Monday, 13 July 2015

Bitten by the travel bug again: Vreeland, The Netherlands

Thursday, July 9, 2015


On Monday Dieuwer and Wies arrive from The Netherlands to start our home exchange. I pick them up at the airport and since it's a late afternoon arrival we get acquainted, have a chat and go to bed.

Wies and Dieuwer on arrival at the airport

During the following few days we check out the surroundings and Dieuwer gets to drive my car so she can get used to travelling on the other side of the road and for both to find their way around.

After I have done my chores and packing we have dinner at the RSL on Wednesday night.  It serves the purpose of having a lovely night out together and for Dieuwer and Wies to get to know some people in the area with whom they can be in touch while staying here.

And finally, on Thursday morning the trip begins. Patricia, with whom I am going to stay in Vreeland for the first six weeks, has already left and we will meet at Schiphol airport upon my arrival.  Dieuwer and Wies drop me off at the Brisbane International and from then on it's just as usual, partial a waiting game in between flights and the long stretches on the plane.

I start with a cuppa at the airport and take a picture of my plane in the early morning sun.

The flight to Singapore is not unpleasant and quite uneventful.  It's a daytime flight, so I don't plan to sleep much, but I manage to doze off a bit. We arrive in Singapore in late afternoon.  I was planning on taking a hotel room during my 8 hour wait, but walking past the 'free city tour' desk I change my mind and book a tour instead.  Haven't been to the city in about 20 years...

I have some time to kill before the tour so I walk around the airport to look at the displays. I would have liked to walk to the Butterfly Garden, since I know there is a geocache that I would like to find, but the time doesn't allow me to travel to terminal 3, so I settle for a cappuccino instead. 

The koi pond

Displays that tell a bit about the history of ceramic and other kitchen items

The title above the heads speaks for itself

Finally it's 5.10 pm and time to present myself at the desk for the city tour. There are more people and we progress through customs quickly to hop onto the bus.  I start to chat to a lady who lives in Fairfield (Brisbane) and as we are both on our own and seem to be comfortable enough in each other's company we're happy to stay together during the tour.  

We visit the site of the 'old' harbour which I don't recognise at all after all the modernisation and the tall, new buildings in the background.

Next we visit the Gardens By The Bay where we get to see the metal tree garden with the super trees. Patricia had told me about these and she'd booked a stop-over in Singapore (on the way back) especially to see this garden.  Now I'd beaten her to it unexpectedly!

The metal tree garden

A huge hothouse in the background

The super trees

Jane taking pictures of the orchids

Orchids of all sizes and colours

After our hot and steamy walk we were glad to be back in our air-conditioned bus. We left a few people behind who weren't back at the bus in time.  I can fully understand that the company can't risk the chance of a bus full of people missing their plane, but I wonder how those poor people managed to get back to the airport.  Possibly by taxi...

When through customs and back at the airport again we felt a bit hungry, so Jane and I went to one of the restaurants and had a noodle dish for dinner.  Later, while Jane stayed with the mobile phone, which was charging, and my bags, I made my way to the Butterfly Garden (since we had travelled to terminal 3 by then) where I hoped to find the cache.  However, by then it was pitch dark and even with the clear description of where to look and what to look for in my head I didn't find the container.  Ah well, it was worth a try.  Perhaps on the way back (IF it is in daylight) I may have another try.

We both had a bit of a rest after that and chatted to some people and soon it was time to part.  Jane waited a bit longer for her flight to Rome and I got on the plane to Amsterdam.

It being a night flight I managed to sleep a bit (Very well, according to the two friendly young men sitting next to me! Apparently I had been snoring, but I'm still not sure if they were kidding. It came across as the latter...) :-)  I also watched a movie: Cinderella.  I had planned to do so, because I missed the movie when it was on in the cinema and knew it would be screened on the plane. After a bit of a chat about their plans for a two-year working holiday in Europe and lots of expectations we enjoyed breakfast and then we were flying over Amsterdam and landed 25 minutes earlier than planned!

When through customs I was welcomed by Wim, Gerrie, Heidi, Pim and Guido!  Wonderful to see and hug them all again and to hold Guido, such a cute little boy with a beautiful smile that lights up his whole face.

After having been welcomed with a big bunch of flower we went in search of Patricia who would be waiting at the Meeting Point in the Arrivals hall and yes, she was there.  Wim and Pim would have to go to work but found time to have a quick cuppa with all of us, so we sat down and chatted away for a while.

Wim's welcome back
Picking up Patricia at the Meeting Point

"And who may that stranger be?"
"Hello Patricia"

Getting to know each other
Having a wonderful time with a cuppa
All too soon the time had come for the men to go back to work and for us to find our new home for the next six weeks.  Heidi took us to Vreeland where she dropped us off and then we were in our 'home away from home'.

We unpacked, familiarised ourselves a bit with our new surroundings and sat down to let it all sink in while admiring all the welcome gifts:

Later in the day we had to go out for shopping and so I found the keys to the car and we drove (yes, on the right side of the road!) to the shops in Loenen aan de Vecht.  We got lost just a little bit, but didn't mind at all, because this is such a beautiful part of the country, there is much to see and it's all so green...

Being familiar with this particular supermarket it was easy to get what we wanted, although I had quite forgotten that one doesn't bring the fruit and vegies to the chekout without pricing and labelling them! Ooops, quickly weigh and label while Patricia chats with everyone around her and make them forget that they are waiting for me to fix up a few things! ;-)

Next we relaxed a bit in the sun, as it was such a beautiful day, and had dinner at a respective hour.  As it's summer and still light we took out the bikes for a short ride.  Our seats were too high, so we were back in a tick to make some adjustments.  Riet from nr. 9 walked past with a friend and came over to say hello.  Next we had to knock on the door at the next-door-neighbour's house, as we couldn't find the tools for Patricia's bike.  Arend came out and helped us and was happy to chat away with us in English as his mother was from England, he told us, and therefore he could speak the language.

We went for a (very) short ride to the river Vecht and back, as Patricia is not quite used to riding a bike. We admired the houses (or should I say mansions) along the river, of which we would see many more in the coming days.

As the day had been a long one, as it generally is the case after a flight from halfway around the world, we had an early night and luckily: a good sleep.

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