A Day in My Life

A Day in My Life

I wake up at 7 or so to get ready for school – this is looking out my back window first thing in the morning. This is the parking lot/storage shed area for the complex we’re living in.

And peaking up around the corner is an 1896 water tower that is now also the Water System Museum.

I leave the house between 7:45 and 7:55 and walk or ride my bicycle to the train station. This morning I walked (the better to take pictures). This is about the first street I see, and my first look at the Dom (cathedral) tower. This street looks somewhat different later.

But instead of that street, my route takes me this way.

Approaching the Oudegracht – the “Old Canal.” It’s from the 11th century. There’s also a Nieuwegracht – much more recent – from the 14th century.

The Oudegracht.

The other way on the Oudegracht.

Just so you don’t think Utrecht is all quaint and old, this is the modern downtown.

I love walking down this street for all the windows – all picture perfect with lace and flowers or other trinkets.

Nearing the station – the bicyclists come speeding by.

Bicycle parking. It’s like this for blocks and blocks around the station and it’s never empty. It’s a mix of bikes from people commuting out of and into Utrecht.

A wee taste of bike traffic.

More bike parking – it doesn’t stop.

Traffic nearing the train station – very multi-modal here, with trams, buses, trains, bikes and a few cars.

What that looks like

Waiting for the 8:13 Intercity train to Schiphol – mostly commuters who get off at one of the two Amsterdam stops.

Using my Asian-living inspired methods, I manage to get a seat, a window seat even – note the people still waiting to get on. There will be people standing and I try to ensure I’m not one of them – there’s only about a 50% chance that someone will give me their seat, even as pregnant as I am.

Almost everyone on the train reads the paper – there are several free ones and it’s perfectly acceptable to leave them for others and to reach into seats to get one someone isn’t using.

Although I ordered a train with clean windows for better photo ops, someone didn’t deliver. This is leaving Utrecht, a different water tower in the distance.

The train goes alongside the canal for quite a while, passing barges as they ply their trade up and down the river.

More canal as the sun rises.

Train scene. Mostly everyone is quiet and reads or listens to music.

The sun rising on the farmland. Controlled water is everywhere.

Arriving at my station, Amsterdam Zuid (South). Note the guy pushing the fold bike – these are allowed on the train as hand luggage, so many people use them.

Walking from the train station to school.

The main university building, where my classes are.

In the elevator. I took this picture at eye level. These guys are tall. And so are the women – at 5’7″ (170 cm) I’m average height for a woman. Guys average much taller. I feel a little claustrophobic – I’m used to being able to see over many people.

Of course, my first stop is the toilet – this is one of the Dutch shelf toilets – “the better to review your business with” – and with one of the various flushing mechanisms. On this one you push down on the top of the metal tube.

My classmates, gathering before class in the hallway. They are speaking Dutch. Most are very motivated to learn, for different reasons.

The teacher handing back our test on irregular verbs. I got 100%. Go me! Of course, many of them left my mind directly after the test.

One of my classmates – a Bulgarian orthopedic surgeon.

Another – an American, also married to a Dutchman. They met in China where they were both living. These Dutch guys!

The class, listening. Other students are from China, Taiwan, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, the Philippines, the Ukraine, Brazil and Sweden.

The view from the computer room. Note the yellow helicopter – that’s the trauma helicopter and we always wonder what nasty accident it’s going to when it lifts off the roof.

Our computer lab. When I first got here this was my only internet access so I spent a lot of time here.

On the train home. Once again they failed to deliver the clean train. This is the soccer stadium on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

Between Amsterdam and Utrecht it’s mostly farmland and a bit of (heavily managed) nature like this.

Cows. Lots of them along the way. And sheep – but all the pictures I took of them looked like white blurs.

A windmill! How Dutch! However, right behind it is…

This building – a huge Chinese style building that I first took for a temple but was later informed was a restaurant.

Crossing the canal – note the changeable weather. Where we are it’s raining, but over there it’s sunny. Weather really does change here every few minutes.

In the Utrecht train station. Note random statue of naked people.

A vending wall. Stick your money in and receive bits of deep fried meat and bready stuff. Cheap in both senses. But fairly popular.

The train station in Utrecht leads into a North American style mall.

A drop shop with Dutch trinkets – for tourists? “Drop” is black licorice.

A candy shop, with a huge selection of drop and other candies, and people filling up their cone shaped bags with all of their favourites.

Speaking of cone shaped – I had to get frites, just to show them off, I swear. These are with green peppercorn mayo. The frites shop is in the background.

One of the shopping streets directly outside the mall. I usually walk home the same way I go to the station, but today I’ve decided to be a good little wifey and pick up Dutch Boy’s drycleaning. He can’t get it himself because the shop closes before he gets home. Most shops close at 6.

The big empty square outside the mall – some sort of project is being built behind the blue walls. On Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays there is a market here.

One of my favourite little streets – narrow and so old feeling. Lined with shops and restaurants.

The Stadskasteel Oudaen – a 13th century knights home that now houses a couple of restaurants at different price points and a brewery. Good beer and mussels on the ground floor.

The Oudegracht again. There are many restaurants along here with tables both at canal level and on the street above. The pannenkoek (pancake) restaurant is on the right side of the canal (only open for lunch and dinner). The Oudaen is on the right.

Looking down the Oudegracht to the Dom tower.

Bikes on the bridge – note McDonalds in the background.

Mounted police along the Oudegracht.

The Dom Tower – I’m now on top of the Oudegracht on a wide bridge.

A decorated bike – see a few of these around. Not sure if it’s to make the bike easier to find, deter thieves or just make it look pretty.

The canal boat tour below the Winkel van Sinkel, the oldest department store in the Netherlands (no longer a department store, but a restaurant and disco).

The street where the drycleaner is.

Heading home.

The thinking hare statue. The road crossings there are for cyclists.

Looking back at the Neude (two syllables, say it nasally). In the summer and on weekends this is full of tables for eating and drinking.

Someone has been playing with the pedestrian lights around this corner. I just noticed this one – only on red, the green is the normal walking man.

But this one I’ve seen for a while – both the red and green are little rabbits – a nod to Nijntje (Miffy the Bunny in English) an apparently famous children’s book that inspired Hello Kitty. The author lives in Utrecht.

Another street on the way home.

The street by my house. On the corner is a coffee shop in the Dutch sense (ie, sells marijuana and hash).

Our bedroom – after I’ve taken my afternoon nap (I can no longer sleep so well at night – the kid keeps me up already).

The view out the back in late afternoon. Note the water tower peaking over the corner.

Our bathroom. Another shelf toilet – this one flushes with a press of a rectangle in the lid. Note the tiny, tiny washing machine (no dryer).

The dining/living room.

Dutch Boy coming home and reading the mail.

Walking to get groceries along the same street you saw first this morning – note the lights in the Dom Tower. Now you can see that it’s the red light district and each of those windows contains a woman in lingerie sitting on a chair, many of them watching TV. Here, most or all of them are foreign, and they are certainly not all model types.

The supermarket. This is pretty much as big as they get. I read about another new expat who asked her Dutch husband if they could go stock up at the big supermarket outside of town on the weekend, only to learn that no such thing exists.

Inside the supermarket. Note the cashiers sitting down. The customers bag their own groceries and bags aren’t free – most people bring their own.

The produce section – note that many of the fruits and veggies are packaged in plastic.

Back home, Dutch Boy doing the dishes after dinner (I cooked).

A closer look.

Me ending the day studying.

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