Sunday, February 22, 2009

Holiday in Holland

Hi Folks!

Believe it or not, I am sitting in the lounge of the hotel in Istanbul, waiting for friends to wake up from a nap, sipping a coffee, and listening to.....yes.....Gypsy Kings!

Just thinking back on the last week and relaxing before heading out for a walk and later a 'cultural-show' dinner. Heck, it will probably be total cheese, but it was part of the hotel package.

Anyhoo,

Let's see if I can put the pieces of last week together for you, and insert some photos this time....haven't done that in a while.

Saturday 14 Feb:

Left Erbil around 4 AM....(see earlier posts for all the intervening adventures). Arrived Amsterdam around 5PM. Drove to the town where my family lives. Got in around 8 PM. As it was a Saturday, it was necessary and proper to get some french-fries, kroket, and frikandel (Dutch fast-food...it's a family tradition to eat this on Saturdays). It was also necessary and proper for me to tour the 'new' house, haul my stuff up to the room where I was to stay, and share the gifts I had brought for all the family. Luckily, that night it was just me and the kids and their mom.

Sun 15 Feb:

Slept in a bit, then went to the 'big house' (my ex-wife's parents' house) for coffee with the whole family and my parents, who had just arrived that morning. I was totally exhausted and malnourished after all of the stress of getting ready to travel, traveling, and knowing what was going to happen later in the week. Took a nap and then went back to the 'big house' for dinner. I was shaking so badly from cold, nerves, fatigue, and malnutrition, that I could barely eat my dinner.

Mon 16 Feb:

Took a tour around the town and went to meet the kids' teachers (they came in during vacation week especially to meet with us). We saw the places where the kids play sports, take music lessons, and swim; their current school, and Deborah's future school (middle-school next year).

Can't remember what else we did that day...I think I took a nap, or played video-games with Dennis until dinner time.

Tues 17 Feb:

Orchid farm? Anyways, a museum of sorts where they have a tropical garden with ponds, fish, trees, and orchids, orchids, orchids everywhere....all inside a massive greenhouse, of course. Also a butterfly garden, in another part of the greenhouse.

There was also a great deal of old farm machinery/equipment on display, which, to no surprise, my soon-to-be-ex-father-in-law, who grew up sometime in the last century on a farm, knew a great deal about and could explain to us city-slickers what each thing was used for.

My daughter Deborah took a lot of pictures, some of which we think rival Georgia O'Keefe, but we'll see.

The only decent one I took is here....





Weds 18 Feb:

Took a long drive out to the Ijsselmeer, essentially a lake, which was converted from open sea to freshwater lake by the Dutch when they built the dykes to shut out the North Sea in the late 1800s-mid 1900s. What a feat of engineering. I was really impressed, as I have been before with some of the things I've seen in other Dutch museums. Like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Don't go if you haven't got at least half a day to spend.

Anyway, on the water, windmills everywhere....and I don't mean the old-fashioned, quaint Dutch windmills. I mean power-generation, reverse electro-magnetic turbine windmills....as far as the eye can see.

Also visited a museum at a place called Batavia Stad (actually a part of Lelystad), dedicated to the history of the building of the dykes and the reclamation and cultivation of the land.

Then we went on board the ship Batavia, mostly restored, but work is still ongoing. This was one of the ships that the Dutch East India Company used in the spice trade with Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., and which ended up sunk somewhere for some reason....hey my Dutch is OK, but there is too much to absorb on these tours.

Went to watch my son Dennis' soccer training in the evening. Picture of the boy in action is attached.
















Thur 19 Feb:

This was Market Day, when all of the merchants from the region come to town to sell their stuff. Clothes, cheese, meat, fish, toys....you name it. It's all here on Market Day. I bought a sweater from organic cotton and some spray that stops bleeding and keeps wounds clean--for my soccer kids.

In the afternoon, we went to an indoor ice rink...they have both a full-sized hockey rink and an Olympic 400m track. I didn't fall once, despite the fact that the night before I had a dream about breaking my femur.

My darling Deborah in her hip ice-gear is here:



This was also the day I signed the divorce papers.


Fri 20 Feb:

Quiet day at home in the morning, few rounds of last-minute shopping, then Pink Panther II with Steve Martin. As much as I like Steve Martin, he will never be Peter Sellers in the role of Inspecteur Clouseau!

Nice dinner out with the whole family...photo should be here....




Saturday 21 Feb:

Visited a dairy farm in the morning. They are piloting a new robotic system of milking cows using RFID chips in necklaces on the cows, and laser-guided suction cups that find the teats and then start the hydraulic milking system. Cows come to be milked when they feel they need to...rather than the old system of twice a day. One farmer can handle 200 cows, whereas in the past it would take easily four or five people to take care of that many cows.

Also, passed by the largest cheese factory in Europe. Right there in the town where my kids live. Milk comes from as far away as Poland to be made into cheese under all different brands, in all different styles....you probably buy some of it in your supermarket, but you'd never know it comes from this small town in the north of Holland.

Had Subway for lunch, and then got on the train to the airport....and here I sit.....the only one awake. Thank God for this blog, or I'd be bored.

I hope they have belly-dancers at the 'cultural show' tonight!

Love and Peace to all!

1 comment:

GeneBetit said...

Extremely interesting travelogue!! You are certainly leading an interesting, if exhausting life.

I'm sorry that your marriage with Thera didn't work out...that can be pretty stressful, so take good care of yourself. Few of us are as indestructible as we think.

Hey, check out my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/n/?profile.php&v=feed&id=1341228870 to see our 'dream home' on Lake Holiday northwest of Winchester. It should be done by the end of May.