I'm really late with this - if you read any other blogs from anyone living in Holland, I'm sure they've already mentioned that for the first time in 12 years, the Netherland's canals froze this month. I didn't take any of my own pictures, if you follow that link you'll see a great photo on the International Herald Tribune.
There were a lot of reasons to be excited about the frozen canals, but one of the highlights for me was the fact that no one complained about the weather. Seriously. Every single person I know and work with, Dutch and foreign, from warm climates to cold climates, was completely charmed by what was happening outside. It was the most proper winter weather imaginable - bright, sunny, blue skies, cold and clear, the only thing we were missing was snow. And with all the ice and excitement about skating on the ponds and canals, no one minded the lack of snow.
I didn't manage to get out and skate myself (I'm crossing my fingers that I get another opportunity this winter), unfortunately. For the few weeks that the cold snap stuck around, I was mostly in the city center - which was still a beautiful sight. As I rode along the Prinsengracht one morning on trash day, I saw the coolest thing - Christmas trees that people had place out on the curb had blown into the canals overnight and froze! I cursed myself for not getting any pictures, but my friend Zoe came to the rescue with some great shots.
Just a few random things and links - during the road trip from Amsterdam to Italy, one of my travel companions (and friends) filmed the experience and cut together a little video. Watch it on youtube!
The International Rotterdam Film Festival begins on the 21st of January. Here's a tip if you're trying to buy tickets online but you're using the English version of the site - click on the Nederlands version, and the first change that you'll see from the English version are the words "Tickets Kopen." Click there, which will take you to the ticket sales page, and then you can switch to English (by clicking on the British flag). One more tip - most of the foreign films are shown with English subtitles, but there's about 20-25 films that are only shown with Dutch subtitles - the list is here. Tickets are selling out quickly!
And one final link - if you're looking for someplace to watch the Obama Inauguration tomorrow (and let's say you live in Europe and don't have a TV, like me), it's showing live on Joost at 17.00 CET (Central European Time, or GMT+1).