Thursday, September 2, 2010


Here is my favorite family in all of Europe. Tom, Karen, Fay and Saar.
Have you ever seen any two girls cuter than these two?
And there is no nicer group of people than this family. This is Tom, his mother Mirjam, his brother Hans and his girlfriend Kim. (clarification: that's Hans' girlfriend, not Tom's. Tom already has a wife who is adorable. See above) Tom lived with us in Phoenix as an exchange student long, long ago. There are some fun memories of those days posted here and here. Tom and Karen live in the southern part of Holland. Their house is gorgeous. I wish I had taken more pictures - beautiful inside and out. Here is the view out the bedroom window. Where else would you glance out the window and see beautiful scenery like this which happens to include a windmill? Tom has been asking us for years and years if we were ever going to come to Holland. Well, we finally made it and I've got to say that heading to Holland was the part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most. It's nice being so far from home and staying in a home so inviting and with people so charming. This was the first time we met Karen. She is delightful. She is the kind of person I would love to have for a next door neighbor and be good friends with. Tom showed us a good time around town. There was a local carnival going on. Tom was part of the opening ceremony for the fair. There was also an event called Kennedy Mars Someran. Apparently President Kennedy said once that every man should be able to walk 50 miles. So they do! Karen had done the walk a couple years earlier. I liked her even more when I heard her survival stories of that hike. Whew!! She's my hero. So, participants walked 50 miles within 18 hours. They started at 9 pm the previous evening and walk through the night and most of the next day. We went down to the finish line the next afternoon and watched the end of the march. There were local bands, lots of vendors and food, booths and guess what Dave found . . . an antique tractor display. Go figure. He was surprised that we took an obligatory look at all the tractors and moved on. He would have spent the rest of the day with the tractors.
Besides the tractors, there were bands and of course . . . sheep shearing demonstrations! (Notice the wooden shoes.)
This was the only part of our trip that was away from the big cities, away from the tourist crowd and a peek into real life. Loved it!
Tom is an extraordinary planner. He planned to have these events going on while we were in town: a carnival, a 50 mile walk, the Tour de France (which began nearby in Belgium and was televised everywhere), and of course . . . . . . SOCCER!!! And he arranged for Holland to be one of the top 2 teams in the world. Thank you Tom.
The entire country was going CRAZY -- I've never seen so much orange in my life. Tom planned to take us to a nearby restaraunt that was hosting a viewing party. Everyone rode their bikes to attend. Seriously, there were about 5 cars and 200 bikes! I've never seen anything like it. There were large screens up everywhere, drinks served, games for the smaller kids, it was a big fun excited crowd. I didn't have an orange shirt, but Karen hooked me up with a little orange so I would blend in.
You would not believe the excitement of the win against Brazil. The crowd went crazy! It was awesome. We were able to follow the remaining games of the tournament through the rest of our travels, but this game was the best to be in Holland for a winning game.


everyday katie said...

This is my fave of your Europe posts. That's the way I'd like to tour Europe. The non-tourist way. (Though there are of course a few must see tourist spots.)

Lauri said...

I love spending time with friends from my past. I can see why this was a favorite part of your trip.

Bandanamom said...

I'm so glad you guys got to do this trip. So awesome!

Suzanne Barker said...

How cool to be able to spend time with locals..and get to see all that cool stuff!