Saturday, March 28, 2015


For my birthday, Sara surprised me with a trip to Amsterdam.  I had been to Amsterdam when I was 20 and I remembered having fun in the city.  Like everyone else, when I hear Amsterdam, I think coffee shops and the red light district.  Well, I am not 20 anymore and don't really care for coffee shops or the red light district.  It turns out that Amsterdam is still freaking awesome.  This city is amazing.  The canals are adorable and the architecture is great.  The city is very walkable.  Great food, great museums, friendly Dutch people, eclectic style.  Not sure what the housing situation is like in Amsterdam for FSOs, but if it isn't horrendous ro stuck in some boring suburb, Amsterdam jumped up to the top of our dream post list.

City Hall at Dam Square

Skinniest canal house in Amsterdam.  The owner walked out like two minutes after I took this picture.

Some famous building where students and artists have squatted for decades

The primary reason we went to Amsterdam this weekend was to visit the famed Keukenhof garden.  This is the largest spring garden in the world and features thousands of tulips and other flowers.  This was opening weekend and following a chilly winter and spring, not many of the flowers had bloomed yet.  None of the huge tulip fields were blooming, but the park was still gorgeous.

Check out the bee

Most of these photos taken by Sara

Zoo fun

Yesterday, a group of young officers volunteered to chaperone a zoo trip for an international kinderhaus.  Almost all of these kids are children of immigrants.  Some of them are born in Germany to immigrant parents while others came to Germany as children.  This is a distinction the kids regularly made themselves.  None of them speak German at home.

All of these kids were amazing - they're ability to communicate and play with each other, often without a common language was amazing.  They were also very forgiving of our minimal German.  It turns out my German is about on par with 8 year old German-Moroccan girls who speak only Arabic at home.  These two girls had me wrapped around their fingers.  They wanted to see the elephants, we went straight to the elephants.  Next up were the kangaroos.  They begged for ice cream, we broke down and bought them ice cream (I didn't cave first).  I think the kids had fun, but I KNOW that I had a blast.  I need to make more of an effort to spend time with local kids at each post.
These kids loved to give the peace sign in photos
Selfie on the bus home
Two weeks ago, I had a work event in Stuttgart and I decided to stay overnight and spend a day exploring the town.  The highlight of the weekend was the trip to the awesome Stuttgart zoo (way better than the Opel Zoo we went to with the kids).  My zoo had a ton of babies including some adorable baby giraffes.


These monkeys chased each other around this cage for 30 minutes - flying across these bars.


Baby chimps

Polar bear cooling off in the water

Giraffe and a Half