Just wanted to mention that a friend of mine has convinced me Tumblr is better than Pinterest. You can follow me here and as always on Twitter here. Thank you 🙂
Haarlem is so beautiful. It has a lot of the architecture and canals of Amsterdam, without all the tourists and crowds. Plus it’s only fifteen minutes by train from Amsterdam, so for the price of about $20 return, the two of us can go there and back as a day trip. We have really been enjoying our time here. It is peaceful and quiet and we spend our days like local residents. We shop at the local market on Fridays which is just down the street and cook all our meals at the little dutch home we are staying in via AirBnb. Fortuitously, the owners of the home where we are staying, went away on holiday a week after our arrival, trusting us with their whole house, with access to the kitchen, washing machine et al. Their niece also came to stay after about a week of us being here and she is funny, warm and a nice roommate to share the kitchen with.
We usually go outside during the day and go for long walks exploring the area, unless the weather is too bad (like today). We’ve had a few blizzards and the snow has been on the ground for most of the time we have been here. Being Prairie, the wind here can be really harsh and I’ve had my fair share of wind burn.
On the “what next” front, from here we head to Tokyo. It’s something I have not shared with a lot of people, although it’s not exactly a secret. I just prefer to tell my closer friends and family (and blog readers, of course!) and keep the news from my friends/associates in Japan so that I may ease into our arrival and not get too overwhelmed by people wanting to visit. This trip comes with a lot of anxiety for me. While I know it’s the right decision for us for now, like our first move to Japan, we are starting out on a very tight budget and it will be so until we get some income coming back in. For M, he will be writing and probably picking up some adult evening classes for teaching during some of the weekdays and for me, I hope to teach in the public school system this time, as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). But until then, it’s going to be tough. And yet, I wonder to myself-what’s the worst that can happen?
On a positive note though, I am looking forward to some things about there as well. Far from perfect, I have a lot of sentimental feelings towards Japan and have missed it a lot over the years. When I think about it, sometimes I can’t even believe I will be there in a few weeks time. Will I be culture shocked? Will it be like an old home and feel quite familiar? Will I ever get used to earthquakes? (I didn’t the last time we lived there). Will I get a good job? How will our guesthouse be? Vacillating between these thoughts, and my work on focusing on the present and my current surroundings have been filling my brain. I have been sitting on my cushion every day to help to clear my thoughts and alleviate my stress. It’s helping a lot. Thanks for sticking with me during this next transition!
We spent yesterday afternoon travelling out to Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin to visit the Museum and Memorial Site of the Wannsee Conference. The House of the Wannsee Conference is known as the location where high-ranking German officials planned out the details of the “Final Solution” to rid Europe of all the Jews through genocide. It was a very thorough and detailed exhibition with tonnes of information and very interesting. So horrible to think of the tragedies that were planned out here by fireplaces and with brandies by the elite officials in such a beautiful setting. The area surrounds a lovely lake with magnificent villas all around. So incongruous and such a contrast to the testimonies contained within the building now.
This afternoon was a walk around my neighbourhood and Kollwitzplatz which has a lovely market on the weekends. Kollwitzstrasse named after Kathe Kollwitz has many beautiful buildings and cafes.