January 4, 2010
Hard to believe just how quickly our time went by, but before we knew it, the day before we were scheduled to fly out had arrived. Unfortunately, this meant packing day for Bill and me. Luckily, I had started packing stuff up the night before, so the job wouldn’t be too horrible. The big concern was whether we could keep each piece of checked luggage to a maximum of 23 kg. (51 pounds). (Luckily we did. I think our heaviest piece came out to 22.4 kg!) Bill and I each had checked in 2 pieces of luggage. Now some of you may be thinking that is a lot, but it’s not easy to pack lightly when you are going to be gone for 19 days and it’s winter time. This wasn’t like our trip 3 years ago during the summer, when we could get away with packing shorts, t-shirts and a windbreaker. No, this required jeans, sweaters, long underwear, thick socks, scarves, boots, etc. And then there is the matter of taking a piece of carry-on luggage because you never know if your luggage is going to be lost. As I mentioned before, that happened to Bill on the last international trip and we didn’t see “Big Red” (the nickname we gave his luggage) for 3 weeks! Thankfully it was on the journey back home, and not on the way out there. So a carry-on piece was a must. I also had my laptop, because there is no way I could be without the Internet for that long! And besides, how else would I be able to write my blog and provide entertainment for all of my favorite people back home? So back to the subject of packing. As I said, Bill and I each had two pieces of checked luggage, one suitcase that had nothing but food that I was bringing back plus the little gifts we received during the Christmas Eve gift game, and we were each taking a carry-on piece of luggage. On our trip out there, we had two carry-on pieces. I had my small suitcase that had a change of clothes and my laptop, Bill had a small suitcase and my parents’ ashes. But all of that changed thanks to that jerk who tried to bomb that Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day. He made traveling even more hellish for everyone after that incident because we were now only allowed one carry-on bag. This meant I was going to have to figure out how I was going to be able to take everything with me that I brought and condense it down to one carry-on! Well, I did it. I had to empty my backpack into the small piece of luggage, put the backpack inside of that as well as my purse. Bill ended up putting my laptop inside of his small piece of luggage and we had our packing figured out.
Our plan for the day was pretty simple; stick around the house that day and in the evening, head to Amsterdam. Ed and Joy had planned on spending the night before their departure at a hotel in Amsterdam so they would be closer to the airport, especially since their flight was departing at 10:05 a.m. Well, as it got closer to our departure, it seemed like that would be a good idea for us as well, especially given the weather report; it was calling for snow all week long. If we stayed in Elburg, we would have to be up ridiculously early to make the drive to the airport. Since Ed and Joy were going to be our ride to the airport, they would then be spending two nights in the hotel. My cousin Shirley and Erik, my cousin Wendy’s husband, would follow us to the airport so that we could have help transporting all of the luggage we would have between Bill and I and Ed and Joy! So the plan was Shirley would be over around 7:30 p.m. to pick us up and follow us to our hotel in Amsterdam.
Bill and I decided to venture out that day to the old part of Elburg so we could do some last minute shopping for some gifts I wanted to get for some of the grandchildren as well as drive into T’Harde so I could get a picture of this boutique we had driven by numerous times, called Annemarie. I wanted to show it to my friend, Annemarie. So off we went in the rental car, first to a store called Hema, in Elburg. It’s a short drive into town. We had to drive by this large field/farmland and I realized that it was the same place that 3 years ago, I had bicycled to with Wendy and her family! In fact, I have a photo of me on the bike, in front of that field, with a cow in the background! If there had been a place we could have stopped the car and parked, I would have taken a picture of it because now it was covered in complete white, because of all the snow! Instead we headed on into town. Here are some photos I took of what Elburg looks like:
It was beautiful there with all of the snow. We walked around a bit so I could take these photos and then we had to get going so we would have enough time to drive to T’Harde. On the way back, I snapped these photos (check out the one with the ridiculously long street name! Can’t imagine having to remember how to spell that!):
Soon we were in T’Harde where I managed to get my picture of the boutique.
And this house that was for sale, which Bill said he wouldn’t mind living in:
We had to park far off the street where the boutique was located, in a residential area, then walk, in the snow, to where the boutique is. We didn’t stay long, just long enough to get my photo, then back to Elburg. On that drive back, it started to snow a bit. It was nearly 3:00 so school had let out. A lot of parents were there to pick their children up from school and this is not something I have seen a lot of!
It was funny to see these old style sleds, especially with parents pulling their kids home on them!
We made it back home and just hung out with my cousins until about 5:30, when we walked over to Theresa’s house for dinner. We had already managed to get my and Bill’s luggage into the rental car, so now we just had to wait for Shirley to arrive so we could get Ed and Joy’s luggage into her vehicle. Shirley arrived at Theresa’s on schedule and after a quick visit and getting the rest of the luggage loaded up, we were off. We did stop at my aunt’s house on the way out to say goodbye to her. That was hard, saying goodbye to her. She is such a sweet, kind woman, and a lot of fun too, so I will really miss her! We couldn’t stay long because we had a long drive to Amsterdam and then Shirley and Erik would still have the drive back and had to get up and go to work the next morning.
We arrived at our hotel with no problem. The hotel employee advised us to bring ALL of our luggage in, to not leave anything in the car because it would just be an invitation for a break in. So we got one of their huge luggage carts and lugged every piece of luggage up to the room we were sharing. Thank goodness this hotel room was huge! We were thrilled at the size of this room, especially after the tiny room we had in London when we had to spend the night at a hotel there.
We got everything settled in, then said goodbye to Shirley and Erik. We spent the rest of the night enjoying our hotel room and the free Internet! To have something free in Holland is a treat, because you pretty much have to pay for everything there!
Our plan was to leave the hotel in the morning for the airport by 8:30 or so, to give us plenty of time to get there and get checked in, especially since we had no idea what would be in store for us with all of the new heightened security. So it was early to bed for us so we could be up early as well.