Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"I can't take it..."

Why wouldn't she take my card?  It is a debit card after all...  but it's a Visa debit card.  I persuade her to try it in the machine.  No luck - machine rejects.  Argh.  Ok, it'll have to be cash.  Do I have enough?  mmm.  Only just. Gah.  Now I've got to find a cash point... 

Later, I ask the relocation agent what is going on with no shops or anywhere normal taking credit or debit cards...  It turns out that while the Dutch have credit cards, they're not actually credit cards.  They have to clear them monthly.  So, it's a sort of credit card that gets cleared every month.  They do have debit cards, but they're not on Visa, they're on Maestro.  Isn't Maestro for 16 year olds who can't get credit?  I guess not, since it's pretty much the only way (save cash) to pay for stuff in the Netherlands - though I'm sure there are exceptions...  

This difference in how people pay for things reflects the society's attitude to money, and it looks like the Dutch didn't get hooked on credit like the UK.  Which can only be good news.  Unless you have a Visa debit card.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Welcome to Amsterdam"

We're getting there - the living room looks like a living room, and the small bedroom is now a procrastination room.  A room that we've put boxes of things in to sort out later.  

Much later. First things first, Claudia's 'specialized' bike needs to be secured.  In London, this would be a normal run of the mill bike - a bike that thousands commute to their offices on - whilst wearing the latest lycra, bouncing off buses, prickling the pedestrians and cutting up cars.  Here in Amsterdam, cycling is a very different story.  It's commonly known that the Dutch share their wombs wth bikes.  This familiarity breeds a whole number of uses.  In London, bikes are a singular weapon in the war of commuting. In Amsterdam, they're used for pretty much everything - and often modified to suit.   

The couple of pictures here aren't difficult to take - they're images that are so frequently played out that nobody bats an eyelid (see this site - a photo essay on bike usage). Enough photos & surfing - time to get down to the hardware store to get a good lock.  

Thankfully, there's a hardware store nearby, rather than out of town on a ringroad (I'll talk about chain stores later... - no pun intended).  I give the guy some door keys to copy while I browse locks.  There doesn't seem to be your normal run of the mill bike lock - no little U type locks, or little chains with little padlocks - just the gargantuan chains and padlocks normally seen on motorbikes & heavy digging equipment.  Well, I need a lock, so why not get one of these?  The extra weight will keep Claudia fit, and it's better to over deliver - she'll have the best secured bike in the 'Dam.  I heave the lock & chain onto the counter. "Welcome to Amsterdam" the assistant chirps. Job done, I say.

The move

Our belongings were brought succesfully all the way from Kentish Town, and sent up an elevator into our new flat on Van Eeghenstraat.

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It's a long way to the top!

We're settling in ok, though my office 'set-up' has had a slight set back. My lovely desk, had 2 legs removed by the other storage company. The obvious plan to reattach the legs would be easily executable, had both legs come with the desk. However, one of the legs, is still in the UK, and will hopefully be joining us soon. Hope it has a nice trip. ;-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First post

So, I'm lucky enough to go and live in Amsterdam? The place that conjures so many different images for so many different people - the beer, the drugs, the orchestras, the architecture, and last but not least, the canals. let's leave the tulips, clogs and windmills for later! First impression is that the longer you spend here, the more you like it, and the more you see of the diversity on many levels - culture in all its forms. This blog is meant to be a place to capture my thoughts as I progress through the Amsterdam adventure. D.