On Dec 16th we flew from Prague to Amsterdam. After spending a few days in Holland, we took a train to the Black Forest (famous for their ham and cake). In Germany we saw snow, and streets lined with houses. The first, we hadn't seen since last winter, the second since the fall, (European cities tend to be peopled by apartment dwellers.) We spent Christmas and New Yea's Eve in the Black Forest along with my sister's boyfriend, his family and my parents.
On New Year's Eve we set off a large number of fireworks. These were not your standard off-the-shelf North American fireworks. Although there were some Roman Candles amongst our explosives, we were also able to acquire many large payload rockets, (i.e. the kind of fireworks I normally associate with government sponsored Canada Day festivities.) Much to my delight, firecrackers are also legal in Germany. Boom boom snap boom.
We returned to A'dam on the 1st to continue our work-abroad bureaucratic paper trail. To start, we registered with the Alien Police. This took two days as they didn't accept credit cards and the 25 euro processing fee caught us by surprise. Once the appropriate forms were filled out, and the processing fee paid, we were each issued a 6 month residency permit. Next, we made an appointment to obtain our SOFI (tax) number. We had our appointment today, and all went well. After we were issued our numbers, we were told to report our address to the Public Registrar's office at City Hall. There we were given a form our landlord (aka my sister) needs to complete, which in turn must be taken to the Alien Police. Round and round we go.
A quick note on Dutch toilets: In the place of the toilet bowl there is a concave shelf, holding less than one inch of water. This is the "inspection shelf." The flushing mechanism also leaves much to be desired.
If you want a glimpse of the city we currently call home, watch Ocean's 12. (Ignore the meandering plot.)