Visit to Holland

April 6th, 2007

Two days ago (Wednesday night) I arrived back in London, after a very exhausting visit to Holland. Somehow Cristiano and me managed to fill that one week with slightly more activities then we imagined. We managed to do everything we wanted, but it was all quite tiring.

Click on to read a day by day description.

Wednesday – 28th of March

We woke up that morning at 5:15, which was really much to early. According to the Eurolines website you have to check in at least one hour before the bus leaves. Our bus would leave at 8:00, which meant we’d have to check in before 7:00. So we planned to be at the station at 6:30, taking the bus at 5:45 (45 minute bus-trip according to the journey planner) and waking up at 5:15.

Now a couple of things didn’t go as we planned: First the 45 minute bus-trip to Victoria station took only 30 minutes. Apparently the journey planner gives the longest possible duration of that route, giving the same trip length throughout the whole day. Of course in the morning there’s a lot less traffic, so we were there earlier then planned. However, “there” was Victoria Bus Station, not Victoria Coach Station. It took another 15 minutes to walk to the coach station, meaning we did arrive at 6:30 as our original plan.

Once at the station, we discovered the check-in opened at 7:00 and would close at 7:45. We could have woken up much later! We had to wait one and a half hour before we could get in the bus. I did manage to read quite a bit of my book, so it didn’t feel as if we were waiting that long. When the bus finally did arrive we managed to get in as first and claimed the two front seats behind the driver, so that Cristiano could make photos during the trip.

The trip wasn’t as tiring as last time. I guess, it does help that it was now during the day. The bus driver was a bit weird though; he had two phones and the whole time he was phoning with people. Then, in Dover we were to late for the ferry that was about to leave; they said that we wouldn’t fit on it anymore. The next ferry would go 2 hours later, so the bus driver lined up in the queue of the current ferry. We were just able to fit on it. The seas were very calm that day, so unlike usual I was barely sick.

After a long tiring journey through England, France, Belgium and Holland, we arrived at the Hague Central at 18:30. Mum picked us up and we dropped Cristiano off at Martijn’s place. Then we went back to Arnhem, which was also a trip of one and a half hour. The whole day I didn’t have trouble with my back, but in that last stretch it finally hit me; it really hurt bad. Then in Elst (about 10 minutes from our house) we got stuck at a train crossing. We waited for 15 minutes for 4 stupid small trains, 2 people trains and a cargo train. Just our luck!

Thursday – 29th of March

That morning Mum and me went to the hairdressers. I actually don’t remember the last time I had my hair cut, but it was getting much too long now. I think about 10 centimetres went off and it’s still quite long. Most of the time the hairdresser takes more of then I wanted, but this time it was exactly what I wanted.

In the afternoon I finally got around to sort out my clothes. I still had stuff from 10 years ago, which really had to go now. I haven’t put everything away, but I at least got rid of all the things that don’t fit anymore or are too worn.

Cristiano then arrived after having his laptop fixed in the Hague. We met up with Mum, Toby and Cas at Dewi, an Indonesian restaurant, to celebrate my birthday. You wouldn’t realize it, but Indonesian food is quite a part of the Dutch kitchen. In London you can’t find sate, pinda saus, bapaos, etc that easily. So it was good to enjoy that again.

After that we went to Mr Bean’s Vacation. It was much better then I expected. The first half an hour had some cringing moments, where they tried to be funny but just failed miserably. The rest though was quite okay. However, it didn’t really fell like the old Mr Bean; the vibe was completely different. Good, but different.

When we got home, Mum, Tobe and Cas surprised me with some late birthday presents. I got a really cool pink Emily Strange T-shirt with two cats on it, the book Debt of Bones from Terry Goodkind (the prologue to the Sword of Truth series) and the Final Fantasy XII playstation game, which is just so very fantastic. I’m thinking of somehow getting a PS2 now for in London, because that game is too addictive. On the other hand maybe it’s good I don’t get a PS2 yet ;-).

Friday – 30th of March

This day was Cristiano’s Bachelor ceremony. Mum and Cas brought us to Delft by car. The TU Delft Campus was completely broken up with construction work. Finally after 4.5 years studying there they’re going to put down a tram line through the campus. Because of that though, the parking spaces of our faculty were not that easy accessible. We were there quite early (11:00) to meet up with a couple of friends; it was good to see and talk with everyone again.

Cristiano thought the ceremony started at 13:00; so his parents were already there at 12:30. He misread his iCal though with the ceremony being at 14:00, but 13:00 English time. It didn’t really matter that much; we had a lot of catching up to do.

The ceremony went reasonably quick; the talks at the start and at the end were longer then with my ceremony and the “introduction” of every person was slower, but there weren’t as many people. So they managed to do it within the hour. After the ceremony we went to the /Pub to have a couple of drinks. It was fun, talking and discussing stuff with everyone. At about 16:30 we decided to head to Almere, hopefully avoiding traffic jams.

Saturday – 31st of March

There are a couple of items that you just can’t find in London or if you can it’s much more expensive then in Holland. So after sleeping out a bit, we went shopping in Almere. It was mainly for stupid small stuff like socks and toothpaste. I still find it hard to believe that the shops I missed the most were the household ones, like Blokker or Xenos. Somehow you just don’t have that type of shop in London (or I haven’t come across them yet).

In the evening we went to a nice Greek restaurant Pallas Athena with Cristiano’s parents and sister. I think it was from the same chain as one of the Greeks in Delft; the menu seemed exactly the same. We did one of those special courses, where they bring a bit of everything out. The atmosphere was really fun; there was live music and belly dancers, who danced on the tables. Luckily not on ours, we already had food on the table.

Sunday – 1st of April

On this day we celebrated Cristiano’s mother’s birthday. Most of the family came by and because of the good weather we sat outside in the sun. It was fun talking to everyone and telling about London. We got rice vlaai (a type of Dutch pie), which I of course thought was great (if you know me, you know I don’t like whipped cream, while the typical Dutch birthday cake is 50% whipped cream).

At the end of the afternoon I caught the train to Arnhem, because the next day I had an early appointment with the masseuse. The station at Arnhem is still a mess; it will take about 5 more years to finish all the construction work. Once home I discovered I still had Cristiano’s wallet in my bag. He already had left his mobile at my parent’s place. Sometimes we can both be a bit forgetfull.

Monday – 2nd of April

As part of my birthday, Mum arranged a Shiatsu massage for me. It was really good; the whole week I had been having trouble with my back and after the massage it was practically gone. Keep in mind, it isn’t the most relaxing massage; there are some parts that really hurt, but it all helps to loosen the muscles.

In the afternoon we went food shopping; I got a lot of Senseo crema pads, pasta saus, noodles and hagelslag to take back with me to London. Next was attempting to fit everything into the bags I had with me. I managed to fit everything in, only to find it was too heavy for me to lift.

Tuesday – 3rd of April

This morning I had a facial at Wassilissa’s, also part of my birthday treat. As the previous time it was very relaxing. I’ll try to go there next time I’m in Holland. After a long lunch (Salmon and Noodles with Hoy Sin sauce, Beef, Mushrooms and Spinach) it was time to go back to Almere. At the final moment I decided to put the very heavy bag into another bag with wheels. I’m glad I did otherwise I wouldn’t have survived the train trip.

Wednesday – 4th of April

After a good but tiring week in Holland it was time to leave again. This time we had to get up at 6:15, having to take the train to Amsterdam Amstel station. We were perfectly on time, having to wait only half an hour for the bus. Like the last time, we got the two front seats in the bus.

The bus trip was more tiring this time. In Calais there was some delay with the ferry, so we had to wait for a small 2 hours. Because of that, the douane decided to thoroughly check us. We had to take everything out of the bus, they scanned the complete bus, all the luggage was checked and some people had to open their suitcases. It was very tiresome. The sea was also not that complying; I got sickish from all waves.

Finally, we arrived in London at 20:00. After carrying the very heavy bags twice (once from the coach station to the bus station and then from the bus stop to our appartment) we arrived safely home.