Week 2 in Amsterdam: thoughts, bike rides and more fries

We’re in week two, and on one hand, it feels surreal and like I’m not really here (like an out of body experience), and on another, it feels like I’ve never known any other life. Except when I’m riding my bike and realise what a far cry it is from driving my automatic car wherever I wanted, and whenever I wanted, and while the public transport is excellent here, I still miss a car. Though I remember driving in SA, and wishing I was on public transport listening to a podcast and not sitting in traffic. A reminder that even when I’m content with something, I fall into the habit (a bad one?) at wishing for something else.

On the bike note, you might remember that my oumafiets got stolen the first night I had it, so we ordered another second-hand bike, this time in a beautiful blue. Bikes are very basic here, and I love this colour – and the fact that I’m likely to spot it easier on a bike rack. I’m not repeating my mistake of NOT tying it to a pole – once bitten and twice shy, and all that.

My riding is dodgy at best. I’m okay’ish when there are no cars, bikes or people around, which might mean I’m never okay at this stage. Each time I see something moving, I panic, and can’t steer straight, so basically just move to the side and stop.

I’ve ridden to the nearby shop once without incident, and rode to the mall on the weekend – a whopping 1.1km each way. There are incredible cycling lanes here, so in theory it should be easy for able cyclists, which I’m not yet. As per the picture below, I rode home from the mall with a bag on my shoulder (note the baguette sticking out) and it went well. In fact, I was almost floating in happiness. Crossing the road is still tricky, and I basically wheel my bike instead of riding.

My son Max has been a security blanket of sorts when I ride – he gives me confidence and motivates me, and helps me to lock my bike. At the age of 10, he’s really taken the role of adult in our biking relationship.

On Saturday we went to Haarlem, a 15-minute bus ride from Amsterdam south station, which is a few minutes from our apartment. It’s such a beautiful town, and we loved it when we visited in January.

On Sunday, we went to Amstelpark, not even a kilometre from us, and it’s just gorgeous. There are slides, jungle gyms and swings, a farmyard of sorts and more, all set in a pristine and pretty green space. Rebecca had a ball playing and running around, and we’re going to try go there after work when we can (hopefully every day). It gets dark only after 10pm in summer.

Some scenes from Haarlem:

Some scenes from Amstelpark

Other things we’ve been up to:

  • Still ordering odds and ends – picnic blankets, cable ties for our bike baskets (so I don’t have to cycle with groceries on my shoulder), plants, pots, hammer (to put up some small shelves from IKEA), more towels, cupcake tray (I don’t want to wait for three months for ours to arrive by ship), crafts, lampshades (the original ones didn’t fit).
  • Recycling! I’m so delighted that the Dutch are strict with us. We take big plastic bottles to the supermarket and then pop paper and glass in the relevant bins outside. We’ve been collecting plastic, but have no idea at this stage where the plastic bin is. One is allowed to recycle plastic wrappers and containers too, and not just bottles.
  • Disposing of boxes once a week, for collection on late Tuesday night or early Wednesday – for big boxes and things for garbage, you’re supposed to leave things out for collection on your relevant date, but things must only be left out after 9pm, probably because they don’t want unsightly things sitting there all day.
  • Cleaning! Early days, but I’m enjoying cleaning and tidying. I’m still figuring things out – what products to use, and whether I should allocate times/days to clean certain areas, or just clean as I go. The other day, unbeknownst to me, I used fabric softener to clean the bath – Google translate wasn’t helping, and the bottle looked it was a floor cleaner. It actually worked, but next time I’ll stick to all-purpose cleaner for the bath.

What I’m feeling

  • Happiness watching Rebecca walk to the park and love playing (we also have a little park right near us which she adores too)
  • Contentment
  • Nervous and excitement for when school starts and new work starts and learning and immersing more
  • A bit of guilt being here. I’ll likely write more about it, but I carry a level of discomfort that I’m here, and not there. A weird sentiment, I know but apparently it’s quite a common one
  • Grateful
  • Missing family and friends

PS: If you have any questions that I might be able to answer, let me know (you can comment below)

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