Day 2: Mostly mellow, with some nearby "sightseeing"

Nothing too exciting to report as our first full day in the Netherlands comes to a close.. A and I rolled out of bed around 8:30, and slowly began getting ready. We ate some lunch here, and then headed out on foot to take in the local sights (though we’d been warned by U that Utrecht is a pretty residential area). Our fancy “let’s-try-not-to-get-lost” method was to write down our path as we went (i.e., “L on Blahblah … R on Blahblahblah”). After maybe half a mile, we stumbled onto a little shopping area. We spied an ATM, and with bated breath, tried to withdraw money. And we were successful!! So I don’t know what the folks on the Chase help line were smoking last night when they kept telling us that we were using the wrong PINs or what have you — we used the same PINs we tried with the machines at the train station, and everything went through without a hitch. So that huge weight is at least lifted off my shoulders now, though I have yet to try a transaction using my Visa card (which also failed at the train station yesterday). However — turns out that apparently the card machines used to purchase train tickets require some special chip on one’s card, and U, after looking at our various cards, immediately said “You guys don’t have the chip.” So hopefully our cards will work everywhere else, and we’ll just always have to use cash to buy train tickets.

After the momentary high of the ATM success, A and I wandered a bit more around the shops, and went into a grocery store to stock up on some food (U’s cupboards/fridge are a little bare!). I have this newfound fascination with seeing what flavors of chips — mainly Lays — are carried in different countries, after discovering all the exotic flavors you can buy in Canda (the most popular there being ketchup, but they also have curry and I think even dill pickle). And wow, my eyes were bugging out at this particular store — they had probably about five varieties of Lays potato chips, along with five of Lay’s high-end line (the name escapes me now). So I bought a variety pack with little bags of cheese and onion, paprika, bolognese and barbecue ham chips, plus one of the high-end line in Thai sweet chili. I had a pack of the cheese and onion earlier; it was good, similar to the U.S.’s sour cream and onion. A liked the Thai sweet chili better than I did; I wasn’t too keen on the spices in it. Anyway, once I sample several flavors, I’ll have to go back and get full-sized bags of a couple of my favorites, so my friends at work can sample them as well. Oh, haha, and I laughed so hard when we saw that Cool Ranch Doritos here are instead labeled “Cool American Doritos”!

Here are the varieties of Lays I have to sample:

Once we got back, we just watched MTV and read and ate until U got home from work around 6:30. She’s wrapping up a big project, so she did some working from home, and then we ate a great late dinner around 10 (paneer with peas and roti).

We also spent some time tonight trying to figure out how we’ll spend the rest of our days here. A and I are thinking to take one big side trip from the Netherlands, which may be to Prague, as plane tickets are somewhat cheap. The main speedbump there is finding a place to stay that’s convenient, relatively cheap, highly rated/reviewed, etc. Stressful! Anyway, beyond that possible trip, we’ll likely stick to day trips. I.e., tomorrow, we’re planning to head to the Hague. Wednesday, the weather’s supposed to be clearer, so we may head to Amsterdam then (and possibly for a second day later in the week).

OK, going to keep this short, as we’re hoping to get out of here by 8:30 or so tomorrow morning.. more later..

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3 Responses to “Day 2: Mostly mellow, with some nearby "sightseeing"”

  1. I have a recommendation for a great place in Prague… let me know if you decide to go there. We stayed there in 2002 and got a whole apartment to ourselves, and it was $13 each for 3 people. Might be more now, but still… you should check it out. Just remember that's the one place I had a pick-pocket attempt!! (On the bridge.)

  2. (Eastern Europe is way cheaper than Western, FYI.)

  3. That would be awesome, Johanna! Send it on over to my Hotmail address (which I think you have?). We hope to hash out those prospective plans tomorrow (Wed.) night. My cousin also said Prague can be a bit dangerous, so we'll keep your warning in mind — even when not on said bridge :o)Glad to hear it'll be a bit cheaper out there!!

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