December 6, 2013
Revel & Roam is relocating! We are in the process of finding a new base camp in the city of San Francisco for our next phase of explorations. So we will say goodbye to Europe for now, but will continue to post on our travels from this year. To commemorate our time in The Netherlands, we have compiled a list of our observations and reflections about Dutch life.
A Dutch friend once told me “when we were kids in school, we had a daily exercise of stating our opinions on a subject every morning”. This routine paved the way for a life of opinion slinging and boisterous discussions. This was especially experienced at work, where meetings meant time to put all opinions at the table, whether it was part of your domain knowledge or not. Today, I will give my opinion on what I think about the latest research of the dead sea scrolls…
The Dutch are a practical people, and lunch is really about fueling up for the day. The norm is eating a sandwich and drinking a 500ml carton of milk. A sandwich is efficient, doesn’t get your hands dirty, and you can still navigate the mouse with your free hand.
It’s The Netherlands, the land of bikes! Whether it’s getting groceries, commuting to work or going to the bar, the Dutch will bike from point A to B, right into the store if they let them! We loved our bikes, and we will miss the fabulous biking paths and routes all over the country.
The Netherlands borders Belgium and Germany, and it is fairly easy to take a train to France. With a budget airline airport near us, we could fly throughout Europe from as low as 20 Euros! We made good use of this perk, discovering different cities during our weekends. We will definitely miss this way of life.
Living in Europe and in the small city of Eindhoven, Netherlands, meant rubbing shoulders with numerous expats and people from all over the globe. The university and big multinationals like Philips and ASML attract a diverse crowd. A typical dinner for us would be: A Croatian, an italian, a Scott, a Romanian, an American, a Singaporean and a Dutch.
Sinterklaas, a Spanish bishop accompanied by his black helpers “Zwarte Piet” or “Black Pete”, delivers gifts to children on December 5th. If you did not behave during the year, you could very well be put in a sack and brought back to Spain. During this holiday season, the entire nation is in cahoots to bring alive this magical experience for the kids. There is a televised public program starting way before Decemeber, that shows the journey of Sinterklaas, all the way from Spain to The Netherlands. A new season every year, this fine drama creates doubts in the minds of the children if their presents will indeed arrive. Of course they always do, the ending is always the same, but the journey is always suspenseful. Among the festivities and during our journey to understand this tradition it invoked in us many different emotions. We were shocked, amused, confused, impressed, enchanted and now longing. Longing to tell someone about Sinterklaas in The Netherlands!
It is perhaps a not so secret fact that the weather in the Netherlands can be characterized as gloomy. And after two years of living here, we can definitely agree without a doubt that seeing the sun is indeed an elusive phenomenon. So much so that the Dutch will find any excuse to be out in the sun whenever it appears, working hours are flexible when the sun is out and everyone will drive south during the summer months to replenish their vitamin D.
A good friend of mine once pointed out that their apartment in Brussels is designed by a Dutch firm and hence she is not able to reach the cabinets in the kitchen and the stove is almost at the height of her chest! Living in the Netherlands has a brought us countless moments when we realize we are living in the land of giants. A bike with seats at my shoulder level whizzing by, dangling my feet on the toilet, tip toeing to give someone a hug, straining my neck at a mirror in the restroom to catch a glimpse of my pearly whites. It’s all very disconcerting, until I take my seat in a plane.
So there you are, the eight reflections of our time in The Netherlands. It was a great adventure, and we will remember it fondly.
View from our apartment/office
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