Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Dutch Bicycle

If you have traveled to The Netherlands, you probably already know all about this, but if you haven’t...then, you have no idea how much the Dutch people are in love with their bicycles!  My own children and I would always bike to school as a fun way to get there without having to sit in the dreaded hundred mile long car line at dismissal.  Going on a bike ride in the U.S. was something to do on a weekend for fun.  The Dutch people have taken this “fun invention” and incorporated it into almost every aspect of their daily lives.  Bike riding in The Netherlands is a way of life.  There are even signs specifically for the bikers to follow right along with the cars...

My husband has been here a bit longer than the kids and me, and he soon found out the necessity of having a bike here.  As a matter of fact, he bikes to the train station near our house and takes the train to the city he works in, and he has another bike waiting for him at the train station there so he can bike to his office.  It is not unusual for a Dutch person to have more than one bike for just one person. Check out the few pictures I snapped from my own bike at a bike storage facility near a local train station.

    (Side note:  And...this may make some of my American friends wince a little bit....we only have ONE car!!!  Yes, ONE car my friends.  I know, I know...I was a little taken aback about the one car deal (Ok, there may have been words said to my husband, and they may have been very loud words about how I was going to deal with only having one car and what if he needed the car on the days I needed it, etc. etc....turns out, I really don’t drive too much here...more on that later in another post.)  There are actually weeks that have gone by before I arrived with the kids that he simply didn’t even use the car at all.  No joke!)

But, back to how the Dutch people LOVE their bikes. there are even collapsible bikes that commuters can fold up and take on the train with them!  What a genius invention ( I tried to take a few pictures of those people with their bikes...but I knew I would look like a crazy person trying to take their picture....but, don’t worry I will get a good picture of the collapsible bike! But until I take my own picture, you can check out pictures of a collapsible bike here.

Since the kids and I have arrived, we have biked almost everywhere  It is actually easier to bike around here than it is to drive a car through the narrow streets.  And I will talk about this more in anther post, but there are probably more bikers than motorists in our town, and I am deathly afraid of hitting a biker here.

Since we arrived last week, we have seen many different types and styles of bikes here that would put  our plain ‘ole American bikes to shame.  I managed to snap a few pictures.  I love how people can use huge crates or baskets on their bikes...very helpful when grocery shopping (I"ll tell y’all about my biking grocery disaster in another post.)

Side pouches on the back of bikes are a must here...
And if you don’t need the basket/crate, you can remove it and it becomes a chair on the front of your bike.:)

This next one is one of my all time favorites!  When we took the kids to Amsterdam back in 2009 while we were living in Lagos, my mind was blown with what looked to me like wheelbarrows attached to the front of the bicycles.  The kids loved it.  Of course they were 17 months and 4 years old at the time...but my husband and I thought it was awesome to put the kids right in the “wheelbarrow” and he and I rode all over Amsterdam with them.  You can see a few pics of our time on those bikes in Amsterdam by clicking here.  They were so little and cute!!:)  Anyway, here are a few pictures of the Dutch Bakfiets (which is the proper word..not wheelbarrow:)) I have found around our Dutch town...

I know I am just scratching the surface of all the different bikes here, and as I see other bicycles, I will try to snap pictures of them as well.  There is something about things being a bit simpler here and just hopping on your bicycle to get wherever you need to go...just remember to get back on if you happen to fall off for no apparent reason at all! ( more on that later!)
Dag! ( Good bye) for now!:)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A New Adventure

It has been a few years since I have gotten back on the “blogging bicycle”.  The life of an expat is one  that definitely has its highs and lows.  I have to admit that after our family’s experience in Nigeria, it was a hard road for me when we moved back to the U.S.  As many people who have traveled  outside their home country know, once you have seen different things you can never “unsee” them again.  The experiences I had in Lagos, have become a permanent part of who I am am, and have not changed me, but have changed how I see the world.  When we moved back to the U.S.,  I took a break from blogging.  I think I needed time to really digest everything I saw and experienced while our family was in Lagos.  And, let’s face it..I had Happiness ,and  I had much more time to tap into my writing and blogging about the world around me.  Also, when I moved back to the U.S., I suddenly had two school age children to shuttle to activities and dinners to cook and a house to clean. ( Unfortunately, Happiness did not come back with us.) And, I had to navigate back into a world as a regular person, which can be an expat experience in itself!:)

Looking back on our three years in Lagos, I was so happy to have written a blog regularly.  My two children (ages 3 and 16 mos. when we moved there) do not have vivid memories of our time there, but I can show them the pictures and tell them about all of our experiences there through my blog.  So, when my husband got an opportunity to move to The Netherlands, I knew I needed to keep a regular “journal” so that they can look back on everything they are experiencing here in a new country.

So for now, this is our new home...

I will say that visiting a place and actually living there are two completely different things.  When you visit a place, it is easy to see the differences in cultures and countries as charming and interesting.  Learning the language of a different country as a tourist is fun and not so stressful as you know you will be going home in a few days/weeks.  You can eat out at different restaurants each night and experience the local flavor of a city.  As an expat, you can do all of that also, but at some point, you realize that eating out at restaurants every night isn’t really in your budget.  At some point, you can’t just pretend you are a tourist and not try to learn the language.  You will use your google translate to help you interpret what is on the grocery shelves. And you may think you are buying tomato soup, but when you open the can, out pours tomato soup with meatballs and noodles! ( I didn’t see that one coming!)  You can’t keep pretending you are a tourist when you are driving your car and you go down the a road the wrong way (for the fourth time) before you park your car out in front of your house. Or, maybe you got in the wrong check out lane at the grocery store because you didn’t realize that “Passate” means only if you have a card to pay your bill. ( A bit embarrassing as I thought I would have to gather all the groceries up and move to a different lane...and realize you forgot your grocery bag also!)  (More on that in another post.) You may get a little too cocky thinking you can blend in with all the locals and ride your great new Dutch bike with a skirt on and then proceed to actually fall over in slow motion while waiting for the bike light to turn green...but maybe I have said too much...I digress.:)

To live in another country, I have found that you just can’t take yourself too seriously.  This is so true especially if you have children.  If you aren’t a person who can laugh at yourself, and see the humor in your mistakes, then living abroad may not be for you.  But, if you are willing to peek out the window of your comfort zone, approach the daily tasks of life with a humorous attitude, keep in touch with your dear friends and family back home (y’all know who you are!), be open to meeting great new friends, and find a great wine store nearby (special shout out to my YNO sisters!), you just might make it.  And, I have to tell you I have laughed pretty hard at myself this past week since we moved here.:) 

So, I hope you enjoy my blog about the many things our family will be seeing and experiencing while actually living in The Netherlands.  There are so many things I want to write about since we moved here, and I will share them over the next two years.:) I am happy to have you join me as I am “Getting on the Bicycle” to explore this new chapter of our family’s life.:)