In my first weekend away
05.26.2012 78 °F
Tonight I am staying in - yesterday was enough of an adventure for me.
The day was exhausting as I worked my way through the paper I need to have ready for presentation soon - though good news came that an extension was provided for conference attendees.
I was provided with the opportunity to skype with both my love and with some of my family - these times of correspondence make me smile.
Frustration ensued with the paper I worked on when my internet died and I needed to email my preceptor - luck would have it that I could connect with a cable because I have no idea where the wireless hub lives in this place - 7 people living here and i could not find it in any of the public access areas.
With work behind me it was time to go to the store because it is a holiday weekend and on every weekend the stores are open minimally on Saturday and completely closed on Sunday, then Monday is a holiday where all shops will be closed. At the grocery store I comb the isles, which are not long or stocked like the stores at home. Combat Kroger (small and in 2nd ward) near my house seems huge compared to the store I shop in here - the store described to me as having "absolutely everything you could need" by one of my house mates. I didn't mention my expensive spoiled tastes, but I am extremely happy or was at the time to find PEANUT BUTTER! My standards are a bit lower as I care mostly about saving money and not eating something that's terrible due to my language barrier. I had fear that I would not find the peanut butter as I can read no dutch and my google translate on my phone will only work with wifi that isn't working in the store. I nearly bought a peanut sauce...that would have been runny and not delicious with jelly or honey. I miss my honey from home, but this stuff will do. All i can say is, if there weren't pictures of limes and chilli peppers on the label with the peanuts - i would be eating some very interesting sandwiches. The great reward form this store trip was that I would cook my first home cooked meal.
and because i have nowhere else to throw these pictures in with any real story:
Before the home cooked meal though I went for a run - the weather here will be perfect for running and working out every day - i have to stop counting bike riding as exercise maybe. I was out running for just over an hour, but I stopped because I talked with a stranger on my run and he and i spoke Spanish (which makes me feel more at home) then i left him in my dust and when running I would stop every so often to take a picture. The scenery is so beautiful and I am sure my photos don't do Nijmegen justice.
After my run I did some weight lifting thanks to my friend Lauren for making me this nifty weight bag that I filled with rocks from my patio - who knew a bag of rocks could make a girl so happy?!
Finally after some exercise I made that delicious meal I showed you where I seasoned it with a bunch of stuff I couldn't read and didn't bother to look up. (I did smell the spices before I used them though)
By the time I showered my stinky self and fed my belly it was a bit late, but my first Friday I wasn't going to spend in - I was determined to go out. So after midnight (it doesn't get dark until around 10pm) I headed out on my trusty bicycle for the city center.
You NEED to be comfortable on a bicycle if you are going to come here. This is because you might be like me and not notice your surroundings as well as you think you are when riding into uncharted territory and then after walking around the center of the city you get lost on your ride home. I left the city center around 1:15am and only live 3-4miles away and didn't get home until 2:15-2:30. The ride was twice as long as it should have been, but I made it back safely and to soothe my nerves and feel at home I curled up and watched two episodes of mad men (sleep at 4:15am).
Today after waking up and making some not very good french toast due to forgetting to purchase butter for the pan - I headed out to the train station to figure out how I am supposed to schedule trains for trips to other European countries with my rail pass. Side note - the rail pass I think was a waste of money - you need to book far in advance, but i'm not sure how you do that when you have a rail pass and need to have someone from the train station approve your ticket and travel dates. In the summer trains get booked up to three months in advance. I think I will have to use my rail pass for my travels in the Netherlands so that it wasn't a complete waste of my money and I will have to shop for some cheap plane tickets to the places I really want to go such as Rome and Paris. I digress.
At the train station i finally captured some pictures of something we would never see in the U.S. - a huge area for many, many, many bicycles to be parked.
It turns out I cannot book international trains at the local train station and need to go to a neighboring town called Arnhem so I took the knots in my stomach and nervously boarded a train to Arnhem. Once there I could understand no signs and have no comprehensive Dutch language book so I took stairs up that lead me nowhere useful and finally found some escalators down where I found the international ticket booking office. Here is where I successfully booked my train to Zurich where I still had to pay extra fees on top of my rail pass. This is also where I found out I can't take the train to San Sebastian, Spain to visit a friend because they are all booked. You also can only book two trips at a time as I was informed by the ticket agent. The ticket agents were super useful and I was holding up the line for a while, unfortunately for those behind me. I left with my reservation tickets to Zurich for the weekend of June 8th - YAY!
The train ride back to Nijmegen I took some photos of the countryside although there aren't many because the ride is only 10-15minutes. Knots in the stomach for nothing for such an easy ride.
Once back in Nijmegen I was famished, but was on a mission to look around town during the day and I forgot to pack a lunch so I ate some pretty delicious pasta at the train station where I talked with a student behind the counter about the U.S. because he is fascinated with it and wants to move there one day. He was kind and we had some good political discussions before I headed back to the city center to look around.
There were plenty of clothing shops - many stores that can be found in the U.S. such as H&M, Espirit, Crocs, Clark's, Claire's and others. There were also plenty of places eat, very many bars with large outdoor patio areas, in the alleyways were infamous "coffee shops," not to be confused with cafes or a coffee huis. So I walked around on this beautiful day that did not exceed 78 degrees Fahrenheit and made my way to the water.
After sitting by the water thinking, writing, doodling and petting strangers' dogs I headed back home to eat leftovers. After 9 and exhausted there is no desire to go out on my first Saturday. An Adventure for me may not be much of an adventure for you, but I think that I am trying to absorb so much that the most menial things take the most energy.
I have to say that although my smart phone is of no use as a phone over here - it helps me take tourist pictures in a more inconspicuous manner since so many people have smart phones here. Am I texting or taking a photo? I feel less exposed anyway.
Hope I will have more phone photos to post soon!