Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sat. June 28 ~ Traveling Home

Today was a plane day.  We left Hotel Mosaic at 5am by taxi for an 8am flight out of Schipol.  It was a seven and half hour flight to Toronto.  We watched three movies- fun!  We arrived in Toronto at 10am and then dashed off to catch our flight to Chicago.  Our 12:30 left Toronto on time and an hour and a half later we arrived in Chicago.  Then we had a three hour lay over till our flight left for Grand Rapids.  This last half hour flight was quick and uneventful.  We arrived at the GR airport at 7pm to a warm welcome!  It is good to be home!

Fri. June 27 Last day in Amsterdam

Today was our last full day in Amsterdam and we made the most of it!  We walked to the VanGogh Museum, then around the corner to the Rijksmuseum.  Our third stop was the Hermitage and then on to tour Rembrandts House - really cool!  Our last stop was the Amsterdam Historical Museum, which had a really great display on the overall history of Amsterdam and its current people.  Shopping, dinner and packing rounded out the day.

Thurs. June 26 ~ Delft

Today Micah and I bought another train ticket and traveled to the city of Delft.  What a quiet, lovely, beautiful town!  Our fist stop was the Old Church which resembled the leaning Tower of Pisa - yes, it was built crooked.  Then we toured the New Church- both very large and beautiful.  It was market day so we did a bit of browsing in the market place.  We then took a canal boat tour around town to the Royal Delft factory and  took a tour of the Delft factory, learning all about pottery.  Once off the boat we went to the Vermeer Museum and the Het Prinsehof Museum, both interesting.  We ended our day in Delft with a pannekoeken dinner by the canal.

Wed. June 25 ~ Apeldorn

Today was 67 years in the making.
67 years ago my grandmother -Gerri Nieuwenhuis Pipping- left Apeldorn, Netherlands and immigrated to Grand Rapids, Mi with her family.  Today Micah and I traveled by train to Apeldorn.  First, we visited the queen's palace there - The Palace Het Loo.  A beautiful palace and gardens that the royal family lived in till after WWII.  They Micah and I went on an adventure and found the house the house that my grandmother lived in, the pharmacy where she worked and the bakery that my grandfather worked in - it was a dream come true!  It was a fabulous day!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tues. June 24 ~ Haarlem

This morning we took the Tram #1 to central station and then took a train to the city of Haarlem.  We walked to Corrie TenBoom's house - by far the best tour yet! This family has an amazing story.  Then we spent time at St. Bavos a beautiful old church.  We also went to the Historical Museum of Haarlem and the Frans Hals Museum.  This town was so beautiful, laid back and relaxed- a real charmer!

Mon. June 23 ~ Adventures in Amsterdam

Today began with a boat tour of the canals of Amsterdam.  It was a great way to start the day- we learned a lot about the history and architecture of the city all while leisurely floating around town.  Then we walked to the VanLoon and Willet-Holthuysen canal houses.  These museums were beautiful old homes with wonderful art and fabulous gardens.  We spent time at the Jewish Historical Museum- an old synagogue and then went  on to Our Lord In The Attic - a Catholic church hidden in a canal house for 200 years - both had very touching stories.  Lastly we visited Amsterdam's Old Church.

Sun. June 22 ~ New Adventures

Saturday after the wedding we drove to Gatwick Airport to check into our airport hotel for the night.  John and his mom returned the cars and we went out for a very late dinner.  Sunday morning we ate breakfast all together for one last time.  Then John, Ethan and Kendal went one way - flying off to Toronto while Micah, John's parents and I flew to Amsterdam.  It was a tearful good-bye.  Once in Amsterdam we toured the Royal Palace and the Anne Frank House.  Let me just say that Amsterdam is a very dangerous city to walk around in- in order to cross the street you must watch out for the bikes in the bike lane, then the tram, then the cars in the road, and then the other bike lane- just to get to the other side...crazy!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sat. June 21 ~ Wedding Day

Today we had to leave our country cottage- our time in England is almost over.  But first, it's wedding time!  Uncle Ian is marrying Brenda.

  The wedding was at 11am and it was so beautiful!  Afterwards friends and family walked down to the garden for a wedding breakfast-the food was amazing and the company so lovely.  We feel so blessed to be able to have spent the day with our family-blessed beyond belief.

Fri. June 20 - Family Fun

Today we met the cousins for lunch at Knoll Park.  What more could you ask for....cousins spending time together, the kids playing cricket, ice cream with Uncle Ian...priceless!

Thurs. June 19 ~ London Day 2

This morning we took the train downtown and saw Big Ben and the House of Parliament. We toured Westminster Abby which was huge, old, beautiful and had lots of dead people buried in it.  We also went underground and saw the Churchill War Rooms used during WWII.  Then it was off to the National Gallery to see some AMAZING art and the Banqueting House.  Lastly, we toured Ben Franklin House in downtown London and saw where he lived for many years.  It was a great day!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wed. June 18 ~ Seven Sisters

Today we drove east to the Seven Sister - white cliffs on the coast.  They were beautiful.  We had lunch on the beach and then hiked across the top - amazing!!  Other exciting news today was that we had our sec
ond flat tire...yep, we hit a curb and the tire popped!  John is getting very good at changing tires.

Tues. June 17 ~ London

This morning we took the train into London and stayed all day.  We spent all morning at the Tower of London- it was huge and VERY old.  Then after eating lunch, we toured the Tower Bridge and learned how the bridge/street goes up and down.  We walked down by the river to the Globe Theater and toured a replica of Shakespeare's theater, even getting to see the actors rehearse for an upcoming play.  After dinner we took a river cruise and then took the train back home.

Mon. June 16 - 2 More Palaces

Today we drove to two castles just outside of London.  We spent the morning at Hampton Court Palace and learned a lot about Henry VIII.  We had a lovely lunch in the garden.  Then we drove up to Kew Gardens and Palace.  The gardens were more like a large park and the palace was more like a large house but, we really enjoyed our afternoon.  After a home cooked dinner, we hiked across the barley fields and explored around our cottage.

Sun. - June 15 ~ Traveling Day

Today was a travel day.  After a brief stop at a local hospital to have JB's eye looked at, we drove south to Sevenoaks to have tea with Uncle Ian and Auntie Brenda.  They then drove us to our new cottage which we rented for the week.  With John's eye on the mend, a new idyllic place to rest our heads, we are ready for week two of vacation.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sat. June 14 - Bemish

 Today we met up with the cousins at Bemish Museum - a living historical museum.  We went down in the coal mines, saw farm animals, visited the old school house, had an ice cream treat, and a picnic lunch.  But the best part of the day was riding the sugar boats.  These large two person swings operate by pulling large cords; the harder you pull on your cord- the higher you go. What a great invention!!  It was a fabulous ride!  On a side note: The antibiotics don't seem to be helping  John's eye, we may be back at the urgent care tomorrow?

Fri. June 13 ~Great Grandparents

When our children were young, they had 5 Great Grandparents.  What a blessing to have four generations care for one another.  This autumn we were able to celebrate the 100th birthday of John's grandmother, just a few short months later she passed away.  It was her wish to be buried back in England and today was her special day.  Surrounded by family - 3 generations- were celebrated the life of Doris Sowerby Reed.  Walking in the village that John's mom grew up was very special.  Seeing pictures of John's grandpa on the tavern walls, incredible!  On a side note:  Ethan lost a tooth and John has an eye infection that took him to the urgent care at the local hospital. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thurs. ~ June 12, 2014 - More Cousins

This morning we drove north "for a very long time" according to our GPS to the city of Durham.  There we spent the morning touring the Duhram Cathedral and Castle with cousins Dee and Amy.  We ate lunch down at the River Wear.  After lunch we rented a boat and rowed up and down the river trying not to hit the edges or get run over by the practicing crew team.  Then we drove to Gateshead to spend the afternoon with John's cousin Paul and his family.  We had a wonderful afternoon at the park with Claire, Paul and the kids. Ethan and the twins got along so well!  Then they made us a traditional British meal -toads in a hole- it

was amazing! When we got back to our cottage we watched the 1st FIFA match - Go Brasil!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wed. June 11 - Lake District

Today we drove north to the Lake District across the moors to the town of Keswick.  Walking thorough the town center we ran into Uncle Ian so we stopped for a coffee break.  Then it was off for a hike in the hills.  We found a lovely stream that the kids had a blast playing in, which was good timing, because our rental car  had a flat tire and the dads had to change the tire.  Then we were off to High Force waterfall for another hike about.  Perfect weather day today, first one without a rain shower.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tues. June 10 - Cousins

This morning we drove to Bowes Museum.  It was a very unique museum that a husband and wife spent their whole life working on; collecting things and then building this amazing building.  In the afternoon we drove to Eaglescliffe to visit John's cousin and her children.  It was the first time meeting the children and our kids totally connected with them.  We had a wonderful afternoon playing at the park and hanging out.  We feel so blessed to have this opportunity to meet and spend quality time with our English cousins.

Mon. June 9 - Two Castles

Today we went to two castles, first Barnard Castle.  It is a castle in complete ruins.  We hiked around it and then went into the town of Barnard Castle for lunch.  We had a real British lunch of fish and chips.  Then we were off to Raby Castle.  A beautiful castle where Lord Barnard and his family lives- amazing!

Saturday and Sunday, June 7 & 8, 2014 ~Travel Days

Today was the longest day ever according to Ethan.  We drove five and a half hours to Toronto Airport, then flew from 9pm till 4am to Gatwick.  Uncle Ian and Nana B. picked us up from the airport and we were off to meet our newest relative - Auntie Brenda.  She had the most wonderful breakfast waiting for us!  Then we drove 5 hours up north to Red Lion, our cottage where we are staying for the week.  So far we are off to a good start.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Last Day of School 2014

 Today was the last day of school and an end to a great year for our family.  We were blessed with three different schools; each providing just what our kids needed.  The teachers in our lives this year will go down in history as memorable, loving, caring and truly very special!  Thanks to all the teachers and staff members who taught and cared for our kids this year- we were so blessed!  Let summer begin!