Sunday, December 16, 2007


Still sick which isn't fun!

Our free wireless suddenly disappeared a few days ago so it's back to internet cafes.

There is a funny phenomenon here. Curtainless, open homes. That is, from the street, you can see right in. Most of the time we're walking down the street and something catches our eye, and we look in. Then we realise it's someone's living room or kitchen. Dani thought she was checking out a cute shop yesterday, and then caught a woman on a comfy armchair staring right back at her. Our own place is wide open, apart from some frosting on the window, but no one looks in.

I almost got run over by two bikes the other day, but that was due to happen.

Last night we went into Amsterdam for dinner with two lovely girls who have helped out with inane questions about moving over email, local Mathilde and expat Louise. It was a nice restaurant in the Jordaan with modern Dutch food - modern Dutch food being quite similar to mod Oz - and we took the train home in the absolutely freezing cold. We both dolled ourselves up and wore heeled boots but won't be doing that again; Amsterdam's cobbled streets being bike-friendly but not heel-friendly.

Today were the Christmas markets in Haarlem and we've just had a potter around. Unfortunately it was mostly the same markets that they have on Saturdays - 3 pairs of socks for 10E and more frites and more waffles - but with a cup of hot, mulled wine, it made the can't-feel-my-fingers ice cold bearable. We've been lucky, as much as it's been cold, we've had almost nothing but crisp blue skies and no wind, which we've been told is very rare for this time of year.
Our problems with registering in brief: we were told all we needed to register and therefore receive temporary residency (and a sofinumber = tax file number) was our passport with the visa, and that we had to register at the local police within 3 days. We went to our local police station, which didn't have an 'aliens police' section but gave us a number to call for the station that did. We called, and were told the police don't look after regsitering anymore, that it's the town hall. So we went to the town hall, and were given forms to fill out, including a form for the woman who we've rented the apartment from. She came over to sign the form, but when we took it in the next day, they also told us we needed a copy of her ID or they couldn't register us. The next day she was leaving for her holiday, and was becoming suspicious that we needed all this information from her (she might think we want her to sponsor us, plus there are taxes you pay from 1 January which depend on how many people live in your place). When she called the town hall to ask about it, they weren't open. But the lady we are dealing with is telling us not to worry, that there's no time limit on when we can register, so it seems it has to wait until the owner of our apartment comes back in mid-January. It's a little annoying, as we were hoping to have work by that time, but we'll have to wait another week. All our expenses are paid and we're not spending much here. If only the consulate in Sydney had told us we needed proof of where we were living, we could have arranged it months before.

Apart from that, it's beautiful here. I wish you could all come over and share it with us x

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