Anyway, shopping spree. Beedoo! and I don't really have much in the way of... Organization. We have our needs, we express our needs to each other, and then we decide to do something about it one day, and never do. One of those things that we should have been doing a long time ago was buying Beedoo! a bicycle. Bicycles are a big Dutch tradition. We get around a lot on bicycles, in all sorts of weather. It's cheap and relatively convenient, especially if you keep in mind our flatness and cities that were built before the age of modern transportation. Bikes are everywhere, except, until recently, in Beedoo!'s possession.
So, a week or three ago, we went to bring Beedoo!'s books back to the library. After I breached her book fort, obviously.
Then, on the way back (walking), we saw a shoe store and I went: "Didn't you need shoes?!". We went inside, tried shoes, but bought nothing. Then we saw a clothes store with big discounts. I said: "Wait, I need a new winter jacket." We went in, I tried out some things, I fainted from shock when I saw the discounted price of the fashionable jackets, and we bought nothing. Now, however, we had entered a shopping spree from which I am still recovering. We went into a another store where we found shoes for Beedoo!, and I discovered a floor with discounted skiing jackets, of which I bought one as a winter jacket. We'd already bought Beedoo! new gloves. Money poured out, objects poured in, and then we finally decided to tackle our greatest purchasing project yet: the bicycle.
I'll let Beedoo! talk about that particular adventure. As the picture above implies: we succeeded. I don't remember much of the rest of the day. I'm not sure if I was conscious for much longer after that point.
I hate shopping. ;)
Arno's described most of the pitfalls of our shopping trip. I think we've learned to respect the old adage: Never shop downtown. That being said, Arno's awesome new ski-jacket was 90 euros AFTER the 70% discount, so that turned out pretty well for us. He's had one or two opportunities to wear it in the rain... it's funny to see how the water beads up on it.
What bothers me about shoppping here is trying to size everything. It's taken some extensive research to find out that I'm a size 46, which most places don't carry. (There seems to be an exclusive catering in the fashion industry to young people who are very very VERY average. Fuck you, Netherlands, I'm shopping in America.) Shoe sizes are also a step off from American sizes... while I wear 8's in American shoes, here I fit 9 1/2's. Anyway, that was irritating. No wonder shopping is so exhausting!
Netherlands being a bike-based country, there are bike shops everywhere. There are two in the Cronje' shopping street, a block away from our apartment. I tried out a bike from one of them there a while back, but didn't like the feel of the cycle I tried out or the insistent manner of the woman selling them... I specifically wanted handbrakes, and she was quite adamant that they weren't necessary here, and that pedal brakes were quite sufficient. But once you're used to using handle brakes, it's REALLY hard to remember to use foot brakes. It's also, as Arno and I discussed, more insticntive to clench your hands around something when in danger than to move your legs backward on pedals. Plus, I can't stand people who tell me I do or don't need something. No sale for her. We glanced at the other bike shop, but the first encounter with the bike saleswoman took the wind out of our sails, and thus we let the subject be for another few months.
On another occasion, I had noticed a couple of cycle shops by the train station... one catticorner, the other actually IN the station building. Since we were in shopping mode, we looked over the selection at the catticorner shop, didn't see much to our liking (much too expensive, more of a new cycles shop), and went to the one in the station, which had a huge array of refurbished bikes for sale. Most of these were bikes abandoned at the station by their former owners. I picked out two that I wanted to try out, one with handbrakes, one without. I had a narrow hallway (filled with bikes) to ride down, and since I couldn't effectively steer, this meant getting to the end, getting off, turning the bike around, and mostly walking back to Arno, who had by that time caught up to me. I eventually decided for the bike with the handbrakes, even thought the other was in much nicer shape and looked much sturdier (i.e., heavier). It's a dark greenish bike without too many rust spots (some of the bikes we saw there were real rustbuckets), 3 gears, and a dynamo which powers the lights. (Head- and taillights on bikes are required by law here.)
So far, I've ridden it quite a bit. It's made trips to the supermarket much easier on us both, as well as quick trips by Arno's relatives. Our moving radius has increased somewhat, and the bike does save us a lot of time. We also found that the place where we bought my bike rents bikes for 6 euros per day... Arno thinks this will be great for when my parents visit, as we'll be doing a ton of walking as it is. I don't know if it'll be a great idea, given how saddle-pain creeps up on you without you realizing, but I've told my mom that she and Dad need to borrow Andy's bike when he's not using it to get used to riding before they get here. Heck, I'm a couple weeks in with this thing, and I STILL have saddle-pain after riding back and forth from Arno's parents'!
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