08.07.2011 - 08.07.2011 20 °C
So today was the day. We were finally in Apeldoorn to meet a schwack of family. After eating breakfast, we quietly snuck out of our hostel, being careful not to alert crazy-man-hater of our departure. With Gary in tow, we border the bus to the train station in Haarlem for the last time. A train, then a subway, then another train, then a bus later and we were in Apeldoorn and at our hostel...or were we?
NOPE! We sure weren’t. We got off at the stop the internet instructions gave us, but the hostel was no where in sight. We looked to the left, then we looked to the right. Nothing. So using my uncanny man-sense of direction, I forged a path past the bus stop and onwards to the hostel or the great unknown. After two block of complete uncertainty, I spotted a building with a flag. A flag! Surely this must be an important building. And people in important buildings always know important information. And what could be more important then where our hostel was? Right...? Well apparently this was actually a building that hosts lunches for neighborhood mothers and grandmothers as there was a group of middle-aged and elderly ladies sitting around eating sandwiches and sipping tea. “I’m terribly sorry to interrupt you ladies”, I exclaimed as I rudely pushed my way into their conversation. “I’m very lost. Would any of you happen to know the location of the StayOkay Hostel here in Apeldoorn?” This invoked a good deal of debate amongst my saviors, but eventually a conclusion was agreed upon and a spokeswoman pulled out a map and pointed me in the right direction and went us on our way with a smile. I love the Dutch. So polite. Thanks ladies!
Finally we reached the hostel, but not before Gary really started losing it, shedding one of his support beams and half of a wheel(I’m sorry doc, but I don’t think this one’s gonna make it). After checking in and tossing our things into our room(with no roommates...yet), I got on the Skype phone to call my cousin Henrike to inform her that she could pick us up at her convenience. She told us she would be a couple of hours so we took this opportunity to run into town to grab a bite to eat(the days first round of friecandels and fries) and to grab some flowers for Henrike and also to get cleaned up. At 1430 Oom Hans arrived with Henrike(and darling little Noah) to pick us up to start the rounds meeting family.
The first stop was Theo and Ina’s house. Here we had the chance to meet Theo’s wife Ina and their three small boys Jake, Thomas, and Lawerence. These three little fellows we a little shy at first, but warmed up to us right away showing us their cool toys and their ‘motor’bike. We chatted with Ina and had cake and coffee before saying our goodbyes and making our way down the road to Theo’s bicycle shop. The dutch love bicycles and Theo’s store specializes in racing and mountain bikes as well as offering a variety of other very high end bicycles. This shop was just stunning. Very sleek and stylish. It was nice to see Theo again, especially in his element and you could see he really likes his work. After a shop tour and a chat we said so long to Theo. We made a quick stop in (.....) to see a beautiful, but simple old church. We took a quick look around the town and Alyssa bought a few souvenirs. We all got an ice cream and had fun watching Noah eat little bits of ice cream. It was time to go to Oom Hans’ house to see Tante Leah and Henrike’s husband Wynand.
Hans and Leah live in Hattem. Oom Hans took a country road from Apeldoorn and made a couple of stops to show us a blacksmiths where Dad had worked for a few months when he was young and the house where Hans was born. At the house in Hattem we were greeted by Tante Leah. We were introduced to Wynand and then we all settled into the back yard to have a drink and some dinner. Dinner was delicious and consisted of our second round of frekindels and fries complimented with some croquettes and some bami(somethings). This awesome dinner was followed by some tasty dessert. Next stop, OMA AND OPA’S!
I can’t express how happy I was to finally meet my Dad’s parents. I had heard many stories about them from my Dad. I had seen pictures of them and gotten Christmas and birthday card’s from them. My Dad is a fantastic person. One of the best people I know, and now I know where it comes from. Oma and Opa Den Engelsman were wonderful. We spent the evening chatting and going through old photo albums including one from Opa’s time in Indonesia and one with some pictures of Dad as a little boy. In these pictures Dad has this mischievous grin that anyone who knows him would be totally familiar with. When he gets this look on his face, you know the wheels in his head are turning. I guess some things never change.
It was getting late and everyone was getting tired so we said our farewells and we departed with Oom Hans for Apeldoorn and our hostel. We had spent an awesome day meeting some people we hadn’t met and seeing others we hadn’t seen in a long time. It was such a great day and I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow. By the way, tomorrow is pancake day!