1. Forgetting when things are gesloten. After ardently declaring how frugal and budget-adhesive I am going to be, I spend 2.5 hours on Sunday afternoon having an epic Skype with my mom. I then go out to buy the ingredients for fish tacos with guacamole at roughly 6:15 p.m. and discover that of the three “grocery stores” in town, two closed at 6 and the other wasn’t open on Sundays at all. None of the smaller food stores are open on Sundays. Based on what’s in the apartment, we could have for dinner: spaghetti with lots of different spices; or, cereal. We wind up going out to eat at a nice Greek restaurant and trying to stretch the leftovers for at least one more dinner.
2. Biking the wrong way. OK, I’ve read that bikes here are supposed to obey all the same traffic laws as cars, but as you can imagine, it does not seem that many people do. A lot of the streets in Delft are one-way on either side of a canal, and sometimes to save time and legwork, I bike the wrong way. Today I was doing this (behind, I might add, a whole group of other bicyclists biking the wrong way) and we all got waved over by a friendly cop who told us (in both Dutch and English) that the one-way rules are for our own safety and we should all remember that. She was so darn friendly and nice that I felt even worse about my law-breaking. (Yes, I have guilt problems.) At least we didn’t get tickets or something. That would really ruin my frugality attempts!
In other notes, Delft has really come alive with the return of college students in the past few days. There are some truly unusual sights to be seen, as we have been told this is the equivalent of “rush week” in the US or perhaps “sorting” ala Harry Potter, where students are joining or being assigned to different residences. On our street there are a few student houses, identified by the appearance of bright posters in all the windows and massive throngs of bikes and young people. (Yes… I have to say “young people” because all I can think when I see these freshmen is how long it’s been since I was there! I keep having flashbacks to August 1999…and they involve marching band camp. Groan.) In one direction from our front steps there’s a courtyard where students worked all weekend erecting some sort of massive stage that is now flashing tons of neon lights, and in the other direction some students have hauled couches and a full bar onto a floating barge that mysteriously appeared in the canal.
This weekend was Jazz Festival Delft, and so all around town outdoor stages were set up. Both Friday and Saturday nights we walked around and listened to little bits at different places, then picked one group we wanted to keep listening to and got a table and a drink at one of the many outdoor cafes. Last night I woke up to the craziest rain we have heard here, absolutely pounding off the roof, and today it’s cooler and the feel of fall is definitely in the air. Seeing the students and wearing a sweater today have made me marvel that the summer is, apparently, almost gone (again!).
The end of summer is always a little traumatic for me (even though I maintain that fall is the best smelling season). Is there anything you’re hoping to cram in before summer slips away again? Any teachers or students about to start back?