Expat Chronicles: Our Neighborhood
Thank you for your questions about our life in The Netherlands. I love writing about these new experiences, and it will be fun to have this record. On your suggestion, here is a little tour of our neighborhood!
Our new home is located in a short cul-de-sac. When you turn off the main street onto Loobrink, you’ll pass a short row of parking spaces before turning round a circular drive and returning back to the main road. All of the townhouses on our cul-de-sac face the circular drive and the playground nestled in the center.
From our kitchen windows we can see the children playing in the sand or riding bikes around the circle. The kids tend to come out front when they notice other children about, so the cul-de-sac can become quite a lively place. Elora has already made a friend just her age. They like going up and down the slide together, over and over again.
Not far from our Loobrink cul-de-sac is a somewhat busy roundabout. This shot is taken from my attic sewing room, to give you a better view.
Roundabouts are ubiquitous in our Dutch city. I love how they keep the traffic flowing, especially for bicyclists, to whom the cars must yield. From the roundabout, one can travel south toward our Loobrink cul-de-sac or a few minutes farther, to the Dragonhart nature preserve where this photo was taken:
East of the roundabout is a handy shopping center, just 3 minutes by bike from our home.
Going north from the roundabout you’d pass more stores and soon find the highway, but we don’t encounter that directly by bike. Instead, the bike path takes us into an area I call the nature intersection. It’s such a pretty little path through trees and into a clearing with a bridge.
I always experience this bit of nature as a moment to take a deep breath and appreciate my surroundings.
Back at the roundabout you can also travel west, of course. That will take you into more residential neighborhoods with townhouses like ours and apartments too.
I’m most likely to travel to that shopping center I mentioned, just 3 minutes away by bike. I went there yesterday with Rora, to visit the bakery. This was the first time we sampled their wares. It was quite agreeable!
The shopping center has three grocery stores, two bakers, a florist, a cheese shop, beauty salons and ethnic restaurants. It also has two home good stores: Hema (roughly equivalent to Target) and Blokker (more of a serious home store).
Oh, and clothing stores, of course! We’ve mainly needed the home stores. I bought new baking sheets small enough for our European oven! Everything fits in my bike basket, so long as I don’t go on a shopping binge.
On the Way Home
Usually I’d zip straight home from the stores, but yesterday I decided to explore some of the pretty places we’ve passed on our bike ride home.
This waterway and series of bridges is just across from the shopping center. Of course there are bikers everywhere, as well as folks walking their dogs and elderly visiting by chair. I even saw an older man pushing a cart full of flowers, perhaps taking them home?
For sure there are quilt photo ops galore!
There are also at least two playgrounds on the way between the shopping center and our home. I think they have so many in the Netherlands because it is a densely populated country.
Most playgrounds have something a little different, like these reclaimed pipes, to keep things interesting. It’s great to see ways for kids to stretch their boundaries and keep engaged with outdoor play.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of my neighborhood. Perhaps it’s not as different as you were expecting? We’re certainly feeling more at home than I had anticipated when I imagined moving to Europe. And I’m glad!