June 3, 2008

The best way to celebrate a new job is with a new bike

There is a lot to catch up on in this expat blog, and I know a lot of you that read this are my friends and already know the good news, so bear with me for a repeat: I was offered a job here in Amsterdam! I'm due to sign a contract sometime tomorrow (3 June) so once that has been taken care of I'll write about it all in more detail. I keep thinking of all the ways my life is going to change - I can finally get a bank account! Which means I can get a real phone with a real contract and stop using a prepaid mobile! Little things like that are going to make such a huge difference.

Sometime in the early afternoon this past Friday, I had a bit of an accident on my borrowed bike and got myself pretty banged up. It was my fault entirely - I had been borrowing a racing bike and became way too comfortable with it. I got into the habit of riding three times faster than everyone else, zipping around traffic, and passing people all the time. I was passing someone not too far from my house, and my front tire went right into the tram tracks, and I went down (and a big thanks to the very nice Dutch woman who pulled over in her car to help me up, fix my bike chain, and offer me a ride!). I'm fine and so is the bike, and it didn't stop me from riding around that afternoon or night, but it was the final straw in me riding other people's bikes. First of all, a racing bike is just completely impractical for this city, no matter how fun they are to ride. Secondly, I would have felt way too guilty had I messed up the bike by riding it around like an idiot. If I'm going to ride around like an idiot and mess up bikes, I'd rather be the owner of the bike. And since I spent a lot of time celebrating this weekend, there was a lot - a LOT - of riding around like an idiot (usually with me on the back of someone else's bike, which helped add to my collection of bruises).

This afternoon I went over to De Baron Fietsen & DutchBike Amsterdam on the Overtoom, almost where it hits up with the S100 Circle (close to Leidseplein). It's the shop that rents out the orange bikes, and also sells new and used bikes. My old roommate got her bike at this shop and told me that a friend of hers worked there. I found the perfect bike that just so happened to be entirely put together by that friend, which makes me really happy. It only took me about three minutes before I fell completely in love with the bike (a purple gazelle with pedal brakes) and vowed to always lock it properly and always lock it to something. It's second hand, so it doesn't stand out as being a super nice bicycle (which is a good thing), but it's also in really good shape and has 2 new tires. It cost me 150 Euros, and then I spent about 90 Euros on two locks - before the guy could even explain to me what the difference was in all the locks, I just told him I wanted the absolute best locks they had. If you're looking for a good bike shop in Amsterdam, I really recommend this place - they treated me really well, adjusted everything so the bike fits me perfectly, and the entire process only took about 20 minutes or so. How I love efficiency!

In between all the celebrating I did this weekend, I also visited the Amsterdam Tattoo Convention for a few hours on Sunday afternoon. It was my first time at a European tattoo convention, and while it was smaller than the conventions I've been to in the states, it was set up really well and very well attended. Artists came from all over the world, but of course my friend and I had our eye on anyone who was located in Holland. After circling the room and examining a lot of portfolios, my friend spotted Maaika who I think we both agreed was our favorite for the day (though she wasn't at the booth during the time we made that decision). Both of us are in the market for new tattoos, so finding an artist was a pretty big accomplishment for the day. I said hello to Gunnar, a Swedish tattoo artist (who works at Bluebird Tattoo in Västerås) that I had met earlier in the week, and did a little bit of shopping. It felt so good to know that now that I have a job, I can do things like buy clothes and think about a new tattoo.

I've met a lot of new people in the past few days, maybe partly due to the fact that my roommate left for Rome, so hanging out at home in the kitchen isn't as much fun as it used to be. However, right now that's exactly where I am. The balcony door (which is off the kitchen, at the back of the apartment) is wide open on this warm, humid night. There was an amazing thunderstorm last night, and I'm hoping for a repeat this week. Right now I can hear the wind in the chimes and the trees, and that's all I can hear. No traffic, no car alarms, no screaming, no loud music. This, right here, is what I love about Amsterdam. And I am so incredibly happy that I know I'm going to stick around for a long time.

Edited to add: as soon as I hit "publish" a huge thunderstorm broke out! Perfect timing!


Nav said...

Congrats! You must be pinching yourself every 2 seconds. :-)

Another American Expat said...

I just keep thinking something is going to happen to make this not work! by the way, I enjoyed reading your blog the other day, and thanks for the nice emails. :)

GSimpson said...
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GSimpson said...

I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I am 'another american expat' who has lived in London/travelled all over Europe for 3 years. I am moving to Amsterdam in August (with a work permit thankfully).
I've been debating whether or not I should bring my racing bike there but I think I might follow your advice and go to this shop. I'm also making notes of other places to go shopping and areas to visit! Thanks for the info and good luck.