Medical Adventures

By - January 27, 2004 (Updated: June 18, 2009)

I don’t have a whole lot of interesting blog topics, as we had a relatively sedate weekend. Saturday we went to Utrecht to do some (mainly window) shopping. I didn’t take a whole lot of pics as it was raining pretty hard and you’ve all seen my gazillion pics of Utrecht at home anyway. We did have lunch at Bond & Smolder, my favorite little bakery. Dessert was to die for (see pics). We had supper in Amsterdam at an out of the way Pub.

Sunday we went to the Tropenmuseum which is just several tram stops from the condo. It is a museum of civilizations/anthropology of tropical and sub-tropical cultures with an emphasis on the Dutch colonies. It was quite interesting and well presented. There was an exhibit on Urban Islam in the centre which you can see in the pics. We spent the day at the museum and then walked back to our hang-out, The Frankendael Cafe. They had a live jazz band that wasn’t too bad so we hung out for a while and then had supper.

Monday was my adventure in the Dutch medical system. Through Andrew’s sleuthing we found a Dr. close-by who would take patients without appointments between 8:15 and 9 am. We tracked down the office which was quite small but nice enough and waited to see the Dr. While his English wasn’t the greatest (much better than our Dutch) he was very nice and helpful. He gave me forms to have my blood tested and was interested in where we were from. He was rather appalled when we told him it was -20 degrees at home. Then we headed to the blood clinic which was also very close-by. We talked to the receptionist who was very nice but she had never heard of our street and was convinced that we were spelling it wrong. Eventually she gave up and let us in anyway.

For those of you who are used to blood-clinics at home (Anna & Cheri) you know how long the wait is… a good hour at the least. I waited for maybe 5mins to see one of the 7 (that’s right, 7!!!) nurses taking blood. We had to explain my situation for the third time, but like most nurses, she seemed to have a better idea what was going on than the Dr. She was also confused about where we lived but eventually figured out we were in the new condos on the old Ajax stadium (Yay! We exist!). She took the blood and sent us on our way. The whole ordeal, including the Dr. visit and drive time was an hour (try that in Canada). Within a few hours I had the results, now we just have to wait for the bill (hrmm…)

Observations On the Dutch Part 2

  1. The Dutch love their animals: If you don’t like animals, don’t come to the Netherlands. The Dutch are less restrictive about pets than in N. America. For example, you can take your dog anywhere … literally. Malls, shops, restaurants, public transport; there are very few places that you aren’t allowed to take your dog. In addition, many businesses have their own pets. We’ve seen shop dogs and cats and several restaurant cats. One particular little black cat greeted each table at an Italian restaurant we ate in. Around the corner from our condo is an emergency hospital, complete with half a dozen ambulances … for animals. Yup, if Fido gets sick you can call him an ambulance. The downside to the abundance of animals and lack of green spaces is doggy-poo … everywhere. You have to watch you step in the city because the lack of grass means dogs do their business on the sidewalks … not that pleasant.
  2. The Dutch don’t drink water: And neither will you unless you want to pay $1.80 euro for a tiny bottle. That’s the average restaurant rate. (often more than a glass of wine) If you do splurge to quench your thirst, be sure to order spa blauw, or else your water will be carbonated. I don’t know what European came up with this wonderful (not) idea, but they like their water bubbly. The Dutch are surrounded by water; they live on it, they commute in it, but they just don’t drink it.
  3. Beware Febo! Febo (pronounced Fay-bo) is a scary thing and with all of the wonderful food options in the Netherlands, I can’t quite figure out why they are so popular. It is basically a take out food establishment, with one BIG difference. Instead of ordering you food, all of the various food items are in individual little lockers. You put money in the locker and take out the food item. Kind of like a giant vending machine. The food ranges from sandwiches (of course) to crockets, fries and various other deep-fried items. At busy times, I’m sure it’s relatively fresh … but there’s no way of knowing how long your crocket has been baking under the heat lamp in its locker. I can only assume that after extreme alcohol and/or pot consumption, Febo seems like a good idea…

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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