave in and got a membership to the Denver Botanic Gardens (partially because they have a reciprocity program as well!). With this membership, we got free tickets to both Blossoms of Lights (at the main York location) and to the Trail of Lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms. So, off we went to both.

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Blossoms of Light.

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Blossoms of Light.

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Blossoms of Light.

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Trail of Lights.

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Trail of Lights.

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Trail of Lights.

Brandon had to work, but I was able to make the traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my family.

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Trees and presents.

It went about as well as you’d expect holidays with the family to go. My brother put me down, parents mocked me, I hid, I found time to hang out with my niece and nephew, the usual.

I did fly out to Portland on Christmas Day to hang out with B, though, which was nice. The disaster that was getting back home (woo, non-rev travel …), was not.

But I did get to hang out in B’s “office” before he left for NYC on the 26th (well before the flight I was in theory going to take left).

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Pilot wife life.

Quiet New Year’s in bed, and I am happy the holidays are over.

Holidays 2014

I’m trying to keep current with this thing for once in my life!

This time of year has been strange ever since I started working (what is essentially) retail. Christmas comes in mid-November and it doesn’t leave until early January. That combined with the fact that I’m the “help” and am not actually a real person in many customers’ eyes … really makes me kind of hate this time of year.

Still doesn’t keep Christmas from coming. If the Grinch can’t steal Christmas, neither can I.

Being an adult doesn’t help either. I’ve heard over the years that Christmas is for kids, and the older I get, the more I start to realize that’s actually pretty true. I realized that even clearer at the family Christmas Eve celebration as my niece (at 16 months) is starting to kind of grasp how this stuff goes.

For the family 24th celebration, we had to bring dessert. I brought my thumbprint cookies, because duh, but I also needed to bring either cake or pie. We’re a bit sick of pie in Casa Dino, so I decided to research Christmas cakes. Not much came up (yes, fruitcake is obvious, but I was NOT making a damn fruitcake) except for a buche de noel, a traditional French log cake. I found a super simple version (one that didn’t require me to make sugar mushrooms) and it actually turned out pretty well:

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Time with family is, well, time with family. We were supposed to go to my parents’, but my mom broke her arm on the 23rd, so everything got shifted to my brother’s place. He and Nicole stepped up and did a great job.

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Brandon in his AWESOME dinosaur sweater.

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The table.

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Swinging Amelia in my arms.

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Caprese salad. Actually really good.

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The feast.

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Amelia walking with Uncle Brandon.

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First present she goes to was actually hers (from us).

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With her Santa gift. I don’t think she quite understood it.

Christmas morning was rushed with us; Brandon had to go back to work so we had a half hour together, just enough time to make him breakfast. As a result, our present opening got delayed until the 27th. Such is life with two people who work unconventional jobs …

Holidays 2013

This holiday season was a weird one – Brandon flew on Christmas and we had the hardest time ever getting into the holiday spirit. Decorations were up for … maybe three weeks? and we didn’t even bother with lights this year. That being said, we still had a bit of fun – mostly thanks to events Run Colorado, our running store, held.

Before Christmas, they held an ugly sweater party and a cookie swap party. I used Pinterest to create my fabulous sweater/outfit, but I lost by one measly vote to the eventual winner. Which is okay for two reasons:
1.) I voted for her; and
2.) Winner got two entries into the Ugly Sweater 5K, and I wasn’t really running at the time, so the entries would have been wasted on me anyway.
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Kristen, our winner. Fruit cake guarantees hideousness.

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Leanne, essentially third.

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Yours truly, T the Christmas Tree (complete with tree skirt … skirt)(and second place). Inspiration taken from here and here.

We also had a cookie swap party – we brought sugar cookies (Brandon made, I decorated) and two versions of my thumbprints – the regular, and a gluten free version. These have officially become our cookies – I’ll share the recipe soon.

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Thumbprints seen; decorated sugar cookies in background also ours.

Brandon missed out on my family’s annual Christmas Eve dinner, unfortunately, but I dragged the skirt back out and got to see my niece … who was kind of cranky that night.

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We got her into pj’s soon after that and she was a lot less cranky.

Brandon was gone because he was in Washington D.C. for work. He’s a sneaky one and worked it out with my manager to not work the 26th so I could see him on his long layover. It was awesome not only because I got to see him, but also because one of my old college roommates, Amy, lives just south of D.C. in Virginia and so she and her husband (who I hadn’t met yet) were able to drive up and join us for breakfast the 26th, which was awesome.

After breakfast, we went into the city to see the National Christmas tree.

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Brandon and the Minnesota tree.

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The actual National tree. We were underwhelmed. Maybe it’s better lit up?

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Colorado tree.

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Oh hey look, White House.

Once Brandon was home again a few days later, we did our actual Christmas in terms of opening presents and stuff.

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Presents.

We didn’t do anything really for New Year’s Eve this year except make dinner, but that morning we did go to Run CO’s annual NYE morning run … and got to play with the cutest bulldog puppy, Kona.

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SO CUTE.

Maybe next year we’ll be more excited for the holidays … but looking back at this, it doesn’t seem like it was so bad.