Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Amsterdam: The First Week

I guess I've never formally announced it on our blog, but we're living in Amsterdam for 6 months.  (It started out as Dublin for a year, then switched to Amsterdam for a year, and is now Amsterdam for 6 months.)  We just got here on the 24th.  Cam is doing an international rotation for work (Dell), and we couldn't be more thrilled for this opportunity!  It's been a long time dream of ours to live internationally, so this is perfect. It has been quite the week!  Things are so different here.  Especially with a baby.  It makes you realize how convenient the US is.  But it's kind of fun to adjust to a more "no frills" lifestyle.  Anyway, here are some highlights so far:

The Good

  • Andy was amazing on the flights!  Amazing!  I had anticipated the absolute worst, so this was a lovely surprise.  He slept like a champ for about half of it and was somewhat easily entertained for the rest.  No complaints here!  
  • Our hotel is super nice.  We've stayed in a hotel this week until our place is ready to move into tomorrow.  (Tomorrow...Yay!)  It's a great location and the staff has been amazing.  And it has a delicious breakfast we'll miss dearly.
  • The hotel chocolates.  I steal extras off the maid's cart every day.  (I think I inherited this maid cart stealing from my mom.  I swore I would never do it, but here I am with ten extra chocolates.)  
  • We went to visit the area our house is in, and we love it.  It will be so nice!  We wanted to stay downtown; I don't think we realized how downtown this place is.  Right in the middle of everything!  Some pluses: Seriously, I'm a few doors down from H&M.  And there are about three other H&Ms within a ten minute walk.  Can life get any better?  I'm also a few doors down from an awesome gelato shop.  Also, three doors down from the most famous fry shop in Amsterdam.  Also, we're one street away from a huge shopping street.  Again, can it get any better?
  • Speaking of H&M, I love their kids section.  And it's not picked over like Salt Lake's! 
  •  Amsterdam is beautiful, with the canals, the bikes, the cafes, the architecture...seriously beautiful city.  It's the perfect city for us and I think we will love it here.  
  • We made it to church Sunday.  (Just to the last 30 minutes.  Long story.)  That was so nice.  The familiarity was so refreshing.  Everyone was so nice.  We can't wait to go back next week.  It's about 30 minutes away by tram, but maybe we'll bike there from now on.  Sacrament meeting is in dutch, but we listen in English through headsets.  They have an English sunday school class, which is cool. 
  • We've done some fun things so far.  Lots and lots of walking, which we've loved.  It's been so cool to see everything.  We went to a really cool museum on Saturday called Museum Ons' Lieve Heer Op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic).  It's a house that houses an old Catholic Church in the attic.  It was built when Catholicism was banned in the reformation.  That was fascinating.  We're excited to do more of the bigger touristy things; we want to go once tourism season ends in a couple weeks to avoid some lines.  We also walked through the red light district for a minute on Saturday.  Saddest thing I've ever seen.  I don't know what I was expecting, but it was way worse than I thought it would be.  There are no words to describe it.  There are definitely some seedy parts of the city we'll be avoiding.  (I am already so sick of the smell of pot. I haven't smelled so much pot mission. Ha.)
  • We're so excited to start travelling!  We've made our list of destinations and we're excited to get started in the next week or two.  First up: Paris!  
  • Cam has spent a few mornings at work and already loves it.  He gets to ride his bike to work, which he loves.  Everyone at work is super nice.  And the hours will be amazing.  He says they all get in between 9-10 AM and leave promptly at 5 PM.  Europeans have it right!  
  • We got all our immigration and settle service appointments figured out, which is good.  
  • We're going to get bikes in the next few days!  It's so cool: everyone bikes here.  (Even girls in skirts and heels.  It's amazing.)  They have special bike paths.  They even have special seats for little ones like Andy.  
  • I was kind of nervous about the language barrier, but seriously everyone speaks English.  It's really nice.  We'd heard that people speak English better here than any other European country, and I think it's true.  

The Bad

  • Jet lag has been rough.  Luckily I *think* we're through the worst of it, but wow.  Jet lag is rough enough on its own--but when you and your baby are jet lagged, that's a whole new story.  Andy's used to a pretty structured schedule so it's really thrown him for a loop to have his days and nights swapped.  Long story short, we're up a lot in the middle of the night.  Thankfully, I think he's finally getting adjusted!
  • Staying a hotel with Andy.  Good heavens, we are ready to move into our apartment.  We're really trying to get Andy's schedule set up here, so it pretty much means Cam and I sit in the dark during his naps (3 hours during the day) and at night, starting at 7 or 8.  We can't use the bathroom (Andy's crib is blocking it), we can't leave, we can't really hear the TV over the sound's super annoying.
  • It's been tricky trying to get food figured out.  The first couple days were rough, but I think we've got it figured out better now.  Because we've been in a hotel, we pretty much have to eat out every meal.  I'm not a big fast food fan in general, but it's hard to find other places to eat that are conducive to a baby. Basically, I've gone to bed hungry every night.  It's also been really hard to feed Andy.  He's really hard to feed when he's not in a high chair.  He just wants to run around and play and doesn't want to be held.  It's also hard to find food he wants to eat.  A couple days in we bought some bread, peanut butter, yogurt, etc.  That's helped a ton!  And it will be amazing to get into our kitchen! (Have I mentioned how excited I am to get into our apartment?)  
  • It rained a ton for the first couple days we were here. But it's beautiful now!  It's a nice break from Texas heat.  T-shirt and jeans weather=amazing.  So I guess this should really be on the "good" list.  
Anyway, we are loving it here.  Even the "bad" list of things already has improved or should improve significantly once we get in our apartment.  It's definitely an adjustment, but this is such a great opportunity to experience a culture different than our own.  We feel so lucky!  

At the airport, right after we landed. 
Andy on the way to the hotel.  Don't judge us: we couldn't get our carseat put in right, and supposedly this seat converts for someone his age?  He looked so grown up in it.  Don't mind the strange outfit, someone had a blowout.
Dam Square 
Typical street here.  So pretty!

He's been such a trooper!  Good thing he loves his stroller so much.

The street we will live on.  So cool! Yes, no cars.  Apparently the movers are planning on parking a street away and lifting boxes through a window.  And they're acting like that's a totally normal moving practice. ?!
Our place! We're interested to see how it will work, because you can't really see our place from the actual street.  Maybe the door on the street takes us to some sort of courtyard where you get this view?  We'll see.


  1. I don't even know where to begin! This looks and sounds amazing. I can't wait for you to get into your apartment! You chopped your hair?! It's so cute! Andy looks so big, I can't believe it! I'm excited for your upcoming adventures and trips. Hope everything goes smoothly the next few days. Looking forward to more pictures!

  2. So fun! What an adventure. I remember seeing all the houses with moving hooks in Amsterdam, so I'm guessing it is a common practice to hoist everything through the windows. But I thought it was weird then too. I hope you take pictures of it actually happening.

  3. I'm so happy to hear about how you're doing! It all looks amazing!!!!! It sounds like it's going to be such a neat experience. Just the fact that you can pop on over to paris is crazy! Andy looks SO grown up in the carseat picture! holy cow. I'm excited for you to move into your apartment :) miss you guys!

  4. I hope you blog a lot while you are gone! I love hearing all about it. What a lifetime dream!

  5. Yay I've been waiting to hear about how you're doing! Andy is just the best, I miss his happy greetings on our walks. He is going to be quite the experienced 1 year old after this 6 months. That is crazy they will move in through the windows! I can just picture Andy toddling down your street, so much fun.

  6. This is so exciting - good luck! If you manage to make it over to England, we live just outside of London now and you're more than welcome to stay :)

  7. Looks amazing!! I hope you guys enjoy your 6 months there!

  8. i love seeing another family braving the world of travel and international living with a tot! there are certainly sacrifices to be made when doing it all with a little one, but it seems to make everything more special and meaningful too. :) we're headed away for a few months next week and i'm feeling anxious, but your post made me feelmore excited for some reason.

    1. Well, I don't know how you do it with TWO!? That's incredible. :) Where are you headed to for a few months?