Last night I had dinner on the water with some friends that live in Amsterdam. It was great to see them and they gave me feedback on my housing search and other tips for living here. Besides having a great meal with friends, it made me realize how much easier it is to move to a new country when you know a local. Some things I've learned/been reminded of over the past 2 days:
1) It's considered good manners to butter a slice of bread and give it to others at dinner (as opposed to having them butter their own bread).
2) I can almost figure out restaurant menus on my own even in if they're in Dutch
3) Not all restaurants take credit cards, and tips are always left in cash
4) Train ticket kiosks don't take credit cards unless you have a pin number
5) Grocery stores don't always take credit cards
6) To use the bathroom in a shopping mall, you'll need to pay 40 Euro cents (about $.60)
7) Grocery stores don't always have bags to carry your food - and you always bag your own
8) Stairs in apartments are often so steep it's like climbing a ladder
9) Soccer is HUGE here (everything is soccer themed, from special menus representing the countries playing to Babybel cheese wrapped to look like orange soccer balls).
10) The Dutch are incredibly friendly and welcoming
One other note from today: It's our 4th wedding anniversary. Some of you will know that we've had a strange history with our wedding anniversaries. The first one was my mom's funeral, and then last year we BOTH forgot our 3rd anniversary during the move to California! I'm happy to say that this year we remembered it without the reminder call from our in-laws, and we had a nice lunch at an Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam. We're back on track once again :-)