Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Market

Every Saturday, vendors set up in the large plaza just to the south of the city center creating a large open market. Roxi and I made a trip into town this afternoon to check it out and now we know where we'll be doing a lot of shopping. It reminded me of what the French Market in New Orleans was like before Hurricane Katrina.

The market is definitely the place to be on Saturday. Roxi and I have made several trips to the town center of Enschede since we've been here and have been wondering where the crowds were. It turns out that (at least during the winter months) they don't venture into town except on Saturdays. And they don't only come from Enschede either. Being only a few miles away, the Saturday market apparently attracts a large number of Germans for the day as well. We arrived around two in the afternoon and it was going strong. I would like to visit early one Saturday to see if it is even busier when it first opens.

The market has everything from clothes to food items. There were stands with fresh eggs, big wheels of cheese, fresh fish, fresh fruits and vegetables and of course flowers and wooden shoes. There were also booths selling all kinds of ready to eat foods both local and not so local. We were actually very surprised to see a lot of booths selling fried foods. The look and the feel immediately brought to mind many a Louisiana festival with their various and sundry fried foods. I've always been led to believe that only Americans are gluttons for all things fried, but it appears that is not entirely true.

Wheels of Cheese

Table of Meats

I love sausage but there is something strange about it being displayed this way!

More Cheese


More Wheels of Cheese

Farm Fresh Eggs

Fresh Fish

Not sure what kind of fish this is, but it must be delicious if they don't worry about how ugly it looks when they are trying to sell it!

These fish look very oily.

We opted out of eating the market food and went to a warm restaurant to have a leisurely late lunch. After lunch we returned to the market and decided that we would take a look at the fresh fruits to see if anything suited our fancies. We couldn't pass up the incredible prices! In a matter of minutes we had several large bags full of enough fruits to last for at least a couple of weeks. And the purchasing process was like we were in a movie. There was cash being quickly collected in exchange for large bags of fruits and vegetables while the salesmen were shouting out the great deals to other passerbys in the hopes of getting more business. It was a sight to see!

We ended up with 5 kgs of clementine oranges, 5 kgs of apples, 3 kgs of asian pears, 1 kg of tomatoes and 1 kg of lemons and all for 15 Euros!

Maybe next week we'll brave some of the unusual fresh fish!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Although I've been too busy to devote much time to it over the past few months, I love playing my guitar. For obvious reasons, I couldn't justify bringing it to the Netherlands. A year ago, when we were in Hawaii, I had the chance to try playing a ukulele and thought it was fun and wanted to get one. Flash forward to yesterday when Roxi and were in town and just so happened to find a store that had quite an eclectic selection, not the least of which was a great starter ukulele. So I bought it! After finally getting it tuned, I had a whole lot of fun learning how to play familiar songs in a new way.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


It's been a long week waiting for the new episode of LOST. I'm not sure why it seemed like it lasted more than a week. Maybe it's because we got to see two episodes last week. Maybe it's because we are getting so much new tantalizing information now, a pause for a week seems unacceptable. Or maybe it's just because I love this show!


I have always loved Desmond episodes. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: for a character that we really only got to know at the end of the second season, he seems to have the most compelling story and, for some reason, he is a very relatable character. I think what has always been most compelling about his story was his quest to get back to Penny. So now that they have been reunited, I honestly don't feel quite the same about Desmond. Don't get me wrong...there were plenty of great things about his story in this episode, but his past episodes have nearly brought me to tears. Desmond's part of "Jughead" was continuing the setup started last week of how the Oceanic 6 plus Desmond will return to the Island. That all being said, I was touched that Desmond and Penny named their son Charlie (after the dearly departed Charlie Pace and not Penny's father Charles Widmore).

One of the things that I really liked about the Desmond story was that I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation the whole time. After he and Penny had the conversation about keeping Charles Widmore from finding out that they were back in England, I had a terrible feeling that something bad was going to happen to Penny. The foreshadowing was making me crazy! I was glad that Penny made it through the episode and that her father is genuinely concerned about her safety. I still feel like I'm going to be worried about Penny's safety for the rest of the show! It was nice that he helped Desmond out after all of their history. And since Widmore told Desmond that Faraday's mother is in Los Angeles, it is all but assured that Mrs. Hawking and Faraday's mother are one and the same.

Meanwhile, on the Island, it was interesting to see a portion of the story focus entirely on Daniel, Charlotte and Miles while Locke, Sawyer and Juliet had their own story. It was good to learn how Ana Lucia's US Army knife ended up on the Island. Fifty years before the crash of Oceanic 815, the US Army was on the Island attempting to conduct test of a hydrogen bomb. The Others killed them and one of the Others is a young Charles Widmore. A lot of podcasters and bloggers suspected as such after seeing a British character in "The Lie," so it didn't surprise me as much as was intended. This revelation makes the Ben/Widmore meeting last season mean what we all thought...Widmore was in charge of the Others at some point and he feels that Ben stole that from him although it's not yet clear how since the Dharma Initiative was on the Island before Ben. So when Ben was a young boy and met Richard Alpert in the woods, was Widmore the leader of the Others at that time? Or was he already off the island?

I really enjoyed Locke's meeting with 1954 Alpert. Roxi had an interesting observation about their conversation as well as Faraday's conversations with the Others: the time traveling Losties are like the Others used to be; they know what's "supposed to happen" and are trying to convince the Others that they are the "good guys." Like Alpert told Locke in the premiere episode, "What comes around, goes around." So Locke met with Alpert, but he didn't find out how to leave the Island before they flashed to another time. So now what? I hope we find out next week, but I'm afraid this week's lack of the Oceanic 6 will make one of them the focus of next week's episode. Not that I don't want to find out how they are going to get back to the Island, I just think that the Island is the story this season and I want more of it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A New Week, A New Part of Town

The weather in Enschede last week was been cold and rainy. There were a few parts of days with sun, but it is definitely still winter here. Yesterday was a warm clear day though, so Roxi and I took the bus to a nearby neighborhood with a grocery store that we've been wanting to check out. Although we have a store on campus, some of the prices seem a little high, so we thought we'd see if there was a cheaper alternative off campus. While we were waiting for the bus, I got a few more pictures of some campus buildings.


Bastille (Student Union)

Football Field (soccer to us Americans)

Neighborhood grocery store not far from campus.

More of the neighborhood by the grocery store.

Roxi waiting for the bus to take us back to campus with our groceries.

The grocery store ended up being a great find. It gave us a little comparison pricing for items in our campus store. It also taught us that some things in Europe are just that much more expensive than we are normally used to. For a country with such a large coast, fresh seafood is very expensive. I suppose it's because the local fish from the North Sea is mostly herring and that appears to be a bit cheaper than other things which must be imported. We also took a chance on what seemed like a very cheap bottle of Tawny Port. We're used to having to spend about $40 or $50 dollars for a good bottle of port, but this one only cost about 6 Euros ($8) and it's pretty good!

Later in the afternoon, we went back out to the neighborhood to try some Indonesian take-out food suggested by one of Roxi's colleagues. We took the bus to Jupiterstraat (Jupiter Street) so that we could walk around the neighborhood a little more before ordering our dinner.

The bus stop for Jupiterstraat. We had to take this picture in honor of Roxi's cat Jupiter.

Houses along Juipterstraat.

More houses along Jupiterstraat.

We got our food but found that we had just missed the bus back to campus. It had been a warm day, but as the sun was setting it was starting to get cold. Rather than wait for 20 minutes for the next bus, we decided to try the walk back, which was supposed to be about 30 minutes. That way, we'd be home abut the same time and not just sitting in the cold waiting. The walk wasn't too far (it will be better once we find some inexpensive bikes) but it really started to get cold once the sun set. We were almost back to campus when we saw a sign with the temperature on it.

It's funny because even though the temperature was at the freezing point, it didn't feel like it. Neither Roxi nor I knew how we might fare in such different weather than we're used to in south Louisiana, but this reassured us a bit. Granted, it was still pretty cold and we weren't about to have a picnic, but we realized that we could manage this weather for another couple of months.

The Indonesian food ended up being very good and similar to Chinese take out that we are used to but with some variations. Of course we only ordered a fried rice dish, a vegetarian noodle dish and a sampling of appetizers, but I liked the differences in the way the food was prepared. Next time, we'll get more adventurous and try something really different!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday Night In Enschede

We made a trip into a cold and rainy Enschede last night for dinner and drinks. I guess it was because of the weather, but there weren't as many people out and about as I was expecting. Of course it could have also been that most of the shops were closed. The restaurants and bars were open and that was our chief concern. We ended up at a really great Mediterranean restaurant and had some delicious shawarma. Then it was off to several bars to get a feel for which might be our style. The first was a really nice British style pub but it was kind of empty. The second place was our favorite of the night. It was more like a beer garden with a selection as well as a large menu of fingerfoods. Plus it was a very comfortable atmosphere and was not overly crowded. The final bar was exactly the opposite; overcrowded and a very minimal beer selection. We had a good time exploring some of the Friday night options. It will will be nice to go back on a much more hospitable night.

New Furniture

On Thursday afternoon, Roxi and I got ourselves motivated to head to Enschede for a late lunch and to continue exploring. We decided to make two stops on the way that changed our plans for the better. While trying to find the grocery store on our first full day on campus, we ran across what appeared to be a furniture store. We were in a hurry to get essential items at the grocer so we decided to save the furniture store for another day; after all, our apartment was already furnished! On our way off campus Thursday, we thought that it might be a good day to swing by the furniture store just to check things out. We got more than we bargained for!

I noticed a sign in the window in English, but before I could read it, the proprietor greeted us and told us about her shop. The shop consisted of two rooms: one containing second hand furniture with no item priced over 50 Euros; the other containing a mixture of new and second items also under 50 Euros (roughly $65). We began looking around the showroom and were impressed by the quality of the second hand furniture which included very nice desks, entertainment centers and couches. The owner informed us that people in town give her the furniture that they no longer want so that she can sell it to students at greatly reduced prices. People get rid of stuff they don't want, poor students get a good deal on used furniture and she makes a little money in the process; everybody wins!

While walking though the store, we saw several things that would have been nice if not for our limited space. One must have that I spotted though was a very fancy looking coffee/espresso/capucino machine for only 25 Euros. I myself do not drink coffee, but it is one of Roxi's daily beverages. She's been getting by with a stove-top percolator that does quite well, but once I saw the very inexpensive second hand machine, I knew that we were not going to leave without it.

We also found a small couch for only 30 Euros that would fit perfectly in our living room and could replace the makeshift couch that Roxi had made out of two minimalist armchairs.

Two great purchases for a mere 55 Euros!

The store also offered delivery service for a fee of 35 Euros. I was not ready to blow our profit margin by spending that much just to move a relatively small couch a few hundred yards across campus. I asked the owner's opinion, and she agreed that we would be better off saving the money and carrying it. So we decided that we'd make two trips back to our apartment: one with the couch and one with the espresso machine.

The day was clear when we headed over to the store so naturally on our walk back with the couch it was overcast and threatening rain. We had barely carried the couch a few feet when I first felt rain drops. It turned out to be freezing rain which under the circumstance was a little better because we could at least brush it off the couch before it melted. So we made the trek back to our apartment cutting as many corners as we could along the way. The couch was not extremely heavy but it was a little awkward to carry. Eventually we got it to our building, up the stairs and in place. Of course a little reorganization of the apartment was required, but we found a place for everything and it even feels like we have increased our floorspace somehow.

We made a long detour on our second trip first stopping at Roxi's office building to take care of a a few administrative things. Following that excursion, we headed back to the store to retrieve our new espresso machine. By the time we got it back to the apartment, at least an hour and a half had passed since we had originally left to go to town for lunch. We were both still pretty exhausted from moving the couch and decided that we were just as happy staying put the rest of the afternoon and making another meal at home. So it turned out to be another good day in the Netherlands even though we had no idea that by the end of it we would end up with two good-as-new items for the apartment!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Because You Left" & "The Lie"

I can't believe that LOST is finally back! It seems like it's been more than eight months since we last saw the show. I recently completed re-watching Season 4 and, in doing so, was reminded of just how much I love this show. And if the first two episodes of Season 5 are any indicator, there's going to be so much more to love!


I was fooled with the opening scene as I am every premiere since Season 2. Actually, it was strikingly similar to the opening of Season 2 with Desmond in the Swan Station. It is an understatement to say that I was surprised to see Marvin Candle aka Edgar Halliwax aka Mark Wickman aka Pierre Chang as the focus of the first scene. If I hadn't seen the Comic Con video (listen for the voice around 2:35), I would have been even more surprised to see Daniel Faraday on the Dharma construction crew for the Orchid Station. In any event, what we all suspected is in fact happening this season: Time Travel!

"Because You Left" was an amazing episode surprising choked full of exposition. But even more than that, I loved the non-linear nature of it all. My favorite episode of the entire series thus far is, without a doubt, "The Constant." "Because You Left" is like "The Constant" on steroids! I still prefer "The Constant," but "Because You Left" was a really great season premiere. I found myself trying to keep track of where the Losties were flashing to in time and trying to think about what had already happened and what would be happening in the story as we previously knew it. Roxi and I had to keep pausing the show to discuss where they were flashing to within the time line that we have already seen. God I love this show!

I must admit, I kind of miss the flashback/flashforward motif that I am accustomed to, but the Oceanic 6 vs. Island stories really lend themselves to be told the way they have been in the first two episodes. After all, we are seeing flashbacks and flashforwards every time we are shown the Losties on the island.

On the island, I loved that Locke got to see Yemi's plane crash and then get to be there when Ethan discovered it. So did Ethan kill the survivor(s) of Yemi's plane crash? And Locke's reaction to Richard Alpert telling him that he has to "die" to save the Island was stunning. For better or for worse, Terry O'Quinn will always be John Locke. And speaking of crazy time travel stuff, I knew that Daniel Faraday's note about Desmond as his constant would be important eventually. I loved that Desmond realized how important that his dreamemory of his meeting with Daniel was.

And off island, it appeared, after the first episode, that all of Ben's plans were coming to fruition. Although neither he nor Jack had made contact with Sun, it appeared that the remainder of the Oceanic 6 would probably be on board with returning to the Island. So what about Sun? She really sounds ready to kill Ben. I don't think that she would be working for Charles Widmore per se, but in killing Ben, she might achieve his goal.

"The Lie" was also a good episode, but there was too little Locke. I can't help but be intrigued about how and why it is that he left the Island and, of course, how and why he died going by the name Jeremy Bentham. But it was interesting to see the Losties get attacked by the Dharma Initiative and/or the Others. I would imagine they were from Dharma seeing as how Pierre Chang had been recording an orientation film for the Arrow Station (for defense against the hostiles) at the start of the previous episode. But you never know on LOST!

It seems that Ben still has his large network of Others off the Island spanning from his meeting with the woman in the butcher shop to Ms. Hawking. I was convinced that Ms. Hawking would be revealed as Faraday's mother, but it was still cool to see that she did play a part in the episode. So Ben only has 70 hours to gather the Oceanic 6...that's about three episodes so I guess we can assume that Jack and Co. will be returning to the Island just in time for February sweeps.

All in all this was a great start to the season! I'm looking forward to more!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The beer of Enschede.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Today, we made a trip into Hengelo, the town to the northwest of the university, to visit the nearest Ikea and buy a few items for our apartment. Our place is furnished but there were still a couple of things that Roxi felt would make it home, chief among them, a new shower curtain. It ended up being a cold and rainy day, but we rode the bus to the store (there is actually a bus stop called "Ikea") and made our way around the large showroom looking for those items we needed. For those who've never been to an Ikea before, all of the items have Swedish names but the signs usually also list the names in English. Since this is the Netherlands, all those translations were in Dutch. This was both good and bad; good because it helped for us learn more about the language, bad because if we neede more information, we were pretty much out of luck. But we made do and ended up getting the shower curtain and a few other odds and ends.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Closed on Sunday!

Today we learned that just about every thing is closed on Sunday except for a few restaurants and bars. It made for a quiet day in Enschede but it didn't stop us from figuring out a bus route that we are sure to use frequently. It also gave us the opportunity to have a couple of drinks at an Irish pub and get some Chinese food for dinner.

Mural near Enschede Station.

Vertical sundial on Grote Kerk.

Heart shaped light cover in Oude Markt.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Frozen Campus

Roxi and I met with her post-doc adviser and several other colleagues on Friday just to touch base and talk a little bit about our stay here. Roxi's office is getting set up and by next week she'll have keys to her building. After our meeting, we returned to our apartment a different way than we have gone before to see other parts of campus.

Cubicus Building and it's Cube frozen in the pond.

It almost looks like someone threw the cube into the already frozen pond.

Cubicus Building

Hogekamp Building

Clock tower sculpture in a frozen pond.

Standing on a frozen pond.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Canal Skating

We haven't seen anyone ice skating on frozen lakes or canals since we have been in the Netherlands, but apparently it is traditional in years that are cold enough. Friday we met with several of Roxi's new colleagues and were told by one that this was the first winter in twelve years that the Dutch canals have frozen and people took to their skates. It must have been a sight to see if the picture that accompanies this story is any indication. Perhaps we'll have the opportunity to give it a try in the coming weeks.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Afternoon in Enschede

We spent our first full day sleeping half of it away. Roxi got up first but I was just wiped out from the previous day of travel so I slept in until about 1:30 pm. The rest of that day was spent taking care of essential errands like groceries, signing the apartment lease contract and getting internet. The sun sets around 4:30 pm here so we really didn't have much daylight left after taking care of those things.

Similarly we had some errands to attend to on our second day, but we took care of most of them in the morning. It was a beautiful day compared with the rainy night of our arrival and overcast first day. The sky was clear by noon and the sun was as high in the sky as it could be at this latitude and time of year. So after noon, we took a train into downtown Enschede with hopes of getting bicycles (the preferred mode of travel around here) and getting a Dutch bank account set up. We made the mile and a half walk to the train station taking in some of the campus sites on our way.

Campus as seen from the main entrance.

University of Twente - The Entrepreneurial University

After the quick five minute train ride into town we quickly found the bicycle shop. Unfortunately they didn't have any second-hand bikes at the moment and new bikes were bit out of our budget. They were very nice and told us they should have used bikes in a few weeks. As it turned out, we also didn't end up getting a bank account as we forgot to bring any of our US banking information with us (d'oh!). In the end it was okay though because we got a chance to walk around the Oude Markt (Old Market) area of town and did a lot of window shopping.

Enschede Station

Street in the Oude Markt.

Sweet shop

Cheese shop

Sculptures on the roof of a theater.

Grote Kerk (Large Church) in the Oude Markt.

Grote Kerk in the Oude Markt.

Ceramic love seat

Het ei van Ko (Ko's Egg) Fountain in Oude Markt. See a live webcam of this area here.

So we didn't get bikes or a bank account, but we got to see part of Enschede. Plus we went to a liquor store and bought several bottles of local Grolsch beer. I'd say it was an afternoon well spent!