Thursday, April 26, 2012

"My adventures in the Netherlands"

So this time last week I was apprehensively waiting for my dad to come and take me to the airport. I was excited about the Development of Executive functions conference and about presenting my poster; and about getting to see the Netherlands. But I was also terrified. People who know me will tell you, I still get lost in the Psychology building at my own university! How was I supposed to navigate a foreign country, when I don't speak the language?

Actually, I navigated very well. My experience was that the Dutch are friendly and helpful, that the public transport system WORKS and is easy to use.

I arrived in Schipol early (my flight was EARLY!!!) and with the help of friendly fellow passengers found the train station. I bought a ticket for Utrecht and phoned my host Annika to let her know when I'd be arriving.

Since I'm a poor PhD student and couldn't afford accommodation for the conference I asked the organisers if they could arrange for me to stay with someone, and Annika volunteered (told you the Dutch are friendly). Annika and Huib picked me up from Utrecht station and were the perfect hosts for my time with them (on my first night there I ate the most delicious pasta dish, which Huib had made, evidently he's a very good cook). They made me feel very welcome in their home, and I hope one day I have the opportunity to return the favour. Annika and Huib have two house mates, the sweetest little Guinea-pigs ever, one of which is also the FLUFFIEST guinea-pig EVER.

These guys were NUTS about cucumber, I mean even just saying the word got them excited!

I had a great two days at the conference, but I'm still digesting all of the ideas I got, so I'm gonna save all the details for another post. Suffice it to say, it was well worth the trip and I have a BAZILLION ideas for papers and things I can do with my PhD.

Once the conference was over, my adventure continued. I couldn't make a trip to the Netherlands without arranging to see my friend Natalie in the Hague. It's roughly a 30 minute train journey from Utrecht, and I REALLY wanted to Nat to take me to Cocomo's. But in true Claire fashion, I managed to time my trip for the exact day that a heavily pregnant Nat went into labour! Undeterred I arrived in Scheveningen determined to get to the beach and find Cocomos. This turned out to be easy, and after eating there I can see why Nat and Heiko like it so much (though I saved having the ribs for when we can all go together).

As I finished my meal, the sun was setting over the beach. Me and my camera headed out for some pretty shots.

As I explored along the beach, I came across these really cool sculptures. They're interpretations of fairy tales, apparently there were QR codes for each one, but I was too busy trying to get pictures before the sun set to notice them.

I really enjoyed my time in the Netherlands, and Gary and I are already planning a proper family trip for sometime later in the year. At least next time, Nat wont be in labour!! ;)