The day started off with sleet, then hail, then sunshine, then hail, then rain, then sunshine. The past two days have been the most "wintery" of the season here in the Netherlands, and yet today spring is already a twinkle in a Dutchman's eye. The third Saturday of the new year is National Tulip Day.
We often navigate near motor scooters, cars and their "door-zones," passing through traffic circles and interacting with automobiles regularly. The infrastructure helps, but more than that, the people in the motor vehicles help. Driving education helped them help the cyclists, and in most cases the drivers are also cyclists, so they understand what sharing the road means.
What is amazing about Koningsdag is that the city literally shuts down to give the people free reign. On this day, pedestrians, not bikes, rule the streets. The party spans the the whole city and everything goes. You want to drink beer in the middle of the street (normally illegal), go ahead! Want to set up a BBQ on the sidewalk and sell kababs, go ahead! Want to bring your boom box on the train and blast your favourite tunes in the "silent" car, go right on ahead!
The day of our appointment at the Amsterdam Gemeente (Town Hall) started out rather somber. Although we believed that we would walk out of the building with what we needed, we felt the best results would be achieved by having the lowest possible expectations. As we hurried toward the building, Brian asked above the gusting wind, "Are you ready for the Ge-mental-institution?" I wasn't quite sure that I was.
We went on a Friday evening, when the museum is open late, has live music and serves drinks in the lobby from a bar stocked with a full selection of Van Gogh Vodka and all the fixings for cocktails! The atmosphere really brought new life to van Gogh for me. I usually prefer my museums with fewer people, but I highly recommend this time and place, especially if you're feeling a little bored of the museum scene.
The Expat Centre was fun to get to anyway, and we got to take the Metro for the first time to Amsterdam's World Trade Centre. We went directly in and explained for the upteenth time our situation. Our consultant looked worried and told us she was certain we were doing everything in the wrong order. She went to consult her colleagues multiple times, and ultimately got caught up in the whole confusing catch-22 we had been living for the past three weeks.
It all sounded possible. The plan was to have all our official stuff done or in progress the first week. We knew that the first step was to get BSNs, which are basically the equivalent of SIN numbers back in Canada. We arrived on a Saturday, and come Monday, the BSN was at the top of our agenda. How hard could it be when I am a citizen of the country?
On the bright side, we’re making great headway on downsizing, moving and storing our stuff. It feels really good, and absolutely liberating. Every day we’re crossing items off our list and we can see the light at the end of this very long tunnel. This week we’re going to spend time with family, start moving some furniture and attend a wedding, which sounds like a pretty cool week to us.