Monday, September 29, 2014

Welkom bij Naarden (Welcome to Naarden)

Well, we are here.  And as you've seen from my other posts, it's been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for the last month.  But we're on our way and overall feeling pretty settled given the circumstances.  I do think having lived abroad before is helping, significantly.  It also helps that most people here speak English.  If only we'd had that in Barcelona.  Although, I don't think I would have changed a thing about the experience in Barcelona either.

Now that we are getting settled a little bit, I thought I'd share a little bit about the town we've moved to, Naarden.  In Spain, we lived right in the city of Barcelona which was a great experience.  Neither Josh nor I had ever lived in a city proper and we loved it more than we had ever expected.  And the kids took to it quite well too.

However, given that their new school is about 30 minutes from Amsterdam and there is no school bus, we decided that the time had come to move back to suburban life.  We weren't 100% sold on it given that we really enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city and walking everywhere, we also thought it would be good for the boys to have a yard and grass again.

And so when we started our house hunt, we focused entirely outside of Amsterdam, primarily in the Almere area which is where the school is located.  But we found we didn't love Almere as much as we had hoped, or at least we didn't fall in love with any of the neighborhoods that we were shown or the houses.  But when we got to Naarden, there was just something special about it.  It's cute, it's quaint, it's upscale and the neighborhood we looked in seemed perfect to us.

While the house we are in is slightly small... actually the size itself is fine, it's lack of storage (typical European which we are used to but still not crazy about)... anyways, while it's on the smaller side, we really really love our neighborhood and this cute little town.  There will be pictures of the house in a later entry once I've got pictures on the walls, etc to make it look like home, but for now I thought I'd share a little bit about the town we've moved to.

The town of Naarden (map here) is adorable.  The center, or Vesting, is a star fort complete with fortified walls and a moat - on the map you can actually see the outline of the star, it's pretty cool.  Yes, a genuine moat.  I actually run around the vesting almost every day and it's the most tranquil place you can imagine to start your day.  On my way to get to the Vesting though, I must run along some fields complete with sheep and cows.  With bike paths all around, this is an easy trip with no cars nearby - just beautiful fields filled with farm life.  It's strange not having to jump out of the way of cars when running or sidewalks filled with people!

Along the route of the Vesting, there is a petting zoo type of area where the kids can feed chicken, sheep and goats.  We can also buy fresh eggs if we are so inclined.

Truly my favorite view as I run each morning...

Biking thru the field on the way to the Vesting (you can kind of see the top of the church in the distance) - ignore my handlebars in the picture, it was a shot on the go ;).  This is actually a bike path - don't be confused by the width of the pavement... bikes and people only!

Liam and his buddies the sheep :)

Trying to get close to the sheep only there is a canal behind the tall grass... 

Originally founded in around 900 AD, Naarden became an official town around the year 1300.  The original city was located even closer to the coast than it is today but was mostly destroyed by a war as well as water (literally the land has been swallowed up by the sea) in the mid 1300s.  The town as we know it today was built in the mid 1300s.  The Great Church (as you'll see in a lot of my pictures just because it's so photogenic) was built in the late 1300s.  The Church is considered to be gothic in design.

So that's our little town in a nutshell.  But pictures are what really sells it...


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