Our first task of the day was to visit my Opa’s sister, Tante Ali. She and her friend, my Tante Tini live in Apeldoorn, so we decided to pay them a visit. We asked the guy at the front desk if we could rent bikes for only three hours, it was a 4km walk after all. He decided no, that he would only rent them for the day at 9.50 euros a piece. No less. There was no way we were giving that stupid guy so much money so we started walking. We made it 1.5km down the road in the rain for flowers. It was 0945 and we weren’t sure what to do. We had 5.5km to walk to their house and only 45 minutes to do it.
We decided to walk to the train station where there were sure to be taxis. We got a price from the first driver we saw. The price was 16 euros, so TAKE THAT HOSTEL GUY! WE SAVED 3 EUROS! We got there with time to spare. We nervously pressed the bell and scampered up the stairs. Tante Ali was waiting for us at the door. We said our hellos and entered the apartment, it was beautiful! So big and bright! It had been 10 years since I saw them last and we caught up right away. We looked through the old picture books of my dad as a kid, they were so cute! Oom Teun (my Opa’s younger brother) came by part way through our coffee. He is an English teacher here in Apeldoorn, which made the conversation very easy (not that Tante Tini and Tante Ali’s English wasn’t great, it really was!) We had a few more cups of coffee before Oom Teun drove us back to our hostel.
Shane called Wÿnand right away to let him know we were available. He would come in an hour. Shane and I honed our Dutch while we waited. I learned ‘What are you called’ and ‘How old are you’ to ask the little boys of course. We ate two stroopwaffles each for lunch. (When Ina gave these stroopwaffles to me, three year old Thomas asked his mom why she was giving his stroopwaffles away! So cute!)
At 1330 on the dot Oom Hans and Wÿnand picked us up from our hostel. They took us to Nunspeet where we climbed six stories to the top of a tower. We called this the Eiffel Tower of the Netherlands because you could see quite far from the top. We drove the round about way to Elburg, a town totally surrounded by a filled moat. It was built this way, with the town wall and moat 700 years ago, finished in 1296. We drank coffee on the bustling street watching the people come and go, Saturday style. Our hosts told us that the town used to be a hub of fish activity, with boats bringing fish from the North Sea to the rest of Holland. This was the case, until 1932 when a dike was built north of the town and the fishing boats stopped coming. The body of water the town lies on gradually changed from salt water to fresh water and tourism became the main industry.
With coffee done we walked just a block or two until our pride was put on a line. We had to try raw herring, there were no options. We chucked our heads back and took a bite, then it was with all determination that we swallowed it. With that one out of the way we found ourselves looking at a tray of pickled herring. This one was much better, I love anything potent and vinegar-y, we actually quite enjoyed it. So I advise unless you are under high peer pressure, do not try the raw herring, I’ve done it for you, it’s not good.
We walked another two blocks to the old marina, where the fishing boats used to dock. Now the boats are for show, but they are neat nonetheless. Wÿnand disappeared into a shop while we wandered around the water enjoying the view. When he came back he was carrying a try of fried kibbeling. It was great! Light and crunchy. We ate it with gusto.
We drove to Wÿnand and Henrike’s house. They live in a beautiful townhouse they’ve almost entirely re-done since moving in a few years ago. Henrike has beautiful taste in decor, the entire house was a treat for the eyes. We looked at pictures from their wedding and of Noah’s first months of life. It was very nice.
They drove us to Tante Lia’s house, where Oom Hans was frying up pancakes like no tomorrow. Almost as soon as we got there Noah woke up from her nap. We were very excited to see her. She is such a happy little baby, at 10 months old she’s nearly walking but her knees are still a little wobbly! Oma and Opa came to the house first and soon after Theo and Ina came with the boys. The house was full! Oom had made 75 pancakes and 20 minutes later there were only 8 left! (I think Shane ate about 10! Kidding of course, probably only 8!) Thank you Dutch family, for introducing us to speck IN the pancakes, this is a revelation for us! After pancakes we had ice cream and with all that sugar the boys were very hyper.
We played with the boys for some time while coffee was being prepared and took our turns holding Noah. Before Oma and Opa left we took a family picture, one I’ll always cherish. Bringing the camera out however, was the beginning of the night for the boys. They absolutely loved it, for the next half an hour they would pose for pictures doing goofy faces and then run around and look at what they had done. Their giggles and my laughs filled the evening. They also loved taking the lens cap on and off over and over again and trying the stick their eyes to the hole while I snapped the picture of what they were seeing. It turns out you don’t need a language to have fun with little boys.
All to soon it was time to leave, we said goodbye to the family and hopped in the car with Theo, Ina, Jack, Thomas and Lawrence. I sat between Ina and Lawrence, trying to talk but totally enthralled in Lawrence’s silly games. Baby laughs are very addictive for me. Another round of hugs and kisses and we were calling “Doei! Doei!” The weekend was over, we were sad to see them go.