No Citizen

How often have I been complaining about not being able to do anything? I hope not too often, although we all know I probably did. Well, today was time for a little satisfaction. A very glorious victory in my everlasting battle with “lists”.

laughing his little butt off

But let us start off with a recap of the past week. The first weekend of April I went (back) to Switzerland. My cousin had her confirmation in the church, even though I didn’t realise they were religious people to be fair. So my sis flew in from the Netherlands with her husband and baby, simultaneously using the chance to get a little bit of experience in flying with an infant. Which will come in handy later this year when they fly to Australia for the wedding.
For those interested, the kid loved every minute of it and was laughing his little butt off while the plane accelerated down the runway looking for lift off.

Before leaving, my mum figured it would be handy to take the ski box with us. It turned out to be a great idea, but at the moment it just gave us a problem to fix. Because the skibox that used to fit on the car (after some alterations mind you) had been gifted to someone else. So now we had to make brackets for the old ski box from scratch. Volvo redesigns its roof racks and ski boxes with every new model apparently, so every time you buy a new Volvo, you need to buy all that stuff again too. It involved some grinding and drilling holes, and I took the chance to take a few nice photographs in the process. I enjoyed having a little project with my dad before going away. He normally has such massive projects I can’t see them through in the time I’m there, so this was a welcome change.

the third or fourth time

My mum and I left early in the morning to rendezvous with my sis and her family at Geneva Airport, then drive on together. For as far as church services go I think it was a nice one, I wouldn’t know. I only see the inside of a church when other people have some business there and like me to attend. Regardless of what my reason was for going, it was really nice to spend a couple of nights there before flying back home to Perth. It was a weird idea to drive down the narrow, winding, road for the last time in the foreseeable future. It was even weirder to be doing it for the third or fourth time by now! I can’t really decide if saying goodbye to the family get’s easier or harder the more I have to do it. Just goes to show, you never know when you’ll be back to see each other again. It might be a lot sooner than you’d think.

We returned to France late monday evening, after dropping my sis and her family off at Geneva again on the way back. Another family friend was expected to arrive any day, so before we left for Switzerland I had already switched from the white house to the vermette (old farm-house). Spending a few nights there is absolutely not a punishment. I always prefered the vermette over the (newer, but not new) white house. It just suits me better I guess. I find it much cozier and warmer. Which I assume is mostly because there is just one bedroom.

Tuesday was spend packing the suitcase, weighing the suitcase, and then repacking the suitcase. I had to leave some “thank-you” gifts behind, together with some books, and camera equipment I hardly ever use anyway. The books and camera stuff will find their way to Perth via mail, the gifts will find their way to the Netherlands by the end of April when my mum visits my sister. That’s the downside of flying within Europe, only 23 kg weight allowance, as opposed to international flights, with a 30 kg allowance. All fairly trivial in the end I admit.

the “superior” french workers

Wednesday was reserved for wasting the morning away, having lunch and then driving to the regional airport, hoping to catch a flight to Amsterdam. I booked with KLM again, because why change something that works for you, right? Expecting the airport to be insanely busy we arrived well ahead of the scheduled departure time, only to find no queue anywhere. I was basically the only one at the security checkpoint, where I promptly forgot to take the Macbook out of my camera bag, getting rolling eyes from the “superior” french workers, who would obviously never make such an amateur mistake when flying. And my hands and crotch (maybe just the belt, but in that case the guy needs aiming lessons) got swapped with one of those little cloths, then checked for traces of drugs. At least that’s what I thought at first, but in hindsight I think they were more interested in traces of explosives. Neither were found, which makes sense of course. It’s weird how you start tracing your steps and thinking about any drugs or explosives you might have accidentally been in contact with, even though you know very well you’ve never touched drugs or explosives before in your life.
Well, if you don’t count fireworks. And maybe some soft drugs in highschool, but that’s not where this story was going! So moving away from the subject, I quickly made my way to the passport checkpoint, where again I was the only lonely traveller. A surprisingly friendly police officer checked my passport, and just like that I was at the gate area, two and a half hours before departure… Great.

That morning I quickly booked a prefered seat in the Economy Comfort class, when I noticed they only cost six euros. I was tempted to go business class for 145 euro, but remembering my mum laughing about business class on those flights, I decided not to waste the money. Besides, it’s only a short flight, lasting somewhere in the hour and a half range. And business class means they just pull the little curtains closed and the middle seat is always free. They say free, but you just shared the costs for that chair with your neighbour of course.
We were ready for take off ahead of schedule, but weren’t allowed to take off yet by the control tower in Amsterdam. Apparently they have more to say in that matter then the tower in Lyon, where we were at that moment. We still made it to Amsterdam right on time, and after collecting my suitcase, I went outside and awaited the arrival of two nut jobs who, again, were so kind to come and pick me up. I promise to repay the trips when you guys come to Australia.

I consider them done

So now I find myself back in the pied a terre, spending one week (almost to the hour) in the Netherlands, before going home for real this time. I had quite the list with stuff I’d wanted to get sorted in that week, and was a little nervous, wondering if I was trying to bite off more than I could chew. But I can proudly say that around lunch today, on day two, I ticked off the last item on my list. Aah, the sweet smell of satisfaction.
There are just a few things that need to be wrapped up, but I can do that from Australia, so I consider them done for now.

As of today, I have officially left The Netherlands, and am no longer a resident of the low lands. I had to go to city hall, because in The Netherlands your place of residence is always registered. Unless you’re a hobo or something of course. So if you’re moving to another country, you have to go there in person. A lot of things are linked to that system, so having city hall change it for you actually saves you a lot of calls and emails in the end. After completing everything, the lady who helped me also made a quick remark of where I should go if I ever wanted to come back to The Netherlands, and how to register myself as a resident again. I think that was nice of her. She didn’t make it come across as if I would want to come back soon, but she took the opportunity to inform me of it when it presented itself. It’s nice to feel like the city you grew up in, doesn’t have any hard feelings, and will take you back if you want to.

unpleasantly surprised

The lady who helped me was also very excited for me to move to Australia. I’m starting to realise a lot of Dutch people really do think highly of Australia, and almost everyone I meet would love to visit it one day. It’s just not the kind of place you happen to end up on holiday I guess. And there are a lot of myths involving a holiday in Australia. One of them being you need to prove you have at least an X amount of money available or you will be denied entry. I have never been asked to provide any bank statements when entering Australia, and I think a lot of people make the mistake of not making the distinction between a subclass 651 eVisitor visa, and a subclass 417 Working Holiday visa.
For those interested in what you need to visit this beautiful country, just have a look at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website. I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised. And you will be unpleasantly surprised to see how much the airlines charge you to get you there.

I also dropped of the keys to the appartement at the notary, in advance of the actual sale of the house. Saves me a trip to the real estate agent since the notary happens to be around the corner from the pied a terre. All that rests is a dinner on Sunday with everyone, then washing and packing for Wednesday. Hopefully squeezing in a little photography trip somewhere, and using my big Bambi eyes to ask the nut jobs if they would please be crazy enough to also bring me back to the airport. If they have the time of course. Unfortunately I don’t have big Bambi eyes, but maybe I can get them drunk on Sunday.

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