Welcome!

We are Nico and Marlies Wobben and in February 2008 we moved from the Netherlands to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada! Nico is an RN at the General Hospital and I (Marlies) work from home, as an administrator at Canada Life and for my own web design business Feel The Fire. And we have 7 cats!
  • Regina
  • Amsterdam

Back In Holland…

» photo albums 2007/CANADA

Since Sunday afternoon we are on Dutch turf again. The flights were all good and on time, but Heathrow was very busy this time (we needed 1,5 hour for the change, but had 3). On the flight from Regina to Edmonton I got some nice aerial shots of Regina from the south. On the ‘big’ flight to London we had personal video screens so we could watch movies and other (TV) stuff all the time and make our own choices, that was awesome! The flight went by fast and I saw a Canadian movie (A Simple Curve) and 2 new movies (Wild Hogs, hilarious movie about 4 middle ages guys/’weekend-biker-wannabes’ getting in trouble on a road trip and Shooter, awesome action thriller with Mark Wahlberg being a former sniper who gets set up by the FBI). But because of that I didn’t sleep (when I finally wanted to, the lights went back on and they served breakfast….) and I was exhausted when we were at Heathrow and during the last short flight of 40 mins I only slept a bit. At the Amsterdam airport my brother picked us up (that was about 5.30pm our time) and after some talking, showers and eating, we went to bed before 10. Thanks again for everything guys!! It’s so great to be able to share our experiences with you and to get a shower and some sleep before traveling further to Heerlen the next day!

We slept very well and I was so refreshed when I woke up at 8am on the Monday morning… and then when I was up for half an hour I was already thinking about going to bed again haha! The ride home was fine too, we stopped in Eindhoven to visit my dad and the rest of the afternoon we unpacked and all that.

Yesterday I slept from 12.30am until 2pm (PM!!), but still felt so awful.. in the night I finally realized why. It wasn’t just the jet lag, but also an upcoming cold with a good fever! After another good sleep it’s a bit better today, luckily. We visited Bianca (former co-worker) in Grevenbicht this morning and I finished the Regina report/photo albums while watching As The World episodes. I may have a slight fever again and the cold definitely set in (nose) – time to get in bed early with a painkiller, because tomorrow I have to work again (Nico started today)!

So we are looking back on two awesome weeks in Regina! We never left the city, but had a great time. Eternal thanks (once again) to Tim and Cortney for everything and to Tim’s dad Jack for the bikes!! We talked to a realtor, a mortgage broker, opened a bank account, saw a lot of (eastern) Regina and met a lot of friends. For Nico’s RN exam (and with that our progress in the emigration process) we will have to wait until mid August for the results!

Last Days In Regina

» photo albums 2007/CANADA

Lisa and Jaimie took me to the Regina Memorial Gardens to visit the boys. Dave and Danny are buried next to each other, but there isn’t any grass on their plot yet, nor the headstone that they are going to get (with Band Of Brothers on it, their names and pictures). Of course it was a little emotional for me, but not too much – mostly because Lisa and Jaimie visit so often that it’s become a ritual for them and not so much something very sad. Everything about this whole trip hasn’t been as emotional as I was afraid it would be, for the most part it was just really good to see everyone again.

The ‘Metal Wednesday’ night was fun again, even though the turn out was low. We did have fun with the folks that were there (e.g. Luc who I hadn’t seen yet and Sarah) and we all even got a little drunk on the cheap 2$ drafts πŸ˜‰

Thursday, June 14th

We slept in and in the afternoon Sandy took us downtown to visit Vintage Vinyl (records, t-shirts) and briefly Planet Caravan (tattoos, piercings) where I met Steph’s boyfriend Danny. I still hadn’t seen her nor visited their new home, so he gave me their phone numbers.

We then went to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, someone had told me it was a short tour, so we’d have enough time left in the last hour it would be open. Well people… that was a mistake.

There are three sections (Earth Sciences, First Nations and Life Sciences) with awesome 3D displays, real (stuffed) animals and many other items. So fascinating and so well done!! We pretty much ran through the whole thing and I took lots of pics, but we hardly had time to read all the info boards. Some day we really have to come back and take our time here!!!

Later on we took Cortney, Tim, Geneva and Marlin out to dinner at Tony Roma’s where we had an awesome meal! On our way over there, we saw some very heavy clouds moving in on us, you could see some clouds twirling (luckily tornado’s are not common over there πŸ˜‰ ) and we saw some lightning. Luckily we were in the restaurant when the rain poured down!

Friday, June 15th

Our last full day here… our plans to have lunch with Sped (Chris) fell through, but with Tim we went to the postal office (to send off the package I had for Astrid as we didn’t go to Saskatoon to visit her after all), the bank and for lunch to Denver’s.

After that I reached Steph and we biked over there for a visit. So finally we saw her new house! She and Danny bought a gorgeous old character home near General Hospital with the porch I would love to have so much, so I named it MY porch πŸ˜‰ And let’s not forget that it was great seeing Steph again too haha!

For dinner Marlin insisted to take us out on our last night and he took us to Peking House for some great Chinese food. Thanks!! Afterwards he dropped us off at the Legislative Building, where the Relay For Life was. A yearly all-night event to celebrate cancer survivors, remember lost ones and raise money for the Cancer Society. The Band Of Brothers had a team there and we went to check it out. First there was a big group of survivors walking around the flowerbeds in front of the ‘Ledge’ where we ran into Cortney’s aunt Charlotte and then the teams started to walk rounds – actually they will continue to do so until 7am!! Carol saw us and told us where their camp was (there was a campsite on the fields on both sides). We spent some time there with Lisa, Jaimie, Carol, Taysha, Shayla, Emily and a few more people of the team. The members would take turns to walk a few rounds and when it got dark it was time to go lit ‘our’ luminaries (Dave, Danny, their uncle John and grandpa Walter) that were lined up along the paths. What an impressive sight! Around 11pm Ken came to get Carol and the kids and he took us to Tim’s as well. And as I’m staying up very late because I feel like updating the albums and this blog, the team is most likely still walking their rounds around the flower beds.

Tomorrow is our last day.. in the morning we’ll pack, we’ll have lunch with Tim and Cortney and then we’ll head over to the Stephensons for a quick last visit. We have to be at the airport around 4 as we fly out at 5.55pm. So see ya again when we’re back in NL!

Time For A Regina Update Again!

» photo albums 2007/CANADA

Wow I can’t believe it’s been a week since I updated our log! Guess time flies when you’re having fun πŸ™‚

Thursday, June 7th – part 2

Marlo and Stace picked us up at 6 and we went to Moxie’s classic grill for supper. I had ribs and chicken and it was of course way too much (doggy baaag!) but very good. Afterwards we went to their house for a bit and then we walked back to Tim’s. It was so good to catch up with them again!

Friday, June 8th

We went to have breakfast at Stan’s Diner with Tim and I had pancakes for a change. Apple-cinnamon.. and they were huge and very thick! Again I couldn’t finish my meal and asked for a doggy bag πŸ˜›

That night we went to McNallys to see Sonic Orchid play. We also saw the band the last time we were in town and singer Christina is Stu’s girlfriend. We were pleasantly surprised to see Carol (Dave and Danny’s mom) there too, it was so great to see her again. The show was fun, Nico took some pics and Tim got on stage for one song (to sing Crazy Train from Ozzy Osbourne) πŸ™‚

Saturday, June 9th

I didn’t feel so great, tired and I was afraid of getting a migraine. I took a pill and went to bed for the afternoon, I actually slept for hours! Nico went for a bike ride to Wascana Park and took some pics there.

Around 5 we went to the Stephensons for a BBQ. As always that’s good times – so great to see them all again and their hospitality is just unsurpassed. We had some good burgers (loved the buffalo ones!), chats and the weather stayed good too (later that night we did get some rain and thunder). And just when I thought I’d burst from all the food, Carol came out with a birthday cake for Lisa, who will turn 33 on Monday πŸ™‚

Sunday, June 10th

I was still tired so we didn’t do much during the day, only went to Costco, where you can buy stuff wholesale on a customer card, and at 5 we went to Christina‘s for (yet another πŸ™‚ ) BBQ. We had a good time there as well and when we got back, we went for an ice cream at the Milky Way. There was a huge line and I think we had to wait half an hour before we got our ice cream! But it was delicious, so worth the wait. We also bumped into Marlo and Stace there… that’s Regina for ya!

Monday, June 11th

Today we went out on our own with the bicycles again. We went to ride around in the neighbourhoods south and southwest of Tim’s and got a few things at a grocery store. There was a Western Pizza with an outside patio as well, so that seemed like a good place to get some lunch.

At 3 we met with the realtor (Bill Soloduk) that Jack had recommended. He explained a few things to us and hooked us up with a befriended mortgage broker (Don Schick) that would be able to tell us more about our possibilities about buying and getting a mortgage once we move. We made an appointment with him for Wednesday.

After supper we wanted to go out with the bicycles again (it’s just so great and the weather is perfect for it). I wanted to see if Steph would be home and went on MSN to see if she was there. Instead I talked to Jessica and we spontaneously went to Eastview to visit her for a little bit! πŸ™‚

Tuesday, June 12th

Time for a bigger bicycle ride. First we went to Stan’s for breakfast and funny enough we saw Tim pass by in his cab just when we got outside again! Somehow Regina seems so small πŸ™‚

We wanted to go to the University bookstore and the one on Wascana Campus to see if Nico could find a few books there from his list. Whether he’d pass or fail his test – it’s always good to have more literature on nursing in Canada. It was an awesome trip to get there, we spent a lot of time at the U of R bookstore (bought a few books, souvenirs and gifts) at the University grounds, but the bookstore at the Wascana Campus (just outside of the ringroad) was closed. When we wanted to leave we suddenly saw a whole bunch of small animals in the grass and near the roads: gophers (Richardson’s ground squirrels)! It must sound crazy, but it was the first time we ever saw them!! It was cute to watch them (they were smaller than I thought though) for a while.

Then we rode back along the Wascana park as far as Broad St. (some wonderful views over Wascana Waterfowl Park!!) and then back to Tim’s through the neighbourhood.

Since we were already in the shopping mode, we had Tim drop us off downtown to visit the Cornwall Centre. We visited Lisa at the Carlton shop and ran into Janelle (last year we met her at Derek’s in Calgary where she was living at that moment) at HMV! It’s crazy how many people we seem to know here. It’s a city of close to 200,000 people and we keep bumping into people we know! Again, as Tim would say, that’s Regina for ya πŸ™‚

By then we were filthy and sweaty and had the best showers ever! Around 8 we went for wings to meet some more saskmetal folks and that was again sweet! We finally met Sped (Chris) after all these years and a few more I didn’t know yet (and a bunch I did know of course).

Wednesday, June 13th

We were up fairly early and went to the University Park strip mall for that appointment at the Re/Max office with mortgage broker Don Schick. That was a good talk and he printed out some information for us. A few months ago, they have changed the rules for new immigrants to make it easier – that was great to hear! We can get a mortgage without a landed status (since we’ll only be there on a work permit in the beginning) after living there for 3 months. It also depends on credit history of course, but he said that a credit report from our bank in Holland will count! He also explained some stuff for us and calculated a few things as an example of our options. We can probably look into higher priced houses than we have so far, but the prices have already gone up a lot lately and they are expected to keep rising – hopefully we can still afford it by then!!

Then we went to the CIBC bank office in the same strip mall to open a savings acount. No problem and we now have one! Plus a debit card that we could use in stores if we’d have money in the account, but we didn’t put anything in just yet.

We biked on to Tim Horton’s (lunch) the Victoria Mall and to Wal-Mart (shopping), to return back at Tim’s around 5.5 hours after we left πŸ™‚ It’s so great to be able to get out on our own and esp. with the bicycles!

Tonight Lisa is coming to pick me up to go to the cemetery, I haven’t been to Dave and Dan’s graves yet. I don’t dread it, but we’ll see how it goes. Nico will walk to their house later on and meet us there for a bit (need to exchange some pics) and around 9 it’s time to meet up with some people at the Distrikt again for the ‘metal Wednesday’.

Exam’s Done!

» photo albums 2007/CANADA

Well, Nico’s exam is over and it’s out of his hands now! It was a long day and he said it was very difficult. Now he has to wait until the third week of August to get the results… yep that long! πŸ™ And what if he doesn’t pass? The next exam is in October, but by the time you get the results of this test, the deadline to apply for the new one has long passed. I would think they will make an exception for people that need to re-take a test, but in another blog we read you’d have to apply for the one after that in February. I don’t know… Nico will have to ask about that!

Tuesday, June 5th (part 2)

After dinner Nico went to study some more and I went with Cortney and Geneva to visit her grandma and go to a kid’s playground nearby. At her grandma’s we also saw Cortney’s aunt Charlotte again, who we had met the last time we were in town. She also came with us for a bit to that playground. It’s called “It’s A Blast”, you had to take off your shoes and walk around on socks. The biggest thing in there is a big structure you can climb into, with tubes, slides and much more. We played in there until it closed at 8.

Wednesday, June 6th

First of all.. happy birthday to my nephew Sander!! I meant to call, but when I thought of it, it was already so late in Holland… πŸ™

On to our Canadian endeavors.. this is Nico’s big day! Tim dropped him off around 7.30 and because he wasn’t allowed to bring a cellphone, we didn’t hear from him during the day, we just had to wait until after 5.30pm when he’d be done.

In the meantime I thought I’d go shopping πŸ˜‰ Jack gave us his bikes to use (thank you!) and I went to Walmart by bicycle! Quite an adventure… streets are not made for bicyclists here, so in the small ones it’s ok, but on the big ones you want to stay on the sidewalks! And Victoria Avenue doesn’t have sidewalks all the way, so I had to figure out an alternative route, esp. because I had to cross the busy ring road (highway 1) and there are not a lot of options for that. I went to Victoria (crossing the main streets just by walking), then biked on the sidewalk until the north service road started (a smaller road alongside the main one) with an underpass at the ring road, then crossed Victoria to get on the parking lot of the first shopping area, then continued on the parking lot and another street to finally find the Walmart πŸ™‚ I spent some hours there and somehow made my way back with all my purchases (stopping at Tim Horton’s for a donut and yummy English Toffee cappuccino πŸ™‚ ).

At 6pm Nico got back ‘home’ and Tim ordered in: a combo of pizza, lasagne, dry ribs, Caesar salad and garlic toast. Pig out time!

And at 9pm we went to the Distrikt for the new ‘metal Wednesday’ thing, to see some of the friends! It was great to see a lot of friends and other familiar faces again, like Sandra, Jaimie, Lisa, Jim, Justin, Tyler, Naiomi, Kristie, Heather, Ryan, Nathan, Krista, Ted (am I forgetting anyone??) and last but not least Dana who I used to occasionally chat with, but hadn’t seen online anymore in years.

Thursday, June 7th

This afternoon Tim showed us a few upper class neighbourhoods in this southeastern part of town. Esp. Wascana View was crazy.. huge houses, but to be honest no warm atmosphere at all, it all looked so clean and empty, as if people don’t really live there. It was fun to see though and we must’ve been lucky we didn’t get pulled over by the police, driving around slowly in an old and shady white van, taking pictures of rich houses πŸ˜‰ We also saw some parts that were actually really nice.

The plan for tonight is to see Marlo and Stace, tomorrow Stu’s girlfriend Christina plays at the Drink with her cover band Sonic Orchid, on Saturday we’re invited to the Stephensons for a BBQ and Sunday to Christina.. our schedule is filling up haha (next Monday maybe to Saskatoon for a day, haven’t made definite plans yet).

Checking Out The Neighbourhood

» photo albums 2007/CANADA

We’ve been chilling, getting used to the new time zone, hanging out with Tim and Cortney, studying (Nico) and walking around the neighbourhood. Nothing too exciting yet for you to read about, but hey Nico has to study as his exam is already tomorrow!

Monday, June 4th

We were up very early and went for a walk in the neighbourhood around 7-7.30am. First to the west to Reynolds St. where Stace and Marlo live, we definitely have to look them up this time. We walked by the house and on Victoria Avenue we went west again all the way to General Hospital. The weather was so nice (sunny and not too warm) that we just kept going πŸ™‚ We walked down the street right before the hospital, Toronto Street. On that street a car pulled over and someone called my name… I looked and low and behold, it was Marlo!!! What are the odds! She gave me her phone number so we’ll have to call soon to hook up with them. On the last block before College Avenue, Steph bought a house with her boyfriend, a beautiful old character home with brown siding and white accents and a porch!!! So, pretty much my dream house πŸ˜‰ On College we walked back (east) to McAra St. again where we are staying. Quite a long walk/stroll, at least an hour and a half! Very nice to take in the neighbourhood like that!

We were very hungry by then, because we didn’t see any place to have breakfast on our walk. We grabbed a bun from the kitchen and went to the RV. Nico wanted to study for a few hours and I was so tired still that I took a nap. At 11-11.30 we walked to a nearby small food market to get a few things and a coffee to go. By the way, Tim’s been working (he owns two cabs) mornings until 1-2pm and Cortney is now working full-time for a photographer (she’s a photographer and a wiz with Photoshop). Around 1 Tim came to fetch us to have lunch together with Cortney. Three of us took dry ribs in Danny’s name πŸ˜‰ After lunch Nico went with Cortney to see where she works, I went with Tim to get Geneva from the daycare and we chilled at the house for the rest of the day (drinking a beer, doing some online stuff, eating delicious BBQ food and watching a movie at night).

Oh and we’ve been fantasizing about the house-for-sale exactly across the street from Tim (but it’s supposedly pretty pricey and there are some questionable cracks and shifting in the foundation – didn’t see it from the inside though). And it’s not like we are in any position to buy a house now, but it’s a cute house (once we would’ve painted it πŸ˜‰ ) to fantasize about πŸ˜›

Tuesday, June 5th

Although I woke up at 5am , I fell asleep at 6am again, until 8, so it’s getting better πŸ™‚ We went for another walk this morning, after Tim dropped us off at our beloved Stan’s Diner on Park St. and we had the Hungrymen’s Breakfast there. We walked back via Broadway Avenue (passing the Stephensons house) and Miller Avenue to Mackay St., then via the 15th to Broder St. where Jack knew of a house that was going to be sold once it’s fixed up. If we remember it correctly it was #2212 (see pic) and it sure is a cute character home. Definitely a fixer-upper though.

Back at the RV I updated the photo album and this log, and Nico is studying. Tomorrow is his big day!

Regina

» photo albums 2007/CANADA

Saturday, June 2nd

Ton brought us to Schiphol (Amsterdam airport) in the morning, where we checked in for the first flight, to London Heathrow with BMI. The plane was small, but the seats were spacious. No free drinks (had to buy if you wanted one), but the flight was over before you knew it anyway. Then we had a fairly short changeover in London (less than half an hour), but despite horror stories we heard, our changeover went very fast! The signs were clear and when we arrived at the bus stop, the bus to terminal 3 just got there and was at that terminal in four minutes! This is nothing compared to our experience in Toronto in 2004. The security check was very fast too and after that there was a big food court – meaning we could take liquids on board (besides the mini packages in the zip bag)! So we bought a few half liter bottles of water and had plenty to drink on the long flight! We also had time to share a bagle and a latte.

The Air Canada flight to Edmonton was around nine hours, but they passed quicker than on any long flight we had before. The seats were comfy and spacious (although we didn’t get the bulkhead seats we thought we had reserved, but ours (in the middle isle, but a few seats behind the bulkhead) were just fine anyway (and the service is always good). In the beginning I dozed off for a few moments, but pretty fast they started with the movies. Freedom Writers (about a teacher who makes a difference on a school with difficult students, members of various gangs that initially hate each other and such), then The Bourne Identity (thriller) and then Austin Powers – The Spy Who Shagged Me (silly humor). We hardly noticed the time and that’s why it flew by so fast! With the landing I unfortunately got a little airsick, but not too bad πŸ˜‰ )

In Edmonton we had five, six hours to kill before flying to Regina. We had to go through customs with our luggage and had to check them in again for the connecting flight. Then we went through the security check and had our first Canadian beer (Canadian for Nico, Big Rock Traditional Ale for me), wings and ribs! That was goooood! We checked out a few shops and killed some more time at the gate (laptop, reading etc) until the 7.50 flight. The flight was fine and in Regina we were welcomed by Tim and Cortney, Russ, Heather and her mom and Janet and a friend of hers, Troy. We didn’t want to go out anymore though and we chilled at Tim and Cortney’s with a beer. We gave our gifts (we got them some very corny Dutch souvenirs like pluche clog-slippers, a BBQ apron with old-Dutch prints and an Amsterdam t-shirt), then we went to bed before 11… in the RV! I had seen pics of the RV Tim’s band went on tour with, and it’s the same 30 ft. one (minus the Cruise Canada advertising) as we rented in 2004. What I didn’t know was that the label had bought it for Tim and it’s parked in the back: our home for the next 14 days, wooh!

Sunday, June 3rd

This morning we woke up too early (as to be expected with the jet lag), we unpacked our stuff and showered in the house. We went to Jack’s (Tim’s dad) place to fill the water tanks of the motorhome, to Husky to get propane and empty the septic tank and to a mall to have a sub sandwich and check out a certain clothing store (Penningtons) but I didn’t buy anything. Jack also got us a good electric cable to plug into the motorhome, so we’re all set now! We can go into the house as we please (the back door is not locked – Canadian eh πŸ˜‰ ), but it gives us both some space as their house is pretty full and has no spare room. And we are in camping mode again, just not in the Rockies haha!

The past few hours (it’s now 5.17pm) Nico has been studying and I’ve been updating this, I got a weak wireless signal with which I’ll try to upload stuff (Tim’s router broke down). The weather used to be sunny and very warm, but the past hours it’s been cloudy and there was a lot of wind (nice!) that suggested there was a thunderstorm somewhere (we only got a few drops of rain). Later on we’re going to BBQ, otherwise no plans yet.

On Our Way To Cana-fkn-da!

» photo albums 2007/CANADA

Today we left home to start our travel back to Canada again. We left at 11am, had a break at Motel Eindhoven to meet up with Jos and Henny who had a DVD for Ton (my brother) and after an hour we continued our trip. We got to Nieuw-Vennep shortly after 3pm and chatted with my sister-in-law Rita for the rest of the afternoon until the rest of the family got home, had dinner and now it’s almost time to turn in. We have to get up early and Ton will drop us off at Amsterdam airport around 7-7.30am. Here’s the flight schedule:

June 2nd
flight 6685 / Amsterdam – London Heathrow 10.10 – 10.25 / airplane 319 (BMI)
flight 899 / London Heathrow – Edmonton Intl. 12.05 – 14.05 / airplane 763 (Air Canada)
flight 8808 / Edmonton Intl. – Regina 19.50 – 21.04 / airplane CRJ (Air Canada Jazz)

We’re going to stay at Tim and Cortney’s in Regina for two weeks (flying back on the 16th). Next Wednesday Nico will have to take the Registered Nurse exam and after that it’s vacation time! We’ll also try to find some emigration-related information on e.g. housing, banking, cars etc.