19 December 2011

The Netherlands

After we arrived back in Switzerland we had one night to unpack from the USA and pack up to go to Nijmegen, Netherlands for a month and a half for Roy to work with his long time friend and colleague Mitch. It was a bit hectic but we managed to fill our Fiat Panda to the brim and set off for an eight hour drive up north to where there are dijks instead of mountains. About half way up our car decided that it didn't want to go any further and wouldn't start after we stopped to fill up with petrol. We persevered with trying to get it to start but it just didn't want to continue along the German autobahns. It might have possibly been jealous of the fast Audi's and Mercede's that were zooming past it so often. We called our roadside assistance and they were sending someone out to come and diagnose the problem. We suspected an electrical fault. We thought for curiosities sake that we would give it another try and alas! it started. We tossed up whether to wait for the mechanic to come out and fix the problem or continue on and fix the issue when it happened again. Since the mechanic was about 40 minutes away we decided to continue on. Luckily for us Poh the Panda behaved for the rest of the trip and we made it to the Netherlands unharmed.

Our close friends who live up in Nijmegen invited us over for dinner so we could catch up and meet their new baby Oliver. Unfortunately for me I was sick with a cold and also had a nasty cold sore which I wasn't keen to pass on to baby Oliver so I didn't get cuddles until it was all cleared up. Luckily though, once it did clear up I had all of the cuddles I wanted and there were LOTS because he is quite the cuddly little fellow and a funny one at that. We became good buddies by the end of our stay in the Netherlands and he quite possibly developed a little bit of a baby crush on me since he couldn't stop staring at me and shooting me the most adorable smiles all the time.

On our first weekend in NL we went with our friends to a place called "Madurodam". It's an outdoor, miniature museum with tiny versions of famous things in the Netherlands. I was rather excited since one of my favourite things is teeny models of things. We spent ages walking through the maze of miniature cities and canals.

The apartment that we stayed in whilst in the Netherlands was on the University Campus and while the weather wasn't rainy or foggy (which wasn't all that often) we had some pretty nice views of the sun going down. I guess that's something you can appreciate in a place with no mountains. The sunsets we get in Switzerland are when the sun falls behind the gigantic mountains. So we don't often get to see it reach the horizon.

We also checked out a place called Zaanse Schans which is the quintessential Dutch experience where you can visit windmills, a clog factory, cheese factory and wander along the shores of a canal.

We paid the lovely Amsterdam a visit on a rather foggy day and had a look at Anne Frank Huis, ate frites and mayo, walked through the red light district, ate lunch in a cafe that has been open since the 1600's, dodged the bicycles and wandered the canals. I think Amsterdam is possibly one of my most favourite cities.

Our drive to Amsterdam

I also had some great baking adventures with my good friend Lu. It's quite dangerous when we get together because our stomachs are quite in tune with each others and we both delight in the thought of creating food masterpieces.

A giant Tim Tam cake (a whole packet of Tim Tams went into the making of that cake)
A delicious Rainbow cake
We also made a white chocolate mudcake that was filled with a hazelnut cream, covered in white chocolate ganache and sprinkled with a delicious hazelnut praline. Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of it. mmmmm.... YUM!

One of the nice things about the Netherlands is that you can go everywhere on bicycle. I quite enjoyed hopping on my borrowed bike and pedalling into town for a bagel at my favourite cafe. Roy on the other hand didn't have much luck with his biking experience. He borrowed a very old and rusty, brown bike off our friends and whilst it was parked outside our apartment, someone decided that they would like to attempt to steal it. It's quite common in NL for people to put their own lock on your bike so then you leave it and then they come back during the night, chop your lock, unlock theirs and take off with your bike. Luckily the caretaker of our apartment was well prepared for that and took out some heavy duty equipement to grind the other lock off. He cheekily remarked after he'd finished that the lock he had to cut off was probably more expensive than the bike itself. Probably not far from the truth.

Another morning, Roy was riding his trusty brown bike to work and got hit by a car. Someone neglected to give way on the roundabout and ran straight into him and knocked him off the bike and wrote the bike off. Luckily for Roy, he was wearing lots of winter layers and escaped with only a few aches and pains.

The month and half that we spent in Flatland was really fun, despite the unfortunate mishaps with Roy's bike. We got to know the lovely town of Nijmegen quite well, Roy got his fix of cheap Belgian beer, we got to hang out with our great friends, I got heaps of practice with stinky baby nappies, I had plenty of cuddles and lots of smiles from Oliver and we had the great experience of living in another country. I think the Netherlands is one of my favourite countries. It's very easy to get around since nearly every Dutch person speaks English (quite well) and there's so much to see and do.

No comments:

Post a Comment