Huge update on our exploring!
Oh dear, we skipped our July update, and man, have we been busy!!
This post is looong, but we have broken it into four sections for easy reading, ‘Utrecht’, ‘France’, ‘Life in Amsterdam’ and ‘The Hague’… Skip to the part that interests you if you want.
So… going WAY back… we cycled 40km in the pouring, soaking, HECTIC rain to Utrecht. The wind was blowing at us, the rain was falling on us, and we had our bikes packed with clothes for our trip. ‘Wet’ does not quite explain it. Think wet undies and socks, while still having 20 kms to cycle — on Oma Fietsen! It seemed like a good idea, and it might have been wonderful, had we not cycled on such a wet day. Anyway, we got to our Airbnb almost 5 hours later with tired legs, sore bums, and wet everything else. 40kms doesn’t seem far, but considering our lack of steel bums, iron legs, and big ponchos — and how we were riding Oma Fietsen laden with supplies — we did pretty well!
The next day we visited the Spoorwegmuseum (The Railway Museum). This place presented so much information in such an interactive way — it was great! And old trains are super cool!
We then went to Museum Sterrenwacht Sonnenborgh — the observatory (which could have been better) and the Museum Speelklok (which was fun! Lots of automatic playing instruments). We also visited the Miffy Museum and ate at Bagels and Beans, Kloek as well as eating market Kibbeling. We walked and cycled around the town the rest of the time. Needless to say, we got the train back, which took 15 minutes. All in all, we had a lovely time and enjoyed Utrecht.
Next time we go we’re going to climb the Dom Toren. And perhaps hire a car to check out all the fancy country houses and castles in the area — we saw some on the way in but declined to stop because of our intense desire for dry, warm and soft.
A few days later we left for Toulouse, France, to visit family and help set up the family house in Caunes. Besides the admin, we visited cool little towns and drove through many vineyards. We watched the Tour De France at roadside-level twice — once in a little village called Revel, and once right outside our door! If our front door opened outwards we could have knocked the cyclists off their bikes! The tour is a totally different experience. You wait a looong time for the caravan to come though. The caravan comes though with plenty of hooting, shouting, and loud-hailers. They throw all sorts of things at the crowds from the vehicles. Then you wait some more. Eventually the riders come through, and in about 30 seconds, they’re gone!
Then there was Bastille day. We celebrated it the night before in Caunes. The town comes out and meets in the town square, then walks together with a marching band to a big field to watch the fireworks. The following day, on the real Bastille day we went to Carcassonne. We explored the old, fortified city and then found a place on the edge of the river to watch the fireworks, which were amazing, incredible, beautiful — the best we’ve ever seen! We didn’t know what happened in Niece until the next day.
The following night was an opera performance in our little village, outside the abbey.
We visited many markets, canals, windmills, mountains, and even beaches in our time there. (Collioure and Minerve were exceptionally beautiful!)
It was great to see family again!
Life in Amsterdam blog
Before visiting Utrecht, we crossed over the IJ and visited the EYE museum, which is all about the history of film. It was interesting. Then we road around the north a little while, through parks and past little harbours. It was beautiful and the houses are so quaint.
We’ve also spent a lot of time with people — which we’ve loved. Church picnics, coffee dates, lunches, and breakfasts with people are the best — we’re starting to grow our social network! We also saw a friend from South Africa we haven’t seen in more than 5 years! We’ve helped paint a house, got lost trying to get to that house, and taken a bunch of items off of someone moving back home.
On Saturday 13 August we cycled 32 km to Muiderslot, an old castle in Muiden and back. This was a much better cycling experience than our Utrecht one. It was slightly overcast, so we didn’t get too hot and it didn’t rain on us! We cycled over big bridges, on dijks and through flock of sheep. It was beautiful. The castle was also really cool. Our museum cards got us in for free with a guided tour (we love these cards). We walked in the old rooms, up the towers and around the gardens. The old town of Muiden was also very pretty.
Last Wednesday was glorious weather, so we decided to go find a beach. A beach, in Amsterdam, you may be thinking…. Yes! Well it was 20km there and back, and is now a freshwater beach because of the Houtribdijk. But it had sea shells, nonetheless, and was great to lie in the sun and read.
And this weekend we were in Den Haag (The Hague) and wrote this from our Airbnb. We needed to go to the South African embassy and thought we could stay and explore a little. We still need documents we applied for 6 months ago, and not even the embassy could help us. We have to get them to the Dutch government by October, and will be applying for our second extension — so please help us out and pray! Lets hope they give us some grace. While we were there, there was a jazz festival on one of the canals. The bands were on boats and moved from one section of the canal to another. It was such a great vibe—sitting and enjoying the bands for free on the canal.
Then there was the Gemeente museum. Oh my! This place was the best. Lovely things displayed upstairs (modern art, silversmith things, and delft) but downstairs there was this awesome game. You’re given a tablet that directs you from room to room where you complete digital tasks and learn about things in the museum. So much fun!
We also visited the North Sea and had a huge platter of food while the rain came bucketing down around us. Cycling back to the city in the rain, completely unprepared, was… interesting!
What a whirlwind of a time we’ve had, and there’s so much more to come! But that’s the reason we moved here and we’re loving it!