Living in The Netherlands - Part 04 - 10 Things to be aware of

There were a few times we found ourselves caught off guard and in situations where we had to think quickly. Consider this an introductory list of 10 things you should be aware of when moving to The Netherlands - especially for South Africans, by South Africans. 

Not everyone speaks English fluently, but just like you, they are learning. Be aware that your mail will arrive in Dutch (if not specified otherwise).

You will be cycling. Everyone does and it's actually quite a lot of fun if you're new at it. Whatever you do, do stay as far right as possible - at all times, walking too.

If you ever find yourself shopping for groceries in South Africa, there will normally be someone packing the groceries into bags. 

Don't be caught off guard like us on our first grocery shopping expedition - in our defense, everything was (and still is) different. Occupied with the groceries being rung up, we never realized our groceries piling up. Your cashier will look at you with an expression saying: "did you think they were going to get into bags themselves?" AND there will be huffs and puffs behind you. Take your own grocery bags or get them at the cashier. 

Oh yes, remember to add a divider between you and the next customer, also avoids huffing and puffing ; )  

Sometimes you might find yourself standing alone at a bus stop and watch the buses you need to be on, pass by. Don't worry, here's a tip: when you see your bus approaching, move to the curb and stick your right hand out so that the bus driver knows your not just standing there. 

Exchanging Rand (ZAR) in The Netherlands is a little tricky. Believe it or not, but they do not accept any notes without Nelson Mandela's face on it. Be careful if you are going to rely on your bank card... your debit and credit card might not always be accepted everywhere. 

You will need to get yourself a travel ticket/pass when using the train, metro, tram or bus. It needs to be swiped when entering doors and/or booms. They can be bought at the stations offices or at ticket machines after hours. 

Being able to use Uber saves you when public transport is cancelled or unavailable.  

You need to buy yourself a really good bicycle lock.
Theft will happen if the opportunity presents itself... as they say.  

The Netherlands is rather fast paced, on time - and people are to the point. Be aware that if your going to be too slow in any aspect, it will be made known of. 

There are 3 meanings to the ring of a bicycle bell:
- a warning of approach *
- get out of the way *
- walking in cycling lane * 
*** followed by huffing and puffing

Living in The Netherlands - Part 03 Pet Passport

Moving yourself abroad is a lot of work (read about that here). Moving a pet is a little more stressful.

Not everyone will agree with my above statement and will rather tell you... "it's not that stressful", "your pet will be fine" and/or "This Jones... she's overreacting"... but let me tell you... when you crunched for time, the best thing you can do for yourself is contacting a pet travelling agency. 

Why spend all that money on a cat?

Why hello dog-person... would you leave your barking fur child behind?
Or if you're the I-dont-like-pets-person, then you shouldn't be reading this article anyway.

Ohana came into my life when I was going through the mid-20s life-crisis. We've come a long way together and I couldn't bare the thought of leaving her behind. I made a promise to look after her the day I adopted her. The "find her another home" thought did cross my mind, but my heart would never allow it. Having her here has helped comfort heartache when homesickness kicks in - and trust me, there is, has been and will be, a lot of it.

When should you start preparing your pet?

Moving a pet is quite a bit of prepping, but can be done yourself. It's important to know that you will need to start a minimum of 3 months prior to your departure. Preparing in time will means you can all leave on the same flight. Read more about what needs to be done in this article.

Travel Agency - Pet Passport

We worked through Pet Passport and I'm so glad we did!
After receiving quotes from a few pet travel agencies, Duncan and his team at Pet Passport were the most helpful and economical company to work with. It was the best decision we made for Ohana. They were absolutely amazing and most importantly, Ohana arrived safely in our arms.

Duncan assisted us with the entire procedure. He was always willing to answer any questions and reassured me on all my concerns. Everything worked out perfectly. They made Ohana's move super easy - worth every penny. They handled all the paperwork (including the docs needed for customs in The Netherlands). All we had to do was pass Ohanas paperwork on from the Animal Hotel to customs on the day of her arrival. The best part was we got to take her home immediately - no quarantine time!

How did Ohana emotionally and physically arrive in The Netherlands?

My biggest concern was not being able to communicate exactly what was going to happen to her. If only it was easy as, "Ohana, this man is going to put you in a wooden crate to keep you safe while you fly half way across the world to meet us at your new home". There are so many horror stories floating around on the internet of how things can go horribly wrong - do yourself a favour and NOT Google it! These occurrences happen once in a blue moon (even though they shouldn't).

After the paperwork was approved, the friendly staff at the animal hotel got Ohana from the back. As she was being carried, she heard our voices and immediately started calling out to us. They put her on the counter, we opened the door of the box and she came shooting out! Ohana was all over us! It was really special to see her recognize us immediately.

Emotionally and physically Ohana handled everything just fine - I was quite surprised. She was a little frightened on our trip home from the airport, but once we got home and opened the doors, she got to roam and was her old self. She was so happy she forgot about all the trauma. The only change was her deep and manly meow - probably from meowing for 11 hours straight during the flight (her poor traveling neighbours). 

Day 01 in The Netherlands : ) 
All in all I would highly recommend trying everything you can to make sure your fluffy friend sees the world with you. There really aren't any words that can describe just how awesome it is being able to have Ohana here and travel with us. It's so worth it.

Nieuwe Bavo Cathedral | Haarlem - The Netherlands

There isn't much I can say about the Nieuwe Bavo Cathedral and here's why. 

I was in awe of the extraordinary exterior and at a loss for words when I saw the interior. My eyes were exploring every part of the Cathedral, every second. I’m going to let the photos do the talking... 

Rijks Museum | Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Rijks Museum is a gigantic museum filled with thousands of art and history pieces. Unfortunately entrance is a little pricey. Worth it?  Definitely!

According to their website there are 611,382 works of art. It spreads over four floors (0,1,2 and 3). Everything about the museum is amazing - the interior, high walls and clever use of holograms all forms part of the endless-eye-entertainment. A beauty overload as my mom says.

There is so much to see and actually too little time. Most of the art I loved was on floor 03. When we eventually got there we were exhausted and a bit upset we didn't start there.
Browsing takes time so make sure to plan your visit before hand. There was quite a bit we weren't able to see, like the famous library, only because we ran out of time. Their website gives you a nice break down of what you can find and maps are available at the information desk.

Getting to the museum is very easy. As you walk out of Amsterdam Stations main entrance, you'll find a tourism information office (front left). Buy your museum tickets here, this way you jump the queue at the museum. The friendly staff will direct you to the tram that travels right down to the museum.

Here are a few personal tips for when you visit the Rijks Museum:

  • Take 50 cent coins - You will be asked to lock your bags up before viewing the art. The lockers are clean and safe, but not free. Make sure you have a few 50 cent coins to lock and unlock the locker during your visit.
  • Pack a Picnic - No food and drinks are allowed anywhere near the art, so fill up those tummy's before hand. For lunchtime head outside, park on blankets and REST!
  • Pace yourself - Be aware that you will be spending the entire day there. There is no way you can visit the whole museum in under 3 hours.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes - Prepare yourself for lots of walking and standing in between viewing. Seating is available throughout, but finding an open spot can be a gamble on a busy day.