Maiden Dublin to Belfast

Iron Maiden – Dublin

We’ve been so busy and having late evenings, there’s not as much time blog. Time to catch up as we sit on a train to Belfast. Yup, we’re are all done in Dublin. Beautiful city with lots to see.

Pamela go to get her shopping in with a new pair of shoes. That is all I know. Maybe she will add a bit to the end of this. As for me…..

I met up with a bunch of friends for the pre-Maiden meet-up at Bruxelles Pub in Dublin the night before the big show. I spent a number of hours there catching up and meeting new friends. I may have tied it on a little too much. In the early morning, I headed back to the hotel to get some much-needed rest & recovery before the gig Saturday night.

IRON MAIDEN – show #1

What can I say. You can never go wrong with a Maiden show. I walked to 3Areans from the hotel, it just took a half hour. First to the Barrier again thanks to Paul from Australia. Met some more in the que to get in. Fans from England, Germany, Australia, Poland, Scotland, Romania, Spain, the USA, Canada, Ireland of course, and more. Who says this isn’t a family? If you don’t get it, you just don’t get it. We had a blast except when Shinedown was on stage, haha, terrible and not suited for an Iron Maiden opener. Maiden was again exceptional as always and I’m looking forward to the Glasgow show. Unfortunately, I have to wait until the 16th.    Up The Irons!

Belfast…not enough time.  The train arrived at the Central around noon. A quick walk to the hotel from the station, dropped our bags, and off we went. Amazing place, old but modern, murals all over the place. There seems to be something to see around every corner, down every ally. We even had lunch at “The Crown” which is arguably the oldest pub in Belfast. After about 4 hours we headed back and had a power nap before heading off to the Titanic exhibit and slip. Of course, being Sunday it was closed. We did get a good look around and a good perspective of the actual ships size. It was a nice stroll anyways, just look-out for rogue benches. We wrapped up the evening with a quick pint and a corner pub, McHugh’s Bar, and then some wonderful appetizers in the hotel restaurant. Before bed we got a quick video call in to Hayden to say hello (and Kyla).

Bed time. Flying to Scotland tomorrow.

Iron Maiden – Dublin

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Belfast City Hall

Yup, that’s where we are!

Titanic Walk


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We were told that a little fishing village called Howth was just a short train ride away. We decided to take it on and walked to the Connolly Station about 1.5 km away. Dublin is an extremely easy city to walk and the cobblestones streets add just that bit more charm. Every street has its treasures. We started through Grafton Street finding some interesting shops and then to the Temple Bar area and found the famous Temple Bar itself. It’s a very busy spot with many areas to drink and eat with live music daily. We had a quick drink and were on our way. On the way to the station we shopped in the busy Mary/Henry Street shops. Personally, we like Grafton Street better.

A short 25 min train ride and we were at Howth, a sea side fishing village with lots to see and do. We stopped for lunch at the Crabby Jo’s restaurant and of course had Fish & Chips. Delicious! Once we ate we were off exploring some more. We went to Howth Abbey called St. Mary’s built in 1235….and now in ruins. The graveyard around it has some very old and some very recent gravestones with a magnificent view of the marina and bay. A very pleasant day in Howth; with a few sore feet. So far we’ve had some great weather….not a drop of rain yet, but I’m sure it’s coming.

Grafton Street

Hardware Store AND Bar

The Famous Temple Bar

St. Mary’s Abbey – Howth

It’s a trap!

No caption needed. It’s Ireland!

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The touristy thing.

Guinness Brewery

Sleeping in. A good way to start day 2. Once up, we headed out for a coffee and traditional Irish breakfast across the street to get going. Eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, beans, & toast…a great way to start the day.

First thing to point out, It was a beautiful warm and sunny day, not typical Irish weather. Dublin Castle, was our first “tourist stop” of the day. Fortunately for us the first Wednesday of the month is free entry so we got the most of it. The old printing stamps and materials were quite interesting. Some of the art and furnishings were nice as well but quite simple compared to other castles we’ve been to in Europe. A quick ‘real’ European coffee at the end was a nice treat.

One of the top places to go was next….the Guinness storefront (not a true brewery tour). We spent a good time here and enjoyed a pint or two. The view of Dublin from the top is quite amazing and worth taking a look. I picked up a few small souvenirs before we headed off. So many little things to see as you walk the streets.

The Bull & Castle Pub was a stop on the way back to the hotel for a break. Dan the bartender was exceptional; full on information and quite friendly. We got a lot of pointers from him and may have to head back there before we leave Dublin.

[Power nap]

For dinner we went to ‘Harry’s on the Green’ – burger & chip and a salad. Very modern inside and not what we expected. Honestly…..not my favorite place. As soon as we were done we went to the store to grab some bottled water and then back to the room to called it a night.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

Christ Church Catherdal

The Queen of Tarts….just because.

Pour myself a drink.

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And we begin…..Again!

On the way!!

We left Vancouver yesterday (May 1st) and arrive in Dublin around 11am this morning. After a bit of running around and the help of a local police officer we found the right bus to get downtown and to our hotel. Pretty well as soon as we arrived we crashed for a few hours. Soooo tired.

After our snooze, we headed out to find something to eat and ended up at Ballie’s, me having fish & chips, and Pamela a shrimp appie.  Let us not forget the beer and wine!  Again…one of the first people we meet is originally from Kamloops. Really? We finished our drinks and headed out for a stroll.

We walked the shopping strip and ended up at St. Stephen’s Green Park. Its quite a nice park with a lot too see, but garbage almost everywhere. Too bad.  If you take your pictures right, you wouldn’t know. We headed back to the hotel before heading out for a night cap.

Across the road from our hotel in “The Hairy Lemon”, your stereotypical Irish pub. We spent the first bit just looking around before a wine & a Guinness while the soccer game was on. We will probably go back there. Making it an early night and to get our times adjusted we went back to our room around 9pm. Lots to do tomorrow.


St. Stephen’s Green Park Entrance

St. Stephen’s Green Park

St. Stephen’s Green Park

The Hairy Lemon Pub

Mmmmmm… Guinness

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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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