Monday, February 13, 2012

Red, Yellow, and Green... and Snow!

We've been keeping ourselves busy with regular household chores for the past several weeks. The weather has been frigid and windy so it isn't pleasant to be outdoors. We did brave the cold Saturday for a shopping day in Maastricht. My husband has been looking for a nice coat but everything here is so expensive! We spent most of the day searching and the most reasonably-priced coat we found was 269 Euro.

We darted in and out of shops to stay warm. Some of the store windows boasted sales of 50% off. We assumed these places were for bargain shoppers. Turns out, the 50% was knocked off of items originally priced at 700 Euro or more. We saw people our ages trying on clothes and then modeling for their friends/family who were sitting outside of the dressing rooms sipping champagne. Who are these people and what do they do for work?!

We had lunch at Sjinkerij de Bobbel, a cozy cafe on a bustling side street. While we were enjoying our beers, a delightful French party sat beside us in the available seats at our table. One of the men spoke fluent Dutch and English (of course). I know I mention it often, but all of these people who speak so many different languages continue to astound me.

I'm getting very excited about Karneval! I'll be attending my first event Wednesday night. A children's parade was held yesterday in Sittard. We saw the remnants as we were driving to the movie theater. Lots of people were dressed in elaborate costumes while others donned outrageous wigs or hats with a touch of face paint. Flags of red, yellow, and green are hanging from people's balconies and lots of windows are decorated with Karneval cartoons. It's a very festive and unique atmosphere. I'm excited to see the parade in Maastricht on Sunday!

It's snowing again and I'm heading out to shop for Valentine's Day. I wasn't sure if Valentine's Day would be celebrated here as it is in the U.S. but so far it seems like it has the same significance. Plastic hearts are hanging from ceilings in shops and underwear with "LUV" emblazoned on the bottoms are on display. Decorations associated with Karneval are still the main focus so it's a mixture of yellow, green, and red stripes and red and pink heart balloons. It's a very interesting combination.

I've been told that the weather should be improving soon. I think lots of Dutch people use the Karneval season as their measure. Whenever it ends, the temperatures gradually begin to rise and the skies are sunny again. I hope so! I keep picturing Europe in the spring and I know it will be as lovely as I imagine.

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