Friday, March 14, 2008


Jet lag hit this morning, I woke up at 8am, decided to shut my eyes for “ a few more minutes” and awoke 2+ hours later to the maids knocking on my door. Thank goodness for them, or else I would have missed my introductory meeting with the relocation agency. My consultant, Elma, and I had a great conversation about what to expect from living in Holland and tips on day to day life. She gave me a handy Dutch phrase book, a nice coffee table book of Holland, bank information, public transport schedules, maps, a “Food Shoppers Guide to Holland” and a “How to Deal with the Dutch” books. After digesting some of the info she gave me I called Heather to meet for lunch. We got some tomato soup and melted mozzarella & pesto “toasties” that were incredible and just right meal for the dreary, rainy day it was!
Once our bellies were sufficiently full, we strolled down the Singelgracht (canal) to the local Albert Heijn grocery store and had a quick spin around so I could get familiar with the products. It was very small, but all the basics were there including Pringles and, much to my pleasant surprise, peanut butter (although no Dutch brand could ever compare to my JIF)! After our grocery exploration we ventured to a little hidden nook the relocation consultation told me about called Begijnhof, an enclosed courtyard of beautiful private homes that dates back to the early 14th century. There was an amazing calm & quiet despite the hustle & bustle of the busy shopping district just outside.
We enjoyed our find for a little while then moved on to the Kalverstraat, a main shopping street. There we visited a HEMA, similar store to Target, and Blokker a lower quality version of the same. We strolled along the various shops, stopping in at an English book shop to compare prices to the states – at 15 euro average, approx $23 US, they were pretty pricey!, and looking at the street vendor’s beautiful tulips. We continued window shopping all the way to Dam Square, the most central square of the city, and then on to Centraal Station were Heather gave me a crash course on catching my daily train to work. On our way back we stopped in at the Coffee Company for a Moka latte and chocolate cookie. After a little break at our respective homes, we met for dinner at Rancho, an Argentinean steak house. As we finished up our red wines, I noticed a cat prowling around the restaurant. Heather explained that Amsterdam has mice problems so most places have a resident cat for rodent control. This cat sensed my apprehensions, because it sat next to our table and gave me the evil eye for what seemed like forever. Both parties finally got bored and he moved on.
We stopped for a pint at a small pub called Hoppe, which we learned from a fellow patron, named Dykstyk, that it is one of the contenders for the oldest in the city. Had fun meeting some local eccentric Dutch (the bartender could have passed for Albert Einstein’s brother), but had to call it a night around 12 so I could get a good night’s sleep before my FIRST full day in the office!

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