It’s raining again.  I’ve realized we were quite lucky to have a few days of gorgeous sun after we arrived here, because after that it started raining with a vengeance, and hasn’t really stopped. For all the similarities between Amsterdam and Portland, I’ve got to admit that I’m not used to this kind of rain. I mean, it’s RAINING. There’s thunder and lightning and stuff. In Portland, you get wet days, but it mostly means that you’ll be thoroughly damp whenever you go out, not soaked and dripping wet. At best, it’s just a light mist that never lets up all day. It gets tiresome, but I’m realizing already that I kind of miss it.

We live on the top floor of our apartment building here, so we get to listen to the rain. It’s very romantic to wake up to the pattering, and to watch the smears of drops on our skylight. But then it falls harder. And it doesn’t stop. And we remember that we kind of wanted to go outside today, and that not even an umbrella and raincoat can protect you from this kind of rain. This is serious stuff.

Last Sunday, we made a brave move to risk the rain by venturing to the IJmuiden Harbor Festival, which I had found online and was free (good enough reason for us!). It turned out to be the best decision we could make, since IJmuiden (eye-mow-den) somehow escaped the ominous clouds that blanketed Amsterdam. A fast intercity train to Haarlem followed by a bus dropped us off near the harbor, where we quickly realized this was a very small, local festival. Very Dutch. Very not-for-tourists. Which was perfect, in my opinion, and I loved it. I wore my Breton striped shirt so as to be very nautical.

Besides the sunshine, we enjoyed a shanty choir with accordions, lots of big boats, and the best part about any festival: fried food. The scent of it all was too hard to resist, so we treated ourselves to Belgian Fries (with mayonnaise, of course) and freshly baked stroopwafel, a thin waffle sandwich with caramel in the middle. Delicious! I did skip the herring, which the Dutch eat pickled, and drop it into their mouth by the tail. It’s a specialty. I’m not yet convinced.

I got such a kick out of the shanty choir that I recorded a little bit of it. It’s not the best quality, but you get the idea!