13 January 2009



J woke up feeling rather sick – sore throat, blocked sinuses, yuck. This is probably due to a combination of jetlag and long plane flights, the super cold weather, stuffy and overheated rooms, and being surrounded by sick babies and children. Saturday was family day, and so the place was packed. There was something like 150 people at het Zwanewater for the best part of the day. We don’t have any photos, as there was a professional photographer going around and snapping pics most of the day. Saturday night was party night. Some people went to Nes for a birthday, while others stayed in. Most of the slagroom was asleep by 10pm, but the last person got to bed at about 4am.


Sunday was verrah cold! We tried to go and get some flu medication – we caught the bus in the freezing wind into Nes, but everything except the restaurants was closed. It was bitterly cold and a bit rainy, so we abandoned our half-arsed plans to go and investigate another village and went home instead.

J spent some quiet time in the corner editing photos and talking to the various people who came along to watch over my shoulder, then we helped S & P make dinner. D had a rest in the slagroom, then we played card games with several cousins before dinner. A lot of people had left during the day, so the evening was a much quieter affair. Later in the night we looked out the window and noticed it was snowing! A couple of us ran outside in our PJs for a minute to watch it come down in soft, silent whirls.


Some of the slagroom party were leaving on the 8:30 ferry, so the room woke up at around 7am. A small amount of snow had fallen overnight, and it was freezing outside – even the Dutchies agreed with us on that! We had a nice relaxed breakfast, then J followed the lead of a couple of cousins and snuck into the good bathrooms in the tower suites (vacated the day before) for a shower that didn’t involved pressing a button every 30 seconds, and which could be adjusted in temperature to decently-hot instead of only-slightly-above-lukewarm. LUXURY! J felt almost human – a sick human, but human nevertheless! We finished packing and took our bags out, then decided at the last minute to make some rolls for lunch, which meant we were a but rushed and didn’t quite get to say goodbye to everyone before we were hurried into the van and driven by Nico to the ferry. Whoops!

We took the ferry and bus with cousin J, aunt and uncle S & P, and E and F’s family. E answered our questions about the island, the surrounding water, and Dutch culture. He actually owns a windmill (wind turbine, rather than an old Dutch windmill!), and was given a grant to construct it, but now apparently the government has decided that the turbines are wrecking the landscape and so they’re not renewing licences. I find this sad and a bit odd. It’s not like there’s much landscape to see, anyway – it’s so flat! (Joking, joking!)

S & P left us at the train station, so we went on our way to Amsterdam (with one transfer) with Julia. We enjoyed the frosty, icy scenery (and found lots of places where we thought wolves might be lurking!), J had a nap, and a few hours later we went to our hotel and J went to hers. We agreed to meet up later that night for a curry – we’d all been hanging out for some spicy food for days!

We were staying at http://www.wotif.com/hotels/hotel-nicolaas-witsen-amsterdam.html Hotel Nicolaas Witsen, which is on Nicolaas Witsenstraat, NOT Nicolaas Witsenkade, as a friendly local pointed out as we were wandering in a slightly lost manner along the canal. It was adequate, but nowhere near as nice as the Lloyd Hotel, and although there were no smoking signs everywhere the place still had the unmistakable scent of cigarette smoke throughout. However, it was a private room at last, and we both showered and had a nap before we set off for the Indian restaurant Balraj, on Haarlemmerdijk. We were joined by J, her sister A, and A’s partner C (all members of the slagroom), and we were all satisfied with our filling meal. It was maybe not as spicy as we would have liked, but delicious nevertheless (we should have asked for hot curries given that we were dining in the land of bland).

We also had the amusing experience of being told that it was illegal to sell pseudoephedrine over the counter – instead, we got a nasal spray, which works in the opposite way as a decongestant, and also received instructions in Dutch-English on how to use said spray. Fun times! Anyway, we were almost herded back into the hotel by various locals, who were very excited by the idea that it was going to be minus 15 degrees during the night. We missed that, instead falling into a lovely NON-BUNK bed and sleeping. Mmmmm, sleep.

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