Afgelopen zaterdag maakte iedereen zich klaar voor het culturele uitje naar Gouda, de kaashandelstad van Nederland en natuurlijk ook bekend om haar kaarsen en stroopwafel industrie. Een perfecte stad om onze au pairs kennis te laten maken met Nederland.
Iedereen arriveerde één voor één op het station en aan de zoekende gezichten te zien waren de au pairs er makkelijk uit te halen. De eerste activiteit vond plaats bij een korenmolen waar wij een interessante rondleiding kregen over de verwerking van tarwe naar verschillende bloem- en meelsoorten. Hier is veel gelachen en veel geklommen op de oh zo hoge en steile trappen. Eenmaal op de 4e verdieping aangekomen werd de eerste vraag gesteld door Lorraine: “Where can I find the toilet?”. (Iedereen moest natuurlijk erg hard lachen). “Well.. then you have to walk 4 high and steep stairs back or you should wait a little longer?” zei onze gids. Uiteindelijk na ongeveer 8 trappen op en 8 trappen af waren we klaar met de met de rondleiding en zijn we met een hongerige maag vertrokken naar een lunchroom waar we genoten van een erg lekkere lunch. “Why is everyone in Holland eating bread everyday and why so much?” zei een van de au pairs. Hier kwamen natuurlijk erg veel cultuurgewoontes naar boven en is er over van alles gepraat zoals “What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten before?”.
Na een gezellige lunch startte de workshop “stroopwafels” maken, waar natuurlijk iedereen haar eigen wafel mocht maken. Deze workshop werd geleid door een jongen van ongeveer dezelfde leeftijd als de au pairs. Toen eenmaal Caro aan de beurt was, zei ze: “You make me blush” (with a smile on her face). Natuurlijk schoot iedereen in de lach en met deze gezellige groep aan giechelende meiden, hebben we ter afsluiting van deze dag een lekker drankje gedronken in een café op de markt van Gouda.
Het was een erg geslaagde dag waar iedereen veel herinneringen aan heeft overgehouden. Naast dat de au pairs Nederland een beetje beter hebben leren kennen, was het ook een leuke dag om elkaar beter te leren kennen en lekker met elkaar te kletsen en te lachen.
Dat het voor de au pairs een geslaagde dag was is wel duidelijk: “When is the next meeting coming up?”. Nou.. zeer binnenkort!
In the weekend of April, Friday the 13th, the annual Travel Active Paris trip was a fact!
After all the au pairs were collected from the pickup points, the journey to France officially started. The bus driver Angelo had to deal with a bus filled with 30 girls from different countries worldwide. We felt sorry for him..
As soon we arrived in Belgium no one gave a reaction, but when the bus driver mentioned we crossed the border of France, the complete bus went crazy! We were almost about to arrive in ‘the city of love': Paris.
A boat trip on the river Seine was on the planning and besides the little raindrops falling on our heads, everyone was really enthusiastic. More than a 100 photos were taken from only the Eiffel Tower. After the beautiful sightseeing a big group of au pairs went for a snack and a drink to the ‘Champs Elysées'. After that we had the first experience by taking the ‘Metropolitain' to a place less expensive. Most of the group went for a drink (or more) to ‘le Quartier Latin' until the early hours.
At 8.30 with breakfast not everyone was that woken up already, but everyone was excited about seeing more of Paris. Angelo the bus driver made a city tour and after that the au pairs could decide where to be dropped off. Some of the girls wanted to visit ‘Le Louvre', others were willing to wait in line to go on top of the Eiffel Tower and a few girls just wanted to shop.
After a long day with a lot of walking and new impressions everyone went on their own, divided in groups to get something to eat. Some of them saw the magnificent ‘Eiffel Tower' at night in all its glory with the lights all shining and glittering.
Sunday morning it was already time to check out the hotel. But before we were returning back home, we were going to visit ‘Montmartre' with the ‘Moulin Rouge' and the ‘Sacré Coeur'. All girls bought their last souvenirs to take back home.
After the morning wandering around this artistic area, the bus was ready to drive back to the Netherlands. The bus trip was very quiet, as everyone was really tired of an enervating, one-of-a-kind, but also energy-consuming experience.
Au pairs, thanks for the lovely weekend in Paris!!
At 10:00 o'clock Saturday morning most of the au pairs had already gathered at Utrecht Central Station. For a lot of the participating au pairs this was their very first meeting and also the first time they met other Travel Active au pairs. It didn't take long for them to loosen up and to get to know each other because when we arrived at the VVV(tourist office) Utrecht everyone was chatting away.
After arriving they all paired themselves up in teams of 3 and 4, it was time for the scavenger hunt through the city centre of Utrecht. During the scavenger hunt the au pairs had to find out all kinds of historical facts. Like 'When was the Dom Tower build?' and 'What is the name of the bridge at the end of the road?' Fanatically they were off of to discover the sights and monuments, convinced that they were going to win!
The first team was back after just one hour, followed by the other teams that came back after just an hour and a halve. We still needed to wait for quite some time before the Dom tower tour started at 1 o'clock. Fortunately the au pairs were in luck because the weather was perfect for lounging on a terrace in the sun.
Gathering inside the VVV the au pairs got a short introduction from the Dom Tower guide, after the intro the guide brought them to the Dom Tower. The climb of 465 steps to the top of the tower began. Every now and then the guide would stop and tell something about the ancient tower, 465 steps later the view was gorgeous, definitely worth the climb. With shaky legs and tired but satisfied faces everyone returned to the VVV, they've had more than enough exercise for one week.
We have a winner! But there also was a tie, two teams were in second place. But our winner is... Everyone had raging heartbeats, sweaty palms and shaky hands, waiting to hear their names began called out loud. It's the team of... Tatum, Imke, Anthony and Anika!! Loud cheers and excited screams followed as the winners bowed at their grand applause. The winning team won a big bouquet of Dutch pink tulips, a keychain of a little colored wooden shoe and a box with one ‘tompoes'(typical Dutch pastry) for every team member. But there are no losers when everyone has worked so hard and that's why Travel Active treated everyone on a real Dutch ‘gelato' at the famous pink truck on the bridge in Utrecht.
The day ended with the sun high up in the sky and the terrace filled with au pairs, that were already making plans to see each other again.
Thank you all for joining the meeting and for bringing such a good mood with you. I'm looking forward to seeing you all again next time in Paris.
'Doei' and 'tot ziens!'
The au pairs travelled from all over Holland to gather in Nijmegen, a small city in the east of Holland. With 10 layers of clothing and a big wool coat the au pairs all arrived, ready, though a bit scared of what might come... and how they might fall.
When the group was complete we took off to our icy cold skating location, the Travium in Nijmegen. After hiring the skates and pinching their noses putting them on (rental skates are not that hygienic) they were headed to their first challenge, the kids skate hall!
This would be it, for some their first moment on ice. They helped one another get on the ice and slowly but surely they started to move forward. Inching their way to the other side of the hall, without even falling once.
Between all those racing and screaming kids they started to learn and get the hang of it. The au pairs helped each other out and skated together, laughing and smiling, sometimes almost but never actually falling.
When practice was over it was time for the big guns. The big ice skating hall was awaiting our au pairs as they happily stepped on and skated along, getting better every minute.
Around 2 p.m. it was time for a break, coffee, tea and soda for everybody! Everyone had a story to tell, to share with one another. No moment passed by without laughter or chit-chat. And they all were surprised when we told them we thought the current weather in Holland (which was 8 degrees above zero) was really nice for this time of year. 'It's freezing, you think this is nice?!' Marilee, one of the au pairs from South-Africa said. 'We are used to the cold back home in Wisconsin' Carly from the US replied. While others talked about their home foods or the current shopping prices at the mall, it was fun for all.
Finally when the afternoon ended and everybody had exchanged numbers, it was time to head home. Or head towards Burgerking of course, we know old habits die hard ;-).
We hope all of the au pairs that joined our meeting had a wonderful time on the ice. Hopefully and quite possibly we'll see you all next time, at our city meeting in Utrecht!
Inmiddels zijn we ervaren met meisjes uit het buitenland die een jaar bij ons wonen en ons helpen met de opvang van onze vier kinderen. We hebben zelf een profiel gemaakt waarop wij de au pair selecteren, maar ze komen toevallig wel telkens uit een ander land. We hebben ervaring met au pairs uit Peru, Vietnam en Colombia. Anthea komt uit Zuid-Afrika en we passen als gezin en au pair goed bij elkaar.
Anthea haalt en brengt onze jongste twee kinderen op de fiets van en naar school. Voor de oudste twee kinderen, die al op de middelbare school zitten en zelfstandig zijn, is het vooral dat er iemand thuis is als ze uit school komen. Wij werken regelmatig thuis en op die dagen is het ook fijn dat er meer toezicht is. Mensen in onze omgeving vragen wel eens of we het niet een inbreuk op onze privacy vinden dat er een au pair in huis is. Maar zo ervaren wij dat niet. We vinden het gezellig om een extra gezinslid erbij te hebben. In het weekend komen er soms vriendinnen logeren, maar ook dat vinden wij niet belastend.
Nieuwe meisjes hebben in het begin vaak last van heimwee, de een wat meer dan de ander. Inmiddels zijn we zo ervaren dat we ze meteen aansporen en helpen om vriendinnen te maken!
After a lunch stop we still had a few hours to go to Paris and to kill some time we watched the movie ‘27 Dresses'. Hopefully we didn't drive the bus driver Ad too crazy with all the chit-chat in the bus...
After arrival in Paris we went straight to Pont Neuf, the bridge from where our boat tour on the river Seine left. It was a lovely introduction to all the highlights of Paris. We saw the famous Eiffel tower, (parts of) the Louvre museum, Notre Dame and more. Many pictures were taken during the 1-hour tour!
After the boat tour everyone had free time for dinner. Around 9pm we met again to go to the hotel and check in. The hotel we were staying at was a typical old-fashioned French hotel, very cute!
The next morning we left after breakfast for a city tour by bus. The weather was beautiful which gave us the chance to take some great pictures of the famous sights of Paris! After the city tour it was time for the girls to explore the city by themselves. Some chose to visit the Louvre museum and have a picknick in the park, others wanted to go on top of the Eiffel tower while a few wanted to go shopping as well! Strolling the beautiful streets of Paris everyone really enjoyed being in the most romantic city of the world.
Most of the girls had a great time going out that night. Some decided to do some more sightseeing instead of partying. Nevertheless everyone was down for breakfast on time the next morning, ready for their last day in Paris. We went to Montmartre to visit the Sacre Coeur and see the beautiful view of Paris. Again the sun was shining bright so we could really enjoy some nice weather. After buying the last souvenirs we all got back on the bus at 1pm to head back to the Netherlands.
Thanks to all the Au Pairs for making this such a great and fun weekend!
We hope to see you all again at our next meeting. Take care!
On Saturday 10th of July, Travel Active went with a small Group of Au Pairs to the Amsterdam Dungeon, to learn more about the far and dark history of Amsterdam. It was a great experience nobody would miss it! It is more like a haunted house, with real characters playing their roles. The Amsterdam Dungeon not only for fun, we learned also a lot! Unfortunately we were not able to take pictures, instead for one moment.
I just thought I would write you all an email to let you know how my stay has been so far in Holland.
The family is amazing! We have so much in common. They are very active and busy (which I love) and they have accepted into their home as if I were their own. They have been very helpful showing me around the city, with public transportation, and they even had a welcoming party for me so that I was able to connect with other AuPairs more easily. The children are also wonderful but very busy after school with activities.
Everyday of the week they have a sport to go to. Tomorrow is Caitlin's birthday and I am helping the Mom with that... They are doing a mermaid theme, so it will be a lot of fun for her and her friends. I have been spending a lot of my free time with their mother actually.
This past weekend we did a run in Rotterdam and we run together during the week. I did 10 km in 54.04 minutes with one of her friends placing in the top 10%. Larissa, the mother, did the 5 km and did very well also.
She has also been roller-blading with me during the week. I thank you again for this wonderful opportunity and I will keep updating you.