Exploring the tulip fields of the Netherlands and other parts of North Holland


I am a huge tulip fan which works well with the fact that I moved to a country that has plenty of tulips.  We went exploring through North Holland which is the province where most of the best tulip fields are.  When I holidayed to the Netherlands last year I was lucky enough to visit Keukenhof which is the holy grail of tulips in Holland and only opens for a couple of weeks a year (see pics below).

As I had been to Keukenhof last year, it was exciting to go exploring other tulip areas in Holland over a few days.  We took a road trip and witnessed some magnificent sights.  The best way to do this is by planning which route you are taking beforehand to ensure you take the scenic route and not end up on the highway. I have included below some photos of the sights we saw along the scenic roads.

Me visiting Keukenhof last year!

Me visiting Keukenhof last year!

The beauty that is Keukenhof!

The beauty that is Keukenhof!

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Tulips in the area of Hillegom, North Holland

North Holland is also the home to Alkmaar, the most famous cheese producing area in the Netherlands.  It’s a well known fact that the Dutch are mad about cheese so this is definitely the place to visit if you’re a cheese head!  We visited the local Kaas Museum (Dutch for Cheese Museum) and were taken on a virtual tour of the cheese-making process.  We were lucky enough to have visited on a Friday which is a big day in the town of Alkmaar.  All the cheese makers bring their cheese to the town centre for it to be weighed and then price-determined.  This is great to see as thousands of people gather around for this occasion.  The photo below outlines how the cheese is laid out and then carried in batches to be weighed and priced.  The most common type of cheese found in Alkmaar is Beemster which is often matured or young.

Entrance to the Kaas Museum in Alkmaar

Entrance to the Kaas Museum in Alkmaar

How the cheeses are laid out every Friday and then carried off to be weighed and priced.

How the cheeses are laid out every Friday and then carried off to be weighed and priced.

After visiting the Cheese Museum and seeing the cheese parade, we went on a tour of the town of Alkmaar followed by a cheese tasting which was all conducted by the guide from the Cheese Museum.

Exploring the province of North Holland is a great way to see the best of the Netherlands if you just have a few days.  Here are my top 3 reasons for this:

1. It is in the same province as Amsterdam so it’s easily accessible and takes less than an hour to get everywhere in the province.

2.  It has cheese and tulips – how much more Dutch do you want?

3. You can combine a 2 or 3 day trip with seeing the great city of Amsterdam and the countryside around it for a balanced sight-seeing trip.

I hope you enjoyed my little virtual tour of North Holland’s tulips and cheese!

Until next time,
K

I am a terrible blogger


If you ever read my bio, you will know that I am a terrible blogger.  It has been many months since I have updated my blog and for this, I apologise.

My previous posts were all about my big move to the Netherlands!

I finally made it here on the 16th of December after getting my visa virtually the day before I was due to leave on my pre-booked flight.  After arriving on the 16th, I was in the country for a few hours before getting on yet another flight and going to Spain on holiday.  Despite all the crazy travel plans, the holiday was definitely what I need and I spent Christmas there.

I arrived back in Holland on the 27th of December.  This day will always be symbolic for me as I left sunny Spain in the morning and landed at Eindhoven airport – in the snow! This was the first time I had ever seen snow in my life and it was fantastic.  They opened the door of the plane and the snow was blowing into the airplane as we were disembarking.  I arrived in Europe at the right time as we had a lovely snowy and cold winter.

Now we are headed for summer and I have been in Holland for almost 5 months and I must say, I love it here.  I haven’t driven a car since I left South Africa and I ride my bicycle everywhere.  I am going to Dutch lessons and I am picking up the language nicely.  Overall, I can see myself living here for a very long time (if they renew my residence after 5 years!).

In terms of travel, I have found my ultimate hobby.  Since living here, it’s so easy to “see things”. Within the Netherlands, nothing is more than a 2 hour drive and to go to any European country is super easy and affordable either within driving/rail distance or a 2 hour flight at most.  We spent a week in the southern province of Limburg in February.  In May we are off to Belgium for a few days and in June we have a 2 week trip planned through Europe, ending up in Austria for the Austrian Grand Prix.  For this trip, we are going to be road-tripping through Germany and Switzerland.

I do miss South Africa.  I miss my family and friends and especially my nephew Mason who was born late last year but I was lucky enough to go back to Johannesburg and Cape Town in March for a business visit and was then able to see them.  It is possible that I will also be going back later this year again too so this makes the missing not as difficult.

Until I get some motivation to blog again – It’s been great catching up and blogging about my new life experiences.

Stay safe! K

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There are no shortcuts to any place worth going


Hi there.

The last time I posted I told you all about the big Dutch exam I had to fly across the country to write.  Well, short update on that: I passed!

Ever since passing the exam it’s now virtually guaranteed that I will get my visa to go live and work in the Netherlands.  I really thought that getting this result on the exam meant that it would be all downhill and smooth sailing from here to get said visa.

Oh, was I wrong.

I initially told you that I’d be packing up and skipping the country at the beginning of October.  This didn’t happen due to some administrative difficulties with that *cough* home affairs *cough* place.  If you’re South African or have ever had to deal with the home affairs offices, you will know my pain in this regard.

I can, however, report that it is still all systems go and I will be calling dear Holland home very, very soon.  The awesome company I work at let me also stay on a bit longer even though I resigned quite a few months back.

This life predicament has caused me to get a deeper understanding of what this life is all about.  A year ago if you asked me if I had known where I would be in a year, I would have said “yes, I know”.  Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong and I can’t express how happy that makes me. This has sure been one hell of an adventure and it has barely begun!  I can’t emphasize the saying more that “there are no shortcuts to any place worth going”.

AdventureI am really looking forward to being a resident in my new country and home.  Learning the language and all about the culture has caused me to fall in love with the place and I am sure this love will only grow.

On a final note, immigration is exciting and all but I would only recommend it once. Kind of like getting chicken pox.  You only need to get that once and then you’re sorted.

Chat soon,

K

Lost? Yes. Very lost? Definitely.


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Hello There.

The last time we chatted I told you all about me quitting my job and flying halfway across the planet to start afresh.  It all seemed quite glamorous at the time and I’m still suitably shocked that I had the guts to do that.  So now time is dwindling away before I make the big leap and there are a certain amount of tasks that need to be completed before then.  These have got me feeling very, very, lost.

In order for me to get my permanent residence visa, I am required to write this slightly bizarre Dutch culture and language exam.  Upon first hearing about this requirement I thought “hell, I’ve been taking Dutch lessons, it can’t be that hard, sign me up now!”  Well now, I shamefully swallow my words.  Sure, the exam isn’t too difficult but there are a few sections which have me slightly concerned.  One particular section requires me to study 350 word pairs, opposites, if you will.  You know the usual “hot, cold” etc.  These aren’t difficult but finding storage space in my crazy mind is a demanding task.  Okay, so I can deal with this so “sign me up!” I said less confidently this time.

Upon proper investigation of this exam, it was brought to my attention that, in order to write it, you need to make an appointment at the Dutch embassy. In Pretoria.  This is the only place in South Africa that they offer this exam.  Oh yeah, and to make an appointment you need to pay the exam fee, only a smooth approx. R5000. “Ummmm, sign me up I guess” I say, now definitely questioning my motives here.

So yeah, the exam fee has been paid, the flights have been booked and the leave day has been approved.  On 4 September I will be flying up to Pretoria for the day to write the exam.  Luckily I am in the great hands of my Dutch teacher who is sufficiently preparing me the big day.  Without her, this would all probably not be possible.

Wish me luck folks!

Kplusa

I am the designer of my own catastrophy


I quit my job. Four words you don’t realise how powerful they are until you read them a few times over.

I don’t think I would have had the courage to do this without my dedicated “Quotes” Pinterest board that I furiously pinned motivation statements on for a few weeks before I formerly resigned. Here is the link to *that* board.

I don’t have another job. I do, however, have a home I am going to in Holland. Having recently turned a new age, I felt that I wasn’t hitting my twenties as hard as they should be. I was safe in my (great) job, had everything I needed and not many complaints in life. I was taking the easy road out and since when did that make history books?

So, officially, as of today, I am working out my committed two months’ notice at the PR agency that I have been at for the last year. This means that at the beginning of October, I will be relocating my entire life to a new continent. I am really concerned because they don’t have a “I am moving my whole life” option on luggage when booking flights.

“You can’t resign without having another job to go to” was one I have heard a few times. Well, I did, and so what? Because it’s the big risks that make the most memorable moments in life.

Watch this space as I will now be updating with my exciting life adventures. I haven’t blogged in 2 years because my life was boring. Now, it’s going to be helluva interesting, I promise.

Ciao

 

 

 

The essence of human relationships in the 21st century


Good day!

Over the past few days I have been thinking about the world in which we live, in and amongst eachother, getting by and attending to our daily lives.

Those who know me, know that I am constantly on the go, driving all around Cape Town and going to many different places on a daily basis. This forces me to interact with various different people, some pleasant, some not so much.

It is interesting to see that it’s possible to form a better relationship with the guy who helps you park your car, than with your neighbour.  For example, I often do grocery shopping in Kloof Street in Cape Town.  I park in the same parking lot and I am helped by the same parking attendant every time.  he knows my name, I know his and we greet each other and ask how each other’s day has been.  This is so very different to the man who lives next door to me.  I am lucky if he looks me in the face when he says hello, if he says hello at all.

This is so surprising to me as 20 years ago, you would say hello to everybody in your neighbourhood or surroundings, whether it be your neighbour or bank manager.  It was just common courtesy.

The evolution of human relationships is quite surprising, and if not an evolution, a revolution.  How will we relate to eachother in 20 years to come?

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K plus A

Is Twitter the latest and greatest dating site on the web?


Over the last year and a half I have become what they refer to as an “active” twitter user. I do use it everyday, I tweet, I reply and interact with all kids of different people from all walks of life.

I found it has been really useful to me, I have made lots of friends from it and it’s a great networking tool. What is my favourite thing about it is that you can interact with anybody on it, even if you don’t know them.
If you reply to a person, 9 times out of 10 they will be curteous enough to respond which is why it is a great networking tool.

What I find interesting is the latest use for Twitter: finding a suitable mate. In South Africa, there are quite a few examples of this happening. I was recently reading Cosmo magazine (yes, the girl’s fashion bible) and there was a whole article on this phenomenon.

The couples that were interviewed said that they met because they started speaking about topics that they had in common. They also said it was easy to get to know the person because they tweeted about their interests. Another reason why I believe it is better than a dating site, is because dating sites people feel the need to “sell” themselves and get others to like them this way while on twitter, people are generally more “real” and honest, causing a much more objective atmosphere.

Since a lot of people aren’t active Twitter users, it would be interesting to see how this phenomenon would grow, or not, if they were.

Anyway, that’s my thought for the day.

Have a good week everyone!

K plus A