Preparing for our next big trip!!

After ‘winning’ $10,000 from KIA Canada for the trip of our choice, we picked the UK. After some deliberation, we found it best to put the money towards a trip that would normally cost us quite a bit more money so it would take less of a hit on our own wallets. Also this is our advantage to finally meet more of my family in the UK and Pamela to go to Scotland and see some of her heritage.

We are in the planning stages of what we are doing but the flights are book! We leave May 1st and come back home May 30, 2017. As an added bonus for me…..IRON MAIDEN! at least once in every country. UP THE IRONS! \m/


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Ship shape to the last day.

Boat 4

On the boat


Yesterday we basically spent the entire day on Marlon’s boat cruising some canals around Holland….7 hours, 60 km. Marvin and his daughter Melanie, her boyfriend Ashley and his cousin Jade were on the boat as well. There were quite a few bridges and locks you need to wait for. It’s definitely a different view from the water too. Pamela and I both ended up a little redder then we started the day at as the day was just about as perfect as you can get. Oops! There is really little to say about today’s adventure because all we did was relax, had a few drinks, eat and relaxed some more. Towards the end of the boat ride some of us jumped in for a quick swim before heading back to the dock. Afterward we headed into town and picked up some bami for dinner before going back to Ferlin’s.  The highlight of the food was the banana chips that Marvin brought from Suriname……salty banana chips. Yummy! Pamela went and bought 3 bags of them to bring home with her at a little Indonesian and South American store when we went to get dinner. They may not make it home….  🙂


Today…our last day.

Today is our last full day in The Netherlands and we don’t have much of a plan either. Uncle Arthur, Aunt Grace, Uncle Cor, Aunt Sicilla, Farah, Frens, Lisa &  Eva stopped by this morning for a visit and to say bye. It was a nice visit….never long enough though. I don’t get to see my family enough. We got a few pictures which I’m sure my mom would live to see. Once everyone was gone we started going through our stuff and packing.

A while later we for a quick shopping trip, went for a coffee, and picked up some pastries. For the heck of it afterwards we took a quick trip over to Mijdrecht where I used to live before moving to Canada. It’s quite a bit different than I remember, got lost, but it was still fun looking around.

We went back to Ferlin’s home and ordered pizza for dinner. Once done, Pamela went shopping for a few thing to bring home (Sorry Dad…no cheese) with Ferlin and I want and spent my last evening here fishing the canals with Giovanni. We caught nothing but had a good time. Marvin stopped by to say goodbye as well. Once back we had a drink and a piece of the apple cake that Pamela and I picked up at the baker earlier. Mmmmmmm.

Time to call it a night and prepare for the long trip back to Canada tomorrow. Gonna miss everyone here.

Boat 1

We’re on a boat…..Marlon’s boat to be exact.

Marlon - Boat

Ramon’s cousin….Captain Marlon

Boat 5

Waiting to open.

Boat 2

Open sesame!

Barends 2

Cousins Marvin, Marlon & Melanie

Barends 1

L-R: Marvin, Ashley, Marlon, Jade & Melanie

Boat 3

Going for a swim

Farah & Ramon

Farah & Ramon Selfie

Fam. Farah

Farah, Frens, Lisa, Eva & Aunt Sicilla

Arthur & Grace

Uncle Arthur & Aunt Grace


Uncle Cor and one of his birds.

Cor & Sicilla

Uncle Cor & Aunt Sicilla

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Happy Happy Joy Joy

Rembrandt - Selfie

Rembrandt – Selfie

Today we started out slow. Slept in and took our time getting out of the house. First stop the Rijksmuseum to see some art work. We took the metro train this time into Amsterdam. This is much faster then the bus. A little more expensive but worth it. One ticket was $7.50 Euros each, but it lasts all day and as many changes as you need. It also works for the tram and the train.

The Rijksmuseum was a very big place. It would take all day to go through all of it so we toured a couple of floors and spent about 1.5 hours there. Of course the main attraction there is probably “The Night Watch“, painted in 1682 by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. The painting is approximately 12 x 14.5 feet. Rembrandt was paid 1,600 guilders for the piece; about $950 Canadian dollars which was a lot for the time. There is no value given to it now as there is no “market” for it as it will never be sold but some claim a value of $305,000,000.00. It is owned by the the City of Amsterdam and is on permanent loan to the Rijksmuseum. The actual title of the painting is “The Company of Frans Banning Coqc and Willem van Ruytenburch”.

Now on to the next attraction of the day……The Pride Parade Amsterdam style!! We walked about 2 blocks from the museum to the main canal where the 79 floats (boats) were making their way through the canal for the Gay Pride Parade. It is a very busy weekend here with events happening all over Amsterdam for the pride weekend. We wanted to see the parade through the canal…..along with another 500,000 people or more. It was CRAZY! Wow….what a party. So many people, music, ticker tape, balloons, flags and cheering. It’s really a sight to see. I didn’t have the advantage of being tall so I say only bits and pieces of the floats through the people lining the canals. The parade started at 1:30pm and they say to get there early if you want a good spot. We were definitely late. I just held my camera up and hoped for the best. It was a lot of fun. The atmosphere is very uplifting and many very happy people. We saw people viewing from the roof tops and at every high vantage point they could find.

On home again to have dinner with Ferlins family and relax for tomorrows big day on the boat. We are spending the day roaming the canals on Marlon’s (Ray’s Cousin) boat with the whole family. It is supposed to be a 8-10 hour day. We get to see Holland from a different view.

The Night Watch - Rembrandt

The Night Watch – Rembrandt

Mary Stuart Pricess of Orange 1652 - van der Helst

Mary Stuart Pricess of Orange 1652 – van der Helst

Amsterdam Pride  1

Amsterdam Canal Pride 2014

Amsterdam Pride  3

Amsterdam Canal Pride 2014

Amsterdam Pride  2

Amsterdam Canal Pride 2014

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Little to Big…..VERY BIG.

Maeslantkering 1

Maeslantkering – Storm Barrier (One side)

We headed to Den Haag & Rotterdam today just to go there and to check out a few things. We slept in and relaxed a bit this morning first. Before leaving, we hit the local grocery store to pick up a few thing Pamela wants to take home.

First to Den Haag. This is where the Dutch Government and Parliament are along with the Supream Court, Council of State and home to the Royal family. The International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court are also located here. We did not go to see any of these; we headed to Madurodam. On the way we took an early exit to check out some of the big fancy homes in the area. There is a lot of money here.

Madurodam is a park with miniatures of many of the major buildings and areas in The Netherlands. If you can’t go everywhere to see the real thing, this is he next best option. The detail in some of these are quite remarkable. I think we might have been the only ones there without kids. At least we had Sophie. We toured around for about an hour and a half before moving on.

Next was Rotterdam. This trip was basically to go see Maeslantkering; the big storm surge barrier. This 2 part gate is one of the largest moving structures on earth. These gates are 22 meters high and 210 meters long….all steel. The cost to make the barrier was about 450 million Euro. (660 million Canadian dollars). The arms of the gates standing on end would be as high as the Eiffle Tower in Paris but weigh twice as much…EACH. The ball joints used are the worlds largest and are 10 meters in diameter and 680 tons each. This has got to be the most amazing engineering project I have ever seen. In the second picture of the barrier below you can see a full sided barge between to give you the idea of the scale of these gates.

WE ended up skipping lunch (not on purpose) and were starving. As we headed bat to Aalsmeer, we stopped at a place called Balley’s in Rijswijk. Pasta and spare ribs we on the menu, but just coffee and cola this time. The food was excellent. Pamela even want back and let the cook know.

Back to Ferlin’s for the night….Amsterdam in the morning.

Madurodam 3


Madurodam 2


Madurodam 1

Pamela & Ramon at Madurodam

Maeslantkering 3

Maeslantkering – Storm Barrier

Maeslantkering 2

Maeslantkering – with barge

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Sneeking around Holland


Sneek, NL

Well we finally found a hotel in Sneek (pronounced…..Snake) around 8pm. So tired that at this point we didn’t care what we got. It was a much older Hotel right in the city center on Sneek. We got the last room which was on the third floor….and no elevator!! That’s right….we lugged the bags up 3 floors to the room only to find it very hot. Did I mention most places here in the Netherlands do not have AC. Thankfully there was a fan in the room, only the second one I have seen while here. We had a quick bite to eat and headed to bed.

The next morning we toured around Sneek for a couple of hours. The best way to describe it as a mini Amsterdam. It is a beautiful city with the canals and the shops laid out very similar to Amsterdam that is only 126 km away. We had a coffee at one of the many coffee shops there. I have drank more latte macchiato’s in the past 3 weeks here then I have in the last year at home. I definitely see a diet in my near future…  🙁  It’s either that or basically a shot of espresso as your coffee. I prefer to drink more then an ounce of coffee in the morning.

Sneek is also in the province of  Friesland. It’s a province of the Netherlands but with a different dialect in the language…..basically like Quebec back home. The attraction there is the Afsluitdijk Crossway. It connects Friesland to Northern Holland. It was constructed from 1927 – 1933 and is 32km long. They basically added land there so they could build a road and cut off the North Sea to gain more area. The water that they cut off from the North Sea is almost 100% fresh water now.  We stopped at the half way mark  to take a few pictures and use the wash room at the cafe. We had to buy something before we could use the toilette…… 🙁   $5.90 Euros later ($9.00 Canadian) for two cans of iced tea and we got a ticket to use the bathroom. Wow….they were making lots of money there!! I probably could have waited but that morning latte was hitting me.

Next stop….Ray’s cousin (on his mom’s side) Dennis and his wife Kitty. We had lunch with them …..bread with peanut butter and chocolate sprinkles was my choice. Chocolate sprinkles on bread is a big thing here. I introduced them the peanut butter and chocolate. There is no such thing as Reese Peanut Butter Cups here so they don’t get that they really go together well. Weird!! Aunt Mariejanne and Arie came by to see us too. It has been about 14 year since Ray has seen them when they came to Canada so it was a great visit. It has been great to finally meet Rays family. I have most of them on Face Book but it is great to finally meet them in person. All very special people.

Ray has been telling me for year about his last trip to Volendam. So that was one of the stops we wanted to make. We went there next….about 20 minutes away. It is a sea side village that caters to the tourists. Lots of boats in the marina and many shops, restaurants and souvenir shops to go through all along the board walk. First thing we did was go the the same shop that Ray had been to when he was 9 years old and with his family. We went to  get our picture taken in the traditional dress like in the olden days. (The picture below is just the cell phone picture…not the professional one we got.) It was fun but extremely HOT in that costume. We walked the whole way through checking out the shops and even stopping for a drink at one of the cafe’s.

Finally it was time to return to our starting point on this trip, Ferlin’s place in Aalsmeer (10 min from Amsterdam). We can relax for a few days before flying home. When I say relax that means…..checking out the local mall, Check! Going to Rotterdam, checking out the Gay Pride Parade on Saturday in Amsterdam, doing a canal tour with Ray’s cousins and families on Sunday, BBQ’s and family dinners. Relaxing…..  🙂

Time to have a wine….Cheers!

Afsluitdijk 1

Afsluitdijk – View.

Afsluitdijk 2



Dennis, Kitty, Aunt Mariejanne, Arie, & Ramon



Volendam Boat

Volandam – Marina Boat


Stork – Volendam


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Heading North



We managed to sleep-in until 8:30 before going downstairs for breakfast and heading out. The parking signs below were pretty funny…right beside the handicap stall. The Dutch sure know women. Ha ha. I have the rest of the picture spread throughout this post.


Woman Parking


First off….I have a few other Band of Brother stops to make seeing how they are so close.


October 5, 1955.  At this location, 35 American soldiers held out against TWO Germany companies of about 150. There were 1 American and 50 German casualties. The American was hit by a shell fragment. The symbol here is to remind us of all the soldiers who fought in this battle. You can still see the drainage ditch in the background of the second picture.

Crossroads 1


Crossroads 2



This is where Maj. Dick Winters was stationed with Lewis Nixon. Winters was in the room on the left of the picture.

Schoonderlogt 2


Schoonderlogt 1


Spanga, Friesland

The majority of the day was spent in Friesland. Spanga is where my grandfather (on my dads side) was born. There are about 10 – 12 houses here….and a pub. We talk to a couple of guys there, had a beer, and the headed off to some cemeteries. We looked around for quite a while but have found no traces of the “van der Woning” name in all the yards we checked. I have check records and we were looking in the right areas but honestly it’s like looking for a needle in about 100 hay stacks. The markers probably don’t even exist anymore. One couple we meet who maintain the cemeteries is checking the church records for us and will email us if and when they find any information.

Spanga 2



We are now in the city of Sneek for the night.

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Castles, Cathedrals, and Pubs


Vineyard – Urzig, Germany


Wine Country Continued….

Urzig, Germany was an amazing find to say the least. Finding a hotel in a small village that speaks little to no English was a challenge. I ran into a local pub to ask directions and muddled my way through the bar tenders directions. Little did we know it was just around the next corner. The streets were very narrow but beautiful.We were woken up at 7 am, not by an alarm but by a 5 minute long ringing of the church bell just down the street. Later, I watched an elderly lady walk out your front door and down the cobble stone streets off to church service I presume as it was Sunday morning. Our hotel door was in the same alley as her home. We drove a bit and took some pictures of the vineyards before leaving back up the very windy road out of the village towards Cologne.

Nurburg / Nurburgring

Our next stop was Nurburg. Best known for the race track that completely surrounds the city. You can drive on it with your car or at special times of the year rent race cars and drive them which is called Nurburgring. It also has many cyclists and motorcycles that use the track as well, which we saw a lot of. Nurgurg is also home of a medieval castle of the same name. That’s where I wanted to go. Off to de Nurburg Castle in the High Eifel. It was first mentioned in the records in 1166 as Noureberg but it is probable that it was already used as a signal station in Roman times to protect the important Roman road that ran through the Eifel. We enjoyed our walk to the tower and looking over the town and the race track around. Once down from the castle we stopped in at the Zur Nurgurg Cafe which was where we parked our car. It was a very race car oriented cafe. We went in to actually see if they had WiFi (pronounced WeFe in Germany and the Netherlands) as we didn’t have any in Urzig the night before. Needed to catch up on face book you know…. 😉 They did and the owner gave us the password…..which I presume he doesn’t give to everyone. We ended up buying some cool drinks and sharing the Giant Burger and fries. Yes, we shared… was that big! YUM!
I have come to realize that like the USA….everything is bigger in Germany. The wine you get in a glass is twice as much, the beer glasses are bigger and the food portions are much bigger then any other country we have been. There is a noticeable difference. Bigger bang for your Euro for sure!

The Palace

We were on to the next adventure…..:) I thought we were headed to Cologne (Koln) but Ray surprised me and he took me to the Augustusburg Palace in Brühl, The palace was built at the beginning of the 18th century by the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, Clemens August of Bavaria of the Wittelsbach family. We took a 1 hour tour for a small fee of $7 euros each. They included head phones and a recorded tour for us in English as the tour guide only spoke German. I think they received much more info then we did. It was an amazing building about 50% restored. The palace has little furniture because most of it had been sold to pay the debts of Clemens August after his death. The rest just disappeared. The hugh gardens and grounds around the palace were beautiful as well.

OK….now off to Cologne. We arrived at our hotel at approx. 4:30 pm. The first thing we did was hit the local Brew Pub……suggested by the man at the check in desk as a local favorite for dinner. We walked a few minute to the Sunner Keller Brewhouse & Beer Garden. An outdoor beer garden basically with umbrellas and picnic tables. Kids allowed……lots of the running around. They even had a play area for the kids. Excellent food I must say….:) As I said before …..big portions! We called it a night and went back to the hotel pretty early to relax and get ready for the 7am wake up call to start all over again.


Cologne Cathedral

Started with a great continental breakfast at the hotel and a short walk to the train station to go to the city center to see the great Cologne Cathedral. Construction of Cologne Cathedral started in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed, to the original plan, in 1880. It is 144.5 metres (474 ft) long, 86.5 m (284 ft) wide and its towers are approximately 157 m (515 ft) tall. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires. It’s two huge spires give it the largest facade of any church in the world. Cologne’s medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor. Simply amazing, what more can I say. It was very big and very beautiful. So much to look at. There was so much detail put into every statue and carving……not to mention all the stain glass windows. A quick train ride back to the hotel and we are off to Arnhem, Netherlands.

Arnhem – Netherlands

A quick two hour drive from Cologne to Arnhem turned into about a 4 hour trip. Another pit stop at a Castle.
Kasteel Huis Bergh. It was closed… 🙁 Mondays are a day that most shops here are closed. Its like their Sunday and we didn’t take that into account. Oh well……there is always another castle. A rain storm passing through the area almost got us soaked as we walked back to the car but we made it just in time. Wow……did it rain! Must have caused an accident on the highway (the other side) because the traffic was stopped dead for over 5 km…..not moving, people all out of the vehicles walking about. Not moving at all. Thank goodness we were going in the opposite direction.
Checked in to another fine hotel here in Arnhem and went to the city centre for dinner. Yes….another pub. It’s just easier…. 🙂 Looking forward to sleeping past 7 am tomorrow.

There…the blog is all caught up. Good night from Holland.


Nurburg, Germany

Nurburg Castle

Nurburg Castle

Augustusburg Palace

Augustusburg Palace

Koln Cathedral 2

Köln Cathedral

Koln Cathedral 1

Köln Cathedral

Koln Cathedral 3

Köln Cathedral – Entry




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3 Countries….1 Day

506th PIR 101st Memorial

506th PIR 101st Memorial

Note: Yesterday we ended up in a place with no internet so the blog is a day behind. We will try to catch it up in the next day or two.



Bastonge, Belgium

This first part will be a lot clearer to people if they know the HBO Band Of Brother series.

Once leaving our hotel in La Roche-en-Ardenne, we headed back to Bastonge for a tour with Roby Clam, a guide in the area. We meet him at around 9:30 am at the General McAuliffe Square in the town centre. We first headed to Houffalize to go check out a Panther on display there. Afterward we headed back toward the town of Foy to the Bois Jacque Forest where Easy Company‘s foxholes and artillery holes can be found. This is also the place where Bill Guarnere & Joe Toye each lost a leg in WWII.

From here we move to the next location which was the town of Foy itself. Here we look up at the window to the location of the German sniper that “Shifty” Powers took out….and the position he took the shot from.

Next we moved to the location that Lieutenant Dyke first tried to take Easy to take Foy, and Lieutenant Speirs took over. This was not from the Bois Jacque Forest. We also got to see the location of Regimental HQ near by. We also finally got to see our first German Cemetery. This was a beautiful place and we were happy to here that it has never been defaced. Side note: The Belgium nurse Renee, that Eugene Roe never really met, lived right around the corner from the hospital that was destroyed. The hospital was actually the grocery stone…never a hospital.

There was a lot more we saw that I can’t cover here. We headed back to Bastonge town centre, had a coffee and then headed for Luxembourg.

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

We reached Luxembourg City within the hour….then spent another half hour looking for parking. A very beautiful, but very busy city. We did a quick walk-around taking pictures then decided to go on the city tour….a 45 minute ride giving the history of the city. We were here for about 3 hours. There is a lot of history here and worth the stop, but we decided not to stay here as originally planed, but moved on to Germany.

Ürzig, Germany

Obviously the country of Luxembourg is not that big. In another 45 minutes, we crossed the entire country and entered Germany. We stopped for a very late lunch and continued toward Köln but planned to find a hotel before there. One thing to point out, Pamela finally got her cow picture. Don’t ask me; ask her.

Not knowing the area at all made that a bit tricky finding a hotel. Pick one on the GPS and hope for the best…..Don’t like the look of it…Move on to the next one. Finally we picked one in another town from where we were and hit the jackpot. Ürzig is a small village on the hillside by the Mosel River and is wine country. The steep hilles are covered in grape vines. They actually have what look like little roller-coaster carts and tracks that take them throughout the crops. We arrived around 7:30, got a room, unloaded our luggage, and then of course went for a glass of wine. We just sat on the deck, looking at the view, talking and sipping wine. What a great evening.


Panther - Houffalize

Panther – Houffalize


Bois Jacque Forest – Patrol

Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City View

Luxembourg City

Luxembourg Fortification

Luxembourg – Fortification



Our Hotel - Ürzig, Germany

Our Hotel – Ürzig, Germany

Ürzig, Germany

Ürzig, Germany


Mosel River


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The Somme

French Sunset

The French Sunset

Yesterday was more a relax day, but Sara did take us out for a bit of a tour around the area. Pete was off on a 2 day tour in Ieper. Pete himself has an amazing collection of items and books throughout the B&B you can look at. We visited the Newfoundland Memorial Park on the Somme. This park is a remembrance of the tragic events of July 1, 1916 here. This site is the only other Historic Canadian Site outside of Canada besides Vimy Ridge.

Also on the site is a memorial to the 51st Highland Division. The statue of the soldier is set in a way that he is overlooking the Y Ravine and the German from lines.

Next we headed for Ulster Tower, a memorial the the 36th Ulster Division from Ireland. In their first 2 days 5,500 men and officers were killed, missing, or wounded in the Battle of the Somme. The tower itself is a replica of one in Belfast. We had lunch there as well.

Later that evening we went out for dinner….as much as I could as I was not feeling too well. 🙁 We headed back to Sara & Pete’s with a quick stop of to see George (Sara will know who that is). Once home I basically crawled into bed and called it a night.


Today we had to say goodbye and head off to Bastonge, Belgium where we have a tour tomorrow. We stopped in town to have a late lunch and then headed to our hotel which is actually about 1/2 hour away in La Roche-en-Ardenne. Definitely a different hotel i gotta say. Tonight we aren’t planning to much but relaxing.

Newfoundland Memorial Park

Newfoundland Memorial Park – Scottish Memorial

Ulster Tower

Ulster Tower

Pamela the German

Pamela the German

Sara, Ramon, & Harvey

Sara, Ramon, & Harvey




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The Great War

Tyne Cot 1

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Yesterday was a day to remember The Great War. We started off in Passchendaele looking over the the fields. You look at them differently when you think about what happened here. The first major place to hit was the Tyne Cot Cemetery. 11,954 are buried here….most unknown soldiers. The stone wall surrounding the cemetery is a memorial to the missing; another 34,939 names. Walking through here you get a very small glimpse of the number of lives lost in the Battle of Passchendaele alone.

We next headed for the Passchendaele museum to get some more information and look at some of the artifacts on display from the war. You can easily spend an entire day here going through everything, taking pictures, and reading the history of this battle. This day to this point and through to the evening has a completely different feel to is; honor and respect.

Not far from here is the another Canadian monument on a spot nicknamed Vancouver Corner. “The Brooding Soldier”  is a memorial to Canadian soldiers who died April 22nd, 1915 in a poison gas attack by the Germans. A simple monument in comparison to some of the others, it still has a powerful feel to it as you look upon it towering into the sky.

We now needed to head down to France to Sara & Pete’s place where we will be staying for the next few night. Pamela ended up with a migraine today so I figured we would head straight there and I could check out Vimy Ridge tomorrow…that was the plan anyways. As we got closer we realized how close we were to Vimy and decided to check it our right away. This massive Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge is dedicated to all the Canadian forces whom died in the First World War and is also a commemoration for all those who died in France and have no known grave.

Many parts of the landscape here are hills and holes from the explosions and shells in this battle. It is quit amazing to see. Many of these spots are fenced of as there are still live shells and bombs in the area, so stick to the pathways. They send sheep into these areas to keep the grounds maintained. If you ever get the chance, you should come see this place.

We headed south and arrived at Sara & Pete’s around 4:30 pm. This is our first meet and is kind of exciting. Pete is out giving a tour but came home a few hours later. Pamela went right to sleep trying to get rid of her migraine; this gave Sara and I time just to talk about family. This is one part of the trip we were looking forward to most and I know Pamela is gonna hit Sara up for some family tree information. We are here until Friday.

(For those who haven’t figured it out yet, you can click on any of the pictures to see a larger version.)

Tyne Cot 4

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot 3

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot 2

Tyne Cot Cemetery


Passchendaele Museum


Passchendaele Museum – German

Brooding Soldier

Brooding Soldier – Canadian

Vimy 1

Vimy Ridge Memorial

Vimy 2

Vimy Ridge Memorial

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