Anzac day, baking and new friends

Feeling a little homesick on Anzac day, I decided to bake some Anzac bikkies – LOL – the search in the supermarkets for the right ingredients was a little interesting (no golden syrup – had to use the local equivalent which is more like treacle) but everything turned out tasty.

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I don't think I've told everyone about our oven (or lack thereof!) – we do everything in a little benchtop grill by Tefal.  It works effectively, but I'm really looking forward to the day we have a real oven!

Some new friends …
Today also saw a trip to the local Hema in the Stad to meet up with the crowd from International Almere. Hema offers a 1 euro breakfast of coffee, a bacon and egg roll, and a croissant – really good value!

International Almere is a group dedicated to connecting expats and organising social events for people to meet new friends.  I don't think I'd be quite so settled here without them.  Once a month we meet for breakfast and socialise – and this was my first event.  I arrived early – and of course, not knowing anyone, felt a right tool standing around.  Still, I searched for the large group speaking English in the restaurant – and found the most amazing bunch of friends!  There are Americans, Australian, English, Germans, South Africans, Canadians … and many more.  They support and encourage you, and everyone is at different levels in their Dutch experience. 

Grocery shopping, Dutch style

It's actually a blessing in this country that there is some sort of competition between supermarkets without domination by two major players.  Within walking distance of the apartment is the local Dirk Van Broek, a bit further on towards the waterfront is Albert Heijn, closer to the train station is Plus and Aldi.  I have to say that groceries here are cheaper comparatively to Australian prices, although fruit and vegetable variety is a little more limited (think yourselves lucky, Aussies, we are spoiled rotten there!). 

For non Queensland readers, the next part is not so shocking … but you can buy your beer and wine in the supermarkets here!  Product layouts are a little confusing but I am getting used to it LOL.  If it means you find your eggs in the coffee section, so be it.

Our 'local' is Dirk van Broek – or Dirk's as I've been affectionately referring to it as.  Dirk is very basic (think Franklins, or Jack the Slasher), but has pretty much everything we need.  The somewhat standard these days 50 euro cents to get a trolley (I'll post later about my love of the 50 euro cent piece – the real passport of Europe), then you enter the supermarket.  The idea is not to go Saturday afternoons or Wednesday afternoons, as these are the days that there seems to be an abundance of children with their parents.  You fight your way around the place hunting for your groceries, usually in a completely different place to what you expected, and then line up at the supermarket.

At all supermarkets here, you bring your own bags.  You unload onto the conveyor belt, careful to spread your groceries over as much of the belt as possible so the person behind can't unload just yet.  If you can successfully place the divider at the very end of the belt, you have done your job well.  The scanner will greet you with something that resembles 'Hallo!'' then proceed to process your goods at high speed and send them flying down the chute at the end where you can play a bizarre form of catch and stuff into your bag.  (Best done with 2 players – one to catch, one to pay).  You then are asked if you want a receipt – hand over your cash, and then juggle the change whilst you're trying to place the last few items (usually stuck at a really odd angle or just out of reach) before the next person's stuff comes flying down at alarming speeds.

Still, it's not a bad experience, just different to what I'm used to!

Finding my Fiets … Part 2

The one thing you should do with a shiny new bike is ride it.  And you'd think with a fairly flat landscape, and designated bicycle paths it would be pretty easy.  But with a headwind?  Hell no.  Still, had a lovely bike tour of the city and saw some new areas to explore.  However, I do have to admit that I was a little out of breath when we got back to the flat!

My totally awesome new wheels!

Adventure with Immigration, Dutch Style

So today was the day that we had to show up to the IND – Dutch Immigration Department.  As per the earlier post about the town hall, it was a relatively simple experience. (except for all paperwork being in Dutch – handy to have a native speaker in the house!).  Our appointment was at 10am – we ended up actually seeing someone at 10.30am. (Hooray for government departments world wide!!) Continue reading Adventure with Immigration, Dutch Style

Arriving here …

A little about the trip over …

I’m sure most of you are aware of the luggage issues I had (thank you, Flight Centre).  So I won’t go into specifics there, but there were tears of joy and relief when the suitcase came in at 24.2kg’s (I could have taken another pair of shoes!!!), hand luggage at 6kg’s and thank GOD they didn’t weight the laptop bag!.  It was a change to go via Hong Kong – the airport there is a lot like KLIA – and the shopping was pretty good in the Airport.  I had 5 hours there – and about 2 hours before the flight left they changed gates from one side of the airport to the other … Awesome.  I now know how fast I can go with a luggage trolley. Continue reading Arriving here …