A Day of Dutch Diversions

Trip Start Mar 31, 2011
Trip End Jul 05, 2011

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Flag of Netherlands  , Gelderland,
Thursday, June 23, 2011

After our late night, we woke up tragically early to head to Den Bosch, which is slightly north of Roermond. I'm only going to write one blog for central Holland, but I "published map pins" for each of the places we visited. Not sure what that even means-- I think it should put a dot on each place when you look at the map of the homepage of the blog? So if, for whatever reason, you do not know the specific geography of central Holland, you can look on the map. I'm pretty sure that we are some of the only Americans to know where Den Bosch is... Anyway, Daniel let me borrow his big fancy Canon camera lens which has the capability of zooming in about 5 times more than my lens. Digital SLR cameras allow you to remove the lens and stick another one on, so I just used my camera body with his lens. The pictures will probably look similar to you, but I was actually able to be WAY further from things and take comparable pictures. Very cool!
It took less than an hour to get to Den Bosch by train, so we arrived at a nice time. Unfortunately, the weather was still pretty grey and cold, but at least it was not actively pouring like in Geneva. We spent a while in a gigantic church then walked around the various streets and squares, enjoying the architecture. I took a ton of close-up pictures of flowers with my borrowed lens-- Holland is full of nice flowers.  They also have hilarious little snack shops that have giant wall-size vending machines that sell sandwiches/salads/fruit/etc. We didn't try them, but I wonder if they are any good... I hope they change them out every few days.
After a few hours, we jumped back on the train and headed to Utrecht. Utrecht is one of the biggest cities in Holland and has a gigantic shopping street, mainly full of shops that we couldn't afford. We found a nice little bench by the river and made some bagel/lox sandwiches! They were really delicious, but there were a ton of birds harassing us for food the entire time. We even had a close call involving bird poop and bagel sandwiches-- glad it only hit a jacket and not our food!  Then we wandered around a huge church with a bunch of school children. I guess they must have been on a field trip? Definitely would not be allowed to take children to a church on a field trip in the US... 
After wandering around the city for a while longer, we jumped back on the train to Nijmegen. Daniel is hoping to get a new job and buy a house in Nijmegen in the next year, so we were excited to see his prospective neighborhood. There were tons of cute little houses for students and young professionals, and it definitely seemed like a desirable place to live. We got free little cokes from a lady with a coke cart, which is a good reason to move in itself! There were students dressed in ridiculous outfits running around everywhere, obviously having a grand time. Very funny! The Dutch also a fun tradition of hanging a backpack with stuff in it (flowers, shoes, etc) from their door when they graduate from a level of school. Apparently it was graduation season, because there were backpacks everywhere!
It started raining (yet again), so we went to a little restaurant for an early dinner. Daniel told us that we would "have a small dinner now and eat again later," so we each ordered an appetizer to share. Apparently, when the Dutch say "small dinner," they mean only a starter and a full meal instead of a starter, full meal, dessert, and 5 drinks... haha! The three of us were full after our appetizers, and the waiter thought we were insane for only eating one portion. I suppose they eat that much over 4 hours, so it is not that crazy, but definitely different from US culture. We talked about a number of other cultural and societal differences. For example, education in Holland costs less than 3000 Euros per year (usually much less), and the government often gives you a stipend (regardless of family income). Also, their salaries are capped at around 120,000 Euros after taxes, and they pay over 50% in taxes if they are in the highest income bracket! Cost of living is generally comparable, but they live much more modestly and seem to buy properties that actually suit their needs (rather than 10 bedroom mansions). Most people live with their parents until they can afford a house, and they only have to work between 36 to 40 hours a week (no 120 hour doctor schedules). Certainly sounds much easier than working in the US, but without the monetary benefit-- definitely would take a ton of pressure off! It's so interesting how different countries can have such different systems and sets of priorities. Each definitely has its own set of benefits and disadvantages-- if only we could learn more easily from one another and develop a system that has all the benefits of each! I'm not going to hold my breath for that day... will post about Amsterdam tomorrow. Tot kijk!
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Mom on

Thanks for the nice blog. The combination of flowers, stained glass and interesting food make this a very colorful journal entry that is a pleasure to read and enjoy. Fun "silly people" are enjoying a festival of some sort? Really cool black & white of Adrienne. Good job!

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