Our first week in Holland

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Sep 26, 2010

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Where I stayed
Wichjen - Jack and Mayke's Home

Flag of Netherlands  , Gelderland,
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

EUROPE  HOUSE EXCHANGE TRIP 2010                                        WEDNESDAY 7 JULY – NIJMEGEN


We left Perth last Wednesday and had a good flight to Amsterdam with an hour stopover at KL on the way. Airline was very good – much better than our last flight (on Tiger). We arrived at Amsterdam  at 5.30 am and caught a train from the airport to Nijmegen (1.5 hours) where Jack, our house exchange host was there to meet us. After coffee and a chat with Jack and Mayke, they left and we settled into our new home for 5 weeks.

It is a lovely house in a cute little village called Wichjen, just out of Nijmegen. We have a large back garden and a block next door with deer in it. They make snorting noises to us through the fence. The streets in the village are very narrow for cars, especially when you have to negotiate bikes. There are definitely more bikes than cars on the road. On the bigger roads, there is always a separate bike track and often a walking track as well. Someone told us off the other day when we tried to walk on the bike green light. We were meant to wait for the pedestrian green light. It is great to be able to ride without a helmet and not have to worry about cars. Most of the bike riders are pretty sedate. We have got into a routine of walking before breakfast each morning then riding later in the day.  We always go twice as far as we plan because we get lost and can't find our way home. There is a big recreation area near us with a swimming beach, golf course, walking/ riding tracks, etc. We have walked a lot of kms around there trying to find the way home.

Rob has found the driving a challenge. We have a VW Cabriolet which is great for driving without the top. It is manual and the gears are difficult to get used to. Any other time we have driven on the wrong side of the road, we have always had an automatic vehicle. He is getting used to it now but it took awhile. The other driving problem is the language. When you look at road signs and have to guess what they say it is quite a worry. We have learnt a few and guessed a few so hopefully we won’t make any major mistakes. At least we know what traffic lights mean.

The language is also a challenge when we go shopping for food. On our first day we walked to the local supermarket and bought a few things including milk. We came home and made a cup of tea. The milk was off so we took it back. The checkout lady told us that it was meant to be sour. We had bought the wrong milk. She said it was very nice to drink with sugar. We gave it to her to take home and she told us the right milk to buy. We won’t do that again. We take a lot of time working out what to buy by the pictures. There are also a lovely lot of cakes, etc which we can figure out okay. I’m sure they will offset any good we do with exercise, but we have to try everything while we’re here.

Sunday we set out for a 'big trip’ to Ravensview, a village about 20 minutes from here. We planned to do the self guided walking tour there but found that there was a big market in town. We met up with a Dutch couple and spent the morning wandering around the market with them. It was very enjoyable and they also had a band playing in the eating area. It was nice to have some people with us who could speak English and explain a few things to us. After lunch we did the town walk. It was a very old town wiith some very pretty areas. Everything is so old here compared to Australia. Coming home we ended up on the motorway for a few kms. We decided that was too fast for us and we’ll stay on the back roads at much as possible.

Yesterday we rode the bikes to Grave, another old village about 5 kms from here. We locked up the bikes and enjoyed exploring that town. It seemed quite small but we were told that there are 12,000 people living there. It is strange how these areas seem so countrified and yet the population in each area is quite large.

Most of our time so far has been spent getting our bearings which is no mean task when we don’t know the language. We have had some very hot days (low 30’s) – no fans or airconditiioners here but mostly it has been mid 20’s and very pleasant.

The other big issue here at the moment is the soccer. Streets, houses, shops, people are all decorated with orange, the Dutch colour. Rob even sat up and watched it last night and was pleased to see Holland win. There is a lot of excitement about it and I’m sure it will be a big night for the final on Sunday. We might just have to go out to the local pub and join in the fun.

Until  next week

Carol & Rob
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John and Jan on

Sounds great! ..and what timing, when the Netherlands is doing so well in the world cup.

Zoe and Richard Baillie on

Buying food was a challenge for us too, managed to avoid the sour milk though! What a great experiance it all is.

Jane & Alan Shakeshaft on

This "pod blog" is a great idea!! Your experiences so far sound wonderful. We just hope you will enjoy our cottage in the Loire Valley as much--certainly the language may be easier as no-one else speaks dutch, except the Dutch!! However, Dutch people always speak some English, whereas most French people would never admit to that!!! be careful on those roads!!

annelie on

It was lovely to read your news. I am thrilled that you are enjoying my country, It may be small in terms of space but we cram a lot of good things in even the soccer. Enjoy. Don't fprget to join the Hup Holland Hup which is the equivilant of Aussie, Aussie.

Shirley & Phil on

Great to read of your travels, enjo,y as we enjoy travelling with you via your blog.

Mary and Colin on

Sounds like good fun.Are you getting better at "Charades" !! Hope we see a picture of Rob in clogs .

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