The title quote is from "The Dutch, I Presume?" a great book about Holland and the quirky things Dutch people do. A gift from Judith - thanks so much!!
Well, I’m down to my last week here in Holland. The trip went by so quickly!
On Thursday we took the day off from shopping and exploration to relax and play some cards. It rained most of the day so good timing. In the afternoon we went to Tante Aartje’s for a bakkee.
Friday was another shopping day with Judith and Wanda. We have so much fun together! This time we took the ferry from Alblasserdam to Rotterdam - now that’s the way to travel! No worries about traffic - just sit back and watch the other boats (busy river!) and the pretty awesome Rotterdam skyline. We first went up the Euromast (which is kind of like the Calgary tower of Rotterdam) for a spectacular view of the city and Europe’s largest harbour. We were able to go up to 100m to the observation deck. It was incredibly windy (this coming from a southern Alberta girl - now that’s windy!) so they shut down the upper viewing deck
which you take a second elevator up to - a height of 185m. That’s OK, I had been to the top in 1993 and wasn’t too disappointed. We enjoyed a snack and hot chocolate at the tower cafe and attempted to brush out our wind-blown hair. Oh and they played funny music in the elevator on the way up and down though I can’t remember now what the songs were! We did a little boogie along the ride.
We walked around the city a little bit and went through the Beurstraverse, a shopping mall sunken below street level. I had pretty much given up on the boots mission, but Judith said why don’t we just try one more store here in Rotterdam? So, OK, last shoe store I’m ever going into in Holland. And guess what.... they had boots in size 43, 44 and even up to 45! (I have big feet, but 45 is REALLY big!). And they were actually nice boots! (OK mini-rant - why do most stores think that just because people have bigger feet that they don’t deserve to wear nice shoes like everyone else? It really gets my goat). And the prices were, well,
gulp, quite high. I usually have to spend quite a bit on my shoes since I can only go to certain stores but I think these are some of the highest prices I’ve ever seen. But regardless of the prices.... drum roll.... success! I bought a great pair of brown suede boots. Love em. Shhh don’t tell Brad how much they cost! I can never buy anything ever again. I basically just window-shopped the rest of the day.
It started to get really rainy and windy later in the afternoon so we just enjoyed a glass of wine at the Wyn Bar and then headed back to catch the ferry. Supper was at Tante Rite’s house with Dick-Jan, Eline, Mark and my dad there too. I taught Dick-Jan a couple of Canadian card games: Heroin (a version of Speed - hehe) and Last One Out - a game Brad and I actually learned in Australia. It was all the rage at the Aussie hostels. So, Dick-Jan, go forth and spread the games across Holland!
(Oh and thanks to both Mark and Dick-Jan for helping me backup my photos this past week! I really appreciate it. There are only
about 4000 of them so far....)
Wanda and I spent Saturday with my cousin Jolanda. Well, first we went to Gorinchem to do a little shopping (first things first!). I was really impressed with the city. All these Dutch cities have such beautiful, historic centres and are a pleasure to walk around. It was busy because it was only a week before Sinterklaas’ Eve - the Dutch holiday of giving gifts celebrated on Dec 5th. The figure Sinterklaas is the basis of our North American Santa Claus. He comes from Spain and rides on a white/grey horse delivering the presents. Kids put their shoes in front of the fireplace and wait to find the gifts Sinterklaas has left for them. He also has little Zwarte Piets (Black Pete) helping him - not elves. The Zwarte Piets take the naughty children in their bags back to Spain. I much prefer the Dutch tradition than how we do things in North America. There, you give little gifts on Dec 5th and Christmas is really just about Christ (as it should be!), rather than being overwhelmed with all the commercialism that takes over Christmas here.
Jolanda had asked me a few
days before what I wanted to do this day. I thought... hmmm I’ve never really been to a castle before! (Except the small one in Victoria, BC but that doesn’t count). So we headed to Loevestein Castle. The afternoon started off quite nice and we got some great pics of the castle. It impressed me that they actually let you explore around quite a bit and I really enjoyed being there. It was built in the mid 1300s and was also used as a prison for a few centuries. I got really creeped out going in the tiny cell where they held the prisoners on the night before they were executed. Brrr - shivers.... Then the rain really started to come down - well, actually from the side! We took shelter by the drawbridge and then made a run for the little cafe on the grounds. We ate our lunch and then braved the rain back to Jo’s car which we’d parked quite far away - well, it was sunny when we parked it! After warming up and drying out at Jo’s house, I refreshed her on the rules of cribbage and we had a relaxing time in her cozy
21st century Dutch house. Ahh the conveniences of not living in the 1300s!
The day ended with us all going to Johan and Andrea’s house to celebrate Johan’s 30th birthday. It was wonderful to be able to spend more time with my cousins, playing cards and being silly.
Sunday was another relaxing day. In the afternoon Dad, Wanda and I went to visit my Tante Heiltje, Oom Flip and cousin Kees. It had shocked a few of us at Willeke and Remco's wedding to discover that Kees could speak English - and quite well! So it was nice to be able to talk to him a little more at their house. Kees showed us a few items out of his 100+ collection of model cars, trucks and farm equipment. We had McDonalds take out for supper - the only time I've eaten McDonalds on this trip (we had passed it on the way to their house and I was actually kind of craving it!).
Only a few days left!
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