New observations about life in Amsterdam

School is back, and I feel like I have most of my life and my sanity back too. The BSOs (aftercares) are still closed, but even being able to work until 2.15pm most days until Rebecca comes home feels like a luxury, and we’ll take what we can get. There’s a confusing-to-me spring break next week, which is still taking place, but at least it’s only for five days, and hopefully I’ll have sufficient crafts for then.

We had around two days of snow, and it’s only melting now. The canals were frozen as temperatures were in the minuses (some of the coldest days since 2013), but we’ve had sun for the last few days, so it’s been lovely. Walking to school and plodding through snow has been still quite surreal – it’s not like we’re on a ski vacation – this is our home!

We’re still in a heavy lockdown and curfew – my nails are in bad shape, I’m close to getting a unibrow, my greys need a professional coverup and on Saturday I played hairdresser hairdresser on Max, trimming his hair (I think I did a pretty good job).

Here’s what I’ve picked up in the last few weeks:

  • Frozen canals = the opportunity for ice skating
  • As soon as snow was forecast, there were requests on Facebook groups for people seeking sleds and snow gloves and shoes for their kids, since shops are closed. This affirms the notion that there are no “bad weather” days here. I’ve noticed on the SA Facebook groups that when it snows, some South Africans hit the outdoors to braai!
  • Learning Dutch with a very very basic knowledge of Afrikaans is helpful up to a point. It has helped immensely with the vocab, and often I’m able to understand basic documents and messages based on some distant memories of Afrikaans taal. However… things get confusing as “het” means “the”, not “has”, and my brain keeps muddling this up. The pronunciation of the two languages is very different too, and it’s taking me a complete reset of my tired brain to remember I’m not speaking Afrikaans. Also, the “‘n” as in “a” doesn’t exist – “een” is kind of used as “a”, and is also “one”.
  • There is such a thing as too many potatoes, and while I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and supper (they’re soooooo good in every form here), I’m having to put a curfew on them as I’m carrying some extra kilograms that I’d like to shed, and I’m working towards a “goal weight”, hopefully around June.
  • I miss this beautiful city so much, which sounds crazy. With lockdown, we’ve been quite insular, and haven’t explored the city much. I’m a bit scared to ride my bike on such slippery roads, so as things dry, hopefully I’ll get out a bit more.
  • There’s are a few South African shops here that stock some ‘ol favourites. I don’t really crave Peppermint Crisp or Simba chips, but I have bought things that I haven’t been able to find good substitutes of – some Ina Paarman spices, Mrs Balls chutney, and All Gold tomato sauce.
  • What we’re missing in The Netherlands is white Easter eggs, like the ones Beacon is well known for. I love them so much, and the Easter chocolate range feels a bit meh. I long for the days of running long races, and heading to my car for some white Easter eggs in a cooler box as a treat post marathon. To be honest, I miss the races more than the eggs, and like other things (seeing family and travel), I wonder when those will take place again.
  • A few weeks ago, I realised we needed to start getting Max prepped with lessons for his barmitzvah next year, and I had no idea where to start. His school has been really useful in helping me find a teacher, so that’s all sorted, but it’s one of those things that I would have taken for granted in South Africa, and had to learn here. “Small” things like this sometimes cause me big panic because I hate not knowing what to do (oh dear!) and having to ask for advice/help (eeek!). I’ve felt like this when trying to find a dentist, figuring out where to buy balloons and cake, what the birthday party practice is here, and other things involving school. Obviously time and more experience make these things easier, but I’m often uncomfortable being a “novice” at life here, and not knowing systems etc very well.

As always, here are some pics from around town… more snow! (not complaining – it’s a real treat to experience it).

I can feel spring is around the corner… the sun is setting later, and rising earlier.

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  • Danielle

    16 February 2021 at 4:37 pm

    Dearest Tanya, I absolutely love 💕 reading your fabulous insights about living in your new country Amsterdam. It’s so lovely to also see so many […] Read MoreDearest Tanya, I absolutely love 💕 reading your fabulous insights about living in your new country Amsterdam. It’s so lovely to also see so many lovely photos as well. Sending you all my love from Sydney, Australia 🇦🇺 (my new home). Read Less

    • Tanya
      to Danielle

      2 March 2021 at 9:07 am

      Thank you for reading - it's much appreciated xx

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