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GOODBYE NEWFOUNDLAND and HELLO “HOME”, NETHERLANDS –1

24 Aug

After Twillingate, our intention was to drive to Terra Nova National Park and onwards West to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and take the night ferry from Argentia back to North Sydney.  But as everyone knows, travel is unexpected and so too in this case.  The Marine Atlantic ferry, the one that had taken us to Newfoundland only two days before, crashed into a dock and was beyond repair for at least a month (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2013/08/06/ns-ferry-delays.html), and so the ride back from Argentia was cancelled until Sept. 1.  This forced us to turn back west to our starting point – leaving out all of the eastern part of this gorgeous province.

So after spending a few more fabulous days in Gros Morne National Park, where we enjoyed more incredible views and hikes, and spent a fun afternoon taking in some local tunes (at the Merchant’s Warehouse café in Woody Point, multi-talented Mike Madigan delighted the audience with fun Newfoundland – cod liver oil and sailor – songs, while taking the kids on stage and teaching them to play with the “ugly stick” and spoons), we made our way back safely to Halifax, Nova Scotia where we caught an Iceland Air Flight to Europe – Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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Emile and Filou having a blast on stage with Mike Madigan, playing the “funny stick”

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At Halifax Airport, leaving for our first transatlantic flight to Europe

As thrilled as Emile & Filou were about their transatlantic flight (they watched movies all night, and never slept a minute although it was a night flight), my personal excitement started to build as well, as the next destination on our list was a visit to my “home country” or should I say, country of origin?  A country I hadn’t visited for 6 years.

To now have the opportunity to show Emile and Filou the many wonderful traditions, culture & sights this unique, little country has to offer, together with my parents (the boys’ Opa and Oma), who are both turning 75 this year, is something to be truly cherished.

After a warm and emotional welcome at award-winning Schiphol Airport, we made our way to Landal Green Parks in Noordwijkerhout (about ½ hour drive from Amsterdam), where we also met up with my sister Caroline, her daughter Amandine (my lovely goddaughter), and my sister’s boyfriend Antoine and his son Leopold (who all live in Angers, France). We took three lovely bungalows at this Landal Dunimar vacation park, located in the heart of the flower fields and close to the North Sea.

To quickly immerse ourselves into Dutch traditions, one of our first visits was a daytrip to Volendam, a fishing village where the older generation is still very proud to wear their traditional attire – and where a fun activity is to dress up in traditional costume and take a picture – something which of course we could not resist doing.  Emile and Filou loved this “dress-up” activity and their half Dutch roots certainly started to show (and for me – what can I say?  A real “Dutchie”!).

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Three Dutchies in Volendam costume

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Opa having a blast in his new outfit

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Opa and Oma with children and grandchildren

And you are not a real Dutchie until you have eaten a raw herring up side down, which Opa was eager to teach the boys to do.  They didn’t like the taste very much, but were a good sport in trying this Dutch delicacy.

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 Little taste of Dutch herring, which is to be eaten like this

On the other hand, there are many Dutch treats the boys LOVE, such as Dropjes (Dutch salty licorice), Vanilla Vla (custard drink the Dutch eat for breakfast – and come in many different flavours – the vanilla one being our favorite!), stroopwafels (syrup wafels), poffertjes (mini pancakes with icing sugar), krokketten & bitterballen (deep fried type meat balls) and fries with sweet mayonnaise (and now they understand why mom never eats ketchup, and chooses the white stuff whenever possible!).  And last, but certainly not least, of course the many kinds of delicious Dutch cheese.

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Fries with mayonnaise, so much better then ketchup!

So next, it was onto Edam, a beautiful, small historic town, known for its cheese production (one that is sold all over the world).  Emile tasted and chose two different kinds of cheese, of which we bought one piece each. We were all astonished at the cheap price of the product; about 7 dollars for these two large pieces of scrumptious cheese, which would easily cost 2 – 3 times as much in Canada!

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Filou in a lovely little cheese shop in Edam

So as we are very much enjoying our family time here, and eating up a wonderful storm – we look forward to another 2.5 weeks in this wonderful country – a place that very much feels like home again – and is interesting to observe through the eyes of my children.  More on that later….

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