Thursday, April 21, 2016


We had an amazing time in the Netherlands.  This is the country of my ancestors.  My great Grandparents were from a small village in the south Netherlands, near Rotterdam called Strijen.  We spent most of our time in Amsterdam.  We walked the city and explored by bus and trolley.   We also did a canal boat tour.  The houses along the canal are beautiful! Some lean and tip, and it is a feast for the eyes!  In the Netherlands they are serious bikers!  Each road has a bike lane, and they are well used, like cars.  They travel at fast speeds and I am sure we almost got hit at least a dozen times.  It was hard to remember to look for bikes as well as cars before stepping off the curb.

The kids had a great time meeting up with our friends the Miller family!  We would be traveling with them for the next week.  It was wonderful to be with good friends!  They are living in Germany for a few months while their Dad works on his European accounts for work.  

In Amsterdam we visited the shop where Anne Frank and her family hid.  Luckily we were able to obtain tickets to visit for a late afternoon. If you do not plan ahead (and we had not) tickets can be very hard to get.  It was a special visit, Isabel had recently read the Diary of Anne Frank and she was very interested in visiting.  She reverently took Olivia under her care and explained the history of what occurred in the building and living quarters we visited and why the family had to hide.

We took the train to about an hour west of Amsterdam to Haarlem.  From here we rented bikes and headed out to bike the paths thru the tulip fields.  It was beautiful!  The wind and chill did not stop us from enjoying the beauty.  The family we rented our little place from loaned us extra hats and gloves to keep the wind and chill at bay.

Tulip Field Workers...  I stopped to watch, as I didn't realize these flowers are still hand picked.  English is very common through out the Netherlands, so I attempted to ask the workers some questions, but they just looked at me and spoke in another language to each other.  David had stopped next to me and said-- I think they are laughing at you.  I agreed.  Then we heard a worker from the back call out to one closer to us, and I heard a language I recognized and it was not Dutch.  David instantly responded to the comment, as they were speaking Polish.  The worker had loudly said (in Polish) "She doesn't understand you" and David instantly replied, in Polish, "She doesn't, but I do!"  All their heads instantly popped up and they turned to look at David.  Gone was the laughing at me, and they were of course friendly to someone who spoke their same language.

Biking the Tulips fields and visiting Kukenhoff was beautiful.  However we did not account for the head wind we would have to ride back in, and the kids struggled and we were late.  We tried calling the bike shop to let them know we were running a few minutes late, but they did not answer their phone.  They were closed when we arrived! We called the after hours number on their sign but they did not answer at all!  We ended up storing the bikes at the bike parking in the train station and we returned in the morning to return the bikes.  It was an extra hassle to our day, but in the end it worked out.

The Next day we picked up rental cars to tour more of the Netherlands.  My Grandmother's family is from the Netherlands.  They immigrated in the early 1900s to Utah and I was curious to see the land of my ancestors.  We went to the beach to see the sand dunes. We stopped by the Temple outside of Rotterdam, and we went to the Dyjk's to see the beautiful windmills and learn about the amazing engineering of the dutch in clearing out and controlling water.  From there we stopped in the small town of Strijen, where my Grandmother's family was from.

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