Getting into this Dutch thing (2004-02-26 - 8:42 a.m.)
The weather in this country is really bizarre. In fact, I can now understand why all those Dutch people moved to Rocky. It must have reminded them of home. It's the only other place I know where the weather changes so quickly, and even then I don't think it holds a candle to Utrecht. Yesterday, when we got up, it was snowing these huge fluffy flakes. The weird part was, they were falling UP! I stood by the window and squinted at this for a while until Remkes explained to me that the wind does strange things in this town. Ten minutes later, the sun was shining and it looked to be a brilliant day. 40 minutes later, a downpour of hail. By the time we ventured out of the house, the sun was shining with a bit of wind, so we headed to the Markt (market).
The Markt was great, but then I've always been fond of markets. Stalls of clothes, candy, cheese, hats, etc etc etc... I bought some dropjes to send to my bratty sister (who has demanded some: can't stand the things myself, although Remkes tells me it's an acquired taste) and Steph took 15 minutes to order some cheese because she can't pronounce "Gouda" the Dutch way. She tries valiently, though. From what Rem tells me it's more like "hhhOUlda", with a sort of choky noise on the "ou". Almost impossible for us, therefore.
The next bout of strange weather hit as we left the markt, and we wound up in a blizzard suddenly. We took refuge in the bibliotheek, where I was very pleased to discover an English-language newspaper. When we stepped outside, the sky to the right looked gorgeous (blue, white fluffy clouds) and to the left looked ominous (slate-grey, solid cloud cover). So we hastened to the National Museum van Speelklok (the clockwork museum, which makes perfect sense if you think of it alliteratively).
Here we had another interesting time trying to purchase a National Museumkaart. This costs 17 euros (about $25) but allows you admission into almost all the museums in the country for free. As most of them cost about 6 Euros to get in, a very good deal. Unfortunately the English of the counter girl was not good, and our Dutch is nearly nonexistant. We finally managed to get our point across and fill out the paperwork, but the crowd behind us was extremely restive.
This is the main problem I've found with this country so far. I'm developing a complex about talking to people. Most of them, in fact, speak near-perfect English and so it's not a problem, but if they don't it's a long and embarrassing round of pointing and hand gestures that I really don't relish. You should have seen me trying to buy the stroopwaffles at the markt. (As a sidenote, TRY THESE if you can. They're delicious - crispy waffles with syrup packaged right in the middle. You can get them hot at the markt. Very addictive).
At any rate, the clockwork museum was mostly clocks and organs of various types (barrel, fairground, dancehall, plus a few player pianos thrown in). Unfortunately not much fun to look at unless they're doing something. Eventually we joined a tour of about 50 people and roughly 400 hyperactive blonde kids because the guide was actually demonstrating the museum pieces. That was much cooler. I especially liked the fairground organ that played "Que Sera Sera" (which all the Dutch people sang along to) and I've decided I'd like a dancehall organ and the dancehall to go with it! Very cool.
So now that we are armed with our Museumkaarts, we're off to Delft today to see what's what. Remkes can't come due to scholarship applications, but Steph and I should have fun. Depending on the weather. What a strange country.
In other news, I went to a droggist (drugstore) and they gave me some lozenge things that actually numb my throat. Never run across anything like it before, but they're great. I will have to make a note of the active ingredient.
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