What an eventful day. I thought maybe the day would be a little warmer than yesterday evening when we arrived, but apparently 70 degrees is normal for this time of year. I actually needed a light sweater all day! That's my kind of weather. I could have done without the wind, but hey, it's better than that Georgia heat any day of the week. I ended up wearing what I would call my warmest outfit with a dress, leggings, and a cardigan sweater, and to my surprise, many women in The Netherlands were wearing dresses with leggings! I was kind of afraid that I'd stick out like a sore thumb or easily be identified as an American because of how i dressed, but I ended up fitting right in.
Today we went to lunch in the town center, and it is absolutely crazy how many people use bicycles to get around in this country. There are more bikes than cars, and there are actually bike lanes paved between the road and the sidewalk. I even saw one with a wooden child's seat attached to the front! They also used more scooters than motorcycles as well.
Our appointment today was with Eurojust, an organization within the EU that facilitates and mediates criminal court on an international scale. For example, if there is an international crime that involves both Portugal and Spain, Eurojust is used to facilitate the gathering of evidence from the different countries in order to continue investigations. They act more like a liaison between differing national laws. There we met our Brazilian buddies that will be traveling and going with us to the same EU appointments for the remainder of our trip. They are all so nice and speak very good English. I occasionally could pick up some of their conversation between one another in Portuguese because of my having learned Spanish, but they speak so fast! Eventually they'd remember that we didn't understand, and they'd keep the conversation in English so we could participate.
After the appointment at Eurojust, we had a walking tour of The Hague and visited many beautiful sites. I must say, they have some of the most beautiful roses I've ever seen. They reminded me a lot of those I saw in Austria 8 years ago. They just don't bloom like that in the US. We saw the British and American embassies, the queen's castle, some imported art from South Africa, and some beautiful architecture.
Once the tour was over, we had a welcome dinner at a place called Rootz. We were served a three course meal, and they served one of the most unique but tastiest salads I've ever had. It was primarily zucchini, red peppers, onions, and some other types of vegetables, but it was very delicious.
After getting to know the Brazilian students a little better during dinner, they invited us out for drinks, and we compared American and Brazilian culture for a while. A few of them have studied in America so they were a little bit familiar with some American customs. The ones they liked most were July 4th, because of the patriotism, Thanksgiving because of the good food, Black Friday because of all the shopping deals and mass humanity, and of course, Christmas. Apparently we celebrate it slightly different, but I told them it really depends on the family traditions and what region you are in. We taught them some American slang and they taught us some Portuguese slang...needless to say, it's been an interesting night, but I've got to get up bright and early in the morning.
So, until tomorrow.
**update** I corrected my spelling errors. Those were a result of the fact that it was 1:30am in The Netherlands, and my iPad was auto correcting me...obviously it chose the wrong words occasionally. Lol.