The day was off to a grand start. Samara made me a delicious breakfast and then we met up with her friend, Loes. She gave me a great excuse to walk through Utrecht by letting Sam and I accompany her on a mission to buy a used biked from a colleague. Moreover, I was able to meet a few more lovely Dutch women and another Dutch cat. Byway of them, I randomly learned that Holland is BYO-Floors (as in, it is assumed that the home you rent/buy does not come with its own wood floors) and the Dutch do not realize or understand the absolute insanity of it.
After walking through the residential neighbourhoods of Utrecht, we refueled with some coffee at a lovely cafe named Keek (pronounced cake) and learned how to play a German dice game called Regenwormen (and won!). Coincidentally, there was a farmers market setting up shop just outside the cafe and we strolled from stall to stall, admiring the produce and wares (while I kept asking Loes what things were). We left with some treasures – delicious fenugreek cheese and smoked spot (a sardine-like oily fish) for a picnic at Wilhemina Park.
I was beginning to feel jet-lagged at the park but got my second wind when we biked to a country side town, just 20 minutes outside of Utrecht called Bunnik. The fields of grass were European-chique and although the Dutch onomonopioa for “moo” (the sounds that cows make) is “boo”, it turns out they sound the same as cows back home.
Dutch phrase of the day: Ja Hoor (which sounds a lot like “yeah whore”) translates to “yeah right”.
I wanted to treat Samara and Leif to a nice dinner so they took me to Olivier, a stunning Belgium restaurant in what looks like a restored church. I had what I call an Tomlin-Hood Easter Dinner, which is ham and sweet-pickled pearl onions, and it was SUPER LEKKER. This is actually a consolation (that, and Sam and Leif’s company) for the following – I realized (as I was waiting for a train from Utrecht to Hoek van Holland) that I had misread my itinerary and there was going to be no way I would make the boat in time. Patient S&L led me around the train station so we could work out the logistics of getting me to London ASAP. After about 40 minutes of scrambling (searching for WiFi, trying to book a flight online, failing to do so, walking back to S&L’s) I was able to book a flight for the following morning, allowing me to get to my hotel before noon. In the grand scheme of my trip, this will only take away 3-4 hours of the London leg, but man, I it was such a jummer (pronounced “yummer” and does not mean tasty, but “bummer”) to be dyslexic enough to misread 24-hour time! I will just have to CTFO and not get anxious about losing precious London time (and some significant dollar bills).
Moral of the story – Triple check your itineraries in military time!
P.S. I am not 100% comfortable with my new camera (Panasonic GF1) and have not taken many photos with it as you can see by the iPhone photos, but hopefully I will suck it up and actually learn and take some decent ones during the rest of this trip.