A Travellerspoint blog

Remembrance Day

November 11

Remembrance Day…
What does it mean to you? Do you have a connection with a soldier who has fought for our freedom?
This year, Remembrance Day is especially meaningful to me, having visited many historical World War II sites while on my trip. My small glimpse into the devastation and destruction of war has made me more understanding of the terrible experiences soldiers faced. My appreciation of the sacrifices that the Allied troops made for our freedom is much greater now.

Canadian Memorial
Rha, the Netherlands
At the corner of two quiet country roads in farmland is a beautifully designed monument in memory of seven Canadians of The Queens Own Rifles who lost their lives. Every soldier of the QOR of Canada was a young Canadian who had volunteered to fight for the cause of freedom.
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Battle of Arnhem
The Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek tells the story of Battle of Arnhem through first-hand accounts of soldiers and citizens involved, and then an Experience of a reconstructed block of Arnhem. It’s a very small taste of what living through war would be like – something we can’t understand, but it gave us a chilling idea.
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Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery
The Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery is where many of the heros of that battle are resting. There were rows upon rows of headstones, including Canadians as well as many ‘unknown soldiers’.
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Kamp Westerbork
More than 102,000 Jews were deported to German death camps such as Auschwitz and Sobibor via Kamp Westerbork. The museum is a glimpse into life at the camp; outside there is a memorial with 102,000 stones representing each person who died.
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Suda Bay War Cemetery
Chania, Crete, Greece
The Suda Bay War Cemetary overlooks the bay in Chania on the Greek island of Crete. German paratroopers invaded the island in May 1941, and the Allieds couldn’t defend against them. and 1,527 Commonwealth soldiers from World War II rest there.
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Personal connection: Reinold Terpstra
My Opa’s brother was involved in the resistance and was taken from their farm by the Germans and killed. Seeing the memory stone that was placed in his honor along the road where he was taken, as well as the street named after him was very special.
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Lest we forget the sacrifice of all those who have died for our freedom.

Posted by willettales 10:21 Comments (0)

End of cruise & a short day in Rome

...and then we sailed back to Rome...

The cruise was a wonderful experience, definitely a way I want to travel again!! I could only hope that I would have such amazing table-mates again - they really made the time on the ship very enjoyable! I hope to see you all again at some point - I'll catch ya on Facebook, eh?! :)
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back row, from left: our waiter Shaun, Wayne (from Melbourne Australia), me, Chris and Carol (from Boston), our assistant waitress Branislava.
front row, from left: Lorraine (Wayne's wife), Frank & Dyanne (from San Diego), and Kitty (Dyanne's friend, also from San Diego):
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ROME

I had only part of a day to see a few sites in Rome… definitely not enough time, but I knew that going in. I got a hop-on/hop-off bus ticket, did the full loop and then got off at the Colosseum and the Spanish steps. The city was really really busy - just soooo many people – it was nuts, way too crowded for me!
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The crowds of people leaving Vatican City:
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Part of the ancient wall of the city:
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Seeing the Colosseum was something I'll never forget. It is bigger than I imagined, and when I stopped to think about what happened there, it was very chilling. Some of these photos are from the bus, some from when I first got there and then some after I had a pasta lunch (of course!) on the sidewalk across the street. You can see that the sky got blue later in the day, making for some stunning photos.
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The Spanish steps... SO busy that I bought a postcard to actually see what they look like!
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Another very familiar brand that I saw everywhere... it's a great place to find a clean free public restroom! :)
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One of the things I thought was so nice about Europe are all the restaurants, pubs and cafe's with seating on the sidewalk. This was across from my hotel in Rome... pizza on the street in Rome, Italy. A wonderful way to end my amazing adventure!
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I had a much better trip home than the flight to Amsterdam :)

I dreamed of doing a trip like this for a long time... And thanks in part to a great 10 year employment bonus from my boss, Bill, at Denbow, I finally did it! And it was way better than I ever could have dreamed. Here's to saving for the next trip :)

Posted by willettales 19:24 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Chania, Crete, Greece

sunny 28 °C

For our next port of call, we had a short stop on the island of Crete… I hadn’t booked a tour for this stop, and when I heard that there was a city bus from the port terminal into town, I just went in on my own. There was a hop-on/hop-off bus at the market where the bus dropped us off, so I hopped on and did the loop around the area. It wasn’t the best hop-on/hop-off tour I’ve done (pre-recorded tour in English that didn’t have the best timing), but at least I got to see some of the area. Next time I’ll book a tour… as it’s another area I’d like to go back to ;)

Crete has an interesting ancient history, including pirates using the island as a base for terrorizing merchant ships. Merchants also used the island as their base, due to the location of Crete linking the three continents in the Eastern Mediterranean. Chania (pronounced han-ee-ya) is on the northwest coast of the island and has been restored and rebuilt to its Venetian charm, attracting many of us tourists. The waterfront is beautiful and there are lots of neat little shops and restaurants/cafe's. We drove through a fishing village area that was really charming and I would have got off the bus there if we'd had more time.
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On May 20, 1941 German paratroops invaded Crete. Allied troops from Britain, New Zealand and Australia worked together with Greek military & local Crete law enforcement & citizens to defend the island, but the Germans defeated them. The Germans proceeded to murder and torture the local population during their occupation. In 1944, a British sub sank a German ship (a commercial vessel they had requisitioned). The Brits didn't know that on the ship were 265 Jews... no one survived.
The Suda Bay War Cemetary overlooks the bay, and 1,527 Commonwealth soldiers from World War II rest there. Again, I didn't have enough time to visit it, but from the bus it look striking similar to the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetary I visited in the Netherlands. It struck me at how vast the destruction of the war was.
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It was neat to see our ship, Navigator of the Seas, in the bay:
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I saw many familiar stores/brands throughout Europe, IKEA was just one of them. I thought the greek on the building was cool!
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I did some shopping and had lunch in the Agora (market). It reminded me of Granville Island.
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Posted by willettales 18:16 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Turkey

Port of Kusadasi, Tour of Virgin Mary’s House, Ephesus ruins & Basilica of St. John

Thursday. Turkey. My favourite tour of my whole trip. A “pinch me, am I really here?!” kind of time. Definitely a country I want to explore more. I will try to share a little of the amazing experience I had that day:

Through my travel agent, I had booked a small van tour for this day – part of the reason that I chose this specific cruise, was the stop in Ephesus. At her recommendation, I booked this smaller tour… on the 2nd night of our cruise, I got to talking with Kitty (one of my table-mates from San Diego) about our plans for the rest of the ports of call. She said they had booked a small tour for the day in Ephesus, and we quickly realized we had booked the same tour through ShoreTrips - A Biblical Tour of Ephesus!! What are the chances, that out of 3200 people on the ship, we are at the same table and booked the same tour! Frank needed a day to rest, so the tour ended up being Dyanne, Kitty and myself with our own big van, tour guide and driver. What a wonderful experience it was, and so neat to share it with the ladies I’d gotten to know a little bit already. Kitty was much more knowledgeable about the history of the area than I was, and asked great questions that Gokhan (our guide) was more than happy to answer. Although not a Christian, Gokhan was very familiar with the Bible and Old and New Testament history.

We started our day traveling to the House of the Virgin Mary. It is where Jesus’ mother Mary and Mary Magdaline are believed to have lived until they died. Researching since I’ve come home, there doesn’t seem to be too much scientific evidence to confirm it was where she lived – most of the information is that of a Catholic nun’s visions. Either way, we know that the apostle John took care of Mary after Jesus’ death (as Jesus instructed him to do from the cross), and this house is located on the outskirts of Ephesus as is the church of St. John.
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The house is seen as a shrine to the Virgin Mary with statues of her around the grounds and inside. No photos were allowed inside.
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There is also ‘holy water’ that people were drinking, collecting, etc and a wall where people were leaving their wishes and prayers by tying tissues and pieces of fabric to the wall.
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The area believed to be used for baptisms:
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We enjoyed a glass of apple tea – a real Turkish drink – before doing a little shopping of souvenirs.
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We then traveled to the ruins of Ephesus. We started at the – gate, and worked our way down through the ruins. In the ancient world, Ephesus was a center of travel and commerce. Situated on the Aegean Sea, the city was one of the greatest seaports of Asia Minor, on the Aegean Sea. Since ancient times, the landscape has changed, but Gokhan pointed out where the sea used to come to – up to the Arcadian Way.
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Some of the first documented male/female pipe fittings:
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The artistic and architectural detail in many of the ruins was amazing:
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It was a very warm day, around 30 degrees. The blue blue sky made for beautiful photos!
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Original mosaic floor:
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The view of the ruins from the top:
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The Goddess Nike - can you spot the Nike 'swoosh'?
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These were public toilets!!!
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The 'crowning jewel' of Ephesus is the Celsus Library:
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Kitty, Dyanne, myself:
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The Great Theater, constructed in the 3rd century BC. In the 1st century AD, the apostle Paul spent over three years in Ephesus preaching the Gospel. According to tradition, he delivered a sermon condemning pagan worship in this theater. When Paul was accused of hurting the Artemis and her temple, the mob gathered together in this theater (Acts 19:23-41).
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Cleopatra and Mark Antony paraded here:
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After Ephesus, we went to lunch. Our tour included a "lunch of traditional Turkish specialties" and I didn't really know what to expect. We drove into the countryside as our guide told us that the restaurant we were going to was owned by a lady who was as good a cook as his mom and wife. The spread was a whole buffet of various dishes. She explained them all to us, many unique dishes with ingredients we were familiar with. We all chose a little from each dish to try - everything was so yummy! It felt very authentic and local, a really amazing experience.
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Finishing up lunch and enjoying a rest, we headed to the ruins of the church of the apostle John. This church is where John ministered and brought the gospel, following Jesus' Great Commission. It is also where John is buried.
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The baptismal pit in the church:
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Posted by willettales 00:31 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Athens, Greece

On October 9 we arrived in the port of Piraeus (Athens) early in the morning.
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I did a tour and our first stop was at the Panathenaic Stadium (also known as the Kallimarmaro -"beautifully marbled”).
It was originally built in 556BC, and then rebuilt in 329BC.
This is where the first modern Olympic games were hosted, in 1896. The original Olympics started in 776 BC, but ended around the 4th century AD when the Romans were in power in Greece. After the Greek war of independence in the early 1800’s, interest in reviving the games grew and in 1856 the first Olympics Games were in Athens. This stadium hosted the games in 1870 and 1875, as well as some events in 2004. It is built completely out of marble and has a capacity of 60,000 people.
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We stopped to see the Athena Acropolis and the Parthenon temple. They are some of the most famous monuments in the world and really are the symbols of Athens. The Parthenon was built in the 5th century BC, and is built of white marble. It is a temple to the Greek goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom. As with some other famous sites I saw on my trip, it was under restoration, so my pictures have a big modern crane in them, unfortunately...
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The ground was covered in marble tiles as well - interesting sidewalks:
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Then we toured through the city, seeing churches, ruins, the National Gardens, etc...
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We had a great, local tour guide. She was knowledgeable about Athens history as well as current culture and economy. Her opinion of the economy is that the media make it sound more dramatic than it really is, especially about the rioting. But at the same time, she pointed out the national bank of Greece and said there’s nothing to see there… it’s empty, no money. Lol. She also pointed out a bunch of buildings that had been built for the 2004 Olympics that now are standing empty “Greeks don’t play squash!”. But some of us North Americans on the tour thought that their normal working hours (9am to 2 or 3pm) might be part of the financial problem! She told us about many interesting museums, including one built over a archeological dig with glass floors so you can see what's happening in the dig - definitely a place to check out if I'm ever in Athens again!
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After the tour we had a couple hours of time on our own to explore, shop, and have lunch. I bought some souvenirs for family and had souvlaki in a pita with tzatziki for lunch (very Greek!) on the street - what a neat place to people watch :)
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Posted by willettales 17:03 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Sicily - Port of Messina & tour to Taromina

sunny 30 °C

Our first port of call on the cruise was Messina, Sicily. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, and is an autonomous region of Italy. Through history, the island had been conquered by many different empires, making their heritage a mix of Greek, Arab, Turkish and Roman/Italian. Our tour guide was asked how the location people identify: she said for her personally, she is Sicilian first, then Italian.
Messina is the 3rd largest city on Sicily, and is located in the northeast corner of the island. The area is beautiful, with a rugged, hilly landscape. The tour that I picked went to the little medieval town of Taromina. The drive there was interesting, with lots of climbing hills on narrow roads and sharp corners so tight that traffic coming the opposite way of the bus needed to back up to allow the bus through.

View of Messina from the ship
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Madonnina del Porto statue in the Port of Messina
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The village of Taormina is perched on a 250 meter cliff overlooking the Ionian sea with a beautiful view!
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The entrance gate into the village
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The narrow streets were crowded with tourists when we arrived, but started to clear out in the heat of the day – it was 28-30 degrees that afternoon. Lots of nice little shops – I bought a hat and scarf by an Italian designer. It was also interesting to stop at the post office to mail a Paris postcard to my nieces - no English translations and I ended up in the wrong lineup, but we figured it out :)
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The Corvaja Palace dating from the 10th century, built during the Arab era
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A cart entirely hand made - the detail on it was amazing
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The narrow streets and stairways were so cool...
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Of course I had to try a cannoli while in Sicily – their famous treat
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The Duomo - Taormina’s main cathedral was built around 1400
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The area of Sicily that we drove through was this type of landscape:
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Posted by willettales 13:07 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Cruising the Mediterranean

Royal Caribbean - Navigator of the Seas

I really enjoyed the cruise portion of my trip… it was really nice to unpack my suitcase into the closet for 7 nights! I had signed up for the second dinner seating with a table of eight people. The first night I (a little nervously) met everyone, but we quickly found that we all had much in common and got along great! I ended up spending time with everyone outside of the dining room throughout the cruise, it was so nice. There was a couple from Australia who were traveling for a total of 7 weeks; two lady friends from Boston that constantly had us all laughing (and enjoying every time I said ‘eh?’… didn’t know how often I use that Canadian word!); and a couple with a friend from San Diego. Everyone was so nice and fun, we usually didn’t finish dinner until 10:30 :)

The staff on the ship was just incredible – they were from 70 different countries! All spoke English well, and even remembered our preferences for drinks, making the bed, etc. My stateroom attendant called me Les… I didn’t have the heart to correct him. :)
There were a little over 3200 guests on the ship, from 59 different countries. In the top 10 countries were the UK, Israel, Italy, Canada (203) - and Americans (689). All the information was in English and Italian, with the International Ambassador translating really important announcements into 5 or 6 different languages.

They put in great shows (music with a live orchestra, dance, comedy, trivia, games, competitions, parades, and an ice dance show on the skating rink!!). I thoroughly enjoyed all the activities.

The ship was amazing as well. Three or four pools, lots of hot tubs, a climbing wall, skating rink, kids adventure area, spa, show theater, movie theater, three floor dining room, buffet, a number of specialty restaurants, a chapel, a (smoky) casino, shops on the Royal Promenade, and lots of little café’s, pubs and lounges scattered throughout the ship. Plenty of places and activities to keep busy while traveling the Mediterranean :)
And yes, Royal Caribbean cruises in the Mediterranean…

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My favourite spot for sailing into the sunset...
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The shows with live orchestra were very nice:
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View up from the Royal Promenade. The ship was 15 storeys.
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The Royal Promenade at night:
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... and during the day (usually filled with people, I managed to get this shot on a day that my tour started a little later):
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The main pool deck:
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So fun to come back to my stateroom to see what kind of towel animal my attendant had made. Elephant wearing my sunglasses.
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These "Jersey Boys" were actually Brits, but had us fooled with their NJ accents:
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The Ice Dancin' show on the skating rink was really amazing. I wasn't expecting it to be that good... one of the figure skaters was Canadian, and they had a set that was hockey themed :)
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The ice show also featured a Russian aerialist who did a routine on a hoop.
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This was a mime/comedian - he did a four-legged man set, but it wasn't as good as Gord & friends did at Kevin & Jen's wedding... lol. But he did a set with a white t-shirt that was funny. A good idea to have this kind of entertainment with such an international crowd.
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Mediterranean sunset
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A view of the bridge... our captain was from Norway.
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One of the shows was a compilation of various Broadway shows, including Mama Mia (Abba songs)
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The food was delicious, plentiful and creative:
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We discovered this bar tender on the last evening - he did magic tricks / illusions right at the bar! and he was good, we couldn't figure out his tricks :) My friends from my table are sitting at the bar:
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Posted by willettales 22:06 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Paris

I took the train from Zolle to Amsterdam early Thursday morning, and caught the highspeed train through Belgium to Paris.
I was able to check into my hotel early, so after a quick freshen up, I left to catch my booked tour to the Palace of Versailles.
Just as we got to the palace, we had a little rain – the first rain of my whole trip!!! It just sprinkled a little, thankfully as my umbrella was useless in my hotel room... lol. I had booked an English guided tour of the palace, as I’d read that it always has big line-ups and is very crowded. I’m so glad I did a guided tour, our guide was great and we got to skip the line :)

The palace was originally a hunting location by Louis XIV, and then Louis XV built it into the palace. The final king to live in the palace was Louis XVI and his wife Queen Marie-Antoinette before the French Revolution, at which point they were imprisoned and then beheaded. To say that the palace is ornate would be an understatement. Everything is over the top. While there, the kings and queens lived life as on a stage: there were ceremonies that people came to watch every morning as they woke up, when they ate meals, when they went to bed, etc. Crazy! Even when the queens gave birth there were all kinds of people in the room! She would be behind many tapestries, but they’d be in the room... Leanne, Monique, what do you think about that?!?!??!

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Friday morning I started with a tour of the city to see most of the famous places: the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, etc, etc... Then we continued with a river tour on the Seine River.
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The Opera House
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The Arc de Triomphe
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Notre Dame Cathedral
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There are a few bridges full of locks...
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A few interesting facts about the Eiffel tower:

  • It took over two years to build, by all French citizens, except for the elevators. They were built by the Otis brothers (famous Americans for their elevators), so they were given French citizenship after the tower was built so that they can claim it was built by all Frenchmen.
  • The tower is repainted every 7 years with 60 tons of paint and takes about 18 months to complete!
  • No one was hurt during the building of it... one worker climbed up during non-working hours to watch the sunset and he fell off and died, but he wasn’t working at the time.
  • The Eiffel Tower receives 7million visitors every year – basically the maximum they can handle. More would go up if they could move the lines faster. The lineups were crazy, I can’t imagine what they would be like in the summer!

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The tour included optional lunch on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, so I did that for something special. It was kind of neat, but they rushed us and the choices were strange, but an interesting experience anyways :)
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view from my table:
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Later in the afternoon I went to the area of the Louvre... the size of it - to think it's full of art is unbelievable! There is a beautiful park there as well, with fountains and lots of chairs. Was a nice place to rest with many other travellers.
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Then I went back to the Eiffel Tower to see the lights come on and the sparkling lights that go on for 5 minutes at the top of the hour. Beautiful & magical!!!
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I must say, though, that my thoughts of Paris are more similar to Leanne & Brian’s than Monique’s... they know what that means. I'm glad I've been there now, but I’d rather go to New York any day!

And then back to the hotel to pack up for the train trip to Rome – i’m writing this as we’re speeding at 252km/hour through the Italy countryside! And the British guy in front of me is wearing an Old Guys Rule t-shirt just like dad’s... lol!

I don’t think I’ll be updating the blog again for at least a week/maybe when I’m home, as next up is my 7 night cruise...
thanks for reading and your comments/facebook comments & messages... fun to read each time I find wifi access!!

Posted by willettales 02:36 Archived in France Comments (2)

Wednesday history

Tuesday evening Gea and I drove up to Zwolle, where she lives with her husband Sander and their three kids. Special thanks to Sander for holding down the fort with the kids allowng Gea to spend three days with me!

Wednesday morning, Gea and I started the day at Kamp Westerbork... a World War II concentration camp. More than 100,000 Jews were deported to German death camps such as Auschwitz and Sobibor via this camp; only 5000 of them survived the war. Our visit started in the Memorial Centre which tells the history of the camp. It was originally built by the Dutch as a refugee camp for Jews fleeing Germany. In 1942 the SS invaded and took it over as a sort of holding camp for people being sent to the death camps. Most people only stayed at Westerbork a few days. The Memorial Centre focuses on life in the camp with personal stories presented in a number of ways. One of the victims of this camp was Anne Frank, and her father Otto was one of the few survivors. One of the last trains to leave the camp was on September 3, 1944 and she was one of the 1019 deportees on that train.
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Actual sign showing the chilling next stop for deportees:
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The layout of the camp:
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The camp was eventually liberated by Canadian troops:
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Art memorial titled "Tears from heaven"
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Actual photos depicting Dutch Jewish population prior to the war and after the killing:
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After the memorial centre, we went out to the National Monument Westerbork. There are 102,000 stones placed there to remind us of each murdered person who left the camp. The sheer number is really hard to think about.
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After Westerbork, Gea and I headed north and she showed me where my Opa Terpstra grew up, and where his brother Reinold was taken & murdered by the Germans during the war. There is a memorial stone located at the home where they lived when he was taken...
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We also went to the church where the Terpstras attended, and to Terpstrastraat, named in honor of my great uncle, Reinold Terpstra.
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We stopped by the church where my Opa’s parents are buried, but we couldn’t find their gravestones anymore. In the Netherlands the stones can be removed after 50 years if they aren’t being paid for to make room for new ones. Hopefully next time I go to Holland I can spend some more time looking into family history.
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Gea has this trunk that her mom gave her, saying that Om Doeke (my Opa) used it when he served as a chauffeur in the Dutch East Indies - now Indonesia. I have some tapestries that Opa brought back with him, so it was very cool to see this trunk!
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Prior to my arriving, Gea had tried a number of times to get ahold of cousins Janko and Japke, but never got an answer on the phone. So we decided to stop by their place and see if they were home. Yes, Japke was cleaning windows! She was surprised to see Gea, and then she saw me, immediately knew who I was and then was really surprised! We had a nice quick visit with them, Janko showing me around their house and telling me the history of it, their nice garden, as well as the suite that I’m welcome to stay in any time J Unfortunately, their daughter Auktje who I know from her many visits to Canada when she was younger, was away on business in England for her new job. Next time I go to Holland, I’ll make sure to have more time to spend with our Hofstede family out there... :) Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures there.

On the way home, Gea and I had a kroket and frikandel special for dinner – typical dutch :D

Gea, thank you for your generous hosting, for even booking my train and sending me on my way with buns and bringing me early early to the station! Also especially for sharing your knowledge of our family – I think it is so amazing that we share that common bond. I look forward to our next visit, when ever that may be!

Posted by willettales 00:52 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Cousins Continued

Monday evening Auktje reminded me of Mom when she threw together a meat & potatoes meal last minute for us :) Eric had a mission meeting to go to, so us three ladies played Carcassonne... Curtis, you have that game, right? Auktje is very good at it, and they were good teachers.

Tuesday morning we started at an information centre in Arnhem, about the WWII Battle of Arnhem. In September 1944, Allied forces were trying to secure the three bridges by Arnhem. Their mission failed miserably due to a number of errors: parachutes landing in the wrong area, incorrect intelligence, etc. We learned the sequence of events at the info centre, presented as first hand accounts of soldiers and citizens. Then we went to the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. There they also have the story told through the eyes of people who were involved, as well as a collection of items from that time. It concludes downstairs with an Experience: they have reconstructed a part of Arnhem to simulate what it was like during the battle. It includes buildings, cars, soldiers, citizens, bombs, death and destruction. It’s a very small taste of what living through war would be like – something we can’t understand, but it gives us a chilling idea.
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We also stopped at an old church that had a display honoring the para troops from the battle:
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A photo of the bridge after the battle and today:
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Airborne Museum:
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I don't know if photos were allowed in the Experience, but at the time it didn't even cross my mind to take pictures.

Later that afternoon we stopped by the war cemetery where many of the heros of that battle are resting. Many many headstones, including Canadians as well as many ‘unknown soldiers’. It was a fitting way to end the day.
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Before heading to the cemetery, we visited Kasteel Doorwerth – an old castle turned museum. It was interesting to see how people lived ‘way back when’! Check out the pictures below... the pamphlet I grabbed for all the info turns out to be in Dutch, so I’ll be googling info for my scrapbook. Lol!
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Anyone need to use the toilet?! Quite the throne... and no door. But very progressive for it's time, to have a toilet inside!
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They entertained guests in their bedrooms...?!!
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Ready for battle, Gea!?
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And here is the three of us :)
Auktje, myself, Gea
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I enjoyed my time with Auktje and Gea SO much!! It's so amazing to connect with relatives I hardly know, and yet we have so much in common, it's like we've always known each other. Thank you so much for your generosity... and I think my Opa and your mom would have been so happy to know we'll stay in touch :)

Posted by willettales 13:52 Archived in Netherlands Comments (2)

Photos: Monday

below are photos that go with the post "Monday with cousins"

The castle in Germany where we had lunch:
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The interesting menu! I had the Grape-garlic soup with smoked duck. It was actually pretty good!
Gotta love the poor English translations I've see throughout Europe. Here you can get "Parsley soup with shrimps."
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Church steeple in Doesburg that was rebuilt after the war. It was bombed and completely destroyed.
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The 2nd largest organ in the Netherlands.
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On the way home we stopped at a war Canadian memorial:
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Posted by willettales 12:02 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

Photos: Ede

these photos go with the post "Visiting Mieke"

One of the workshops that I did was making these tiered serving trays using various china plates, cups & saucers:
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The other workshop I did was painting: Pieter, Mieke's husband, built and drew this traditional Dutch scene and we all had a part in painting it. I forgot to take a picture of it all put together & standing up...
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The school where Mieke is currently teaching English to high-schoolers:
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Posted by willettales 11:37 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Monday with cousins

Monday morning, my mom’s cousin Gea picked me up from Mieke’s. We headed south to Gaanderen, to Auktje’s home (they are both my mom’s cousin’s on my Opa Terpstra’s side of the family). We had coffee and then we headed to Germany! We had a fancy lunch at a castle – Wasserburg Anholt. It was a very ‘hoity-toity’ menu with very strange sounding food (see pictures). Also lots of laughs as Auktje and Gea tried to remember to talk German to the waitress and English to me... ha ha.

Then we went to the old village of Doesburg... We went into the church, and the organ was playing. The church organist was giving a ‘tour’ or explanation of the organ. It is the 2nd largest organ in the Netherlands (after one in Rotterdam), with 5315 pipes! He demonstrated the longest pipe, the smallest pipes, and the various sounds with all the stops. The organ was a piece of art, it was great that we happened to be there at the right time to learn about it. Doesburg has lots of very old buildings, which the ladies taught me about how to pick out the older ones. The church was left in ruins after WWII, but was rebuilt.

We had coffee and ‘gebak’ in a little cafe, De Waag, which claims to be the oldest cafe in the Netherlands. It started as a place to trade wares.

I'm out of time now to post photos... hopefully I'll have a bit of time in Rome, before leaving on my cruise! Thanks for your comments - fun for me to read whenever I get wifi access :)

Posted by willettales 14:22 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Visiting Mieke

Saturday & Sunday, September 5 & 6

After saying good bye to the de Gelder’s, Leo drove me to Ede, to Mieke’s house. We had a quick coffee together, then Mieke and I went to set up for her church’s Community Day. They had a number of workshops people could choose from, including biking, knitting, darts, port/cheese tasting, painting and making a tiered baking tray from china. I thought that was a cool idea, and might be fun to do with ladies at home sometime... we finished the event with a really traditional dutch meal: boerenkool, zuurkool, hutspot, worst, and beef in gravy (I can’t remember what they called it.). I tried a little of everything, and it was good! I especially liked the zurrkool... might need to ask Oma to make it for me or teach me :)

Speaking of Oma, Mieke took me on a drive around the area that my Oma Terpstra grew up. We drove down the road that Oma’s house is on, but I couldn’t really tell which one it was. I’ve seen pictures, but they all started to look alike. But at least I saw the area. We also drove through Harskamp, Barneveld, Veenendal, Wageningen, etc. I also saw where Mieke teaches and taught when she first returned from Canada. I can understand why great-Opa VandenBrink chose to settle in Chilliwack – the farming area is very similar to the area they lived before immigrating. It will be really nice now to hear Oma’s stories, I’ll be able to picture her on her bike better now :)

It was really so neat to see Mieke again after 11 years... she lived in Chilliwack from Sept 2001 to June 2002. It felt like we picked up just where we left off, and it was great to meet her husband, Pieter. We shared lots of memories and laughs. We also discovered many new things that we have in common, so neat! We played “Kolonista –America”... also known in English as Settlers of America. They play Settlers often, have many of the different games/expansion packs. So we were Dutch & Canadian and playing an American game in Dutch/English - an international world.
I really regret that I forgot to take a picture of Mieke and Pieter! They were wonderful hosts and I hope to see you again soon!

Posted by willettales 14:21 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

thank you, de Gelder's!

A huge thank you to the de Gelder family, especially Els, who picked me up so late at the airport and showed me around. It was so kind of you! Looking forward to seeing you in Chilliwack in November :)
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Posted by willettales 14:12 Archived in Netherlands Comments (2)

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