amsterdam bikes WEEK TWO TRIP BLIP STARTED JULY 25th


mini ferry netherlands Holyslootrooftop amsterdam


July 23, 2008

According to my computer it is still "yesteday" back at home so I don't have to start WEEK 2 of my update until later!! How can that be? It actually makes me feel a bit anxious as there is still soooo much to do and time is running away!

! Another very nice day weather wise. Sander's knee was sore from his bicycle accident but he carried on. We were typical Dutch family and took the bicycles down to the free bicycle ferry and across to town. We get slow starts these mornings as we have become a bit European in our pattern of eating late and staying up later! Once at Central Station we walked up to the new Bibliocheek (Library as you might have guessed) to meet John's cousin Esther. Esther is very lovely and took some of her time time take us up to the library rooftop for a juice break and to see the incredible view!! She also helped us find a couple of storybooks for Gabriel and checked them out for us! We had planned to go to the Scheepvaart (maritime) museum but it was closed for renovations(3 of the big museums are closed right now). The old ship the Amsterdam was stil open so we went on board and the boys enjoyed exploring that. Sander's knee was bothering him so we decided to make our way home, plus we were expecting John's cousin Alette and her partner Dorothe for supper so we could get ready. We had a very nice dinner and visit with them and have made some more plans to meet this weekend near Alette's home and to visit the Canadian war memorial and more.

We still have not found an adapter. We thought we had solved the problem yesterday but it didn't work so we are back to the hunt today before we can't take any more pictures. Part of my charger is broken and I am hoping that is not the problem. I would have to buy a new camera here as I couldn't stand to not take any more pictures.

Musings of the day

Being the village idiot so to an inability to speak (the language) is not soo bad. I just smile and nod a lot and no one really expects much from me. I have about three phrases now plus I can say blueberries, tree, beer and street!!

In a library in Holland when your child is running screaming through the stacks...people say SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH almost exactly like at home but with a slight guttural undertone:)

You know your child has you figured out when he goes out of site on the deck of the houseboat and yells SPLASH and then giggles!

bye for now,



July 22, 2008...



A very nice day here today. The sun shone finally and we met up with Peter and Carla our travel friends of 20 years ago and their two children Tessa and Tjeerd. We went for a nice bike through the lower portion of Twiske and to Holysloot and back in a sort of loop. For our inexperienced boys it was challenging in its length and that they are not on their own bicycles but they did very well. Sander had a bit of an accident that he does not want us to share. He took a tumble off his bike and landed in a ditch full of water. The good news is that the water broke his fall and he only has one bad cut on his knee and nothing more. The bad news is he was mortified and it took the joy out of the day for him. He was a trooper though and in borrowed ill fitting clothes carried on, stopped at a pub for lunch and made it all the way back with the bare minimum of whining. Better then I would have done in the same circumstances. It is sort of a minimal balance of fate, since the son of the house exchange family at our home took a bicycle spill on the first day of their trip and has ended with his arm in a cast with a broken wrist. It seems we got the better end of this situation but I won't tempt fate by going on too much.

Musings from Holland for today...

A siren this morning here. Sirens don't have a very urgent sound here which makes me think I hope I never have need of a fast ambulance. They sort of go "youwho...youwho . who who yoouuuu whooo" I want something a little more forceful if it's my emergency......

When in a Dutch pub with a bunch of local drinking men in Holland watching the Tour de France on TV....make sure your children only cheer for the Netherlands.....

When following a bike path that travels through farm fields...don't presume that the bull knows you are allowed to pass (check out the picture). The bull wouldn't move for Tjeerd and would charge short distances towards some of us when passing!

When a driver goes too fast past children biking the driver will understand when you swear at him in English!!!

Have a good day (in Victoria) night (in Netherlands)

I will hopefully find and adapter tomorrow so I can charge the camera and take some new pictures.




July 21, 2008 still in North Amsterdam

amsterdam bicycle racks


Too tired to do much of an update. I think today may have been the turning point and we are all reasonably adjusted to the time. We had fine plans to walk the Jordaan area this morning and go to the textile market but that was all defeated by blowing wind and driving rain. In the early afternoon we (the adults) made the decision to brave the weather and catch the bus to Central Amsterdam. We timed the bus arrival wrong so by the time the bus came we were all soaked to the skin and freezing cold by the time we got off at Central Station. The shivering children meant a stop at a Mexican restaurant for hot chocolate and some lunch. Ordering was an interesting mix of English, Spanish and Dutch. Then we went to the Science Museum neMO. It was a good choice for the weather but very similar in subject, content and quality to the Science Centre in Vancouver. John and I enjoyed the buildings and city scape as we strolled but it was a bit lost on the kids and we had to keep pulling them out of the bicycle lanes which they don't quite understand yet. Tomorrow afternoon is our cycling trip to the Northern towns. We are looking forward to it and will write more then.

the Amsterdam


Off for a drink and bed:)







July 20, 2008

Amsterdam Nord, Netherlands

A little more exploring last night once the rain lightened up!!  Wow it sure can pour here!  Sander and John took the one kayak and headed down the canal toward Twiske.  It is only a very few minutes and you come to a traditional windmill which is the beginning of the Twiske recreational area.  Cycling, windsurfing, riding, camping, swimming and cycling are all available.  I have learned I will have to go to sleep as soon as Gabriel goes to bed as the last two nights I have been up until midnight and then Gabriel wakes at 4 in the morning and is ready to play.  With the water right outside the door I don’t feel right not being up with him.  YAWN!!  Last night later we got the bicycles out and John and Sander biked and Jonah and Gabriel had rides.  So nice with the bicycle paths everywhere.  Plus what the Dutch consider a long distance is short to us Canadians.  We had talked with Peter and Carla about a cycling trip today but we still have to make some arrangements for Gabriel and Jonah.  Ok doubling for short distances but we would like to go a little further and the bicycles are too big for Jonah and we need some kind of more comfortable set up for Gabe.  We may rent or there is a neighbour who fixes bicycles that we could buy one from and then sell it back to him at the end of our trip.  We will see.  I think I will go and have a snooze until Sander and Jonah get up and then we will see what the day holds………

(much) later the same day…

We are certainly getting off to a slow start here…I fell asleep for a few hours and then was up and the boys got up finally too and then Gabriel went back to sleep a little while ago and is still sleeping.  This is the boys and my first collective experience with jet lag.

Because of our odd sleeping schedule we have yet to make it into the Central part of Amsterdam but our promise to ourselves is to get up and go tomorrow. 

Despite our slow pace the day was a good day.  Earlier today Carla, one/half of the couple we met 20 years ago traveling in Mexico, and her two children, came by to drop off a bike for Jonah to borrow for our bike trip with them on Tuesday.   It was very nice to see her and nice to meet her daughter Tessa (14) and son Tjeerd(8.5). 

We have also had contact with a number of John’s other relatives and tomorrow we will go to the Jordan area on ferry to the open air markets etc with Esther and her son and Tuesday we have our cycling trip planned and Wednesday Alette (another cousin) and her partner Dorothe will come for dinner and we will also try and visit them later in the week for a visit to the museums near their place.   

The big three took the motor boat out today but with limited success.  The engine was not running smoothly and John didn’t want to get too far away and have to paddle it back in the wind.  Perhaps they will figure that out later although John likes the kayaks better.  They also went bicycling and had fun too.  Now Jonah and I will go for a walk and then we will event something for dinner because we didn’t not buy food for today and here on Sundays nothing is open….toast and eggs it is.





July 19 (July 18 at home:)), 2008boat house holland

Wow!! We are here! Air travel is really amazing! It was a tiring flight and I think our children are better daytime travellers but it is hard to say as we have never had 10 hours on one plane before.

We left our house in Victoria at about 1:00 on Thursday and drove to the ferry. Caught the 2:00 ferry that we had reserved a spot on. Although it was running a bit late we still docked on the Mainland before 4 and despite further delays we were dropping off the van at the valet parking in Vancouver by 4:30.

KLM was very nice and ran ontime but the plane was completely full without a seat to spare so the possiblity of the kids stretching out to sleep disappeared. They are very nice to children on KLM and the weather was good so I think we had a total of 5 minutes of turbulence in the whole flight. The flight readings were pretty amazing as most of the time we were travelling at 1200 km per hour...Holy Molyi!!

So from the time we left home to the time we landed in Amsterdam was only 15 hours!! And then you step off into a whole different world.

It was very nice that John's Uncle Jo was there at our gate with John's cousin in law to say Hello. They were meeting John's cousin Esther and her son coming in from Greece so came to great us. A short taxi ride and we were at our exchange home.

John collected the keys from the nice neighbour and got to start speaking a little Dutch. I feel a bit of an "eel out of water" here as I speak not a word. Oh well...I got us through Costa Rica with my spanish so it is John's turn.

The exchange home is on a canal in an area of homes of similar style. A small but lovely yard and then the house floating on the canal. (Sander wanted to get on the boats right away but John was pretty tired so we will hold off for a day or two). While the house is different then ours there are many similarities with the open living area, music, children's art displays and use of the natural surroundings. The kids are very comfortable although Jonah's allergies are aggravated but we expected that and brought his antihistamine!

We found the grocery store yesterday afternoon and Sander and I stocked up and Gabriel has found a chocolate milk he approves of. We met some more neighbours while we were admiring their garden. He is an architect and John and I loved his use of natural resources to build his fences. I will take some pictures to post later. We also went to the playground last "night". The boys made an instant friend but were suprised that he was from Holland because his English was so perfect...shows the deficit in our education system in Canada that without immersion programs they can teach their kids multiple languages.

They have had a lot of rain here and last night was no exception. It poured. Our plan for today is to go to the van gogh museum on the bus and stroll around Amsterdam for awhile. It is 9:02 pm back in Victoria the day it is 6 am on Saturday!! I made a nice cup of coffee and I am going to post this and get on with the day..Hope the weather picks up as I only brought one pair of pants.

The pictures of the kids are off the back of the house!! Talk to you soon!!

ducks holland