It is hard to learn a new language at 45 years of age. Especially when all of the locals want to speak English (why I don’t know). In Germany, I had to learn German, while most Germans spoke English it was easier to break ice if I spoke Germany.
Now that life in the Netherlands is mostly settled and routinized, I decided to start learning Dutch. I am starting with Rosetta Stone . It is new to me. Most of my education from learning a foreign language including German involved textbooks, classes and lots of red marks across my assignments. Yes I am a slow learner.
I am enjoying the program, I spend about 30-60 minutes every day going through the lessons. It has been fairly intuitive matching pictures with words and using context to understand, but I feel like I am acquiring basic knowledge that I did not get in a traditional class.
Even more exciting the terms coffee – koffie and bicycle – fiets are already in the second lesson a huge motivator.
I think Rosetta Stone will help me learn enough that I will be able to communicate in a day to day basis – shopping, touring, eating out and basic conversation with the neighbors.
I know the more Dutch I learn to more I will enjoying living in the Netherlands for the next five years.
Last week I received an e-mail from long time friend and bicycling buddy that he would be in Germany flying in from WV, USA and planned on coming to visit me and Crystal for a couple of days.
Last week was pretty tough to get out and about. It basically rained during the day and stopped only at night. The one time I did get out, I got drenched. The weather reminds me a lot of where I grew up, Portland, OR. The gear that I own basically for bicycling is targeted for living in the Oberpfalz of Bavaria where I lived for the last six years, with its three weather options: bitter cold, bitter cold and wet, and warm. Warm for me in Bavaria was 45-50 F weather that feels hot because of acclimation to the bitter cold.
I have been working and ordering new gear that is lighter weight and water resistant, so I can get out and about. I have greatly appreciated the recommendations from “All Seasons Cyclist” in targeting my gear search. When the gear arrives via APO (US Army Post Office), life in the drizzling rain on bicycle I think will get better.
The rain did break on Sunday, so I was able to get out and about. Early Sunday when I was out riding/exploring I found a cute town called Wijnandsrade, Google Translate gives me the idea that it means wine country. On the south end of town is a castle Kasteel Wijnandsrade. The castle is pretty cool. On the grounds is a cafe Chateau Gilbert. I was out too early in the morning to check out the cafe.
On Wednesday, I rode back to Kasteel Wijnandsrade and Chateau Gilbert for more recon. The castle grounds are gorgeous with a castle, moat, several gate house, bronze statues, and ducks. It is quite a find. I have a feeling it will be a nice afternoon destination for Crystal and I to pedal to.
The castle appears to be a family agricultural products business selling locally produced wines, jams, and spices. The cafe appears to use the local products in the menu and it has outdoor seating. There was an older lady working the cafe/store. She didn’t speak a drop of English. (Note to self: I have got to learn Dutch). So I wasn’t able to communicate well. She resorted to speaking French to me. Not sure why, but I smiled and ordered a coffee from her. When it came, the coffee was great! more than espresso by volume but less than a cafe americano. In previous travels to France from past experience I would call it a cafe creme. Yum!
For me this place is great. It is a triple: bicycle destination, indoor/outdoor cafe with great coffee and on a castle grounds.
On Sunday I had both my GoPros on my Bike so I was able to get some good footage of the the castle and on Wednesday I brought my Canon EOS 60D to take pictures.
This is the video I cobbled together. It is a little choppy because of the cobblestones (stabilization did a little of mitigation through iMovie:
Today I ran out of coffee beans for my automatic coffee maker. While living in Germany, I knew where to get good quality coffee beans. In the Netherlands I haven’t a clue. Our local DECA (Commissary) only has ground coffee, so I don’t even have Starbucks off the DECA shelves until I can figure out the places to by good espresso beans.
Actually one of my great motivators to bicycling is finding cafe’s, coffee shops, local coffee bean sources…..
So, I pedaled over to the local grocery store C1000. Not surprisingly it decided to start raining on my ride over.
I am not sure what a C1000 it would be equivalent to in the States. In Germany it is like an Edeka. In essence it is a basic grocery with fresh produce, bakery, in store butcher and simple food goods. They also have some coffee.
The coffee shelf in the store is dominated by pod and instant coffee (blech on both). There is a limited coffee bean selection.
The choices are limited to the C1000 brand and the brand Douwe Egberts. Douwe Egberts is a Dutch brand, I see their advertisements on local Dutch TV and I would equate them to like the German brand Jacobs. Most of the coffee shops I have visited are serving their coffee in the Netherlands.
Douwe Egberts offered three types of beans, Rosso, Dark and Extra Dark. The packaging did not say the mix of Arabica to Robusto just some grading on the roast (pictured on the right on the bottom of each package) and some adjectives to describe the the taste. Not reading dutch I not really sure what to buy, so I bought all three different kinds.
Tomorrow I am going to try the red package “Aroma Rosso” described in Dutch as “Evenwichtig & Rond”, Google translate says that means “Even and Round” more likely I would guess it means balanced and smooth.
I guess my new goal in my rides is to find a good local source for coffee beans.
We have been in our house for about ten days and it has been a fast and furious ten days. Here is what has been going on around the Bailey house:
1. Driver Licenses. Took the course and passed the exam for a NATO License to drive in the Netherlands. This is one of three licenses we will end up getting. The next is tomorrow when the VW Toureg is registered. When we get the registration we will also get licenses so we can drive the vehicle. Finally once we get our resident’s cards (a four week process) we can then initiate the process for Dutch driver’s licenses. I thought the DMV’s in the States were a pain….
2. Telephone, Internet and Television. Apparently these are all mixed together. The general rule is if you are not a Dutch resident with a telephone number you cannot have telephone, internet and television at your house. This became quite an issue with us severing customer loyalty to T-Mobile and initiating a new relationship with KPN (the national Dutch provider). Of all of the places we went the local KPN office in Sittard (a nearby city) went above and beyond to help us with getting new iPhones, Sims for our iPads and a package for the house that includes telephone, internet and television ( including BBC One and Two and several English Channels). I think our price is more than Germany but in line with what I believe the cost of living is. We are just now waiting for the appointment to connect the house.
a. Fiber Optic. Interestingly the day the packers brought some of our shipment was the day that the Fiber Optic installers were working on our street to provide all houses in the town Fiber. I suspect in about nine months the fiber will be on line for usage. (not sure why it takes so long). In the end it was chaos with ditch diggers and packers swarming the entrance of the house all morning.
3. Packers. 2/3’s of our stuff arrived last Thursday. The other 1/3 is in Antwerp awaiting processing (not sure why – except US, Dutch, NATO bureaucracy slowing things down)
The majority of the furniture, household goods and clothes arrived. We (Crystal and I) have been unpacking boxes like crazy. The Living Room, Dining Room and Master Bedroom are basically laid out furniture wise… Now it is a process of sorting and placing things in their place
4. Crate 14 or the crate that has the coffee making supplies and machine. This crate has not arrived. As it stands I am using a French Press and I realized, I am no good at using my French Press. My skill has been inconsistent at best either making a fair cup to a terrible cup. I think I am going to switch to the mocha machine (stove top Italian style) that Hank Robinson gave me. I used to be able to make a good Americano with it.
5. An inventory of the town as observe in my morning runs and rides:
1 herd of deer across the street
3 Donkeys next door
?? Goats somewhere nearby I have not seen them but I hear them all day long.
2 + 1 Bakeries (one is closed but I think it opens next week after vacation)
1 Grocery Store with local fresh produce
1 Cathedral that has a bell that rings on the 1/2 hour
1 Eis Cafe with great coffee and friendly service.
1 Museum – Going to try and look at it Wednesday
5 Art Galleries – I think the town might be a local Artists Colony.
I went on my first ride to the nearby town of Valkenberg. Just to get an idea of what biking is like here. The terrain is relatively flat with rolling hills. Much easier to pedal in then in the Oberpfalz, Germany with the huge climbs to get to anywhere. The one thing I got in to bicycle traffic. Where I had to pass people. It was kind of nice as the past five years I was basically the only one out and about. Also the cars were very careful of all the bicyclers on the road. I hope that is the rule rather than the aberration for the day.
I guess that is all I have right now. With boxes getting upacked a bit of settling I will have more time to explore.