Wednesday, September 9, 2015

And We're Off to a New Adventure!

Exciting times - we're heading to Amsterdam!

But it's a bit nerve wracking as well.  We're moving to a country the size of New Jersey, with roughly 2 1/2 times as many people.  The national language is Dutch, so the French we took in high school won't be much help.  I'm starting a new job at a new company, where I don't know anyone. And since I'll be working in the city, we've decided to give city life a try.  It will be a whole lot different than Maine!

The first challenge, getting our dog there.  After a series of vaccinations, vet exams, tons of paperwork and a personal meeting with the State Veterinarian, we had all her papers in order.  But we couldn't find an airline with a direct flight from Boston that would accept a dog, so we had to rent a car and drive to JFK Airport in New York City (can year hear Richard groaning from here?) for our flight.

Since we are keeping our house in Maine,  the only thing we brought with us were the clothes in our luggage. Okay, a lot of luggage.  $800 in extra luggage costs to be exact. $250 for the dog.  We got to the airport and checked in.  I'm not sure who was more worried - Daphne or me - about a dog in the cargo hold, but she did fine on the flight.

We arrived in Amsterdam on a bright, sunny day (little did we know that isn't the norm!) and a big van picked us up and took us to our temporary living quarters.
New Neighborhood.  We're in one of the buildings on the left.
Temporary housing was a nice apartment on one of the canals, near the edge of town.

They had a warm welcome for us and we immediately started to settle in.  And to learn about some of the differences that come with living in a different country.

So here were the big surprises!!

You'll never fit a turkey in here!!
1)  The Kitchen - forget the typical American kitchen with our big appliances.  The oven?  The size of a microwave.

Our first meal in Amsterdam!

The refrigerator is a little bigger than the one in your college dorm.  And the freezer - it's really only good for chilling a bottle of wine.

Yup, that's the whole freezer....conveniently sized for a bottle of wine

2)  The Guest Toilet -   The toilet gets its own room..  And it's not in the bathroom, which is at the other end of the apartment.  Oh, and it's really tiny in there!

Here is the bathroom - bidet but no toilet

3)  No car (at least not at first) - you walk or take mass transit for everything.  So for your grocery trip?  You only buy what you can carry (oh, and it's bring your own bags!).  It's a long walk home, so you think about your purchases from a weight perspective

4) WiFi - the apartment didn't come with it.  So they gave us a gadget called a dongle, that was a sort of glorified hot spot.  But we quickly learned that it only worked well if you dangled the dongle out the window and sat close to it.  Awkward!

5) Banking - this was a BIG one.  We made a not so smart assumption that we could simply transfer money from our US account into our new Dutch one.  Wrong!  With all the changes in banking laws, that was impossible.  So we had to keep withdrawing cash (with a hefty fee) and physically move it to our Dutch account, until I got my first paycheck.  As you can imagine, that was awkward and expensive, so we tried to be very cautious with spending.

But despite some of the changes, we are thrilled with life in Amsterdam and look forward to learning more about our new city!

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  1. "it only worked well if you dangled the dongle out the window and sat close" is hysterical on many levels.
    I so envy this new adventure of yours! Visited Amsterdam years ago and loved it and the lovely people. With your can do attitude this will seem like home in no time.

  2. Enjoy following your reno blog...I was surprised about the move! Congratulations at your new job, and your wonderful adventure. I agree with the comment about. "With your can do attitude this will seem like home in no time" :-)

  3. May I ask what your new job is and, since it's temporary, how long will you be there? For some reason I thought you and Richard were retired (if you can call non-stop house renovation being retired!). I'm sure that you will make the most of this adventure...and happy that you will share it with us readers.

  4. The lack of wifi is definitely a downer, but you seem to be settling in, quite well. You have a beautiful view, for sure, and so glad your doggie made it okay! We visited Amsterdam a few years ago, and loved it. Can't wait to hear more about your adventures!

  5. Thanks everyone! We are very excited to be here. And yes, I thought I'd retired, but this job was such an amazing opportunity, I couldn't say no. We don't expect to be here forever, but it's fun while it lasts! I've done a lot of global travel over the years, but actually living in another country is a whole different experience!!! And I appreciate that you all want to follow along on our adventure!

  6. One of the best things is all the haggelslaag (being in Amsterdam you'll hear lots of guteral h's) or chocolate sprinkles! They even have them in the breakfast buffets and restaurants. Give it a try - a piece of toast, nice and hot, some butter and then sprinkle away. So yummy! We can get it here (in Canada) from the Dutch store and the kids always get the best reactions when they are eating their lunch and the teacher wonders what those chocolate sprinkles are! Enjoy!

  7. This is hilarious and wonderful! How on earth did you discover the dongle trick? You must have been desperate. I am looking forward to the next Amsterdam installment. :D

  8. Wow, what an adventure! Looking forward to what you share while you're abroad!


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