Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wild West goes East - Calais, Vimy, Brugge, Zandvoort and Den Helder

Retro Adventures - Going back in time - June 26th to July 04th 2008

This was our mode of transportation in Holland... all four of us on a bike.... René drove.
What do they say?When in Rome?....

Tuesday July 01st, 2008

I'm sitting on the beach in Zandvoort Holland, right now. Strand Tent 10 (Beach Club 10). Basking in the glorious hot sunshine, today is a beautiful day. We've had a lot of rain, storm and wind or a mix of all 3 with a little sun added here and there for good measure, since we arrived last Thursday. 
 Let me try to recall what we've done so far in this whirl wind European tour:

Last Thursday: Arrived in Amsterdam Schipol (AMS) early afternoon off of a Transat Holidays flight from YVR. Picked up a car through Hertz via Transat Holidays as well.... a Ford C Max  
"Similar to a Ford Focus," René said. 
It was a bit squishy... but we were fast. (See above link for a real picture).

My cousin Astrid and her daughter Renske were at Schipol to greet us. It was great to see them again. 
After dropping our stuff off at their home.... we went to see my Mom's twin sister, Tante Ada. Then we walked through the Dorp(town centre).
We ate salted herring, 'Patate met' from Frites d'Anvers(the best place to get french fries in all of Holland), and topped it off with Gelato from Giraudi .

"You already had 3 herrings René," Astrid said, in perfect english, shaking her head as he ate a 4th on the way back home from Giraudi, "you are not getting sick?" she asked him. It is truly amazing what René can shovel into him. Must have a stomach lined with titanium.
Last Friday:
We walked via the Dorp, to Oma's house. Picked up gebakjes(pastries) and bloomen(flowers) for Oma. Renske came along too... for the gezelligheid(sociability), I was told... not for the gebakjes.
In the afternoon we had lunch with Tante Ada at Strand tent 10 and we spent the rest of the afternoon behind the glass partitions, out of the wind, just eating and drinking coffee and Chocomel
Chocomel's motto says, "de enige echte", which means the one and only... and it certainly is the best chocolate milk, I have ever tasted.
René and I made diner for the family later in the afternoon.

Last Saturday:
Left early to go to Den Helder via Castricum.
Castricum was very wind that day... we walked a little on the beach... but didn't stay too long.
 Here are a few pictures:
Out of the wind.
Next stop Den Helder. Difficult to find parking by the pier, so we ended up parking up on the sidewalk..... we weren't  the only ones. There was a Festival on the pier.... put on by the historical society of Den Helder. Walked about the festival for a spell and had lunch there. 
Broodje Garnalen

Broodje Kroket

Patat met (french fries with Mayo)... as you can see... a very healthy lunch.

"Cool boat!" Kalina said.
"It's a ship." Rene replied.
"Cool ship!"
It was a re-constructed ship called The Prince William from the year 1649. It was now a Museum. Cheap entrance fee(Parents would appreciate this) and a really cool ship(kids loved it).

Update on the Prince Willem : In the evening of Thursday July 30th, 2009 a fire broke out and the ship is no longer there... you can read more, through the above link.... sorry the link is in dutch... but you can look at the pictures?
Here's a few pictures of the ship from 2008(in english):)

On the way back from Den Helder we stopped for a coffee in a 1970's Beach tent in Bloomendal, then off to our cousin's Mark and Ellen for a BBQ.

Last Sunday: Left early in the morning to drive to France. Breakfast in Zandvoort, Holland....Lunch in Nazareth, Belgium and dinner in Calais, France..... that was cool!

To read a little more of the Ridge see this link: Vimy Ridge
Beautiful WW1 Monument. I'm not too into war memorials, but this one moved me. I left there sobered and understood more about what these soldiers did for us as Canadians. I left there feeling proud of where I live and who I am as a Canadian. Word can not express, the gratitude I have for these soldiers who laid down there lives for our freedoms. Thank-you.

 Did you know? 20 to 30 people are injured or die every year in Belgium and France finding shells and bombs from WW1...not WW2 but WW1.

Right here in the farmers field down from the Ridge we found buttons from old uniforms, bones, pieces of bombs and shells... these things are churned up every year when the field is plowed. During plowing season a truck comes by the farms to collect bombs and shells intact or in pieces. 

We hiked along the Ridge around the hill with the monument. We found a patch of tiny wild strawberries... they were so good.
Here are some pictures of Vimy Ridge and surrounding area:

They use sheep to mow the lawn... the tractors could set off an explosion from a 90 + year old shell.

No this is not the rolling hills of a country side... these depressions were man made.... from the millions of shells that hit the ground almost 100 years ago.

Then off to Calais.... did you know? You can really see the white cliffs of Dover from Calais!

We drove all over this map in 24 hours. Amazing.
Here's pictures of the beach in Calais:

Those french mermaids... not so pretty.
We stayed over night a quaint hotel La Sole Meuniere. We were in the 'Inde' room between Mexico and Cuba.

View from the room:

Right across the street we ate dinner at 'La Mer'. Great food! They specialize in sea food...moules (mussels) are wonderful!

The next morning we sent the girls into a bakery with some cash to order breakfast for us.... Trying out their French Emersion skills... They came out with a baguette and some buns... so I guess it worked. Next stop... the cheese shop!
After breakfast we walked around town a bit.... I took the girls to a playground while René went into a WW2 german bunker, turned Museum.
Here are a few pictures from the city centre:

City Hall

Sunday afternoon was spent in the world heritage city of Brugge, Belgium. What a beautiful city... Next time I'm in Europe... I would love to stay here overnight. There is so much to see here, three hours just wasn't enough.
Here are a few pictures of our afternoon:

The old Chocolate house... This is somewhere I could live.

Kalina found a few bones in this Church's court yard... This church is so old... from the 1200's... thousands have been buried here over the years...

Amazing trip.... the rest of the week we hung out with family and rested on the beach in Zandvoort.

Nina's Pic's

Alora's Corner
 I would have like to spend more time with my cousin's, playing on the beach.

Dog's Blog

They did not take me.... No matter... Oma, Opa and I had fun. Opa... not a good ball thrower... he lost many balls in the tree's. Happy to have my pack home... they have strange smells on them... no matter... I love them anyway.
THE CATS: They never take us anywhere! Mutiny! We will show them... One day.... we will.... Humans beware!