Guus Bosman

software engineering director

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Nora left for Bulgaria today -- all by herself. She is flying as an unaccompanied minor for the first time, a big step for all of us.

I brought her to the airport today and after check-in we went to the gate together. When we spoke to the service agent there Nora said, when asked, "I'm six... and a half".

She wasn't scared at all, just a little excited. When boarding started, she was the very first person on the plane. When the steward took her, she smiled and ran back at me for one more hug, and then she left.

The flight had a bit of a delay due to weather, so I waited a while at the gate until the flight departed. She'll arrive in Frankfurt in a few hours, and then in Bulgaria around 8.00 am EST tomorrow.


Sasha & Nora are back

Sasha and Nora came back tonight -- we're complete. We all had a very special week but we're very happy to be together again.

Nora talked and talked and talked -- the time difference didn't faze her.


Sasha & Nora to Bulgaria

Sasha and Nora are on their way to Bulgaria for a short vacation with Dyado and Baba.

Their flight was a 7.20 pm and I said goodbye to them in the afternoon.

So now we're three men in the Bosman household. Tonight we had pasta with red sauce, the boys loved it. Then we went for a walk and at 8.30 they went to sleep.


The Netherlands, Belgium and Bulgaria, 2014

It took a while but I've finally finished the articles about our wonderful vacation to the Netherlands, Belgium and Bulgaria.

For completeness, here is a short timeline:


Traveling back to Arlington

Our flight left at 6.55 am from Schiphol, so we had to get up really early. We left home -- I mean, my parent's home -- at 4.00 am and were at the airport nicely on time.

The lady at the check-in counter was very friendly and let us check in the car seat for free, which meant that we could check in one of the small suitcases as well. That saved a lot of hassle. Over-all, we carried a lot of luggage: 50 kilogram (110 lbs) for checked-in, plus a big car seat, a stroller, a carry-on suitcase and some small items.

Check-in went quickly and we were done at 5.15 am. We had coffee at the arrival area since our usual spot at departures was still closed. Saying goodbye to my parents was sad.

We then went to the security check and wow! It went so smoothly and nicely. Schiphol is a great airport. We browsed a little bit in the Nijntje store and then went to the gate.

Our first flight was to Copenhagen, and we had a few hours of layover there. The airport there is pretty good also (with the exception of the bathrooms).

The second flight departed at 12:20 pm. In the waiting area we chatted with a small boy and at one point Nora told him in English: "Nora sleep in the plane". And before we were airborne she put her head in Sasha's lap and fell asleep, and slept for a solid three hours.

Later I took Nora for a walk through the plane, and one of the flight attendants gave her a game and a small book.

We landed at Dulles Airport and customs and immigration went smoothly. When we arrived a customs, a lady had already put all hour luggage on a cart.

Then we were home! Nora was especially happy to see Penka, her inflatable cow.


Trip to Ghent

Sasha came back from Bulgaria on Wednesday and Jaap and I went to pick her up from Schiphol. She had enjoyed 30+ degrees and sunshine in Perushtitsa and the mountains.

Train trip through Alkmaar, Amsterdam, Roosendaal, Brussels and Ghent

On Thursday morning Jaap brought us to Alkmaar where we took a train, the first in our trip to Ghent, Belgium. Nora was in good hands and didn't mind at all that we were going to leave her for a few days with Opa and Oma.

The journey was fun. We took trains from Alkmaar to Ghent. In Amsterdam we walked around for a little bit at the station. We had to take a detour on Thursday due to an accident near Sint-Niklaas so we went through Brussels. We decided against the high speed Thalys train since it requires a reservation and we didn't want to fix our travel plans, so we crossed the border in an old Belgian stop train. The other trains were newer and faster, especially enjoyed the double-deck trains. The Dutch trains are great and have excellent free Wi-Fi that even tells you which train you are in and what the next stop is.

In Ghent

On Friday we visited the Saint-Bavo cathedral, a magnificent building. We saw the Aanbidding van het Lam Gods. The crypts were very impressive. Some parts were about 1,000 years old.

We also went into a comic book store. Very cool to see that, reminded me of the Guust Flater comics. In a bookstore we saw that "Huppel" is indeed Belgian and actually part of a series.

We went to the area near Ghent University again in the evening and tried several different croquets in a kroketten restaurant.

On Saturday we visited the castle near our hotel, Gravensteen. It was interesting to see the history of the building, from student occupation before World War I through significant renovations that required the year-down of buildings that were built on top of the remnants. The exhibition of torture instruments was a good reminder of the progress of civilization and we didn't stay long in those rooms.

We had dinner twice in a brasserie called 't Klokhuys. Funny enough, it meant house with the clocks -- not, as I expected, the core of an apple. Loved the local food such as waterzooi, steak tartare, kaaskroket and of course Belgian beer.

Ghent is a great city and we really enjoyed our stay. We did a little bit of shopping too. There were several nice bookstores and on Saturday we stumbled across an annual flea market. Bought 4 children's books there for Nora, and enjoyed browsing the stands. I also bought a 2,5 kilogram book (5 lbs): the latest edition of Ons Kookboek, a classic cookbook with Flemish recipes. We managed to fit everything in the suitcase.

Train trip to Haarlem

The trip back went smoothly. We took a streetcar to the train station and from there various trains to end up in Haarlem. Since it was a Sunday there was maintenance being done so the connections weren't as good as they normally would have been.


Edam cheese market

On Wednesday we went to the cheese market in Edam with my parents. I had a bit of a cold but we had a good time.

The cheese market shows how cheese trading was done until the 1920's, and it takes place in the beautiful village of Edam. Incidentally, that reminded me a lot of Opperdoes.

We had a very nice lunch together in the Hof van Holland restaurant.


To the Netherlands

My last visit to the Netherlands was in 2010 -- when Jasper was just born. For Sasha it had been a full decade. She left to Washington, DC in September 2004.

Our flight was at 5:15 pm from Dulles Airport on Friday August 15. We packed our belongings the night before, and then worked hard in the morning to get everything ready on time. Our neighbors Ginny, Judy, and Yong Hee helped with looking after the house and our plants while we were gone, much appreciated.

Nora was excited about the trip. Somehow she is more impressed by the taxi part than the flight, she kept talking about how we would take a taxi to the airport. In our hand luggage we brought a blanket, Meneer Prascho, her giraffe and her pillow. Sasha and I didn't sleep much on the flight to Copenhagen, but we created a little tent for Nora using a blanket and she slept an hour or two. From Copenhagen we took a connecting flight and then we were at Schiphol!

Opa and Oma were waiting for us and we saw them from behind the glass. Nora was a little shy but then waved. Our luggage arrived quickly.


Trip to Montreal, Canada

This weekend we made a very nice trip to Montreal, Canada. Sasha was speaking at a conference there and we decided to make it a family weekend.

We left on Friday from Dulles airport. It was Nora's first ever flight. At times she was overwhelmed by all the people and the noises but she was interested in all the things around her and didn't cry very much much. In the plane she kept crawling around on our laps and looking at everything and everybody.

We stayed in a hotel near Old Town, a few minutes from the river and the "Notre Dame", which does look quite a bit like the one in Paris. The city has a distinct European feel to it, and we enjoyed the good food everywhere. Nora liked the local food. She's an adventurous eater and loved the French cheese and duck confit.

Nora was thrilled to see the horses downtown. She even touched one of them, after some encouragement, and whenever she would see one she'd shout: "paard!". She also saw boats for the first time, "boot!".

On the way back we waited outside the plane for the stroller to be unloaded. It took a little longer and Nora and I touched the front of the plane, which she referred to as "boot" as well.


Above the ground

Last weekend I had to get used to being back on the East Coast -- Friday I went to bed at 2.00 am, and Saturday after midnight again.

I must have been sleepy later in the week also. I took the metro in the morning, and all of a sudden we were above ground! That was quite a surprise. I had taken the wrong line (blue instead of orange), and I had to switch trains back at Arlington Cemetery.

Yesterday there were drinks and bitterballen at Mackey's bar, a few minutes from our house. That was a lot of fun. Yesterday we also heard that we can stay a little longer in our temporary apartment which is nice because we still have quite some unpacking to do. This weekend we'll go to the new place and tackle some more boxes.


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