Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When They Give You a Lemon

...go to Delft, of course!

Now back up a minute, alstublieft (please).

A week after Astrid and I got married, we took the 35-minute busride to nearby Utrecht to submit my application for a residence permit.  It had to be put in motion by March 5 or else I would have to leave the Netherlands for 3 months.  That wasn't gonna happen!

There are 9 IND/immigration offices in the Netherlands.  It was a no-brainer for us to choose Utrecht because it was the closest (20 miles away) and the city to which we had gone for several photo hunts in the past two years.  As a college town, it's quaint and charming.  You'd love it.  It took us an hour to submit all our important papers, with Astrid as my sponsor for my residence here.  We knew they were allowed 6 months for their official response, but the lady said it would probably be 1-2 months at the most.  Good.  We crossed our fingers and held our breath.

Many of you saw my post on Shutterchance about how
Once in a Blue Moon you can be so shocked all you can do is howl at the moon.  That day in Utrecht was Friday afternoon.  By the following Tuesday a letter was written telling me I was accepted!

However, I still needed to wait for my ID card to be prepared and ready for pick-up.  THIS is where the lemon comes in!  When I received the letter, I was given the clear instruction to pick up my card in Rijswijk, not Utrecht.  Rijswijk is near Den Haag, 31 miles away, but when you don't have a car, it seemed much farther.  It was one hour by 3 different trains instead of 35 minutes by one bus...and the difference of €14.  Astrid was so spitting mad she actually called to ask why I couldn't pick the card up in Utrecht, where I had applied.  No way, José.  I had to go to Rijswijk.

But guess what!  That famous city of
Delft, home to Delft Blue pottery and Johannes Vermeer, was just 4 minutes by train before Rijswijk, which meant it was also 4 minutes after Rijswijk going home.  It took me exactly 30 minutes to get off the train in Rijswijk, go find the office, take a potty break, pick up my card, and get back on the train before getting off 4 minutes later in Delft...where I then spent 3 hours.

The above church is Delft's
Oude Kerk (old church), the oldest parish church in the city from 1246 and the burial place of Johannes Vermeer.  Its 75-meter tower leans 2 meters from the vertical and is seen here from the Nieuwe Kerk (new church, started in 1396 as the second oldest parish), across the market square. The tower of the Nieuwe Kerk is 108.75 meters, with 356 steps to the top.  YES, I did it!  The only other church tower taller than this in the Netherlands is...guess where!  The Dom tower in Utrecht (112.5 meters), which I climbed with Astrid back in January of 2008.

See what I mean about making lemonade when you're given a lemon!  I have now climbed the two tallest church towers in the Netherlands.  Woo Hoo!  (And someone even threw in a soulful windmill right there to the right of the church at mid-section.  See it?) 

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