Holland 1

 

 
An eleven hour flight Bangkok Amsterdam. All in the dark. We got there early but the welcoming party had to be out of bed very early. Apart from Anneke and Eric, Martien and Anneke, Geertjan and Gerda were also at the airport.  After a cup of coffee off to Marian's house in Zwolle where the flags were out. The rest of Susan's family was there as well.
 
 
                                            The welcome in Marian's house in Zwolle
 
In the afternoon with Eric and Anneke to Groningen. The god's smiled on us because the weather was perfect. The next day reminded us again why we left Holland. Cold and miserable weather which lasted for 3 days. Friday 16th a Schimmel family reunion was organised and organised well, because the weather cleared and the sun came out. We had a very pleasant meal in the local restaurant. The first time in 41 years the whole family was together. One thing we have to get used to is the time the sun sets which is about 10.30PM
 
 
 

The Schimmel family together for a scrumptious meal.

 
Saturday 16 July. Ad and Lya drove us back to Duiven. For the first time in "our" house.
 
 
 
                                               169 Colenbrander Straat                Duiven
 
It took us a day to get settled but on Monday we explored Arnhem, but the weather was horrible and we only spend an hour there but discovered an Ikea shop on the way back and Susan had a wonderful time there. If it was up to her we would be there every day. Next day to Wageningen where I was born and lived for a year after the family returned from Indonesia. We had a cup of coffee in  hotel The Wageningse Berg and walked through the botanical gardens. We also found the house my grandparents lived in. The weather wasn't too crash hot so we headed home again.
Next day to Gouda. Susan oldest sister lives there. We also visited Hans Ligthart. We lived with  three mates in a house in Cameroon and I have not seen Hans since 1969. A few memories came back.
 
 
  Gouda The Zalm restaurant in the centre where we had our wedding reception.           Susan and Nans enjoying their second bottle of wine.
 
 
        A typical Dutch scene.                                                                  Staphorst costumes.
 
After we left Nans, Truus (The ex from my brother Onno) in Groningen had a birthday and I had never seen my nephews or her new house. We had the best BBQ ever. I thought only Ozzy's could do a BBQ. Here I had a Tilapia fish dish. Tilapia is a pest at home and not allowed to be consumed.  On the way we stopped in Staphorst. This is still a very conservative and religious village. On the way when you take the secondary roads there are a lot of bridges and it appears that the ships have right of way. We had to stop a lot of times for open bridges and only a few boats sail through but the line up of cars is endless. On Thursday we spend the night at Marian's place in Zwolle. Made a bit of a detour on the way back via Kampen and Urk.
 
 
                 Urk, typical streetscape                                     Anneke and Martien
 
Saturday 23 July. Another cold day. All we did was go to Lydl for groceries which is similar to Aldi. Susan spend all afternoon in the kitchen.  We had our first guests, Anneke and Martien from Bakel.  Had a very pleasant night. Sunday was even more miserable. Rain all day, a good day to visit friends. We visited Betty Jenji from Mount Isa who is in Holland for a few month and Karel Houbolt who used to live in Townsville. 
Monday. Finally some sun. Kees and Anjo van Rooden, Annemiek Duyvenstijn are our guests today. Sipping on a glass of champagne in the garden with the sun as a witness.
 

 
                                                        Anjo, Susan, Annemiek, Kees.                          
 
Tuesday to Groesbeek where there was a streetmarket. Pity it was cold and rainy. Also visited the war museum there. A lot of fighting happened here during WW2. We were home early.
Next day we had breakfast with my sister Lya in Ikea. They have scrumptious breakfast for 1 Euro.
Susan nearly spend all day there.
 
 
 Susan having another herring.                              I stick to the wonderful selection of wines from Lidl
 
On Thursday we went with a bit of a detour to Maastricht, which is not famous for a thousand years of history, old cathedrals and castles but because Andre Rieu lives here.
We went through Germany and a place called Kevelaer which is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics.

Maastricht was a hive of activity, probably because it is holiday time and the weather was favourable for a change. There is much to see in Maastricht and surroundings.

 
 
The famous Vrijthof where Andre has his concerts.            The hotels did a roaring trade for a weekday. This is the opposite site of the Vrijthof.
 
We walked around for hours and only saw a little bit of all the attractions. Next day a round trip through the south of Limburg. This is the only part of the Netherlands which are hilly. It is very popular with walkers and push bikers. There are a lot of little camping's. The people are also a lot more religious. Instead of little temples we saw in front of any house of significance in Thailand, here there are crosses. In Australia where there are a few people, there is a pub, here  is a church. Also a lot of evidence of a very tumultuous past. There are a number of castles still in good order. Pity I got too late at kasteel Hoensbroek. This one had a sand sculpture exhibition which are the light coloured bits on the photo.
 
 
                  Kasteel Hoensbroek                            Wall painting in the sandstone caves in Valkenburg
 
Valkenburg is another touristy place. All outside restaurant seats filled to capacity. Visited the remnants of the castle which is in the middle of town and the caves which are directly beneath. They were formed because they needed the lime stone to build the castle. Over the years many an artist painted the walls with charcoal. Some sculptured in to the soft material.
Saturday 30 July. My brother Onno and his partner Cecile came to visit. We had a very pleasant afternoon and evening. They didn't fancy our spare bed which turned out to be an air mattress and had to drive back to Groningen.
 
 
               Cecile, Onno, Susan                                                                Willem, Ageeth and Susan
 
Sunday and the children from Riet and Ber came over for a visit. All of us had a very pleasant afternoon, maybe a bit too pleasant because I forgot to take a picture of Andre, Renee and Gert, Jose and Jan. Next time I am in Holland this will be rectified. I blame the Cimarosa. Next day to Germany. Where we are staying in Duiven is only a short distance from the border but we had to go further north to a small place called Wilsum. Here we had a very hospitable reception from Willem and Ageeth De Niet. We met them in Australia when they toured around Oz. They showed us around the district, Hardenberg and Ootmarsum. Stayed here for two nights and departed for Zalk where Ket and Hemmo live. We made a detour to Staphorst first. We had been here before but they had a cultural day.
 
 
                                 Staphorst art.  The circular patterns are on all sorts of items.
 
When we got to Zalk, Hemmo was driving the community bus. They live in a 100 year old farmhouse which the original owners won't recognise in it's present state. Hemmo also had to drive the local ferry. A small boat for pedestrians and pushbikes. It was raining and miserable. Some parts of Holland had a downpour luckily we missed this. We left Thursday early because  Loek and Bep are visiting us. They have visited us in Townsville. Reminisced about the times we had in Australia. They brought their photo album with them from that time.
 
 
               Bep, Susan and Loek                                               Susan, Eva,  Han
 
Friday to IJsselstijn and Han Steenkamer. The daughter of Marijke, Eva, was there as well. However before that we visited Utrecht and walked through the centre. It was a sunny day and the sidewalk seats were filled to capacity. We also visited the old mechanical musical instrument museum. When you are in Utrecht highly recommended and take the guided tour.
 
 
                               Utrecht cafe's                                      The most famous Dutch street organ.
 
Saturday and the day started with glorious weather. Today is Nans 85th birthday in Gouda and the whole family and friends are expected. Pity that during the festivities the heavens opened and we had a real tropical downpour. It did not dampen the spirits and the birthday song continued inside.
A beautiful lunch was served and by 4PM it was time to go home again.
 
 
                                 Nans Ruijs 85                                              Susan and Wient
 
Sunday we had Wient Culenaere and her daughter and children visiting us. Wient is an old friend from when she was studying to be a nurse. I went with Cecile and the children to the Arnhem open air museum. This showcases the way of life in Holland in the old days. I have been there a "few" years ago with a primary school excursion. On Monday we went for a few days to the northern part of Belgium and the province of Zeeland. The day started of with rain. We just drove through the country and avoided the motorways as much as possible. The GPS has some trouble with this concept. First big city stop Breda. Like any city big or small finding parking space is a problem. Over the last weeks we spend a fortune on parking meters. The best solution if you can find it is park and rail. Utrecht was parking and train tickets for up to 5 people 4 Euro. Parking in the city is 4.75 Euro for an hour. The most striking building in any European city is the church. Breda did not disappoint. I am not looking at an religious point of view, but the craftsmanship which has gone in to the building and ornaments is incredible.

We spend the night in a van der Valk hotel near Antwerpen. Well known in Holland. More churches and statues. Also in Mechelen. We passed by Brussles and went to Aalst and Gent. Gent is the place to visit if you have to make a shortlist of cities. Old buildings, canals and atmosphere. To have a bit of a rest we had a boat trip. Late in the afternoon headed for Terneuzen and Breskens. The map showed a ferry across to the next island but this was changed to a passenger ferry and no cars allowed. Spend the night in a hotel in Breskens.

 
 
     Arnhem open air museum.                                       Typical scene in any big city on a sunny day.
 
On Wednesday we woke up with sunshine. Had to drive back to Terneuzen for breakfast and we took the tunnel under the Westerschelde. 6.5 KM and only 4 Euro toll. From here we visited old fishery villages like Vlissingen, Middelburg, Zierikzee. It is holiday time and all cafe' chairs are filled.
 
 
                              Gent centre.                                                            Zeeland Delta barrages
 
Travelling around Zeeland you have to go past the barrages build to stop Zeeland from flooding during extreme weather conditions. Nearly 2000 people drowned during the 1952 floods.
 
Thursday is market day in Gouda. Every market is interesting but Gouda is special. Plenty of photo opportunities. It really is set up for the tourists including a mock auction.
 
 
                                                          Gouda kaasmarkt.
 
There was also access to the city hall where we married in 1969. All in all a nostalgic journey.
 
 
                       More cheese market.                                                                 Gouda city hall.
 
 It only took one morning to clean the house and car and Lya and Ad picked us up to go to Ede. Again a few enjoyable days here. While we were there we visited the Kroller Muller museum. Lya has worked here for 15 years and new exactly the interesting spots to visit. The bicycles you see on the photo is a popular transport around town and you can see different designs of bikes but the principle is the same.

 

 
   Children's transport at Kroller Muller museum.                            Eric, Susan, Lya, Anneke and Ad.
 

Eric and Anneke picked us up from Ede to go on a organised tour to Ireland.
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