Week 2 in Amsterdam: thoughts, bike rides and more fries

July 22, 2020

We’re in week two, and on one hand, it feels surreal and like I’m not really here (like an out of body experience), and on another, it feels like I’ve never known any other life. Except when I’m riding my bike and realise what a far cry it is from driving my automatic car wherever I wanted, and whenever I wanted, and while the public transport is excellent here, I still miss a car. Though I remember driving in SA, and wishing I was on public transport listening to a podcast and not sitting in traffic. A reminder that even when I’m content with something, I fall into the habit (a bad one?) at wishing for something else.

On the bike note, you might remember that my oumafiets got stolen the first night I had it, so we ordered another second-hand bike, this time in a beautiful blue. Bikes are very basic here, and I love this colour – and the fact that I’m likely to spot it easier on a bike rack. I’m not repeating my mistake of NOT tying it to a pole – once bitten and twice shy, and all that.

My riding is dodgy at best. I’m okay’ish when there are no cars, bikes or people around, which might mean I’m never okay at this stage. Each time I see something moving, I panic, and can’t steer straight, so basically just move to the side and stop.

I’ve ridden to the nearby shop once without incident, and rode to the mall on the weekend – a whopping 1.1km each way. There are incredible cycling lanes here, so in theory it should be easy for able cyclists, which I’m not yet. As per the picture below, I rode home from the mall with a bag on my shoulder (note the baguette sticking out) and it went well. In fact, I was almost floating in happiness. Crossing the road is still tricky, and I basically wheel my bike instead of riding.

My son Max has been a security blanket of sorts when I ride – he gives me confidence and motivates me, and helps me to lock my bike. At the age of 10, he’s really taken the role of adult in our biking relationship.

On Saturday we went to Haarlem, a 15-minute bus ride from Amsterdam south station, which is a few minutes from our apartment. It’s such a beautiful town, and we loved it when we visited in January.

On Sunday, we went to Amstelpark, not even a kilometre from us, and it’s just gorgeous. There are slides, jungle gyms and swings, a farmyard of sorts and more, all set in a pristine and pretty green space. Rebecca had a ball playing and running around, and we’re going to try go there after work when we can (hopefully every day). It gets dark only after 10pm in summer.

Some scenes from Haarlem:

Some scenes from Amstelpark

Other things we’ve been up to:

  • Still ordering odds and ends – picnic blankets, cable ties for our bike baskets (so I don’t have to cycle with groceries on my shoulder), plants, pots, hammer (to put up some small shelves from IKEA), more towels, cupcake tray (I don’t want to wait for three months for ours to arrive by ship), crafts, lampshades (the original ones didn’t fit).
  • Recycling! I’m so delighted that the Dutch are strict with us. We take big plastic bottles to the supermarket and then pop paper and glass in the relevant bins outside. We’ve been collecting plastic, but have no idea at this stage where the plastic bin is. One is allowed to recycle plastic wrappers and containers too, and not just bottles.
  • Disposing of boxes once a week, for collection on late Tuesday night or early Wednesday – for big boxes and things for garbage, you’re supposed to leave things out for collection on your relevant date, but things must only be left out after 9pm, probably because they don’t want unsightly things sitting there all day.
  • Cleaning! Early days, but I’m enjoying cleaning and tidying. I’m still figuring things out – what products to use, and whether I should allocate times/days to clean certain areas, or just clean as I go. The other day, unbeknownst to me, I used fabric softener to clean the bath – Google translate wasn’t helping, and the bottle looked it was a floor cleaner. It actually worked, but next time I’ll stick to all-purpose cleaner for the bath.

What I’m feeling

  • Happiness watching Rebecca walk to the park and love playing (we also have a little park right near us which she adores too)
  • Contentment
  • Nervous and excitement for when school starts and new work starts and learning and immersing more
  • A bit of guilt being here. I’ll likely write more about it, but I carry a level of discomfort that I’m here, and not there. A weird sentiment, I know but apparently it’s quite a common one
  • Grateful
  • Missing family and friends

PS: If you have any questions that I might be able to answer, let me know (you can comment below)

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  • Denise Kemp

    So beautiful and so clean everywhere. Glad things are going well. I am sure you will be a champion bike rider when we see you again.

    July 22, 2020 at 10:54 am Reply
    • Tanya

      I really hope so… either that or I’m quitting 🙂

      July 22, 2020 at 12:56 pm Reply
  • Monica

    Need I say it again? Love love love this story of your journey xx

    July 22, 2020 at 10:57 am Reply
    • Tanya

      Thank you so much for reading! It’s so nice to be writing something new.

      July 22, 2020 at 12:55 pm Reply
  • @mermaid_nix

    Enjoy the excitement the novelty and the beauty that is Amsterdam. Seeing your Hema bag, reminds me I had one with Sausages on it… but not any more..

    I see that Amsterdam City Walk is coming up in October. I did it a few years back and LOVED it. My friend came through from Belgium for the weekend and we did 15km in the rain. what a wonderful way to see and enjoy the city. We did stop off for Apple pie and coffee mid way.


    Also great was Foodhallen … a really really good food market and night spot. Met up with a blind date there – perfect evening.

    July 22, 2020 at 12:32 pm Reply
  • Tanya

    Wow, the walk sounds incredible! Hope the blind date matched up to the food xx

    July 22, 2020 at 12:55 pm Reply
  • mobileinafricablog

    i’m reliving my time in Amsterdam thru you… so do do enjoy… it’s gotta be one if not the best city … special place in my heart and memory .. at only 18 it was my 1st stop from Jozi and I never looked back! .. yes I’m now back in Africa but as they say once you have Africa in your heart it’s always there :–)

    July 22, 2020 at 12:57 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      I totally get that, and yes, it really is an incredible city

      July 22, 2020 at 12:58 pm Reply
  • WεηchƔ

    Love the update! 🙂

    July 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm Reply
  • Bridgette Ramotsepe

    Everything look beautiful

    July 22, 2020 at 1:01 pm Reply
  • Heather

    I’m sure it’s all new and you’re adjusting but on the whole the positive looks like it outweighs everything. Enjoy it Tanya!

    July 22, 2020 at 2:09 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      Thanks so much!

      July 23, 2020 at 8:35 pm Reply
  • Nikki

    Loving reading about your life there and think you’re also pretty brave . I would like to know how your kids will manage in a Dutch school? Learning in Dutch etc?

    July 22, 2020 at 3:25 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      They’re starting in the middle of August, and I’m so nervous for them. They say kids adapt well, but I’m still nervous. At least everyone speaks English so well. And the principal reassured us that they are very used to non-Dutch speaking kids at the school, who come from Israel and Europe.

      July 23, 2020 at 8:34 pm Reply
  • Nikki

    Practically, I would also love to know more about the cost of living there and earning in Rands and how it’s viable in terms of our currency…unless one works for a global company and gets paid in foreign currency..

    July 22, 2020 at 3:27 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      That’s a good topic. i’ll probably be better equipped to write that in a month or two. I’ll be earning in euros, my husband still in rands

      July 23, 2020 at 8:35 pm Reply
  • Lee Greenblatt

    You look so so happy!!!

    July 22, 2020 at 6:05 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      I think I was just happy not to have fallen, to be honest 🙂

      July 23, 2020 at 8:32 pm Reply
  • caleyjaderosenberg

    Loving your posts and updates my friend – and loving your bike adventures!
    I hear you on the feelings and can only imagine that feeling of guilt… I’m sure so so normal x

    July 23, 2020 at 1:03 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      Thank you so much for reading x

      July 23, 2020 at 8:32 pm Reply
  • jackiescala

    Can i ask if you will look at getting a cleaner, or what do people who don’t want to or who work do?

    July 23, 2020 at 6:43 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      Would love a cleaner – we will look at getting one once a week

      July 23, 2020 at 8:31 pm Reply
  • Jacqui Ritten

    Hi Tanya, I don’t know you but came across your blog during an online search for Corenza in Amsterdam. We are 6 months ahead of you on this journey. We arrived from SA in Feb. if you have any questions or need another SA mom with 2 kids to chat to then let me know.

    July 24, 2020 at 6:45 am Reply
    • Tanya

      Hi Jacqui, thanks so much – that would be great. Hope you’re well and settled, and that you’ve found some Corenza C 🙂

      July 28, 2020 at 7:11 am Reply
  • Ailsa Porter

    So glad I’m not the only one to ride a bike like you!

    October 9, 2020 at 1:34 pm Reply
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