No place like home

What a busy week.

I arrived in Amsterdam on Thursday, the 29th. I dumped my stuff, hired a bike (what a bloody rip-off; it would have been better to buy, but I’d have to leave it behind, anyway) and went to get my hair cut.

The next day, Koninginnedag, went off very well. The weather cooperated and Amsterdam quickly filled with people. Sarah and I spent the morning in De Jordaan, later heading down to Het Spui and Het Museumplein. It was too busy to hang around there for long, however, so we continued walking to De Pijp, where things were a little calmer.

While walking around Amsterdam, we ran into my barber, who informed me that Google had finally registered their intention to go public the day before. Thank Christ for that! At last, the press can stop pouring grain onto the rumour mill. It seems funny to have been in the eye of the hurricane for so long, at the very centre of all the commotion. Then, I fly to The Netherlands and end up finding out about the filing from my Dutch barber.

The next day, we took a train to Nijmegen, where we were met by Jules and Linda. We spent a pleasant evening, eating tapas, talking about the good old days at Sonera and speculating on the future. On Sunday, we all went walking in the woods around Nijmegen. It was nice to be out of an urban environment for a while.

Monday morning saw us up bright and early for an appointment with Ernst & Young, where we received some tax advice on our awkward Dutch-American affairs. Finally, we have some actual knowledge on which to base our decisions, rather than just hearsay and seemingly logical deductions. The situation actually turns out to be quite favourable for us, but will likely require me to dump my American green-card next year. It’s complicated.

We spent the rest of the day biking around the Amstel, through the villages Ouderkerk a/d Amstel, Nes a/d Amstel and Uithoorn. On the way back, we rode through the Amsterdamse Bos and stopped at the geitenboederij, where we fed some goats and enjoyed an ice-cream in the sun. The simple pleasures are the best.

On Tuesday, we went to Keukenhof, near Leiden, an expensive and typically touristic destination, showing off Dutch flowers in all of their variegated glory. There were some nice fields of blooming bulbs during the train journey, too. I felt rather embarrassed to be there with all of the other tourists, but there were quite a lot of other Dutch people, too, so I suppose it’s not such a tourist trap after all.

The next day saw us make a long bike trip across the river IJ and then up to

Broek-in-Waterland, before travelling on to Monnickendam, Katwoude, Volendam, Marken, Uitdam, Durgerdam and Nieuwendam. This used to be one of my favourite routes, but I’ve aged a bit since then. It was also extremely windy on top of the dike between Marken and Durgerdam, which was good for working up some heat and strengthening those thigh muscles.

After a visit to my favourite eetcafe, Cambodja City, we biked down the Amstel to enjoy the Bevrijdingsdag concert on the water. Sarah was rather excited to be able to wave to Queen Beatrix and the Dutch prime-minister, Jan-Pieter Balkenende. There was a great atmosphere at the concert, aided by yet another day of dry weather.

Today has been spent walking around town and imagining how it will feel to be back here for good next year. It’s rather odd to walk around a city all day, a city you once lived in for a decade, but then have no home to go to at the end of it. Still, at least we have the flat we’re renting, which gives us a more homely feeling than staying at a hotel would. We can come home and watch AT5 with a glass of Chocomel and a gevulde koek. Like I said, I’m easy to please, when you get down to it.

Much warme chocolademelk met slagroom has been consumed on this trip, along with saucijzenbroodjes, vlaai and — at long last — some decent koffie. We haven’t met up with as many people on this trip as last year (hardly any, actually), but that’s been nice for building up an impression of how it will be to live here again. That’s especially useful for Sarah, of course, who has never lived here.

We have one more day in NL before flying home, but we haven’t yet planned how we’re going to spend it. I can’t say I’m looking forward to getting back.

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