Continuing where we left off, just going on the train to
to Groningen, in North Holland.
Remember, it is now the early morning hours in Holland, well, going towards lunch time
by the time we actually get to Groningen.
This means that, for me, with 1 hour sleep, I am awake during the hours
that I normally would be sleeping; but I am too excited to even fully put that together;
I know I was tired and I did fall asleep on the train towards the end,
but I was so excited; I was finally, after years of waiting, in Holland and with my parents
who had visited Holland 15 years or so before and my Husband how had been twice before,
other than his summer in Germany 20+ years ago when they would go over to the beach.
Looking back, I can already begin to see how hard it is with that extra suitcase
and how Mr. Husband was always handling it; I forgot what trains were like
in Europe and got stuck between cars, with doors closing on me.
I got the hang of it but at first thought I could do more with suitcases
by myself, to help out, than I could.
So that meant that for the rest of the trip Mr. Husband did them
mainly by himself and that was really hard.
My Dad later joked that my Husband could write a book:
traveling in Europe by a Lorry;
Lorry being the British word for the trucks that carry heavy loads.
We had one bigger suitcase, in which I had brought
gifts of Trader Joes Chocolate Almonds, Soap, etc.
My carry-on had a lot of more 'emergency supplies' that some of which
I would not pack again, at least for Holland where it was a lot easier to get
things than I first anticipated (I was remembering our trip to
Montreal when we were so sick that just getting to a pharmacy was difficult).
We knew we would have laundry facilities for the first half of our trip;
so I was able to bring less clothes, but I still had to have enough to last
through the last week.
One of the challenges pre-trip was what to pack; it was
unseasonably warm but yet we would still be there in early October
and indeed the last day or so, I had *just* enough layers not to freeze.
I had not realized that Holland's Houses and most Row Houses and apartment buildings,
are made of bricks. They were beautiful! So much of what we saw was so
tidy, well kept and beautiful...
Mr. Husband and I heard from more than one person that one must use
bricks in Holland as the weather would have wood rot in no time, as it were.
The country is below sea-level and damp is an issue....
There were places with more graffiti though, and my parents do not remember this
being there 15 years ago; we gather from my sister-friend's Mom that the countryside
are having some drug problems that used to be more a city than countryside problem.
You will see just a bit of the graffiti in the first picture in this post.
I found that to be really disappointing, as it points to a bigger problem,
bigger than the scope of this blog post or of what I can fully understand and beyond
what I can ever hope to personally be involved in reforming -
other than in one way:
trying to keep our home beautiful, peaceful and God-centred.
This article actually says that maintaining stable family units are something
of monumental significance in terms of people's personal inward stability
and the world's.
We were so excited to be there, Holland, the place of our families came from...!
There was a really kind couple, not young but not old, who had just come back from NYC,
and they were going to Groningen City as well... it's funny how certain people
become part of your inward life, for just hours, but I can picture them and hear their voices;
they were really kind, hospitable; they told us about the train tickets, made sure
we were traveling the right way;
they were coming home to rest after the long flight overseas...
It's funny how people you met, even for a short time, can become part of your
happiest memories and part of the story of your life;
ones that you were better for having met them;
they were more cognizant of the time and got lunch at the station; looking back,
we should of done the same, before boarding the train to Groningen...
Another thing that I had known from living in Sweden,
but forgot when going overseas again, was that to use a public bathroom,
one must pay money; 1 Euro even; or 50 cents, 75 cents...
We did not have change yet (we had gotten money at the airport), gotten
the few things we bought earlier that day (lotion, water) with our credit card...
thankfully the train had a bathroom and on we went....
We were only in Groningen to get our rental car;
it would of been nice to actually see Groningen City...
The Martinitoren is there...
We made it to the small village that we stayed in; we could of been there days longer; it was so
beautiful, charming, well kept, just beautiful....
Had a bit of a car adventure - we were given a BMW actually - I found it quite lacking
and easily let it be known here that I don't go in at all for expensive cars; I find them ridiculous....
Now a good (esp the older ones) VW or Volvo, that I like....anyway, the
back seat was unsatisfactory
as was the GPS system;
actually later in the trip it told us wrong information all together!
The first challenge though was that the village and finding parking with the windy streets,
was first confusing (easy to get lost esp with the GPS being a big flaky) and that when
we were backing up - Mr Husband doing the excellent driving - all of a sudden the car
would not shift gears for us to reverse; we were literally stuck in a tight spot.
We ended up calling the car rental company but in the end,
I figured it out; there was a button on the gear shift that had to be held down
*at the same time* as shifting the gear. Why it had worked before this
and all of a sudden demanded (i.e. would not move) this change,
we will never know, but we did get to our parking spot at last....
And then! we were there! In the small village, with an old century church,
2 Windmills, and a lot of beauty!
By this time, we had pretty much missed lunch and the restaurant nearby
was closed. I knew I needed food ASAP and
off we went, after getting checked in to the house we were renting
and settling in just a bit.
I love these; Hagelslag.
Pink or blue to announce a baby's birth;
chocolate all the time.
I grew up with these - I had PB and chocolate Hagelslag
sandwiches at school even.
Remember, my Mother was born in Holland and I grew up
in a Western MI that, at that time, was very Dutch;
I even thought the last name 'Baker' was Dutch
as everyone I knew as of Dutch ancestry...
If we had room in our luggage, these cute little boxes would of come
home with us... :)
I would not be lying to say, I felt like I could live here forever.
I just loved it. I understood why my Aunt P returned to Holland
for some years in her later adult life (she is back in Canada now).
If I knew Dutch, I think this is one of the first places I would consider moving to.
Streets with familiar Dutch names
(if you look in the Grand Rapids telephone book to this day,
you will have pages and pages of 'Vs' for 'Van' and 'Vander'
beginnings of last names. I grew up surrounded by Holland...)
It was so lovely there.
The place we stayed at in this village was mainly furnished with IKEA furnishings,
including the dishes. I love IKEA and their dishes.
I was really happy here....
I bought some fun English tea (that funny enough I found
in the village at the Albert Heijn but not again in the one
in Amsterdam) and had a lot of fun having different pots of tea.
Our first meal!
Very Dutch - cheese and really good slices of meat -
I usually don't go for sandwich meat - but in Holland - they had
ones that we all enjoyed...
We all went to the store together, and my Mom suggested,
when we were looking at the jams, of getting an apricot one;
I had not loved apricot jam until I had this one.
Incredible; sweet but tart; I bought 2 more later, one we used up and
one is in my pantry;
I am dreaming (DV) of my parents coming to visit us here
next year (please God!!!) and enjoying this jam
and remembering all the happy memories we had together there,
last year, which now is just weeks ago.... but
I do tend to plan in advance! My sister-friend advised this brand chocolate,
and I just loved it.... I think I ate 2 bars (a bit at a time) while I was on holiday in Holland!
This was for a children's book museum; we did not have time to see it;
there is so much of that small village that we did not have time to see;
I would love to go back there and just soak up being there...
You can see by these pictures why I loved it so much,
why we all loved this area so much...
Mr Husband and I went on a quick walk to the Albert Heijn
after dinner, we were rather hurrying as it was after 6 PM there,
we needed soap for baths, and were not sure when the store closed;
9 PM we learned after being there.
We were so excited to be there, all was so beautiful....
Our night ended simply, evening prayers, washing up dishes,
and as I feel asleep under the eaves of that old brick farm house,
I could hear church bells,
we were falling asleep under the protection of those bells....