Thursday, February 5, 2009

bicycles and other things.

I am writing from Holland! At the moment it is Thursday morning; we arrived on Tuesday night. It is so beautiful, I've completely fallen in love with the place and it's wonderful here. I wish you were here and I could show you...

I've never travelled overseas before (well, not since I came here at three months old--apart from that the furthest from home I've ever gone is Darwin, a few weeks ago). The flight was long and I don't fly well, so I felt ridiculously unwell from Singapore to Frankfurt and only slept a couple of hours out of the thirty-four we spent travelling, but it doesn't matter. I have to say it makes all the difference to be flying with someone as well, which I've never done, and it's been nice so far to spend more time with Dad in a different way to usual, and for him not to be really busy, and to be here where he grew up and meet his family, and all that. On the flight I'd been looking forward to having so much time to read (I have a few books, most notably Ulysses, to make a dent in before second semester) but being unwell I watched a few films instead. The highlight was getting up a few times and seeing my first glimpse of European cities by night: Warsaw was the first I think.

We arrived in Frankfurt (this is where the amazing flight deal was to) early in the morning, and a few hours later caught the 300 km/h train to Holland. The little towns just outside Frankfurt are simply gorgeous, and there's so much that is lovely about Holland and how country-like it is all the way through that makes me wonder why my dad ever left. You should see the little houses! They look friendly, and so many of them look very farm-like and old-Dutch. There are dykes and canals and everything, and so many horses and such here as well, which reminds me of when I lived in Kellyville for a few years when I was very young and it was still completely rural (my favourite place I've ever lived)--except that here their paddocks are full of snow! I really love so much about Australia, and of course that's where family and friends are, but apart from that I could definitely live in Holland and will really be sad to leave. It's cold at the moment, and the colours, particularly the greens, are much less saturated than at home, so I can see how it may be a sort of grey place to live in constantly, but for me it is just delightful and home-like and so beautiful. I took a few pictures from the train, but it was so fast that most of what I've seen I haven't yet caught on camera. Anyway, taking the train much of the way across the country before even stepping out was a nice way to arrive there, and I definitely recommend this.

After changing trains twice and sitting next to some really sweet Dutch students who had a good conversation with my dad, being asked directions in a language I didn't know, and finally getting to the place where my auntie was going to pick us up, we found that she hadn't yet arrived so I had a bit of a wander in the nearby stores, including a little florist's shop. Then we went home and I met my youngest cousin from that family, Marjolein, who is fourteen and so still lives at home, as well as my uncle and the hamster and the two cats, and I stayed up as long as I could and then slept. So I woke at about half past five the first morning, and I opened the curtains and everywhere was snow. I've never seen snow before, and I think a part of me has now been found at last :) I love being here.

Yesterday Dad's sister Marion took us to Heusden, a very historical little place with windmills and little old streets, and I so admired it. It feels strange that this is my first time seeing streets and places like there are here, because in a way they are a big part of our awareness of our history and where we're from--for me anyhow. It feels more familiar than strange, though also very first-time-exciting. So beautiful; and I'm such a tourist! On the way we went past their old childhood house, and it started properly snowing and it was just good to be there. We also visited the store where Dad and his friends used to hang out. I have learnt a lot about him. Marion is his youngest sister and they share a lot in common, so their conversations about life (old and recent) are interesting to hear.

Then we went to the best pancake house, and I had this amazing, big pancake with salmon and bree, while they had apple and cinnamon ones (the cinnamon here is good); then we walked around a little more in the town and the snow. The temperature was a bit below zero, but surprisingly it doesn't feel that cold here. I'm actually really liking it (though this could be because I've escaped the current heat wave in Australia). I'd love to live here for a while.

There's so much more to tell, but for now I need to get going again as we're about to go out. Last night I also met my cousin Linda (who is twenty-five) and her boyfriend Sven, and that was really fun. I can't believe I have all this family who I've never known, and I wish the world were so much smaller. Anyway, it's good to be here. Today Dad's sister is taking us somewhere, I can't remember where to, so I need to finish getting ready for that. It's also my uncle's birthday, though he and M'lein are both out at the moment. I'll write more properly, and also post some pictures (I have lots!), when I can.

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