After a lovely evening of steak and hot whiskey with two of my favourite colleagues, I managed to get 4 hours sleep before my wake-up call at 3.45am. Despite being struck down with a throat infection and having no energy or voice to speak of, I made it to the airport with my two suitcases and a handbag overflowing with essential items like jewellery & lipsticks that would have clearly increased my weight allowance by a ton should I have left them in my luggage! I met my friend J in the queue and we dragged our bags to the dreaded weigh-in at check-in.
The lovely guy at the Aerlingus desk was clearly enamoured by our engaging 4am wit and enchanting smiles as he turned a blind eye at J’s suitcase being 5kg over and generously offered to check in our hand luggage free of charge. Success! There is nothing I hate more than lugging a bag around an airport. After that I had a well deserved americano and boarded the plane, ready for my Dutch adventure and a nap!
The flight itself only took an hour and twenty minutes. I spent the majority of this time drifting in and out of very broken sleep while watching the sun rise through the clouds. We all got through passport control in one piece and picked up our train tickets to Utrecht. My first experience of a Dutch ticket machine and not being able to speak a word of the language. *Click* English please 🙂 Being the complete tourists that we are, we hopped on a sprinter to Utrecht Centraal instead of the intercity train. For those of you not in the know, a sprinter is a stoptrein aka slow train. So what should have taken us 20 minutes actually took double that time! The inspector, taking pity on the silly Irish, put us in first class to our delight. Loving the Dutch people already!
We met my flatmate T at the station and he helped me get an ov-chipkaart, which allows me to hop on and off all public transportation and not look like a complete tourist. We then got the bright yellow tram to our apartment. The apartment. Where do I start with the apartment…
At first glance it is very pretty; heavily decorated with eclectic ornaments from their travels around the world with a big emphasis on Asian inspired decorations. You get the feeling that you know these people personally from they way they have designed their home. They have good taste, as one would presume a gay couple would! They are avid readers. Collectors of popular old Dutch comics. They have good taste in movies. They are overly generous – left us beer in the fridge as a welcome present! The amount of kitchen utensils is a wannabe-chef’s dream. There is a large balcony overlooking a large park. However, when when you inspect the apartment further, you realise that there are a few practical aspects missing; certain things that one may take for granted at home.
Like doors. There are no doors. As in none. Zero. Zilch. The bathroom is as open as can be, with not even a curtain draping over the entrance. One of the bedrooms can only be accessed by going through the bathroom. Privacy was clearly never an issue for the owners and their daughter!
Secondly, there is no wifi. For masters students living and studying in another country, wifi is essential. They have supplied us with one mobile broadband dongle with limited internet usage which is assumed we will share. I can’t see this working. Study and Facebook are as equally important and as students know, are often done on impulse. My iPhone and iPad are also rendered pretty much useless at the moment which is giving me heart palpatations!!
There are also some very low hanging chandeliers that I have constantly been bumping into and hoping I haven’t broken. And you know they are low if a shorty like myself has a problem with them getting in the way!
For these reasons, T and I shall probably be leaving this humble abode on Monday and moving into student accommodation at University College Utrecht that was not offered to any of our classmates before. It even closer to our campus at De Uithof and to the city centre than anywhere else. In addition, it is where I wanted to live before we were given our housing options so I’m looking at it as a positive move.
But until then, I shall enjoy my doorless apartment with it’s dangerously low lights, try to get my voice back, get a good nights sleep and hopefully do a lot more exploring of Utrecht than I managed to do today. I’m sure the city has a lot more to offer than a train station, a tram and a Lidl 😛