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Going Dutch: Hold the whipped cream

Posted October 6th, 2009


We are dreaming about Dutch bikes. After a week that included one flight on a cramped and stuffy plane, followed by an endless string of rich German cakes, we’re definitely feeling our belts tightening. Hold that whipped cream, please. It’s still going to be a few weeks yet before we can be back on two wheels again.

For the moment we are researching our family tree in Wroclaw, Poland. It’s slow going. Every second record seems to have been lost by a succession of disasters: floods, wars and fires.

As we work through the archives, we also take time to catch up with contacts in Holland. Some are very positive – people have been so kind about putting us in touch with others they know in the area – and others are downright depressing. For every person who tells us something good, another warns us about the bad job market, housing nightmares and other frustrations. Still, we resolve to remain optimistic and not worry about it until we can see the situation on the ground for ourselves.


Bike of the Week - 1

Bike of the Week… Here’s a funny bike we spotted in Wroclaw city centre. If you look closely, you can see the pedals are on backwards, so they face into the frame of the bike. It’s totally impossible to ride like this – even if the back wheel hadn’t been run over by a car. Were the pedals the owner’s attempt at stopping his bike from being stolen? Maybe he should have paid more attention to the nearby parking lot….

Websites We Like…  Search the web for ‘Holland’ and ‘expat’ and you come up with a mindboggling array of sites and articles – enough to make your eyes glaze over for a good few days. So we were very happy when Cecilia recommended a look at her Amsterdam Guide with a nice, concise summary of what to do and where to live in the city and even where to stay in the Netherlands when we travel around by bike!

For something more in depth, Expatica is the place everyone recommends and indeed, their layout is also more straightforward and the advice better than most. As for job hunting, we also like Indeed, which pulls results from several sites at once. Finally, there’s Local Heart, Global Soul – the website of the family we’ll be staying with in Den Haag.


No, we can’t share… We might be able to spend 400 nights together in a tent but can we share a laptop? Erm. No. The biking has mostly kept our laptop use to a minimum but even so there were a fair few nights of ‘give me that’ and ‘aren’t you finished yet?’ when we both wanted to do something so today we took the plunge and got a second computer: the Asus 1005 HA-H. Fears of serious marital disharmony (caused by both of us in one room with a single laptop) have now faded and we’re loving the 10.5 hours of battery life. Expect a fuller review soon!

Going Dutch: Making the leap

Posted September 30th, 2009


Welcome to our new newsletter. We hope to put it out weekly, as a glimpse into our lives as we make the transition from cycling around the world to a somewhat more stable life, with luxuries like furniture and constant hot water, in Holland. As we write this, we’re at Halifax Airport in Nova Scotia, just waiting for our plane to take off. We’ll spend the next 3 weeks driving with Friedel’s uncle around Germany and Poland before we arrive at our new home in The Hague. It’s exciting and nervewracking all at the same time but we’re jumping into our new role, sans bicycles, with a big smile and an optimistic outlook. Anyone out there want to hire an IT expert or a journalist??

Arthur, Andrew and Penny

This is one of the hardest parts of constantly moving to a new place… saying goodbye to family and friends. Here’s Andrew with his cousins Arthur and Penny. They’re such lovely people and we’ll miss them a lot so we were glad they came to the airport to see us off on our big Dutch adventure.

Since we’ve jumped off our bikes, we’ve had to make a few adjustments. Here’s what we’ve noticed:

  • Our appetites are still raging! There’s lots of wrist-slapping as we try to avoid ice cream (which we used to eat by the gallon), second helpings of anything and, saddest of all, beer….
  • Our backs are aching and they only feel better when we lean forward into a riding position. Really.
  • We are spending a stupid amount of money. It’s cheaper to travel than stay at home.
  • Fresh Air, oh how we miss you! When we’re driving in the car, we want to stick our heads out the window.
  • Having a bed every night is very nice indeed. This is one adjustment we’re happy to make.

Since we’ve announced our idea to move to Holland, many people have asked us a lot of questions. Here are some of the answers:

  1. Why Holland? Why not? Life’s too short to be boring and we crave new surroundings. We don’t know a lot about the Netherlands so this seems like a great learning opportunity.
  2. Do you have jobs? Nope. But we’re not too worried. After all, we didn’t have jobs when we went to London in 2000 and we had never bike toured when we decided to go around the world. It’ll work out.
  3. Are you taking your bikes? Unfortunately not. We’re too afraid they’ll get stolen in the big city. Instead, we’ll buy Dutch bikes when we get there and learn to ride down the canal paths while holding hands, like the locals!


Here’s the list of things we want to do in the Netherlands, whether or not we succeed in getting jobs there. If we do all this, we’ll consider it a successful trip!

  • Travel to the country’s highest and lowest points. Are there more than 5 meters between them?
  • Understand all the provinces and their characteristics.
  • Learn to speak at least a little Dutch.
  • Become experts in Dutch chocolate, cheese and beer!
  • Successfully ride our bikes down a canal towpath, while holding hands.
  • Skate on the frozen canals (if this winter is cold enough).
  • Do a bike tour of the whole country.