One does not simply walk into Bruges …

And expect to find Colin Farrell!

Naomi wanted to experience as much of Europe as she could in 3 weeks, so me, being ever so obliging gave her a list of places that are pretty great. So, 3 days into her Eurotrip, we ended up in Bruges.

Now for those who are unfamiliar with where the hell Bruges is (because you didn't see *that* movie) – it's the capital of West Flanders in the northwest of Belgium.  It's famous for several things, more recently *that* movie, but also as a Unesco World heritage site.  When you enter the city, it really is a fookin' fairytale. (With apologies to Ralph Fiennes).

We booked a hotel that I'd been to before – so I knew it was close to the city centre and all the attractions.  From there it was just going around the city, seeing all that was there, and of course, perhaps a brush with Colin Farrell …

We certainly did the cliche's … a carriage ride, the canal boat tour, and wandered the city for hours, before making our way to one of the many restaurants on the m arket square.  We'd been warned that most places there ripped you off, but in all honesty, in a tourist town, all places ripped you off.  With an abundance of moules, frites and biertjes around us, we settled on a small restaurant offering a 3 course meal for 20 euros … and it was good!

So, now the photos …

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Mmm … beeeeeer ….
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Our wheels in Bruges!
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Lapping Bruges in our boat!
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OMG! It's the most photographed dog in Bruges!
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Coffee!

Sisters in Seoul

So, as per my last post, I met Naomi at Incheon airport and we stayed overnight in Seoul.  I definately want to go back there sometime, especially as it's the home of one of my favourite cosmetic companies – Skin Food – but also to experience more of the country.  The hotel we were in was fantastic – in a fairly new business area – with heated toilet seats that you could regulate the temperature and automatic flushes … a massive bed that was fantastic after 9 hours on a plane – hot showers and an amazing buffet dinner and breakfast.  The best part of a 19 hour delay between flights is the ability to rest and recover – it makes it just seem like a long day, followed by a good night's sleep, followed by another long day.  I'd recommend Korean Air (or Malaysian – who started my love affair with Malaysia!) for this – you can rest and recover and the jet lag at the other end is nowhere near as bad!!

I'd prearranged with the airline that we had seats together on the Incheon-Schiphol leg – it is so NICE to sit next to someone you know! – and to be honest, it was your standard second 12 hour leg to Europe flight.  Didn't sleep, ate food, watched a lot of movies … the usual!

When we arrived at Schiphol, everything went smoothly through immigration.  I handed over my shiny new residence permit and didn't even get blinked at.  Then it was the long, long wait for luggage … and mine was the LAST bag off the plane!!! 

We wearily dragged our bags through the customs barrier and outside waiting was Marius -and- the inlaws! 

I think they were excited just to meet one of my family, althought I have a sneaking suspicion that MIL loved Naomi … 🙂
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Pictures of a random group of people in Korean dress in the airport!

I realise that it has been several months since I posted, and I apologise to avid readers of this journal.  (Hi Mum!).  Things, whilst not chaotic, have been a little all over the place, and with a lack of laptop and only one computer in the house, combined with overwhelming apathy due to can'tbescreweditis, well, you get the picture.

So, in the magic of just one entry I will try to get you up to speed on life in the land of clogs, tulips, windmills and pot.

In May I was stoked to see 3 different friends in Amsterdam.  First was little Adam of my old workplace (Adam, I can't help it, you will always be little Adam!) whom I spent a lovely couple of hours with and was filled in on his own Euro-Trip so far.  Next came a very good friend of mine, Allyson, whom I was lucky to spend a whole day with, and who ended up back in Almere with me for a clean shower, decent cuppa and a tour of the shoebox.  Finally came one of my oldest school friends and her daugher (Leeanne and Caitlin) who were touring through Europe as well, and I got another cuppa and chat. 

June was pretty uneventful.  Seriously.  It was wet, cold and miserable – welcome to Dutch summers.  I was feeling a little under the weather this month due to a couple of underlying things, so really, I stayed in, felt miserable, and generally just tried to feel a little better. 

July was a trip back to Australia – it was so fantastic to see my family and friends again, and also just to enjoy the simplicities of gravy and vegemite – no prizes in guessing what I brought back.  I did have a little hospital trip, but that issue has resolved itself and I'm a lot better.  Yes, June's illness was related to this and whilst it wasn't the greatest holiday, things are better now.  I then managed to get myself back on a plane home to Holland … via Korea.

I will actually stop here, as I think now I need to devote some time to the trip back to Holland, picking Naomi (my sister) up in Seoul, our 19 hour stopover and then arriving back in Holland!  These deserve their own entries, so as soon as I have the pictures, I will start those posts!

Tot Zo!

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.