Friday, August 1, 2008

Blah blah blog. Days 3-5-ish.

Kip has been HOGGING the computer the last few days. "It's my work computer. That's kind of why we're here, I work here now." WHATEVER. So, since he's been burning the midnight oil, I have been catching up on sleep and finally getting over jetlag. Of course, because it's only 2 more days until we leave.

Oh, and this is totally void of pictures- I am running out of time, so check my Flickr site for shots from our trip:

Ok, so on to the good stuff! Day 3, or Wednesday, we hauled around the 'burbs around Amsterdam. We looked at 7 properties, none that I loved more than the "Over the Snooker Hall" flat we had seen in Leiden the day prior. Our relocation agent, Letty, said that her son had a friend who was relocated to another town from Heemstede, which was not far from where the final property we looked at (in Uithoorn) was located, and she drove us past. She said that if we were interested after seeing the neighborhood and the front of the house, she'd make sure we had a realtor to help us the next day.

Let's just say that WE FREAKING LOVED IT. Heemstede is a family village, and on the street where the rent house was, there were kid's toys and bikes in almost every front garden. There is a park at the end of the street, and there is a little garden in the back of the house that has a gate that connects to the neighbor's garden, where 2 little boys live. We told Letty that we would want to see the house as soon as they could get us an appointment, hopefully the next day. She called her office to start working some magic.

There were 2 properties that we had seen that day (one in Amstelveen, the other in Badhoevedorp) that we requested more information on, just for grins (and just in case the Heemstede place didn't work out), and we went back to the hotel, totally drained. We hit the cafe that Megan had had the sleeping dinner the night before, and when we returned to the hotel, this time it was ME that fell into a coma sleep- around 6pm I crashed, and woke up long enough to eat a croissant we had snagged at breakfast for emergency rations, find out that we had an appointment with a real estate agent to see the Heemstede house the next morning at 9:30, and brush teeth, then I was right back to sleep. Yeah, we didn't eat dinner. Not that it meant a lot- we had lunch at 4pm, and Megan barely ate all day. She ate emergency rations- a pear and some croissant (gotta love the hotel buffet, next time I'm bringing a huge purse for ration acquisition) and she and I slept while Kip started working on the BMC Treasury End-Of-Month business.

The next day we got up, did a 10-minute run through the buffet (grabbing rations, of course) and made the 15 minute drive out to Heemstede. The house was beyond wonderful, and I fought like a bandit to not let on that I had died and gone to Dutch House Heaven. Megan was in love, too- one of the bedrooms has fish painted on the walls. We struggled to find anything wrong with the property, and finally decided that there wasn't antyhing (besides that it was unfurnished) that would keep us from making an offer to the owners (renting is decided upon by the owner, and we had to bid against a couple that was looking at the house later the same day). We hoped that the fact that we could rent the property for 2 years would be an advantage over the competetion, and gave the go-ahead to start negotiating with the owners.

After the excitement (well, Kip and I were excited) of potentially finding a house, Kip went to work, and Megan and I went to Kid Wonderland. Linneaushof, to be exact. In America, this park would NEVER exist- 99% of the rides were kid (or parent) powered, and were of the likes that litigious parents had removed from school yards and amusement parks ages ago. It was AWESOME. And, of course, I didn't have my camera. So you're gonna just have to take my word for it- AWESOME. They had one of those GIANT slides where you have to climb 4 flights of stairs to get to the top and slide down on a potato sack. They had kid-powered merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels (one kid or parent had to pedal to get the thing to turn), flying swings, zip-line swings... it was fantastic. Megan and I stayed from 10:30 am until 4:30pm, and left with two priceless things: memories, and our first Dutch friends.

We met a woman and her 2 daughters who live in Hoovddorp, maybe 15 minutes away by bike. They have season passes to Linneaushof, which we will SO have when we come back (3 season passes are less than 100 Euros). Megan and the oldest daughter were born one day apart- Megan on Queen's day (April 30) and Rivka on May 1. They had a blast, and you would never have known that there was a language barrier between them- within an hour, Rivka was copying Megan, saying "BIG SLIDE!" and "I LOVE IT!" and "Come on, guys!" Her mom was so pleased, Rivka didn't speak any english before meeting Megan.

Rivka and her family left, after lots of hugs and kisses between all 3 of the girls, and Meg and I departed about an hour later to catch the bus back to the hotel.

Just a word of advice: Never try to navigate a new public transportation system after playing in the hot sun all day and toting an exhausted and starving 5-year-old around. It took us 2 hours to get back to the hotel. It wasn't unpleasant, it was just long- I am certain that I must have gotten on a bus going the wrong direction at least once, and rode the entire route to get one stop the opposite way.

Anyhow, our exodus over, Meg and I hit the showers, ordered room service, and watched a movie in bed. We were just about asleep when Kip finally got back around 11pm, and fell asleep while he finished the month-end hedge-roll.

So that brings us up to today- Friday! We had a leisurely breakfast, as we had no appointments to run to, and gathered maps and books to decide where to run-off and adventure today. We decided on Madurodam, a miniature-city not far from the Hague. When I say miniature-city, I mean a city built to at most 1/25 size. It was a tourist attraction that would send American kids into huffs of boredom, Megan was enchanted. They also had a SesamStraat exhibit- Megan go to dance with Ernie and Bert, and was completely confused that they were speaking Dutch, but then told us that "They're not real, those are people dressed-up like Ernie and Bert) when we said, "Maybe they only speak Dutch when they visit the Netherlands?" Can't fool that kid.

Kip still had some work to do, so we left the mini-world and returned to the hotel, and decided we would head into Amsterdam for dinner. This is no small feat- parking is a nightmare, so public transportation was our goal, specifically the train. We are so lucky that Megan is easy-going and rolls with what we drag her through. We rolled into the Amsterdam Central Station around 7:30pm.

Our hotel recommended a place about 15 minutes from the station. I can see how, if we were to have taken direct roads, it would have taken 15 minutes to walk to the restaurant. Through the Red Light district. On the Friday of Gay Pride Weekend. We didn't feel like answering that many questions, so we detoured, which lead to many wrong turns, and 40 minutes later we arrived. Bedraggled must have been our fashion statement, because with 5 empty tables, "They were COMPLETELY full" that evening. I left before Megan got a lesson in how sharped-tongued her mother could be when faced with a snotty head waiter.

We meandered around the corner and found an Italian restaurant, and Megan ate pizza! After days and days of nagging her to eat, we were overjoyed to watch her scarf pizza like she was at home.

The evening was anxious- Amsterdam is such a big city, with all the negative trappings of a big city (as well as the advantages, of course, but late in the evening with a small child you focus on keeping her sheltered) and Kip had to block us from a pick-pocket, we saw said pick-pocket fail and get caught, and get kicked in the back by his target, and then got to sit through the evader's tongue-lashing he gave to the pick-pocket. Thank GOD it was all in Dutch, and the clearest word was something like "STEALER!" Ahh, city life.

I will post again in the next few days, and will make an entire post about the house, I swear- but before then, we will be back home Sunday!

1 comment:

Anne said...

I can't wait to hear more in person!! Mom showed me the link to the house and it looks incredible, so good luck with that. I was always very happy to hear that Megan made some friends despite the language barrier. Have a wonderful weekend, a safe trip home, and I will talk to you when you get back.