Greetings from colorful Colorado! The photo reel in my phone is filled with a collage of reds and oranges and yellows, most containing Rhubarb who I force to sit still for *yet another* fall portrait.
Those who have followed along with Live Eat Learn for a while probably know that up until last year, I was living in the Netherlands. The pandemic kicked off a spiral of events leading to me eventually moving back to the states, leaving behind some good friends and what had become family.
So after over a year away, I finally had the chance to visit this month! But…I almost didn’t make it.
Understandably, the Netherlands requires a covid test to enter the country, so I did a PCR as required. But when I went to pickup my negative results, I noticed the paper didn’t specifically say “PCR” but rather the brand of test. So I clarified with the testing site, and they let me know that “anyone who knows anything about covid tests knows this is a PCR test, and this is what we give people for traveling”. Reassured, I packed my bags and headed to the airport 3 hours early (because, Type A).
The baggage drop-off / check-in line takes an hour, but it’s fine, I got here 3 hours early. That’s enough time, right?
I finally reach the front of the line, where, after some deliberation, the attendant tells me my PCR test won’t do. “Can you show me where it says PCR?” I mean, no, but they said it was PCR? They assured me it would work for travel?
After back and forth, they’re not going to accept it. And the testing site won’t email a modified proof of results without seeing me in person. And my flight is now in 1.5 hours.
So…I run. Straight to an Uber. I tell the driver, who’s slowly loading my luggage into the trunk, to “PLEASE HURRY I’LL EXPLAIN IN THE CAR”. I tell him the situation. Tell him if we can manage to make the 25 minute drive to the testing center, get them to amend the results page to clearly say “PCR”, then drive back to the airport before my flight, that it will be a modern miracle.
And the Uber driver delivers. I get back to the airport. My flight departs in 35 minutes. I race to the front of the line, where the agent, in one breath, congratulates me on getting the amended results but lets me know that “she’s sorry but you’ve missed the 45 minute baggage drop cut off and she cannot make any exceptions. We’ll have to reschedule you for the next day.”
Totally defeated (and sweaty and panting), I text my best friend, “I didn’t make it in time”. And in a stroke of genius, her husband tells me to “just gate check it”. YES! I’ll take my 50 lb suitcase through security and throw away all my liquids, but it just might work!
I sprint past the 500 people in line for Denver TSA and go to TSA pre-check (recommend 10/10), hoping my suitcase will even fit through the scanner. It does. I keep running. It’s 11:28 and my flight departs at 11:32.
And…I MAKE IT!
And 14 hours later, I make it to Amsterdam! Any chance of jetlag was quickly demolished by a full day of touring not just Amsterdam, but Utrecht and Arnhem as well. I spent the next week soaking up time with some of my favorite people, taking pictures of every bicycle and canal, eating Dutch treats, and taking a covid test every 24 hours, as mandated by the Dutch government (my nose is still recovering).
But the real reason I hopped the pond? One of my dearest friend’s wedding! Having been cancelled and rescheduled twice already because of covid, the third time was a charm. We celebrated at an estate in the Dutch countryside, complete with amazing food, amazing company, and a cheesy throwback playlist to our Austrian apreski days to close out the night (🙋🏼♀️).
And speaking of food, I ate a lot of it that week. To include classic Dutch croquettes (made vegetarian with mushrooms!), ample hagelslag (sprinkles you can eat for breakfast), more croissants than anyone should be allowed to purchase at one time, and a beet wellington (which I’m thinking I’ll need to recreate here on the site!).
Back home in Denver
Back home in Denver, it’s business as usual. Checking out new exhibits (like the Immersive Van Gogh), and trying out new (to me) eateries, like Rebel Chicken (the vegan sandwich was *chef’s kiss*) and The Original Chubby’s (how have I gone through life without smothered breakfast burritos?).
In the headquarters
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you a peak as to what’s been going on in the test kitchen! We’ve got olive oil infusions, caramelized sweet potatoes, and alllll the pumpkins!
And with that, October is a wrap. Rhubarb and I need to go try on our Halloween costumes (I will be a Chilly Pepper, as in a cold, hat-and-gloves-wearing pepper). Rhubarb, who needs to stop eating every scarf and hat I put on her, will be a Chilly Dog. Happy Halloween, friends!