Asocial moments on public transport

It has officially been a year since I moved to the Netherlands, and what a full year it has been!

Since 15 October 2014, I have:

  • visited 5 european countries
  • explored 5 provinces in the Netherlands
  • moved house twice
  • bought a house
  • took up the saxophone
  • found a job at TUDelft, which I love
  • played in snow
  • swam in the North Sea (brrr) and the Mediterranean
  • cycled hundreds of kilometers
  • walked / ran thousands at least 3000 kilometers
  • and have experienced the mystery and misery known as the Dutch health care system

I have also not driven a car in over a year (which I miss), in lieu of the more accessible and energy-friendly bike and public transport options.

I was no stranger to public transport back in SA – in fact, I have many less-than-fond memories of 10-hour Greyhound bus trips that took 27 hours; of sitting for 8 hours in a seat that the previous occupant has peed on, unable to move because the bus was too full; and of riding in a packed taxi steered with a wrench because the steering wheel was missing. Continue reading

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Under-construction – Poland

20150905_112514I had no expectations of Poland, largely because I would never have elected it as a top holiday destination. However, we had come to Wroclaw for a weekend wedding, and I was glad to have an excuse to explore eastern Europe. So we arrived with no site-seeing plans, no expectations and were pleasantly surprised.

Two things struck me in my brief time there.

The first was a joyful accident. On the walk to our hotel in the inner ring of the old city, opposite St. Elizabeth’s church, we stumbled across two 20cm bronze gnomes about 100 meters apart. While similar to the garish garden gnomes that plague the patios of the tasteless in the UK, SA and even the Netherlands, these little metal creatures were both detailed and charming.

Each was strikingly different and bore a plaque and a sign – the first, “The Traveller” was placed in a side street, the second, a sleeping gnome was outside our hotel, like a mascot. Continue reading

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Spring in Holland

20150419_174526Spring is finally here, and I have never seen so many flowers before in my life. Last week, we cycled to the famous Keukenhof, which is only open 2 months per year.

The slideshow below showcases only a few of the multitude of flowers.

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Sex and snow

Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming20150219_115550, and it looks like my experiences of snow for this year will remain limited to the four days  that we had in January.

Still, those four days were rather exciting.

As a child growing up in South Africa,  snow was a bit like sex. Continue reading

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Volunteering

Okay, so I didn’t fall off the edge of the world, even if it felt that way because the last two weeks have been so insanely busy.

To begin with, last Monday, I started my official Dutch lessons (kindly sponsored by Booking.com’s IT partner programme). This means that I have 4-hours of weekly lessons and tons of homework for the next 10 weeks – hooray! I am so excited to have a useful way to spend my time again.

Speaking of which, I am also volunteering at Broadcast Amsterdam, which is a community TV organisation that broadcasts on SALTO (on one of their TV stations). From what I gather, SALTO is a public service broadcaster like the SABC.  Continue reading

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Cats and the Oatmeal

In the darkness something lurks. While I lie cuddled in bed, dreaming of white wine and sunshine, and blissfully unaware, a monster is clawing its way along the bottom of my bed.

It watches.

It waits.

And then… as one pink toe slides out from under the blanket… it strikes with the power of 7kgs of airborne cat. Its claws razor sharp from weeks of destroying the couches, in retaliation for a 10-hour flight from South Africa. Its breath putrid with the smell of poorly digested catfood.

It is Cthulhu – the Crawling Darkness – and she has been unleashed on an unsuspecting Amsterdam population…

You will pet me ... this is not a request.

You will pet me … this is not a request.

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Wearing Thin

House boats lost in the mist

House boats lost in the mist

It’s misty and minus 1 degrees at midday.

Ice has formed on the windows of each car, in the wet patches on the street, and is sparkling along the edges of the canals that run the 8kms between Haarlem and Halfweg.

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In spite of this, several ducks are padding in the water that appears to be freezing around them.

Is it terribly nice of my free-range dinner to offer itself as a frozen food, but I rather like it fresh and I am always happy to warm them in my oven with an apricot basting.

Continue reading

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