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Published: July 19th 2007
Monday late night/Tuesday (travel time)
Bruce and I caught a late flight (11 pm) from Santorini back to Athens, and as luck would have it, it was late leaving. From Athens Bruce was heading home and I was continuing my trip. Final stop- The Netherlands via Frankfurt, Germany. Because Bruce had an early morning flight (6 am), he only had about 4 hours to sleep. On the other hand, my plane left after 11 am, so I woke up around 8am (sorry Bruce) and got to enjoy the nice pillow-top bed, the tub, the shower, and all the other amenities. This was a top-notch hotel, the best one I stayed at during my whole trip (which isn't saying much really), and by far the most expensive. We had to stay there because of Bruce's departure time, needing a hotel close to the airport. At least someone got to enjoy it. 😉
Arrive Tuesday- The Netherlands
It was great to be in a place with green everywhere, cool temperatures, clouds in the sky, and, yes, even the occasional rain shower. Didn't think I'd ever be happy to see rain. Cool, refreshing, wet rain.
My friends, Wim
and Berry, live in Zwolle about 1 1/2 hours northeast of Amsterdam by train. They are both Dutch and have visited the States a few times. I met Wim and Berry through a friend, Jim, many years ago. I've had them over for a visit (to Ocean City during Isabel) while they were staying with Jim and I saw them during my last trip to Amsterdam in 2002.
Berry was kind enough to meet me at Schiphol airport and from there we boarded a train to Zwolle around 6pm. It was great to see these guys after five years. And Wim's house, where I stayed, was just as I remembered it, warm and welcoming. I quickly settled in as they ordered Chinese food for dinner.
I love the Netherlands. Where Wim's house is it is a 20 minute walk to the center of town (5 minute bike ride) yet there are livestock and crops close by too. I would describe Wim's neighborhood as a suburb, but nothing like what we have in the U.S. In fact, even though houses are close togther here, there's a horse in a small pasture right across the street, a public pond in
the back of his house, and a small market area a block away. AND it's quiet.
We started the day with a traditional Dutch breakfast (photo). Lots of cold cuts, cheese, brown breads with butter and jam, hard-boiled eggs, juice, coffe/tea (very hot), and fruit. Of course, they have this kind of meal during their holdiay or when they have guests, not everyday. Fortunately for me, it was everyday. And I enjoyed every bite!
After breakfast we walked to the "centrum" (town center) of Zwolle. Wednesday was a special market day. Hundreds of people were out and about. I asked Wim and Berry why these people weren't at work. They said it was because they also were on holiday. The guys showed we the major attractions of their quaint town. I saw the Gate Tower, old streets, part of the original fortication wall of the town, the canal, and many other things.
It was a quiet day for us. In the evening, Berry cooked us a wonderful dinner. It was "lekker." A lekker dinner. Lekker is a word you hear a lot here. It means nice, delicious, good, sweet, fine. Berry is a fantastic
cook. Wim and I are fantastic dish washers. Afterwards we had coffee or tea and relaxed. Lots of relaxation on this part of the trip. Welterusten (good night)!
The weather was perfect, sunny and mild. After another terrific breakfast, we gathered things together for a full day at the beach. Not an ocean beach, but a lake beach. Wim's sister lives on the lake and near the beach where we were headed. We stopped in for a few minutes for tea and a chat. Wim decided to stay with his sister and go for a walk while Berry and I headed for a lazy day under the sun. Later Wim joined us by swimming across the lake from his sister's. I couldn't have asked for a better day.
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