The tulips are finally coming up, but that’s a field of hyacinths I’m sitting in. Everyone should sit in a field of hyacinths on a sunny day at least once in their life. The smell is out-of-this-world amazing. So soft and sweet and yummy. Delicious!
Folks are flying drones over some of the fields to get aerial footage. You can probably find videos on YouTube. But the drones don’t capture the sheer enormity of the number of fields here. The best way to see the fields is by bicycle. Sadly, I’m still waiting for my bike to come with the rest of my things. Next year….
All things are pointing toward me still being here a year from now. My permit FINALLY came through and I collected my official ‘resident card’ last Friday from Immigration. Yay!!!!
Hans and I also found a house and signed the paperwork yesterday. We take possession on June 1st. We’ve been looking at houses pretty much since I arrived, and our thoughts on what we wanted have evolved quite a bit. At first, we both wanted something that felt “old and Dutch”. But, we are working with a very small budget because we didn’t want to take out a mortgage. “Old and Dutch” in our price range just means small, small, small and even smaller.
What we’ve settled on is a house built in the 1960s. It’s a “tussenwoning” (in-between living), which means it’s a row house. It’s a bit modern, and by American standards is still very small. But by Dutch standards, particularly in our price range, it’s spacious and light. Hans and I both said “wow, so much space” as soon as we walked in the front door when we went to visit. – We will have two guest rooms!
The house is in a town called Santpoort-Noord. It’s northwest of Amsterdam. There is a train station and is just 5 stops from Amsterdam Central Station. The train runs to Amsterdam 4 times an hour and takes about 30 minutes. Not too bad. – We will also be within biking distance of Haarlem. Hans was living in Haarlem for the past 30 years or so, so it’ll be nice for him to be close to his friends there. Already his friends have been riding their bikes up to Santpoort-Noord to check out the ride and the house. – On the west side of Santpoort-Noord are the dunes and then the beach and the North Sea. – I should link to a map, but you can all find it if you are interested.
As an American, I found the process of house-hunting to be a bit frustrating and occasionally awkward. Buyers have to pay for their own agent here, so most buyers don’t have agents. Hans and I didn’t have one. This means for each house you want to see, you have to call the seller’s agent to arrange a visit. And they might say ok to a visit tomorrow, or maybe not ’til next week or even two or three weeks out. Seriously. – When you go to an open house, it’s usually the sellers/owners of the house who are hosting the open house. That’s really weird. It’s really hard to make comments like “this floor must have been laid by an idiot” (and I’m really good at making comments like that!) when it might have been the owner who did it!!
Anyhow, the house is going to need a lot of work. The current owners are both in their 80s and they haven’t been able to do much maintenance in the last handful of years. So, it needs some overdue TLC as well as just updating. The house was built in the 60s and feels like the 70s. – Hans will probably do a lot of the work himself, and I’ll try to help where I can. – I thought I would be traveling all around Europe after moving here, but at least in the near term, I think I will spending most of my time ripping up carpet and stripping wallpaper.
But, for now, Hans is off touring. His first tour starts tomorrow afternoon in Ghent, Belgium, on the same day that there is a general railway strike in Belgium. Ugh. Hopefully all of his tour members have already arrived because it’s not easy to get to Ghent without a train. Not a great start to his first tour of the year. And, while we’ve also been having nice weather for the past week, the rain and gloom are coming back tomorrow and will be around for several days. – It’s hard work keeping 26 Americans happy for 11 days. Dreary weather doesn’t help. Poor Hans. Fortunately, he’s a very optimistic sort of person.
Ok. I’m going on too long. I’ll close with just a few more pictures. In anticipation of the upcoming Flower Parade, people are making their own works of arts out of hyacinths and tulips. I’m sure somewhere there is a map so that you can easily find each and every one of these little floral masterpieces, but Hans and I have just been finding them as we drive around. The random discovery mode has been fun. The pictures below are just a few that we’ve found. There are a lot of talented people in the Netherlands, and it’s nice to see how so many get into the spirit of festivities.