Monday, May 30, 2011

I´m in Iceland now and like most people I decided to leave Reykjavík, the capital, over the weekend and go the "families summer cabin". Before I left the capital I wanted to purchase some things and visit a photography show where my friend had pictures on display. So I drove to the store at 10 o'clock in the morning. The door was open and some guy was standing by the register so I walked inside. It turned out that this guy was the owner and he told me that the store opened at he noon. It told them politely that by then I would've left town. He didn't care. Next I went to find the photography show only to find that it opened at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
There are so many people that leave Reykjavík at noon Saturday, to spend a night outside the city limits that there are usually traffic jams on the highways from the city. No one seems to want their business before they leave.
In The Nethelands people get up early on Saturday mornings to go to the store and most are home by lunchtime.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

While riding in the taxi to the airport I was once again amazed at how polite the Dutch are in traffic. The taxi rudely cut of an approaching car whose driver had to really stand on the brakes. He didn't even use the horn.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today Hoofddorp, tomorrow Reykjavik. They don't give me much notice at work before trips. I just hope that the volcano under Grímsvötn will stop erupting soon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It is Monday here in The Netherlands and, as a matter of fact, in lot´s of other places as well. In The Netherlands weekdays don't start with capital letter so it would be monday according to local rules of writing. The fact that it is Monday means that almost all restaurants are closed. I was not in any mood to cook so I found an open restaurant. Tonight I ate Chinese, or Asian takeaway.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

According to certain Mr. Camping the world was supposed to end yesterday at 6 o'clock in the afternoon. Instead at about 6 o'clock in the afternoon Iceland's most active volcano started erupting. Mr. Camping must have made small miscalculation somewhere in his formula. The answer is still 42. But what does 42 mean and how is the formula you might ask. The volcanic eruption might escalate to become the end of the world instead of just closing down few airports, but that is unlikely.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It is starting to really annoy me how many webpages I visit suddenly start displaying all the text in Dutch. Even though I´m located in The Netherlands I don't speak Dutch and would like to use English as communications language. This goes for Blogspot.com, Paypal.com. MSN.com and all other webpages that think they know more about my preferences than I do.
In my job I'm working with so many British people that I hardly speak a word in Dutch. And, even worse, I'm starting to speak with British accent.

Friday, May 20, 2011

If you try you can always find some nice things around you. Tomorrow I'm going to a nice racetrack with my radio controlled toys and play a little. There is one track right at the edge of Hoofddorps city limits. There are few others in near towns. There is one racetrack in Iceland and it is off-road. My on-road car hasn't much purpose there.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I've written many words about the differences between Reykjavík and Hoofddorp. Reykjavík has hills, and mountains in the distance. Hoofddorp is completely flat. I've recently been in Portugal, in Estoril, that is built on a mountainside by the sea and in Switzerland, in Lugano, that is built on a mountainside by a lake.
Of those places I feel safest, in traffic, in Hoofddorp, then Estoril, Lugano and Reykjavík. I feel safest, from being robbed, in Reykjavík, then Hoofddorp, Lugano and Estoril.
The weather was best in Lugano, then Estoril, Hoofddorp and worst in Reykjavík.
The place I´d most like to live in is Hoofddorp, Lugano, Reykjavík and Estoril.
As a interesting side note Casino Estoril is supposedly the inspiration for Ian Flemings Casino Royal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

As an Icelander in the big bad world outside of Iceland I of course try to follow the news from "home". Iceland has quite a few news-web-pages. mbl.is, visir.is, dv.is, ruv.is and so on. They all have one thing in common. They're "heavy", meaning that they have so many advertisements and take so long to load in my web-browser that I've practically given up on trying to use them. This of course means that the owners of the websites, who get paid from the advertisers, for every visit to the website, they actually make less money by putting so many advertisements on their sites.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Price-tags are compulsory in Iceland. If store owner doesn't display prices on the products in the window or on the shelves he can be fined. And if there is difference in prices between the window display and inside the store the customer has the right to demand the lower price. Here in The Netherlands about 70-80% of the products are marked with price and more than once I've seen the same product with 2 different prices in the same store. In Iceland the store has to display prices for whole kilos or liters and each item on the price ticket. This is to make sure that the customer can easily compare prices. In The Netherlands I've seen one product showing the price for 100 grams and another comparable product showing the price for 1 kilo.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It´s been raining today, on and off. Its making me homesick.

I´ve been having some problems with my computer and I went to the Microsoft webpage to ask some questions. A very nice person suggested a course of action for me and suggested that I go to the forum I asked the question on and ask the question there. I feel like Don Quixote, fighting many headed Dragons.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

After couple of months of remarkably good weather, the sun has gone to visit other countries, leaving The Netherlands in kind of Icelandic summer weather. What the English speaking people like to call balmy winds with occasional few minute or second appearance by the sun. Maybe I´m just especially sensitive since the weather was so good in Switzerland last week.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I´m back from Switzerland where I left my heart in a street restaurant near the lake in Lugano. Sitting in a wonderful company under an umbrella in the rain. The weather was wonderful, it was really nice. If I'm nice person I might get a job there. Then I could maybe order Iceland from this menu. I have to learn Italian to fully understand it though. I think this is Salmon with some side-dish.


I´m trying to convince myself that it is a bad idea to move to this place. 25 degree heat and when it rains the rain is warm.


There isn't much land by the sea so they build the houses on the mountainsides. Taxis don't take credit-cards, only cash. I mean it´s Switzerland, the banking capital of the world. People drive to fast. There is no flat land. There are a lot of super-cars, Ferrari's, Porches and Maserati's... All stuck in traffic. Lot´s of traffic lights.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Another break tomorrow, I'm going to Switzerland for work. The Swiss are famous for their cheese, the one with the holes in it. The Netherlanders also like cheese a lot but not the holes. Cheese is one of the Dutch holy trinity. The others are wooden shoes and tulips.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Recently I got a package from USA. This was hobby stuff that I mail-ordered and had delivered. Like I've done quite a few times in Iceland. It was about 300 USD worth, including shipping. The shipping was similarly priced no matter if I specified Iceland or The Netherlands as destination. Which is interesting since Iceland is about midway between USA and The Netherlands. Even more interesting when you keep in mind that almost all mail from USA that goes to Iceland starts its journey by taking a detour through The Netherlands to Germany. At least that's how it was few years ago. But the shipping is not the important part. When the package arrived it came with a invoice for The Netherlands VAT charge, about 45 Euros. To pay on delivery. In Iceland I always have to pick up the package at Customs and show them an invoice from the company that sold the package, which they reserve the right to reject and charge me customs tax and VAT as if the package was worth much more. Iceland customs also charge over 20 Euros for handling of the package or more accurately, handling of paperwork and a sort of service fee for checking what your package contains. In this instance they would also have charged me 10% custom tax and 25.5% VAT. All together over 100 Euros. So shopping from USA is about twice as expensive in Iceland as it is in The Netherlands.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Dutch architecture is an interesting thing. The Netherlanders have many good architects but the traditional Dutch house does not give much scope for creativity. The traditional Dutch house is narrow and tall and quite often leaning sideways.

Like this house in Hoofddorp.



The reason for this problem that The Netherlanders have with true vertical is the foundation of the buildings. Lot of buildings are built on old seabeds where there are up to 100 meters of clay between the building and solid rock. To get semi solid foundation for the buildings The Netherlanders need to drive poles into the ground. They use wood below water level and concrete above water level. Current thinking is that about 40 meters is enough foundation for regular building.
Of course many of the buildings are really old so they've had plenty of time to settle down and start leaning a bit. 
Todays wisdom, not that there has been much of it here, comes from Andrea who planes to teach her kids "carefullness but not fearfullness". Today's children are being smothered, robbed of their childhood and drugged out of this world, by parents who are blinded by fear that something will happen to their kids and don't have the knowledge to handle them. Andrea, I hope you succeed.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I've just returned from Portugal where I was working for a week. It is interesting to notice the differences between the Netherlands and Portugal. The Portuguese are in much more of a hurry when driving, leaving less space between cars and more weaving around in traffic. The Netherlanders are, as I've pointed out few times, incredibly polite and tolerant. There are lots of mountains and hills in Portugal but The Netherlands are, as most people know, very flat. There are many similarities. People of both nations use scooters a lot, and most people speak English although The Netherlanders have slight edge there.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Queensday went off without a hitch. The birthdaygirl did her official duties. Her subjects sold lot's of stuff on this taxfree day. Then they went and partied through the night. I went into Amsterdam and bought an orange hat. That is orange colored hat, not a hat made of oranges. I took couple of pictures, couple of hundred of pictures. I´m so glad for digital camera technology, it is much cheaper than the old film method. In fact I calculate that by now I have about 10 pictures for each dollar spent on the camera. Since 1 out of 100 is good, every good picture has only cost me about 10 dollars. Not everyone was wearing orange, but lot were.

This girl was playing the sax and she was pretty good for her age.

You see the most interesting things when you're lost.

People in Hoofddorp.Notice the large aluminum giant in the background. That's Gunnars ego.

This guy passed me and my bicycle, going uphill and as you can see, he is carrying luggage. 

People in Amsterdam.