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Netherlands

Hoogeveen

Hans & Alie

sunny

We left Brugge after difficulty with leaving procedures , no instructions so trying to decipher for ourselves. Got it wrong, got a finger wagged at us, a horn blasted at us while trying to pay at wrong place to leave. Fair to say we were stressed driving out. Our experience of Belgian people was not friendly or helpful. Once on the road it was 4 hours driving on excellent roads - speed limit usually 120 and Sal was comfortable at 110. Very flat country but pretty. Huge numbers of trucks.

At Hans & Alie, was just great to see them again and settle down. Hoogeveen is a lovely town, cherry blossoms out, magnolias and camellias in bloom. We walked around the town ( approx same size as Blenheim), and got sims cards and internet sorted at long last. Technology is great but takes some coming to grips with. Also have been considering bikes - we are in the bike capital of the world after all. L1070430.jpgL1070429.jpgL1070427.jpg

I am now excited about exploring this well organised and already very friendly country.

Posted by Sallyj66 21:11 Archived in Netherlands Comments (2)

Hoogeveen

markets and exploring

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Our day started with 2 lovely treats. First was a divine breakfast and the Rosie "joined" at the table via Skype. Felt like w were all there together chatting. When the tech is working( or us) it is awesome.

Saturday morning is markets in the town, that incidentally is much larger than Blenheim, so time to replenish the larder. We were just not knowing which way to turn first. Everything you could wish for - and more. What choices, and chatting away to all and sundry, it was great. Inevitably we have to try the local delicacies - which in this case turned out to be raw herring!! Sorry Deb - these ones did not live to 'swim another day'. They were ok, cant say I raved but makes a good photo .
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One problem we have been encountering in Netherlands is accessing our money. We thought we'd covered all contingencies at home, however here unless your card has the 'maestro' sign on it, we are left floundering to pay which is embarrassing. Parking is paid via a phone app, so once parked you could be very red faced if you dont check all these our first. Traps for the unwary. A visit to the supermarket was pretty much the same as any other.

Then we were taken on an excursion that was fantastic. Orvelte is a 'living' historic and very picturesque village. We mooched about the shops and displays sampling local delicacies. One unexpected bonus was an ethnic food tasting stall held by young people from a volunteer organisation called Erasmus, lots of very interesting flavours. For afternoon tea we had pancakes and coffee at another quaint shop called "T Hoes van Hol-an". The girls working there were so friendly and the atmosphere was just great.I think it is a favourite place for Hans and Alie to bring visitors. On the way back home Hans drove us through the countryside and we saw vast areas of farmland. It is definitely more intensive than home, and the buildings fort he animals are huge. Still struck by the flatness of it all and the distinctive style of architecture. Left us wondering if we could identify a NZ 'style'?
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Alie had made a meal of meatballs for us last night. I love meatballs!
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Sal was exhausted and was off to bed early, and I had a special time just chatting with Hans and Alie, with the occasional banter from Rick, till quite late.

Posted by Sallyj66 20:48 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

Hoogeveen

Sunday - a day of rest

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Sunday in Hoogeveen isa day of rest. There is a strong religious influence that adheres to the belief that this day is not for business, thus the shops are shut. Our day therefore was discovering the beautiful countryside around the town and watching the annual Cascade Run in the afternoon while dodging showers.

Hans drove us through Dwingaloo National Park which is just beautiful . Great photo opportunities for Sal. We became a mobile platform when after numerous requests to stop the car, we put down the roof and left her to click away to her heart's content in the back seat while we drove with seat heaters on. Driving thru the avenues of (I think) Linden trees on cobblestones is very dramatic. Alie stayed home and attended to our washing. We have been very spoilt.
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In the afternoon we walked down to watch the annual Cascade Run. Alie had some friends who participate each year and she wanted to support them. it was just amazing the number of people participating, they just keep coming and coming. We saw 10,000 on a singlet. The accompanying music where we were standing was incentive enough to keep running! A very festive atmosphere.
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In the evening Hans got out old videos from when they had visited NZ 30 years ago. It was very nostalgic and great to recognise familiar places from home. Some of us have changed more than others over the years. Also quite a few no longer with us.

Posted by Sallyj66 21:54 Archived in Netherlands Comments (2)

Hoogeveen

Bronbeek

sunny

We started the day with a 'breakfast chat' with Tim as it was his birthday. The connection was so clear, like having him at the table with us.

One of my 'must dos' when in the Netherlands was to visit the memorial at Bronbeek for the people who had died during WW2 from the Japanese occupation of Indonesia.This has the name of my Father's father - HW Schuyl - on it. Incidentally the same initials as Rick's. Both Rick and Rosie have also been here.
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I had some trepidation about this. Also is a museum that gives more record of the brutality and extreme hardships that was suffered in the camps. However Mondays are closed so that option was not there for us. I am ok with that, just paying my respects was enough.The monuments to the men who died on the Burma Railroad, for the children who died in the camps and the women who had both themselves and their children in their care are moving and poignant. It is a beautiful and quiet setting and I felt that their memories are well respected.
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It is about an hour and a half drive to Bronbeek, so on the way back we diverted through Arnhem and Staphorst. This is a very conservative area that has a distinctive house style. The green shutters and doors give the area its identity.
We saw a picture perfect windmill outside a restaurant so came to a screaming halt, backed up and had to take at least one picture of a windmill.
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We had an appointment at the bike shop to take the campervan and check that we could fit the bikes in it for transporting back home to NZ. We also needed to see that we could get them onto the bike racks. This became a protracted and stressful exercise. BUT did result in us now being the proud (if not slightly nervous) owners of 2 new eletcric bikes!. It will open up a whole new dimension to our holidays there is so much to explore. The cycle tracks are excellent.
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Alie had stayed home and prepared a meal of bahmie for us. Food of the gods, it was delectable.

So now our time in the NE Netherlands comes to a close. We have had a pretty comprehensive look at the beautiful scenery, the different styles of housing, the fabulous villages, different land uses etc. But most of all we have such a lovely time with Hans and Alie. The friendliness of the people here is a pleasure to do things and make this adventure all the more enjoyable. We are getting more au fait with the very many rules on the road. Unfortunately Hans tells us each area has its own variation, so another set to come to terms with soon.

Posted by Sallyj66 20:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (2)

Alkmaar

financial contortions

sunny

An unexpected challenge for us is finding that our visa is refused by most retailers a they object to the 5% fee they lose on the transactions. Our plan was to use a "cash passport" that we had loaded both euros and GB pound onto - to get around all the conversions fees. Well best laid plans - and all that! So we have had think laterally, sometimes successfully and other times less so.

Yesterday our patience was tested to the max as we attempted to deal with forms on line, conversions and different banking systems. It may be that once we leave the Netherlands that we are able to use our cards again. It is a work in progress but means we are using cash mostly at present.

It was sad to leave Hans and Alie. Travelled via the Afsluitdijk to spend time in Alkmaar with Ans and Rob (cousin of mine). The dijk is a brilliant feat of engineering and human endeavour. It is hard to conceive that such an enormous earth works was acheived with very little in the way of machinery to help them. The benefits to the country and people are immense.
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We have been so amazed to enjoy the Netherlands countryside. Our trip took us about 2 and a half hours and we are now in the NW. Heidi (sat nav) had a lapse in judgement yesterday also. There were major roadworks en route that she did not factor into our instructions, thus we went around and around round abouts about 3 times trying to find a way to continue our journey - in the end we just did what seemed intuitive and somehow we got here.
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This region is a major flower growing region and the tulips are just coming into bloom, later than usual apparently. So dramatically beautiful. We have a bike trip planned for tomorrow when we will be able to enjoy ( and photograph) it better. Had a meal on the beach last night at Egmond - Rick also been there. The beach is huge and sandy, just stunning. And the sunset. We could have spent all night just people watching. Saw the Coast Guard go out for an exercise. There are enormous windmills out at sea for energy production but haven't been able to capture them in the photos unfortunately. Once again a very beautiful area that we are looking forward to immersing ourselves into for a few days.
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Today Amsterdam!!

Posted by Sallyj66 20:31 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

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