First 2 Days
Quick Re-cap (or "How I Spent My Summer Vacation, 2007 Edition"): We left Toronto at the end of July, in an arduous weekend of painting, packing and more packing, spent August traveling around the midwest US (Kansas City, Indianapolis, Ohio) then up to Philadelphia on our way to Newark, NJ.
Departing Newark was easier than we'd guessed. We had a little bit of trouble at the rental car drop-off (getting one cart was easy, two was tricky), but managed to load up two luggage carts with all our junk, Badger walking along besides. He seemed a little freaked-out by the monorail (trains that circulated from parking/rental cars to the terminals) and barked a bit at the passersby, but was generally okay, until we got to check-in and started assembling his crate. That's when the stress level seemed to peak for him, and he barked at quite a few people.
It took us about an hour to wind our way in from the rental car area, and another hour or so to assemble the crate, and re-distribute some of the weight from our overweight bags to our less-heavy bags. Then through security, and almost immediately onto the plane. Flight was okay, as far as flights go (which means: not enough leg-room, half-decent food, and a screaming kid one row back.)
Things on the Amsterdam side went surprisingly well. Other than the long line, passport control went quickly, baggage was already up when we got there, and Badger arrived shortly after that (and appears to have held his water during the flight!) We hit an ATM and got a little snack, then found our shuttle waiting for us with one other passenger. It was a large van, and easily held all our large belongings.
We were supposed to meet our apartment broker at the door at 8:30am. In fact, we were more than half an hour early. (We came to find out later that we had narrowly missed seeing the owners, by ten minutes or less.) So, after a little wait on the front sidewalk, we got a quick tour of the house.
The house is pretty nice! We had been a little concerned how "fully" a "fully furnished" house would be, and how careful we would need to be about the owners' things. Both turned out well: the house is very well-supplied, and the owners appear to be fairly easy-going. The main surprise is the stairs: Very narrow, steep stairs that Badger has trouble climbing. (In fact, after a near-panic the first time, we've basically had to confine him to the ground floor.)
The ground floor has the kitchen, dining room and living room (with a TV and piano!) The second floor has the bathroom, an office and a guest room, and the third floor has the main bedroom. It's hard to describe, but there are internal windows in the master bedroom, that look down on the guest room and bathroom. It's a nice way to let extra light into the top floor, but a little odd for our potential future guests. (We may have to rig up some curtains?)
We've spent a lot of time running errands so far, getting to know the lay of the town. We're quite close to the town center, maybe a 5 minute walk at the most. Some things have gone well, others have not gone so quickly. Almost everyone here speaks English (and speaks it very well), which is very helpful, as neither of us speak any Dutch, yet. Reading Dutch is fairly easy, as there are lots of cognates to German and English, but spoken Dutch is harder, as the pronunciation rules are completely different than German.
There are, as promised, tons of people on bicycles here. There are easily ten times as many bikes as pedestrians, and maybe twice as many as cars. Almost every major street has a wide bicycle lane, with it's own set of traffic lights (in fact, you can often see three sets of red/green lights: one for cars, one for bikes and one for pedestrians.) We are trying to buy a pair of used bikes for ourselves this weekend.
One of the boxes we mailed ourselves arrived yesterday already, the other two are at the Astronomy Department, and we're going to try to retrieve them today. One major oversight has been conquered already: We should have brought more power-plug adapters, and maybe a North American power strip (so it could run off one plug adapter.) We eventually found a store here that sells them, but we nearly ran out of laptop power before we found it.
And we're meeting people already! Our neighbors had us over for tea last night, and we had dinner with friends (or friends-of-friends) from Elizabeth's work. And it looks like there's a "game night" at a local café on Tuesday.
Well, I should wrap this up and get going...