Dutch weekend getaway
in Rijswijk, Netherlands on 31st October, 2012


A couple weeks back Triin and I were sat in a pub with a few mates. With us were one Czech girl and two Dutch guys. One of the guys, Arjan, said he was driving to and from the Netherlands, leaving on a Thursday evening and coming back the following Monday in a couple week's time. The other guy, Steffen, had a flat for us to stay in. He'd be in London that weekend visiting his wife who's studying at University here.

With a ride and a place to stay I asked my manager at the place I contract at if I could work remotely on the Friday and Monday. I got a quick approval and with that we were off.

We met Arjan at Deptford Bridge on Thursday evening after work. We had a suitcase full of everything we'd need in which we didn't care how much it weighed and a bag full of food and drinks. It was nice being able to take cheap food with us abroad. I'm so used to flying out of the UK and having to buy expensive food in airports or buy weird stuff in the countries that I arrive in.

We drove to the Eurotunnel, bought some dinner and then drove the car onto the train. Within about 30 minutes we were in France. Just before I lost reception from Vodafone in the UK I posted a photo of our journey on facebook. I commented "I think this will be my fifth or sixth time I Belgium. But I've yet to have ever stopped and gotten out of the car".

Two Belgian mates of mine posted replies, one stating he wouldn't get out of the car either and the other asking "Not even for a beer?". I felt bad I've never taken the time to visit any towns or cities in Belgium. I'm a big fan of Belgian beers, chocolate and of the F1 race in Spa. I can't recall ever meeting a Belgian person I didn't like either. I'm going to need to do a proper trip there at some stage.

We arrived in Rijswijk in Southern Holland around 12:50am. About five and a half hours door to door. I was amazed at the fact we could make it there by car only slightly slower than it would have been by plane and we visited a total of four countries in doing so.

On Friday I sat opposite Steffen at his working desk in his living room and Triin laided on the sofa. Steffen worked on his contract and I did the work for my contract. Triin played away on the iPad and watched me work. In the late afternoon Steffen made a move for the airport to go visit his wife in the UK and left Triin and I alone for the weekend.

It was nice to have a day coding away, bantering with a good mate and listening to music on his impressive sound system. When he left it felt like Triin and I had a home of our own for the first time. The places we've stayed at and are staying in right now feel like very temporary and not personal at all. Steffen's put a lot of effort into making his flat his home.

We decided to catch a train down one station to Delft for dinner. Delft is little town just south of Rijswijk. Little did we know that it ended up being the gem of our trip. It was beautiful, everyone spoke good English, it had a wonderful feel to the charismatic streets and canals and the restaurants we ate at there were some of the best I've been to all year.

At one point we saw a British guy and his partner speaking out of a second story window giving a house guest instructions for getting in. I was envious that the guy had gotten himself sorted in such a nice place.

After dinner and a stroll around Delft, we headed back home and watched some bluray films off a 2.6 meter projected screen. The movement in the films were so detailed, it looked like we were watching them in fast forward. The flat was warm and cosy and both of us felt like there was no where else on earth we'd rather be.

Saturday we did a big walking tour around Rotterdam. We had booked a boat tour but they said they never got our booking and didn't have any seats left. In a shop I came across one of the first persons I've ever come across in Holland who couldn't speak in English or German. It was a checkout lady in a super market. I asked her first in English and then in German if she could break the five euro note she gave me as change into five €1 coins. The other customers in the queue looked at her in disgust as she stared at me blankly.

Sunday we headed up to Amsterdam. We bought some boat tickets and then had an hour to walk around while waiting. I took Triin down the alleyways where hookers stand in windows advertising themselves. We saw 10 obese women of African decent standing or sitting in their underwear and about five skinny and hungry-looking Macedonian girls tip-toeing up and down in anticipation. We were both surprised any of them made a living at what they were doing.

The boat trip was really nice. I'd never been on a canal cruise in the Netherlands before and a lot of history and explanations around the architecture were given.

In the evening we headed back to Rijswijk and bought some Chinese takeaway.

Two things I wish I had in Holland are (1) a local bank account with a maestro card so I could buy train tickets without having to use coins and (2) a 3G sim card as often information online is more detailed than information in train stations.

Triin is really keen for us to move to Holland so I'm going to need to think about finding a contract there next Summer or Fall. I met more Dutch people than just about any other nationality traveling around this year so perhaps I could make more use of those connections.


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