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.


Who knows more miscellaneous information about Dutch artists than my dad?  No one we know!010-blog holland011-holland-30012-holland-31013-2014.66014-holland-32

Things were ramping up in the city for the world cup!  Orange everything.015-holland-55016-holland-72017-holland-57018-holland-60019-2014.67020-holland-66021-holland-68022-holland-74023-holland-79024-holland-75025-holland-80026-holland-109

My Opa was a part of the underground in Holland, distributing ration cards and helping to hide Jews.  It was so interesting to visit the museum that documents World War 2 in the Netherlands.027-holland-83028-holland-88

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.029-2014.68

Carrying a book, could mean that you were carrying a gun from point a to point b.030-holland-97

I can’t even imagine the bravery of a mother would would be willing to transport illegal items under her baby upon penalty of death.031-holland-100

We visited my mum’s old neighbourhood where she reminisced when her mum would send her with a pot of soup on her scooter to bring to her grandmother.034-holland-119033-holland-118035-holland-130

We heard the estimate that there were 600, o00 bicycles in the city.  Everyone cycles everywhere there.036-holland-131037-holland-134038-holland-139039-holland-140040-holland-149041-holland-153042-holland-157043-holland-159

Croquettes available as street food, and we couldn’t resist (and didn’t even try to!).  We rounded out our healthy dinner with fries and a big dollop of Dutch mayo.  Lekker!!044-2014.69045-holland-166046-holland-172047-holland-173048-holland-175049-2014.610050-holland-179051-holland-181052-2014.611053-holland-189054-holland-190

Always a cappuccino and always a cookie on the side.055-holland-191

The food is so delicious and fresh.  This was goat cheese, fried on a gorgeous salad with walnuts and fruit.056-holland-192057-holland-194058-holland-196059-holland-201060-holland-205061-holland-207062-holland-212One 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.063-holland-217Their 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.067-holland-234068-holland-230

Off to Epe, the town where my dad was born, 71 years before…to the day.  He was ecstatic, talking to people along the street and sharing his stories.069-holland-244070-holland-245071-holland-249

In front of his old home that his father built in the 30’s which is now a spa.072-holland-253073-2014.612074-holland-256075-holland-257076-holland-263077-holland-271

Seventy one years old.  “If I made it to 71, I know I can make it to 80!!”078-holland-269079-holland-273080-2014.613


The girls who love sushi sure weren’t as keen on the raw herring with onion.  My mum ate it every chance she got.084-holland-361085-holland-363086-holland-365087-holland-296088-holland-304089-holland-289

Having a good laugh over the panorama shot she took of my dad, which lopped his head off.090-holland-314091-holland-319092-holland-105093-holland-321094-holland-320095-holland-323

Dinner with some wonderful family.096-holland-327097-holland-339098-holland-342099-holland-347100-holland-353101-holland-22

At the end of a wonderful trip, the sweetest part is getting to see the faces I love the most.102-holland-369