I've realized that the problem with living in a university town is that it is full of students - ones that carry on in the streets (or perhaps just the one below my window) until all hours, leave rubbish everywhere, and inconsiderately ram you with their bicycles as they over take even after you've signalled a turn. After nights of broken sleep and near death experiences behind the handlebars, desperate measures were needed. The sort that comes in sweetness and calories.
What this city really could do with is an American diner that serves breakfast all day and unhealthily large pieces of chocolate cake. Since this isn't an option, I opted for a cafe that has an expat feel and apple pie on the menu. It is the sort of place that has lazily turning ceiling fans, vast potted plants, sunny terraces, and wooden blinds that create cosy corners. Where they play jazzy, upbeat music that allows them to charge extortionate prices. And also typical to Holland, it's the sort of place the waiters leave you to die of thirst, avoiding your eye and frantic waving at all costs. It always amazes me these places stay open at all!
Gosh, this sounds all rather negative, when it should really read as "frustratedly affectionate". The apple pie will never be quite right (served cold, with chocolate??), the peace and quiet of my youth was apparently my quota in life, and I must remember to never venture into a cafe in any state of hunger as it is likely I will starve first...but I do love it.
This is what being an expat is all about: shrugging one's shoulders and accepting that if it was all the same, life would be awfully dull. (Though a decent night's sleep wouldn't go entirely amiss...) It's wonderful to wear red trousers and cycle about madly like the locals; to sit on terraces and quaff light beer, wear loads of gel in my hair, and have a calendar of birthdays in the downstairs loo.
I'm rather pleased with myself actually in regards to the cycling. I've been to-ing and fro-ing to the university for the past three weeks and I've lived to tell the tale! I took my mother's advice about walking in New York City (elbows out and look like you mean it) and applied it to my cycling. In addition, I've been jumping in front of traffic and inching my way past others on the cycle lanes. Everyone else seems to throw themselves into the gaping mouth of death quite happily on a daily basis, so why not me too? (How the Dutch don't all have ulcers from the stress of getting to and fro in one piece is remarkable...) Perhaps it is just us buitenlanders who have all the stress? Anyway, I'm beginning to find the cycling enjoyable, and I'm arriving everywhere in half the time, so hurrah!