It was the first trip that the four of us took to the Netherlands together. We grew up with the stories of each of our parent’s childhoods in Holland. We heard about the boerenkool and boterkoek and bakeries down the street, they talked about their homes and we saw pictures of my dad’s golden curl as he tromped down the street in his klompen shoes. My dad was eight when he immigrated and my mum thirteen when she came to Canada. For the last few years we’ve kicked around the idea of going back together but Kelly and I were busy taking turns being pregnant and having little babies. Last year, we let my parents know we were ready to go ON MY DAD’S BIRTHDAY. As ticketing and schedules worked out, we landed there on his birthday this year.
We hadn’t taken a family trip with just the four of us together since maybe high school. Kelly and I flew over together and endured the coldest flight of our lives ( I huddled up in jeans, yoga pants, a sweater, jacket and scarf and was still cold!!). We met our parents in Amsterdam where they arrived after their cruise. They had bags of droppies in hand (Dutch salty licorice) and took our weary selves to the canalside apartment that they’d rented. It was lovely.
We spent the week eating gorgeous food and many a cappacino at streetside cafes, watching pedestrians and cyclists. Kelly and I rented bikes (though I didn’t take pictures on my big camera as I was nervous about cycling with those thousands of bikers through the city, holding my camera!). We did some day trips, took in museums and shopped our hearts out in a city that was turning orange in anticipation of the World Cup. Then we’d go back to our apartment at night to deal with sketchy wi-fi and try to skype our families.
Two things that really stood out were the doorway, where the doorbells brought about voices and why people were afraid to get involved with hiding those who needed sanctuary. I also loved the papers that documented a young man who also disguised himself as a woman as he went about his underground business.
The food is so delicious and fresh. This was goat cheese, fried on a gorgeous salad with walnuts and fruit.One of the absolute highlights of the trip was traveling to Haarlem and visiting the Corrie ten Boom museum. I read The Hiding Place as a teenager and it deeply affected me. It is the story of a Christian family with an elderly Opa and his spinster daughters, who housed Jews in hiding during World War 2 and was a hub for underground activities in the city. This was the watch sign in the window that signified all was safe to underground workers.Their jewelry shop was on the bottom of the building and upstairs was the home and we even got to stand in the very hiding spot where six people hid for over two days when the family was betrayed. Their story of bravery, sacrifice and love is so compelling and I was deeply moved to be there.
The top bedroom had a false wall put in with brick. The six people had to go through the bottom of the cabinet. Two people pressed their backs against the wood to muffle the sound and four others had to stand…for two days while the house was searched and guarded.