This website ceased updating on March 19, 2012 and was archived on January 30, 2014. Links may be broken/misdirected and emails will not be replied to. Please use your best judgement when using this website. For more from the creator, visit AmandaPotter.com

That’s a Wrap

And that’s all folks. Thank you very much for reading Maastricht Minutiae and sharing your questions and comments with me. I cherish my time in Maastricht, even the difficult bits, and being able to keep this blog and help others along the way enriched my experience. I hope to be able to visit the area again and hope all of you continue your international adventures.

Maastricht Minutiae will stay online for an indefinite period of time while I work on putting it and its content to bed. I hope to donate it to the Expat Archive Centre in Den Haag and with luck they will be able to maintain the website archivally. This means no new updates, but the content that exists will be available for future historians, researchers, and curious folks.

If you’re interested in following me across the pond, I am starting up a new website at AmandaPotter.com. This will be a personal and professional website where I catalog my projects and talk about my work and play. If we venture out of the Boston area, as seems likely, I’ll certainly be off blogging about location again. I hope to see you there.

Three Things I Already Miss

Since we’ve moved back to the United States I’ve had a bad case of comparison-itis. I suppose it’s only natural. After all we’re always looking for the familiar to hold on to, and while the Netherlands never fully became home for me, a lot of little things did rub off. I suspect that I’ll quickly normalize back into American culture But in the meantime, here are three things that I miss (and thing the United States would benefit from).

 1. Coins

Ok, so they would be dollar coins here, but I cannot believe America hasn’t gotten on board with the $1 and $2 coin concept yet. They are convenient, small, and the dollar is small denomination these days. The first time someone handed me back a fist full of dollar bills I wanted to demand coins. Why would I want a bunch of paper artificially inflating my wallet? We’ve even had the laughable $2 bill in this country. I’m getting use to it, but seriously America. The $1 coin’s day has come. Let’s switch over already.

2. Tax Included

I’ve always though tax included in the price is a great idea, but I really got comfortable with the idea while we were in the Netherlands. I know it would probably be tricky, with state sales tax being so variable, but the EU does it with the VAT. Tax included means I’ve completely forgotten how to do percentage math in my head (plus I think they changed the rates in Massachusetts just to confuse me). It also means nice round-ish numbers and fewer of those tiny denomination bills taking up space.

3. Beer

Ok, I know we brew a lot of beer in America, but Maastricht is kind of prime beer country situated as it is between Belgium and Germany. My favorite American brews are simply not as flavorful and interesting as the ones I could get in Maastricht. And don’t get started on the mass produced stuff. Hmm… maybe I should start an export business.

 

Bonus

The people. All my friends.  I’m missing you guys. If I could bring you all with me I would. Of course, you might not all want to live on the Cape.

Working with International Movers

When we moved to Maastricht, the movers were handled for us by the University of Maastricht. Unfortunately that means when we moved back we had to locate and hire a moving company for the first time in our lives. A bit harried? Yes. Especially because the encounter isn’t over yet. To get the cheapest shipping we could we paid for literal shipping in a large crate with other people’s things. The upshot is that I won’t be able to wrap up this little adventure until our things arrive in mid-April. Slow boat indeed.

image (cc) Jim Bahn. Licensed via Creative Commons on Flickr

Picking the Mover

Selecting a mover wasn’t too bad, although it was hard to know who was trustworthy or not with our lack of experience. We researched mover options on expat websites and submitted quote requests to several companies through some online quote request websites. We also looked as “POD” moving, but couldn’t find a company that would go from the Netherlands to the USA (if you’re moving to/from the UK though, there are a few options).

Only 3 companies got back to us and after looking at reviews, comparing prices and finding out who could pick up the earliest in January, we went with Pearson Moving Company; a UK removal company that operates worldwide.

Packing & Pickup

I must admit I was a little concerned about Pearson hiring a Dutch contractor to pack and pick up our things. Not that it would be a serious problem; just that I was already in stress-ville over making sure the truck would have space to park and had recently had a really bad language barrier experience with a mason who came in to half-fix our tub. Fortunately for me neither issue came up.

The movers themselves turned out to be a couple of guys who had driven their huge moving truck from the UK and were doing a loop through several European countries doing pickups and drop-offs before returning to their home base. They were on time, friendly, packed all our items remarkably well (I think), and generally made this stage of the move headache free.

For parking I was able to get a prepaid parking slip for the truck, but we had to stake out space. Unfortunately Maastricht doesn’t have a system in place to post an areas as a “no parking” zone.

The Waiting Game

This week I got an email from Pearson indicating that our items would be arriving in port on March 6th. With import regulations and the travel I don’t expect to see our items until the end of the month. But I’m staying positive about it. I have no reason to expect that things will arrive in anything but a steller condition. With luck Dan & I will have jobs and be moving into our own place by the time they get here.

 

A girl can hope right?

Flying Home with Cats in Tow

And we’re back, but only for a limited showing. Now that Dan and I have moved out of Maastricht, I’ll only be making a few more posts before officially moving my blogging activities over to a new site. The website won’t be going away right away, but do expect to see changes some time in the future. I’d like the articles to continue to be available for new expats; in as much as they can be useful as things change. But for now, let’s talk cats.

The number one question I’ve gotten with our move back to the United States is “What about the cats?”. Would we be moving them? How? Do they have to be in quarantine?

Of course since the cats came with us from the US, we knew they would return there with us. I just didn’t expect US regulation on cats to be so straight forward. The USDA regulates the import of all animals, pets or for resale, and while their regulations on dogs and birds are pretty strict, about the only thing you need for a cat flown in cabin or hold is an inspection upon arrival. The inspection runs about $100 and they recommend you contact the airport before your flight to make sure someone is on hand. We avoided this inspection, as you’ll see below.

KLM/Delta in contrast has more strict regulations. They both required a rabies booster shot and a statement of health that was no more than 7 days old. We used a Pet Passport, an EU standard document for pet records, which was very handy. I hope that our vets here will be able to continue using it to track our cats’ visits and inoculations. Naturally the airline also had strict, and sometimes contradictory, regulations for the carrier, when to feed your pet before flight, etc. We were told to follow Delta’s rules since it was their airplane we’d be flying on (even though we booked through KLM). Finally you’ve got to get pre-approved to bring a pet aboard an airplane. Since there is limited space and other restrictions, it’s a good idea to get that approval early, as we discovered.

Flying Freight

The trickiest and more frustrating part of moving the cats actually arose from the time of year. In the winter most airlines restrict when you can transport a cat in the hold; generally because not all airplane holds are heated or because the animal could end up sitting on the cold tarmac. KLM/Delta had strict temperature rules, which is fine, but seemed unable to enforce them evenly. That was a problem. After weeks of no response from KLM, I contacted Delta (whose airplane we would be on) and they told me the cats could not fly in the hold. It would be too cold out in Amsterdam (remember how warm it was in early January? Seriously Delta?).
Of course Delta somehow didn’t communicate their decision to KLM and when we checked in the airline rep wanted to know where our animals were. Oh well.

Our alternative? Flying air cargo on the same plane. This meant we would have to contract with a third party company and paying 3 times as much. The paperwork was, fortunately, the same and the company we used did include carriers and pick up in Maastricht so we didn’t have to drive the cats up to Amsterdam with us.

In fact, except for the cost I was pretty cool with the cats going air cargo. They were on the same plane as us, I knew they would overnight in a proper pet hotel, and we got a day to clean up without pets under foot. Unfortunately the positive aspects of the experience were overshadowed by 2 hours of driving around Logan airport and the docks in Boston trying to get someone to sign our import documents. We had been given the impression that the contractor was taking care of all the clearance documentation and we just had to pick our cats up. Instead we had to track down an official who had the ability to release the animals to us. An official we found on in an office building several miles away in the docks for cruise ships. My takeaways?

 

  1. I’ll never use VCK Logistics as a pet carrier again. I don’t know who got their lines crossed, but I wasn’t impressed.
  2. If you bring animals in cargo into Logan Airport, give plenty of time to do paperwork.

Fortunately both Agatha and Einstein have settled in well over the last several weeks. They like their new, bigger space in my inlaws’ basement and I suspect the kibble they’re getting now might be a little less fattening. They’ve both lost weight, but they seriously needed it.

The Maastricht Minutiae Virtual Yard Sale

Since I haven’t got a yard, but I do have a load of furniture and such that we can’t take with us, I offer you this virtual yard sale. All the items we’re selling are listed here and on this downloadable PDF; most of them with pictures. I’m happy to answer questions, take pictures, etc.

Prices are as listed or best offer. Pick up after January 1st is preferred, but must be before January 8th. Please email me as soon as possible to purchase an item or for more information. 

 2 Large Tables/Desks with adjustable legs – €10 each

Grey Clip-on Desk Lamp – €5

Short Filing Cabinet on Wheels, white – €20

2-Door Wardrobe with upper shelf. Light wood with frosted plastic panels - €20

1-Door Wardrobe with upper shelf. Medium wood color - €20

Drying Rack - €5

Cannon all-in-one Printer (Pixima MP560) - €30

Cannon Printer (Pixma iP3600) - €20

Vacuum Cleaner (canister, no filter style) - €25

Long Mirror, wall hanging - €5

Magnatron (microwave & oven combi) - €30

6 cup Coffee Maker, drip style - €10

1 cup Coffee Maker, drip style. Can take coffee pads - €5

Butcher Block counter on wheels. Natural wood - €30

Electric Teakettle/Watercooker - €10

TV Stand, black - €50

Washing Machine - €20

Dryer - €50

Standing lamp, silver - €10

4-Drawer Bureau, black - €30

2 3-Drawer Bureau, black - €30

Glass Digital Bathroom Scale - €10

Toiletry baskets, black webbing (4) - €1

Short standing cabinet with door and one drawer - €5

Shaving Mirror - €2

Small silver trashcan -  €2

Men’s bike. 3-Speed (back wheel needs repair) - FREE

Broken Men’s Bike (petals/gears broken) – FREE

Broken Women’s Bike (shifter needs to be repaired. Needs new tires) – FREE

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