Monday, December 15, 2008

Neighborhood life in the Wyck

The Wyck neighborhood was busy and fun this weekend: everyone was out to do their Christmas shopping and attend the markets.  This made for lots of crowds flowing through the streets and over the stone bridge to the Old City.

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A number of shops took advantage of the shoppers to set up hot wine (Gleuwijn) stations, handing out 3-oz cups of steaming mulled red wine. It gave a nice air to the Saturday morning, everyone standing around talking and sipping and people-watching.

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Most public stairways in the Netherlands have small gutters running through the center or along one side.  The first temptation is to think that these are a microscopic example of the Dutch tendency to control the flow of water wherever it lies.

It’s actually a very practical adaptation to getting bicycles up and over the stairs.

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My apartment, like many in the Netherlands, is centered in a row of older buildings, a mixture of residences, shops, and restaurants.  It’s a different scene than in the US, where homes are typically detached and mixed-use zoning is rare in the suburbs. 

Lying in bed, looking at the aging wood in the dormer of the next building, I had a thought for fire safety.  While the incidence of fires is probably rare, apartments don’t seem to routinely come with smoke detectors, and I think it’s worth a thought to take precautions.

I have installed smoke detectors, keep a flashlight by the bed, and have a small extinguishers in the kitchen. I’ve checked the exits and leave the keys in the front door lock.  Peace of mind, I suppose, but it’s good to be practical and foresighted about these things, while hoping there’s never a need.

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And, finally, a quick tip / link for the day from WikiHow about how to blend in and avoid looking like a tourist when traveling and living in Europe.  A lot of it is common sense but it’s a good collection.

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