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.
I have to say, Cathay Pacific did not dazzle me as an airline. To me it felt like the QANTAS of Asia, lol. You know, service with a scowl, and if you sit in your seat and don’t make a noise, you’re doing fine.
The leg from Hong Kong to Schipol was about the same – it was great as I slept a lot of the flight – and my seat mates weren’t too feral. They ran out of the western breakfast at the row in front of me – and so I was stuck with the traditional spicy chicken and rice (complete with extra chilli sauce on the side if it wasn’t spicy enough for you.)
When I arrived in Amsterdam, it was nice to see both Marius and my parents in law at the arrivals gate – we had a coffee before catching the train through to Almere.
A little about where we live …
Almere is in Flevoland – a district in the north of the Netherlands. It’s about 40km’s east of Amsterdam. Our apartment is on the top floor of a block that is between the town hall square (where the market is held) and the market square (which does not hold the market). Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 5am, there is a market in the town hall square where you can but your vegetables, fruit, cheese and cheap socks. It also means that we are serenaded by the clanging and clunking of the market being set up! In the market square (where the market is not held) is the nightclub and restaurant district. (Oh joy). And then we have the street sweepers!
Our apartment is small, about 75 square metres. The previous occupants appear to have had a fetish for feature walls in primary colours and textured paint. At the moment it is big enough for the 2 of us, although we are looking at moving out into the ‘burbs soon enough.
Some of you would have already seen my facebook posts about the unique trading hours here – and the fact that you can’t nip down to the shops to pick up milk until after 9am. We live on top of a chemist’s shop, and between a Turkish ‘supermarket’ and an Arabic ‘supermarket’. These are much like our corner stores, except you find you could possibly also have a haircut and a kebab at the same time.
A little about what we have been doing …
The last few days have really been about settling in. I arrived Wednesday, and the first thing we did was go and register at the Town Hall – the first step in the process of legally being allowed to live here. Next Friday we have an appointment with the Immigration service – this is compulsory, and they will then decide if I have to do the ‘integration’ course. This is the language and culture course that most immigrants have to do, regardless of how long they are staying in the country.
Thursday we took a short trip to the flower fields near Lisse (google Keukenhof!) This was amazing, so many colours and flowers.
Saturday was our second wedding here for the Dutch connections – it was at a lovely restaurant on the water. The wedding cake made it safely here .. and was enjoyed again.
Yesterday we drove out to Shokland – a former island that now resides in the middle of a sheep paddock. You heard me right – it’s an island. Complete with lighthouse. In the middle of a sheep paddock. If you are unaware, there is a saying here that goes ”God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands”. A good majority of the country is reclaimed land that is controlled by a series of sluices and dijks to prevent flooding. During the second world war, the polder was created for residential and farming land – amazing stuff.
And so that leaves today. I’m currently doing nothing – apparently it is tradition to go furniture shopping Easter Monday here, but as we have no room, I think we’ll pass. This afternoon, we are going to the inlaws for dinner and easter. Yes, we will see our nephew here, and you’ll be all proud to know we have purchased him the noisiest and most annoying toy that Fisher Price has to offer – the talking clock. We’ve planned his first birthday present – a drum kit. We are evil.
And lastly, a little bit about the weather…
It’s cold. No, make that it’s COLD. Top temperature lately has been around 10 degrees, there is an arctic wind blowing constantly, and raining most of the time. European Spring is a myth created to sell Easter cards in Australia. There has also been reports of ground temperatures of -8. Yes, negative 8 degrees. There has been a mercy dash to the local C&A for more clothes …
Love to everyone, and next email will include photos because I have no idea how to load them onto Marius’ computer (he broke my laptop).