Career aspirations, Career frustrations, General ramblings, law, Life goals, London life, Pupillage, The Netherlands, Travel, Trips

Trip 4 Copenhagen: Cancelled for an interview

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En route to getting the coach to Stanstead Airport for my trip to the Netherlands, I got some good news – I’d been selected for a pupillage interview at an amazing chambers in London. The set specialises in civil liberties and human rights, aligning perfectly with my undergraduate degree in politics and international relations and master’s in war studies, and would provide a stimulating, rewarding and people-focused practice. It came with one minor negative, the interview was scheduled for the same Saturday I had booked to fly to Copenhagen for my June trip, with the final round the next day. I asked to reschedule, but inevitably it was not practicable.

This is the second trip I’ve cancelled for a pupillage interview. The first was for a poorly paid criminal pupillage at an unfriendly, unaccommodating set that I’d chosen over a ten-day horse riding holiday in Spain – which I’d scrimped and saved for whilst working part-time on minimum wage alongside studying the BPTC. So, in comparison, forgoing a three-day city break, when I’d just been to the Netherlands, was on the lower end of my first world problems.

A few days later and some more good news, I’d secured another pupillage interview for the weekend after the civil liberties set, for a chambers based in Peterborough. This one has a more traditional common law practice, with a strong vein of family work. They are very different options, but I’d be grateful to secure either. I’m sure the sacrifice, pain, suffering and loss of amenity will pay off soon. Plus, even if it doesn’t work out on this occasion, Copenhagen will always be there to visit another time.

Adventure, Beer, Flying, Food, General ramblings, London life, New adventure, The Netherlands, Travel, Travel writing, Trips

Trip 3 Part 4: Alkmaar, Haarlem and Den Haag, and finally a little bit of Eindhoven

Inspired by visiting two cities in a day yesterday, I decided to raise my game and beat this new PB. Arriving at the train station, I bought the same day pass as before and took the next train to the furthest city from Eindhoven – which happened to be Alkmaar. I’d never heard of it, but going there first gave me the rest of the day to get back to base camp.

The train took about two hours, and was well worth it. Alkmaar had twinkling church bells, windy little streets, with pretty houses of all different colours and styles. Again, as with Utrecht and Amsterdam, the life and structure of the town was based around canals; beautiful arteries of interconnected waterways, along which people sailed boats and kayaked in the sunshine. I’d arrived too late for the famous cheese market, but I bought some cheese from a market and decide to try to collect a different local cheese from each city I visited that day.

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After a whistle-stop tour, I made the 3:20pm train to Haarlem. I was initially unimpressed with my second choice of city – walking from the station, it could have just been Croydon or Hemel Hempstead, a prosaic, generic town. But everything changed at the turn of a corner, and like the Netherlands in general, I fell in love with Haarlem. After sourcing some local cheese, I sat outside a pub in the central square opposite Grote Kerk church and drank a beer in the sun (Texels – from one of the Dutch ‘Waddeneilanden’ islands and delicious!).

Taking the scenic route back to the train station to see a windmill, I got the 5:36pm train to The Hague / Den Haag.

By the time I got to Den Haag, I was pretty tired… Apparently sitting on trains and drinking beer in the sun, is really exhausting! On my initial train from Eindhoven that morning, I was thinking to also stop by Rotterdam or maybe Gouda, but now, no, absolutely not. I was tired and in a bad mood, with no one else to blame or to be annoyed at but myself – great.

Unlike what I’d seen elsewhere in the Netherlands, The Hague had a lot of high-rise buildings and wide streets, it could be any city – it’s like the start of Haarlem all over again, I was immediately judgemental and therefore instantly disappointed. Luckily, I soon found the windy, warren lanes that I expected and stopped for some dinner – a tapas of smoked salmon and fennel salad, blue pecorino in sherry, some bread and a beer (another Texels). The place was Café Oude, it was cute, slightly kitsch, and the food was delicious.

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After a little post-meal wander, I got the 8:20pm train from Den Haag. It stopped at Rotterdam on the way to Eindhoven, but I was just too tired to visit another city. Plus, I needed to leave some places unexplored, so that I can come back for another adventure.

On day four, I finally investigated Eindhoven. I wandered around, saw the PSV stadium, browsed in some pretty boutiques, and whilst I sat in a bagel and juice shop, the glorious weather turned to torrential rain. I was sitting outside under the veranda and without a jacket or an umbrella, there was nothing I could do but wait and let (and hope that) the showers passed.

Pathetically and irrationally trying to overcompensate for being so desperately late getting to Stanstead, I arrived at Eindhoven Airport three and a half hours early for my flight – I only had carry on luggage. Despite such a healthy selection of freshly cooked food, I opted for a burger and a beer and sat on the terrace enjoying the sunshine – it reminded me of last month in Germany. The Netherlands has been my favourite place so far, I felt refreshed and energise from the trip, with a new love in my life, about which I had so much to learn and reasons to explore.IMG_1392

When I arrived back in London, the situation was painfully contrastive, a terrorist attack had just taken place at London Bridge whilst I was on the train home from the airport. Reality set back in, and the joy and happiness of my trip just disintegrated.

Adventure, Amsterdam, General ramblings, The Netherlands, Travel, Travel writing, Trips, Utrecht

Trip 3. Part 3: Utrecht and Amsterdam

Happy birthday to me! To celebrate getting old (painfully close to thirty) and achieving not much since this time last year, I decided to visit Utrecht and Amsterdam.

Today I had to pay for travel, but €38 got me unlimited use of public transport across the country for the day, not bad. The trains are great, they’re regular, clean and some have wifi, plus the main cities are well-connect and relatively close, so it’s easy get between them. The route to Utrecht (and everywhere I went for that matter) is beautiful, the train track seems to consistently run in parallel with waterways, bordered by fields that are separated by streams. There’s so much water everywhere, water and bikes – plus lots of cows and the odd windmill. I’m definitely in love with the Netherlands.

Utretch train station has a strange vending machine, I think it sold warm croquettes. Timişoara, at a farmer’s market, had a vending machine dispensing eggs and in Germany, it was burgers next to take out places. I’ve firmly decided to seek out and photograph these #randomvendingmachines when travelling. They must say something about their respective countries and culture, but what, I’m not quite sure yet – I’ll give it some thought.

Despite being the former capital, so I was informed by the women at the visitor information point at the train station, Utrecht is very quaint. There are, again, so many bikes – more than you could imagine – chaotically piled, crammed and squeezed along the racks that are pervasively planted across the city. I only made a quick visit, going to a few churches and squares, and briefly meandered along parts of the canals. There’s a calm vibe, a slow pace and very few people.

Returning to the station, I wandered back past the croquettes dispenser to get the next train to Amsterdam.

The current capital is so busy and has a completely different feel to Utrecht, or maybe it was just something in the air affecting my senses. With only half a day to explore, I walked so much. Firstly, around De Negen Straatjes (a series of picturesque canals that radiate out from the west of the centre, lined with trees and quirky little shops and boutiques), past the Anne Frank museum – the queue was too busy to join, down to the museum quarter.IMG_1246.JPG

The weather was glorious, so hot, and after sitting for a bit next to a statue of an ear, dipping my feet in the pool outside the van Gough museum, I made my way to the De Pijp district. Apparently, it’s a trendy, bohemian area – too cool for me, but I agree with all the reviews I read, not as polished as the more central canal districts – but beautiful and vibrant. I visited the Albert Cuypmarkt, which is a feast for the eyes with exotic fruits, cheese stalls and, most importantly, FRESH stroopwafel. It was amazing, no need to sit waiting for your waffle to warm atop of your coffee, it’s direct from the griddle and freshly slathered with syrup.

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Walking back to the centre, I had my first experience of seeing ladies in red curtained windows. Definitely not my thing, but interesting to observe their different sales techniques. I decided to get the tram to Dam (a square in the centre of town where the Koninklijk Palace can also be found), and then wandered around the red light district proper. Again, I found it uninspiring and anti-climatic, a small warren of little windows, with aging velvet curtains outlining clinical, tiled cells. Maybe because it was only early evening and I’m not their target market, but most of the women I saw (and there didn’t appear to be many) were just sitting on stools, looking bored, staring at their phones.

On my way back to the train station, I decided that I was hungry when I saw a long line of people queuing up for chips – so decided to do the same. They were served in a blue paper cone and had an excellent sauce to chip ratio, if only I could remember the name of the place…

It didn’t really feel like a birthday, whatever that actually means, but it was a truly lovely day out.

 

 

 

Adventure, Flying, General ramblings, The Netherlands, Travel, Travel writing, Trips

Trip 3: The Netherlands. Part 2: Day 1

The flight to Eindhoven is so quick – 45 minutes! People in the UK should visit the Netherlands, if nothing else, but for the shear proximity. In comparison, 45 minutes into my coach ride from London Victoria to London Stanstead, I had only reached the Tower of London… Also, the views flying into the country are stunning; the shoreline is edged with a plethora of islands, interconnected by winding threads of roads and bridges, and it’s so flat that the land looks as though it’s just a thin, motley green sheet floating precariously on the sea, ready to sink or be swept away at any minute.

In what appears to be my standard slipshod style, I arrive with no local currency (despite only going to Germany a few weeks before). However, I thought that this wouldn’t have been a problem as my parents visited the Netherlands earlier in the year and noted, on several occasions, that airport shuttle buses only accepted card. This bus to the city centre didn’t, but luckily the driver let me on for free. Another pococurante trait, which I’ve been aware of before my trips, is that I never properly charge my phone – it is in a perpetual state of senectitude, as was the case here. Amazingly, however, the bus had USB ports, and wifi! The Netherlands is doing great so far, it’s enabled me to be completely incompetent and disorganised, yet get to where I want to go and roam the internet for free.

The journey from the airport to the city wasn’t long, but in that short pace of time I saw so many bikes. Parked outside houses, lining the front of shops, seemingly free-standing on the pavement, crammed together chained to railings – everywhere, bikes are everywhere, it’s amazing. There are designated cycle paths too, and so many people use them. I’m in love already.

By the time I arrived in the city it was getting dark, but I found my hotel quite easily – after I went into the wrong, much nicer one next door and was politely told to walk a couple of metres further down the street. I should have known that my budget does not extent to establishments with night-time reception staff. I collected my room key from a safe on the side of the hotel – classy. At this point, standing alone at night on a random street in a new country, I was particularly grateful for my USB-supported bus ride, as I only had the passcode for the safe on an email and when I arrived at the airport, my phone had just a lean red line of life left. I should be more organised.

This time, rather than sharing a room with six or more randoms, with backpacks strewn everywhere, towels hanging from every bedrail and the floor scattered with islands of dirty clothes, I had my own room with my own little sink – what luxury (albeit, the room basic, the bed single and the toilet and shower shared).

There were a couple of pubs opposite my hotel, so I went to the closest one for a snack – bitterballen (beef croquettes with a mustard dip) and a beer, a nice end to my first evening in the Netherlands.

 

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