0 In daily life/ travel

Integrating like a champ

I had a lovely day in Utrecht yesterday catching up with a Dutch friend of mine who I met while studying in the US in …. probably 1996/97.

On my way back I was daydreaming on the train and didn’t get out in Amsterdam and the next stop happened to be 45km away!

Having been here for 2 weeks already though, I didn’t panic at all because the train system here is out of this world – they crisscross the country, leaving from any station at any time of the day every 5-8 minutes and they’re ALWAYS on time and half empty and quiet and fast and ahhhh… I’m in love with a train network.

I saw a lot of beautiful countryside during my detour, got out at the next stop and my Amazing Train Timetable App had already told me that the next train back to Amsterdam was in 4 minutes from the same platform. I’m in love with that app as well.

I got back to Haarlem just an hour after my initial ETA and stopped at the local supermarket. I’ve ALMOST figured out the supermarkets. I know now that you cannot get out of the gated self-checkout areas unless you scan your printed receipt. The self-checkout machines therefore never gives you an option not to print a receipt, it gives you an option to print a long detailed one OR just the barcode bit. I learned by making an idiot of myself the first time. Exactly how learning most things the first time is done.

I also learned yesterday that some fruit and veg you have to weigh yourself but the scales are inside the self-checkout area, just not in a super obvious place. So you have to find them, instead of scrolling through the fruit and veg picture menu on the checkout machine and mumbling ‘Where are the bloody kiwis!!”. They will not exist in that menu as unlike some other produce, they need to be weighed. Another lesson learned. I’m integrating at the speed of light!

I’ve also learned that the Dutch do excellent non-alcoholic (or barely alcoholic – 0.5%) beer, not so excellent Asian food, more than excellent cheese and All the Weathers in One Day, every day.

I haven’t caught a cold yet in these daily rain showers but I do know that doctors are not allowed to write sick-notes for you because in order for you to be able to have absolute trust with your huisdokter, you need to be able to tell them the absolute truth, not exaggerating or withholding stuff in order to get a note, and they need to concentrate on your treatment and not run the chance of making you unhappy by NOT certifying you as unfit to work. Interesting, no?

Oh and if you need to self-medicate:

  • Coffeehouse is where you can get weed
  • Cafe is where you can get beer
  • Koffiehuis is where you can get coffee

It’s probably best to not mix these up.

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