Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Amsterdam – Our old hotel was just about opposite the train station, so we were quickly off on a tram to the Resistance Museum. This was something F really wanted to see – we found the photo of F’s mother collecting parcels of parachute dropped food during Holland’s domination by Germany. Not a lot of new information at the Museum that we didn’t already have but interesting to see it all in one place.
Then we walked back through the canals and narrow streets – the window ladies in the red lit houses beckoned the passing trade, we ate next to a canal and again walked in the evening light around the old town. Beautiful buildings , canals and reflections. Saturday we got our rental Hyundai 110, tried to navigate out of town, then set the GPS for Groningen and found all sorts of amazing places as we took detours. We stopped at Edam and found windmills and lovely views of the water. Then on to the huge dyke (30 kms long) that holds back the North Sea and keeps the inland sea as fresh water and stops the flooding of the polders – huge areas of reclaimed farm land. In Groningen city our GPS had some trouble with a blocked street and new roads – no matter what we tried it still kept taking us back to the same street which wasn’t open! We eventually found our hotel and the parking station – at this point the little car on the GPS was spinning in circles – we think this meant it didn’t like us anymore. This was the week of the fair, so the Gros Markt (town square) where our hotel was included the Ferris Wheel and doggem cars and all things mechanical with lots of lights, families and chairs with beer drinkers in the sunshine. One group of drinkers enjoyed us taking their photo and one Dutchman (with Samoan like tattoos) took the camera up on to the landing to take photos of us – a bit nerve wracking to see the camera disappear but all was well – he did come back and we had a good laugh. We made for the far side of the square, through the Fish Market area (more rides and stalls) and walked to the canal which borders the old town as a moat, and lots of barges and boats. We had dinner in an excellent Indonesian restaurant – the owner’s father worked the Dutch East Indies route (Indonesia) like F’s Dad before the war. Sunday was planned for driving around the old ancestral haunts. The GPS obviously didn’t know about many of the new roads and we even found ourselves in the middle of a paddock that according to the GPS was a highway (long gone). We eventually got to Veendam and the JG Pinkster Strasse – named after F’s uncle who was shot during the war by the Germans. We found the little church and the graveyard and walked around looking for the graves. We decided Irene didn’t want her ashes spread in the graveyard – instead F scattered them over the water by the church – so part of her has come home. We then set off for Staatskanal, Niuwe Pekela and Niuwe Buinen – most of the older parts have been rebuilt but we certainly got the sense of the life in small villages dominated by canals and boats and bikes.
Monday was a high speed drive to Rotterdam with a stop at Urk - a small town on the edge of the Zuider Zee with a very old light house- and a memorial to sailors lost at sea dating back to the mid 1700’s. By this time we had sorted out the GPS (or it had decided to talk sense to us) and arrived at the ART Hotel with no trouble and parked in their garage – probably couldn’t have done it without the GPS as there were lots of spaghetti junctions with motorways going in every direction. The train station was across the road from the hotel and we were soon in downtown. Shopping was high on R’s agenda and I needed a fan tray for the laptop that wasn’t playing the game – found a mega store of computer and related gear and F had to drag me out. F did some shopping as therapy. We walked back across the huge bridge over the Maas and had dinner at a Tapas bar, then took the train two stations back to the hotel.

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