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Dutch Life

The flight was the usual; boring, long and cramped. Why do the airlines cram the seats so tight that you can't even get out? The elderly woman next to me really struggled to get out. I was in the back of the plane and most of my row seemed to want to read all night and never turned off their lights. Fortunately, I had some eye shades. Everyone seemed very restless including a young girl in the row ahead of me. I didn't sleep much.

It is so quick to get around Schiphol. I probably could have gotten out faster. We landed at 7:20 and I swear we much have landed out in the North Sea. It was about 15 minutes of taxiing before we got to the gate. It was also very dark. One of the things I distinctly remember from 1990 was how short the days were. It didn't seem to start to lighten until around 9am. It is still "summertime" which is the same as our daylight saving. They will switch next week. It will then be a bit lighter in the morning but I'll be leaving work in the dark.

I went to a cash machine but I probably could have just waited and got cash in baggage. There were three or four cash machines at the ABN bank just before you leave. I was one of the last to pick up my bags. Next to buy a phone card so I could call the apartment. I also wanted to get strippenkart for the bus. I got the phone card at the newsstand and the strippencard when I got my train ticket.

The ticket for Vooschoten and my strippenkart for the week was 25 euros; 5.20 for the train and 18.90 for 45 strippenkart. It will be 3 strips for each trip so I decide to go ahead and get a card with 45 strips.

I caught the train on track 5. I had to change in Leiden and I completely forgot that all I had to do was walk across the track. I thought I had to switch platforms so I ended up missing the stoptrein. There are Sneltreins (Fast trains) which don't make all the stops and Stoptreins which do stop at all the stations. There is also IC which only stops at major stations. I should have remembered since I used to have to always change in Leiden for Den Haag Centraal. The mistake cost about 30 minutes extra.

I finally made it to Vooschoten and I called the owner of apartment. He picked me up and took me to the apartment.

The apartment

It is very nice. It is really a house. They have closed off the bottom and rent only the top. You walk in to an entry way where you can hang your coat. This comes in very handy when you have been out in the rain. Then there is the typical Dutch stairwell, steep and narrow, up to the second floor. There is a central hall with a wonderful sky light. Off of this central the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living room like spokes on a wheel. There is a separate dining room off of the living room. The flooring is light wood and the heat is through heated water radiators. The living room looks out onto the street which is quite busy during the afternoon. It is bordered by a fietspat (bike path) and sidewalks.

In the back of the apartment is a nice yard. There is even a small pool and gnome. I can't get to it since that part of the apartment is locked. It looks out to the neighbors. It has been very nice to watch the birds fly in. I have seen large black bird which may be mynas, large doves, and a woodpecker.

Voorschoten

After an hour of investigating the apartment and connecting to the internet, it was time to go grocery shopping and investigate Voorschoten. It is about a 15 minute walk to the central part of the town. There is a variety of shops; druggists, clothing, records, green grocer, cheese, candy. On another street, there were many restaurants. I can tell it is a rather affluent area.

There were three different grocers. I decided to go to the Albert Heijns which is the largest supermarket chain in Holland. First I had to remember how to get a shopping cart, (winklewagon). Fortunately, I had the .50 euro needed to unchain the cart. I had to be careful and not get too much since I was walking.

I was surprised how quickly I remembered how it worked. First was the produce. You usually have to weigh and price your selection. You still do but now there is big selection of prepackaged and cut produce. Bags of lettuce for salads, green beans, vegetables for Nasi Gorang, peeled small balls of potatoes. I decided to make a salad with the prepacked rucola slamelange (arugula, lollo rosso lettuce and swiss chard) and some lamskotelet (lamb chops). I also had to pick up some of krentenbolletjes (raisin rolls). Those are my favorites. I also got some goat cheese, apples, yogurt and beer; a nice 6-pack of Hoegaarden Grand Cru. That's the hardest thing about walking is lugging the beer back to the apartment.

The rain had lessened to a light mist but I had to walk into the wind. The houses along the way border on a small canal and there are a couple of open fields. I was surprised to see pheasants. I also remember how hard it can be to walk in Holland. The sidewalks are made of bricks or cement squares that are set into sand so they can easily be removed to make repairs. The uneven pavement took a toll on my American feet used to walking on cement sidewalks and driving everywhere

I made it back to the apartment around 1:30 or so. I opened a beer, started watching BBC and writing this journal entry. I made it until around 3pm and I needed a nap. I left the TV on so I didn't sleep long - just enough to refresh me. I was pretty hungry so I sent ahead and made dinner.

I realized that I missed a couple of items at the store. I didn't have any salt and pepper. I also needed some items for cleaning. I just didn't feel like running the dish washer for just two or three dishes. It was still light so I decided to walk to the store that was closer and pick up the few items I missed. That would also let me check out that store. It is actually a bigger than the Albert Heijns. It took me a lot of hunting to finally find the zout. It wasn't with the flour or the sugar.

Well, I'll see how much long I make it tonight. It is currently 7pm. Tomorrow, I hope to make it to Harleem and maybe Amsterdam for dinner. There will be fewer stores open in Harleem since it is Sunday but I can still sightsee. I hope it isn't rainy again.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 23, 2004 9:47 AM.

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