NS can kus my butt!!

26 02 2009

My trip home start off pretty uneventful, I got a ride to the station so that saved me a 20 minute bus ride.  Then getting to the station I stopped off at AH (Albert Heijn) so that I can pick up bacon, milk, and some other small things img_1648since it’s Thursday and we had our usual… pannenkoeken (pancakes).  Dutch pancakes are a little different then what most North Americans are use to.  In this picture (taken at a restaurant),  I had Brie cheese on my pancake.  But back to the story….

I do my shopping and I head over to the station and take a peek to see which spoor (platform) my train is leaving from and what train I’m going to catch.  Ok… quick NS lesson about the trains…. Intercity means that it goes to the the major cities but skips the small towns along the way, stoptrein means that it hits all the little towns along the way.  So I see that my Intercity to Schothorst is at spoor 11 and is due to leave at 18.01… that gives me 10 minutes to get to my spoor…perfect!   I make it to the platform with 5 minutes to spare (trust me – rush hour at Utrecht Station is like the 401 in Ontario).   All of a sudden I hear the PA system go off and I’m informed the train will be 10 minutes late.  Ok… no biggie… I’m use to that.  BUT…. BUT!!!  Not 5 minutes later I hear another announcement and the 10 minutes have now turned to 20!  GRRRRRRR!!!   And there’s no point trying to catch a different train on another platform, they are all delayed.    

Finally my train shows up and I board, only to have to cram in because now there are twice the amount of people because of the delay.   As we chug and I mean literally chug… I could have walked faster… towards Schothorst I sit back and try to read.   Finally we hit Amersfoort station and wait while everyone rushes like pigs to a feeding trough to get off the train, so that we can continue to the last stop and I can finally go home.   But why would it be THAT easy??  Suddenly another announcement, this time ON the train….this train is going to ROTTERDAM!!  That would be the OTHER end of the Netherlands.  UGH!!  You have to be kidding me, so as we grab our stuff as fast as we can to get off before it leaves,  this time the mad rush includes me and being short in the land of tall I had a couple of elbows and bags jab into me.   Then I have to follow the mass up the stairs and over to another spoor to get the right train home.

At last my train arrived and I made it to my station…. only 2 hours AFTER I got out of work.  But of course my luck didn’t end there… it has to be raining when I stepped out of the station… of course… rain…. cold rain…. cold hurts your face as you bike into it rain….. rain…..


Week one

22 02 2009

I’m still alive… I survived week one of the working world!  I have to say it was nice getting back to the grind and knowing that a paycheck was on the way for me.  I find the toughest part is getting up at 6am and being at the train station for 7:20 a kick in the head some days, but eventually I’ll get use to it and it won’t be such a drag-my-ass-out-of -bed event.  The train ride has become my reading time, it’s nice to sit and read uninterrupted (except for the ticket man) for 30 minutes.  Then another 20 by bus to the last stop on the line, after that I walk for about 5 minutes.  I think the walk is the worst part, they are still doing construction in the area since it is a new industrial part of Utrecht, so it’s fairly muddy.  Also the Dutch love their cobblestone sidewalks and roads, yes they look gorgeous and so European,  but when you are placing individual blocks on sandy soil and it rains here 80% of the time, so eventually the pretty little blocks start to sink and shift and they are not longer even.  GREAT to walk on, especially in heels.   So trudging through the muck and the uneven blocks pretty much ruins the lovely train and bus ride commute.  

The people I have met at work so far are really nice, my boss is a few years older then me and from the US.  So it’s nice that we have a few things in common, it makes it easier to relate.   I’m still in the watch and learn phase of the training, I have been doing a little more each day but according to everyone, this week was really slow with the mail and inquiries.  Hopefully week 2 will be a bit busier.   I need to get in there and do more hands on work so I can see how things really work.  Once I get back from holidays things will land in my lap with a thud since the girl I’m replacing will be gone and another girl will be leaving at the end of April.  

On another note, I’m leaving in a week and a half to head back to Canada for a visit.  I’m looking forward to going home, but I don’t really want to leave everyone here.   I do plan on meeting up with friends when I’m home and have a small family get together.  I also want to get some shopping done and stock on things I can’t get living here.   Costco and DSW are calling my name!!

So on that note,  I have to finish the laundry here and make my lunch for tomorrow.  Oh I forgot to mention, things at work are casual in the dress code, so wearing jeans is not a problem (whoohoo!)  As long as they aren’t full of holes, riding half way down your ass, dirty, or look like they just went through a hurricane.   So I need to invest in a few pairs of nice dark jeans that I can wear to work.   Plus I need to have a few tops that are a little more dressier then every day stuff.  Oh and I need more body wash from Bath and Body….and more shoes….and more makeup…. and more skirts….. and more…………

Employed again!!

15 02 2009

Well I’m now employed again!  Thank goodness!  Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed being home and taking time off from the rat race, but to be honest  I miss the race.  OK and my own earned money.  

The domFor the last month and a half I have been running around the Netherlands by train, bike, and foot.  Going to intakes with agencies and on two major job interviews, both of which offered me a position.  But the one that I accepted is  in Utrecht.  Utrecht is a city of about 300,000 and is the capital of the province of Utrecht.  As for distance, it will take me an hour and a bit one way to get to work.  I have a 15 minute bike ride to the station, then 30 minutes by train to Utrecht, then 20-25 minutes to the office.  Once I get to the last stop on the run, I have to hoof it for 5 minutes to get to the building.   It sounds like a lot to do to get to work, but I’d rather be 30 minutes by train away from home then an hour and a bit by train. 

The job in Utercht will be with a consultant company, which is American owned and deals with English for all of its business transactions.  In one way it is good, I don’t have to strain my brain for the limited Dutch that I do know, but on the other hand I won’t have the practice that I need so I can pass the tests.  I will be in Accounts Payables again, which is fine even though I do prefer Receivables.   The company has a very International accounting department.  Actually the entire company is very mixed and if you are Dutch and working there you are the minority.  The accounts payable department currently has 5 people in it, but I believe they are all part time and all leaving with in the next 6 months.   I will be the only full time person there besides my boss.   The A/P is divided by countries and I will be responsible for certain countries from start to finish.   For the first 3 months I will work under contract with the job agency “The Undutchables”, then hopefully if all goes well I will be hired on by the company with a one year contract (very common to work contract here ).   I am currently entitle to 26 vacation days because it is the Netherlands (yes that is one bonus from this country), then once I’m hired on full time, I will get another 4 days to give me 30 vacation days a year.   Plus of course any public holidays.   But since I’m already using up 15 days I think this year is pretty much a write off for time off.   Also like most companies here in the Netherlands, they will pay 100% of my travel expenses.  Which is an added bonus since the train and bus would cost me about € 220, 00 a month.

I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow, I just need to get use to getting up EARLY so that I can be at the station by 7:30am… yes…. 7:30….. this coming from the girl that used to get up at 8 to be at work at 8:30!!  I will now be the first one out the door and the last one home.   One nice bonus,  dinner will now be ready before I get home!! hee hee. 

Oh for anyone wondering about the other job, it was for adidas in Amsterdam.  Accounts Payables too, but I would be doing mainly expenses for the first few months and then once things were caught up it sounded more  like I would end up being the “do all the other crappy ass jobs no one wants to do” girl.  The building was gorgeous and the atmosphere was very casual.  The hours were extremely flexible so that as long as you put in your 40 hours a week you could come to work anywhere between 7-10.  Sounds perfect right?  Well it was tempting, but after considering the travel time, one hour plus by train and I had to change trains in Utrecht, that was one damper.  Yes the trains are great in the Netherlands, but it seemed that anytime I stepped foot on a train my original one hour trip turned into an hour and a half.  Therefore, having to take two trains it just increases the chances of my trips becoming longer then the original hour.  The slightest thing can throw the trains off schedule,  winds, freezing switches, some idiot pulling the emergency brake (yes that happened with ME on the damn train), a leaf on the track (you think I joke) or the conductor having a bad day and doesn’t feel like going any faster then snail’s pace.  My commute home end up being twice as long.  Plus the idea of becoming the office “go girl” didn’t appeal to me either.  Also no mention of travel expenses being paid, but I would get a 10% bonus.  The bonus even if it were monthly wouldn’t cover the costs of the train travel!!   I get I’m coming in to a new company but I’m too old to be the photocopy person.   So I declined and took the job closer to home. 

So now that I’m going to work full time, I had to change my hours at the school.  Now instead of going 3 times a week from 11-1pm I’ll go once a week for the time being 6:30-8:30 on Tuesdays.  I might increase the time to twice a week later on. 

This is why I haven’t been able to update the blog lately, I’ve been seeing the Dutch country side by train.   

viewNow to back track a bit, a few weeks ago I went to Utrecht for the intake with Undutchables and took advantage of the beautiful sunny day and hiked up the 465 steps to the top of the Dom.    I was able to get some great shots of the city from the top of the tower, once the ass cramp let up a bit and walking was an option again.  I’ve posted more pictures on my flickr site.  The tour was an hour long and the tour guide spoke English for the few English speakers in the group.  The price wasn’t horrible, it was € 7,50 and really I think it was worth it.  The only thing I would change would be the bratty ass teenagers that did the tour with us.  I know kids can be kids, but I don’t recall my friends and I acting like that on our band trips.  They would talk when the bellstour guide was speaking,  spit on the stairs of the tower, oh don’t get me freaking started about  people spitting in this country!!  Actually I’m not even going to bother blogging it, just go to my friend Tammy’s blog and read her entry, she says it all!!!!  If I could have,  I would have gladly thrown them off the top of the tower just to watch them bounce when they hit the street!  But besides that, the Tower is an amazing thing to visit, full of history and wonder architecture.  I would recommend it to anyone that wants to hoof  it up the 465 steps! 

And for anyone from Saxco reading this… Stoney is doing great!  He’s made this house his and he barks when someone rings the doorbell and enjoys the huge grassy field near the house.  Granted now that I’m going back to work, he’s going to be home alone all day (well the cat will be home but they don’t get along).  He’s still my suck though and will wedge his way in between Frank and I on the couch. 

Well I hope I made up for some lost time on here.  I hope to be able to keep up with the blog a little better then what I had in the past, but sometimes life just keeps you busy!! 


Awesome Video!

2 02 2009


For those who understand Italian…have a great laugh.  For those who don’t understand, just watch the video and listen carefully you can get the idea and still have a great laugh!