Den Ham – Day 1:
Now that it’s daylight we get to see what the rental house really looks like …. not too shabby. The owner advertised the rental as “Jeanette” …… curious to say the least.
It has 4 bedrooms (plus extra sleeping areas if required), 2 washrooms with showers, a fully stocked kitchen and a large common living area.
All the rooms (except washrooms) have flat screen TV’s. There is a patio with benches and table out front, and room for two parked cars. Perfect for the 7 of us!
Observation: It’s true, 12 -13 hours sleep does make a difference. We finally were all awake around 10:30am.
After we all had showers, we loaded into the two cars and headed to Ommen. A quick tour of some shops and then onto the restaurant “Flater (Eten en Drinken)” – very good local Dutch food and drink.
After the meal, it was back to shopping …… such interesting items – the kids loved the toy store. Gerda had to get her raisin bread, then it was onto touring the windmill museum (which ironically) includes a real, operational windmill.
Very interesting to see the many things in the museum from 19th century schools, to WWll spitfire memorabilia, to old scientific demo models, to old dutch clothing.
After the museum tour, we went into the windmill for a tour of how it operates. Unfortunately, they turn the mill on and run every it only on Wednesday’s …… and we were there Thursday! When we got to the second level, to walk around the outside of the windmill, it started to pour. Reluctantly we left to visit the Tollhouse next door ….. and the rain stopped. Amazingly, rainbows are the same no matter where you travel, but some places seem to get more than their share.
Next stop we visited a castle, now used as an international school. Afterwards we invaded the relatives patio for more beverages. My how time flies when you have all the time in the world to drink.
Final stop of the day – “de Beuk” restaurant for fine food and amazing desserts!
Den Ham – Day 2:
A slow, late start to the day as we aclimitize to the time and weather changes. Cool, wet and very windy. The weather seems to also be cool, wet and windy – Saskatchewan climate – and just like the weather back home, it’s forecasted to warm up on Monday when we leave.
As for the kids, Taylan is much better, he is laughing and engaged in conversations and Harlow is, well Harlow ever smiling.
First stop of the day, the ancient German castle at “Bad Bentheim”. It took us almost twice the time to get there. We were operating from screen shots of Google map, until we suddenly realized the second rental car had a GPS unit. Without it we probably would have been 3x as long.
Bad Bentheim was quite the sight for the kids, who til now were use to the oldest structure they see in Canada being Government buildings (maybe 150 years old).
Bad Bentheim is almost a thousand years old, first mentioned in registries around 1116. In fact the Romanesque stone cross in the chapel (called “The Lord God of Bentheim”), is one of the earliest represenations of Christ in central Europe, well over 1000 years old.
There is at least one window in the castle claimed to be from the original construction, much of the rest has been repaired or restored over the years …. quite impressive to prairie kids.
Next stop, one of the few family owned and run wooden shoe makers left in Holland.
Although it was late in the day, the owner was happy to give a demonstration of how a pair are made. The process is similar to making a copy of a key, except he makes both the right and left shoe at the same time.
He takes two blocks of wood and shapes the outside. Then he hollows out the inside, followed by more shaping and refining to smooth both the outer and inner surfaces.
The ends are removed and final shaping done by sanding the surfaces. The finished pair are then dried at 30°C for days. Each pair is finally hand painted. After the demo, he showed us finished product in all sized, shapes and colors. They can make approximately 25 pair a day, but can’t keep up with demand. Alas, he figures all business like his will be gone within 5 years …… a shame.
The shop owner is in the Guiness World Book of Records for the largest wooden shoe from one solid piece of wood.
The one shown below, with the kids in it, is an exact size fiberglass replica.
As an heirloom, we bought both grandkids a pair of wooden shoes each, for them to remember the trip to Holland and all the Dutch relatives they have met.
We end the day with another invasion of the relatives farmhouse.
Den Ham – Day 3:
Up earlier today as we finally get into a routine ….. sleep, wake-up, more sleep, wake-up again, shower, eat, decide where to go and go ….. come back for the things we forgot and go again. Easy rhythm to get into.
Today it’s market day in Vroomshoop. Not what we thought it would be ….. not so much on “crafts”, but a lot of store “sidewalk” sales. Still it was interesting and we got some real Oliebollen. The kids got to pickup and pet several different types of rabbits.
Interesting they have to go Holland to see real ones.
Next stop, to drop Brad off in Balkbrug, for a motorbike tour – something he hasn’t done in a long time. Cousin Eddie (a professional driver instructor) broke out his motorcycles so they could tour the country side. The tour was approximately 170 km so quite a ride!
The rest of the afternoon was spent in Ommen visiting Gerda’s Tante Dien, who is 98. Lots of reminiscing, with new ones created:
Christa, Harlow, tante Dien van Dorland, Gerda (and Taylan)
Den Ham – Day 4:
The final full day in Den Ham was spent searching a restaurant for breakfast ….. starting with the “Pannenkoeken” restaurant in a place called Marle. It took some time but Shayne located and we piled out of the cars. They were open, however after we were seated we were informed the kitchen didn’t open til 1:00pm …. it was 11:30am. On to the next location … a hotel restaurant in Ommen, where we found out the kitchen didn’t open til 12:00, an improvement until we saw the prices! On to the 3rd restaurant …. which looked expensive, but they had a dining area in a sunroom. Best coffee so far and the food portions were very large and tasty.
From there we tagged up with the relatives and drove to a city called Assen, where we met the remaining cousins for their annual reunion. Too bad it had to rain, but we still talked in the two outdoor shelters. Great to see so many familiar faces again …. it’s been over 13 years for most of us. Yes, a little bit older, but still recognizable!
Another group of 4th generations this time on Gerda’s mothers side.
Tante Dein Rosman, Gerda, Tante Dein Nevenzal, Harlow, Christa, Dante Bertha
Final night in our great accomodations …… cleanup and pack for tomorrow. We will definitely keep this place on our radar for the next time we return.
Tomorrow we return the cars, say our goodbyes and catch the train for Amsterdam. A new page of our family journey will flip to start our European adventure. More places the kids have never been but dreamed of seeing.
Den Ham – Day 5:
Pack up, cleanup, pickup and go …… time to move on. First stop, return the borrowed towels – thanks to the aunts and cousins. Next stop, Ommen to have a quick breakfast …… not really quick and not really breakfast. On Monday, restaurants don’t open til 12 noon …. so it’s an early lunch, then onto the train station to unload the luggage before returning the cars to the rental location.
One interesting thing you should understand about small Dutch town railway stations is they have small parking lots and large bicycle stands. The bicycle stands are at the entry way to the station …. so you can’t see the traffic coming. This leads to lots of surprise visits …. from those wanting to say good-bye …. and almost everyone showed up!
Then it was fairwell to Ommenn and the relatives.
Next stop in Amsterdammmmmmmm …….