Sunday, December 9, 2007

First Few Days

Not sure how long we've been here, still very tired and the short days are playing with our minds (light after 8am, dark at 4.30pm). Yesterday we went over to the main drag and there was a real carnival atmosphere, families and friends out on foot and on bikes, it felt like a real European village. We sat in a cosy cafe and had chunky pea soup with ham on rye bread, very warming and filling. Then we did our first shop. Albert Heijn is the biggest supermarket here and we were suprised that the prices were lower than we expected, a bit less than Sydney. It has lots of prepared foods, from sandwich fillings and sushi to amuse-bouche to serve at dinner parties. We bought some basics - eggs, wine, meat, cheese, milk and (half-loaves of) bread. It started to rain so we scurried home, then went out for my birthday dinner. We couldn't locate the restaurant I read about that sounded nice, so went to a tapas place near the main square, Grote Markt. The food was ok but we had a great time, and were meant to meet the owner of our flat for drinks with her friends but that overwhelming wave of fatigue hit suddenly and we both fell flat asleep the minute we got home.

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes x

Today we went for a walk along the Spaarne river to find and register with the local police and realised that nothing is open on Sundays, which is nice. I'm used to hustle and bustle and if there's nothing to do, jumping in the car and going somewhere. The foreign police is only open Monday to Friday so we kept walking, found the train station (and H&M - we have our own H&M!) and had some more frites. Everybody eats frites here. Even today two police came by while we sat on the bench chomping away and placed a big order for HQ. The cornets come in different sizes and a kleine - small - is 1.5E and gives you each plenty of delicious, freshly-fried chips, with your choice of about a dozen sauces. I tried curry today but will stick to mayonnaise, although there are Dutch and Belgian mayonnaises. Will try both and report back.

We met the owner in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day inside. My cold is worse, but I'm getting my voice back. We are dressing very nicely and warmly, so it's the jetlag and germs from the plane latching on to me.

Speaking of dressing, it's much easier than I feared. For example my favourite outfit is my skinny jeans and a turtleneck with Icebreaker thermals underneath, my black flat kneehigh boots and a coat.

We love Haarlem, it's the perfect meeting point of big and small town. It has enough shops and cafes and buzz to keep it from being a small town, but has the charm and peace of a big village. We thought we'd be going into Amsterdam every other day, but this place has everything we need so we probably won't go in that often (work aside).

It's 7.45pm and the dark and rain are sending me to sleep...

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