We made it! We arrived in Delft on Tuesday morning after one of the more seamless overseas journeys I’ve had. Our flight was on time, our bags weren’t lost, and we found the train to Delft. I nearly broke my back violating one of the top rules of travel (DON’T PACK MORE THAN YOU CAN MANEUVER), but I think I’ve recovered. When we arrived in Delft, I waited at the train station with the copious luggage while Tim went to find the office to pick up the keys to our temporary apartment. I half expected something to go wrong because our communication with the housing agency had been spotty, but he returned with keys and having already visited the new place. “I think you’ll like it,” he said.
Liking our current apartment is an understatement! We’re in a classy old building furnished for guests of the university, and the street, the views, and the interior are all quite nice. Right now I am sitting by an open window listening to bells ring from one of the nearby churches, smelling floral aromas from the garden below, hearing swatches of Dutch but not much else. The air also smells faintly of the sea, reminding me that although we haven’t seen it, we’re not far.
I’m sorry to anyone I’ve ignored over the past few days; we didn’t have internet until yesterday. Or, rather, we had it, but couldn’t figure out how to get on it until a neighbor showed us. It was a strange feeling arriving with no phone, no internet, no way to contact anyone other than the regular post. In Delft, of course, I don’t have anyone to contact anyway… but perhaps that will be rectified at some point.
Tim’s and my experiences have been quite different so far. He goes to work all day where people speak English and work on scientific problems, his area of expertise. By the time he leaves, shops are closed (most close at 5PM, or 17:00, as they say here). I on the other hand have spent the last several days wandering aimlessly, trying to locate places to buy things we need at our apartment (anything from dish soap to milk to ibuprofen to a fan) and then trying to buy them (involving puzzled reading of signage to figure out price, pondering if said price seems just, clumsy counting out of Euros, then carting the objects home and up the ridiculously steep stairs in our building). I forgot how many little things you need to get started in an apartment… groan.
It’ll definitely be easier when we get our stuff delivered from the movers, but that won’t happen until we get a “real” apartment (we have this one until September 1). Today I think I am collected enough to begin that search, although it’s a little daunting and much more like buying a home in the US (which I have not done). You have to get an agent and then they make appointments for you, or something like that. O Craigslist, how I miss thee!
I got a Dutch-English dictionary on Day 2 because I was already tired of feeling illiterate. It seems that although everyone here knows basic English, when you try to ask more specific questions, the barrier comes up a bit. I haven’t had any major problems or miscommunications (one slightly awkward moment in a store yesterday when I gave up and had to ask someone to help me find feminine products) but I’d prefer to talk to people rather than just smile big.
Delft is beautiful and very summery right now—mostly in the 70s, lots of people walking around (tourists) or biking (locals). (We hope to buy bikes this weekend.) It is light out until nearly midnight, which is surreal and not helping my jet lag, but very fun. Last night we took a walk around 10PM and it felt more like 7 or 8. People stay out at cafes well into the night. The highlights so far have been (of course) the World Cup semifinal and the flower market I found yesterday. Here are some relevant images (it’s about 10:30PM in that first picture!) :
Perhaps this is sort of a ragged summary of our first few days. It’s a little overwhelming right now, but so far in a good way!