Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 2. Or is it Day 3? Uh... the Second Day Here. In The Netherlands, that is.

Megan was up before 6am, even though she didn't go to sleep until almost 11pm last night. (Maybe the nap Monday was a bad idea? Hard to say- what is preferable, a grouch or a spaz?)

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We scurried around to get ready, as our Relocation Agent was going to meet us at 7:45am, so we ran down for the fastest breakfast ever at 7:30 or so. Chicken sausage, croissants, teensy muffins, fruit... the buffet was nice. They even had Ratatouille, which was pretty good! Kip and I both downed a cup of coffee, and we were off.

Megan is still barely eating anything- seems she only likes toasties (toasted cheese sandwich) and fruit. She managed to eat most of a pear and a few bites of a dutch pancake, we took some pastries for the road and met our agent.

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First stop was Rijswijk (most likely not spelled correctly) which is near the Hague. There we applied for our Dutch residency, and really had a very pleasant experience with Dutch bureaucracy- we were in and out in less than 45 minutes. They are very civilized when it comes to government processing of people- you make an appointment. What a concept!

After we left with more stamps, stickers and hologram stickers in our passports, we headed over to the real estate agent's office, but she was not in. We landed in a cafe down the street from the office and had another cup of coffee with our agent, and Megan and I took turns drawing pictures for one another while Kip and Lette(? I am notoriously terrible with names, and adding a language factor only worsens the matter) went over maps, booklets and general info on some of the cities we would be visiting in the next few days, as well as good traffic routes to take to avoid some of the bad traffic that plagues the Netherlands during rush hour.

With some more caffeine in our systems, we were ready to house-hunt. Our real estate agent, Susan, was very hospitable and helpful. We looked at 4 different properties in Leiden, one of which is a strong contender for the title of "Noser Household, Netherlands." Dutch architecture is influenced by a few oddities- the taxation of property is based on the width of a house, so they are traditionally narrow-faced, but run deep into the property. Staircases look like a dare- they almost go straight up and the steps are almost exactly the depth of your toes and the ball of your foot. Megan wanted to scootch down the stairs on her behind- so did I, to be honest.

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Leiden is a disgustingly adorable town- one of the properties we looked at was built in the 1500s, and most of the town center is the same age or older. There is gorgeous gothic architecture everywhere you turn, and, of course, a windmill. Leiden has TONS of canals, and a lot of properties face the water. Two of the homes we looked at were across the street from a canal. One of them was above a Chinese grocery, and yet another above a Snooker Hall (billiards, anyone?)- it's amazing where people live here!

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Doesn't Everyone Have a Gothic Cathedral View?

We saw more "A Day In The Life of the Dutch" as we roamed and drove around Leiden. There seems to be an unspoken rule about biking- the maximum allowed passengers on a bicycle depends on how many you have to transport. We saw a mom with a new-style bike- the front wheel is separated from the peddler by a wheelbarrow-like bucket thing- and she had 2 kids in the bucket, one in a kid's bike-seat behind her, and one wedged between the seat rider and herself. We saw kids clinging for their life, riding on the cargo-carriers that most Dutch bikes have, and kids transporting friends on their handlebars.

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We also saw a beautiful white swan swimming in the canal by the real estate office! It fearlessly swam up to us, and upon discovering we had no food to share, hissed at us (scaring Megan) and swam away, brooding.

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We returned to the hotel, ate some lunch, drank more coffee, and I uploaded a ton of photos while Kip napped and Megan played. While Meg and I were playing Megan's new favorite game which involves hiding 5 rocks all over the hotel room while the seeker hides in the bathroom, Kip did some work. When we had played to the point where there were no original hiding places left, and Kip was still working, Meg and I headed downstairs and rented a bike to ride. She sat on the luggage rack like a good little Dutch meisje, and we rode around the buisness park the hotel sits in. I felt so rebellious riding without a helmet, my child clinging to fist-fulls of my jacket to stay on the bike!

About 7 we headed back to see if Kip was finished trading, and he was just wrapping up. We drove into Alsmeer (approximately 3 minute car ride) for dinner, Megan telling us the first half of the drive "I'm not tired!" and slumped in half asleep the second half of the drive. She was out cold all through dinner, and we kept checking her for a pulse.

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I tried 2 things at dinner that I was surprised I liked:
1) Heineken. Well, Heineken in the Netherlands. TOTALLY different beer here in NL. It must suffer terribly during import to the USA.

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2) Fries the Dutch Way. I know- it seems SO weird, but it's not actually mayonnaise like we know it in the US, it's sweet, like ketchup, and has a very mild flavor. I was the most shocked that I tried it, but almost equally as shocked that I liked it.

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Megan woke up as we were leaving the cafe, and ate her dinner on the way back to the hotel.

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I think I am going to try to find a kip a day. Maybe I'll make a coffee table book or something.

Touristy Windmill Photos Of The Day:

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5 comments:

Anne said...

I already can't wait to come visit you guys and you haven't officially moved there yet. It looks so pretty and perfect. :)

Kathryn said...

I'm loving the blog. The pictures are fantastic, but I have to say - Kip Nuggets is my favorite, I got several people looking at me funny in my fishbowl of an office because I was laughing so hard.

Miss you like crazy, but I'm glad you are having (mostly) fun.

Squeezes and smooches!!

JM said...

Dude, you must get the place above the Chinese grocery store. Fresh bok choy, yum. You are so lucky! Your pics are AWESOME!!! I can't wait to win the lottery so I can afford a ticket to come visit you. :)

The said...

I have a good friend living in the Dam and we always find ourselves saying, "crazy like the Dutch!"

Such a fun place. Enjoy!

The said...

Hmmm, signature reads "The" which is short TheDL which is short for Dusty Lillo but you can call me AmsterDoosty ... but only when I am in Amsterdam and I had better be wearing orange, lol.

Hup Hup Holland!!!