Back home on new years eve…

Flight AF072 took Roos and myself home to LAX this afternoon as the last leg on our trip.

It was a relatively long flight: almost 12 hours with quite a bit of turbulence as well. Mascha was there to pick us up from the Airport and took us home quickly. Rusty came over right away and Alex is here as well. Roos jumped in the shower right away and is already asleep. I’m not far behind. Tomorrow a new year…

Zwolle and surroundings

Over the last few stays we have been visiting family and have been on familiar trails in Zwolle. Last night we visited my aunt (Riekie) to have a very Dutch dinner: Boerenkool. My oldest cousin, Carolien, was there as well. I hadn’t seen her in many, many years and I don’t think that Roos had ever met her before. We were both surprised about the resemblance, even though the fact that they wore similar glasses and shirt might have contributed.

Earlier in the day we had taken a day-trip to Almelo. By train it was barely 40 minutes. There was a very nice bookstore there and I added a few pounds to my suitcase with some new books.

Of course in Zwolle, Roos needed to go back to her Dutch roots by eating kibbeling and Hollandse Nieuwe. All the be washed down with a very Dutch drink : Fristy.

Roos also visited Opa en Oma van Dijk a few times. The first visit was kept a surprise: only Uncle Eddie was in on it. He picked up Roos to go make a surprise visit. Today Roos went on a shopping run with Opa and Oma to get fillers for her suitcase.

Christmas dinner with Jans

This morning we departed from Cologne. We stayed here just for the night on our way to Wapenveld / Zwolle. We went to visit Opa Jans first in his new apartment in Rehobot. He was happy to see us. When we were there for about 30 minutes, Ina Zwerus, her husband and son also came to visit my dad.

Since Roos was craving some “kroketten” we decided to go to a local snackbar for lunch. This wasn’t easy as it was “tweede Kerstdag” (second Christmas Day) and many stores are closed. We did however find a place in Hattem where they even had a Fristi. Roos’ favorite Dutch drink.

In the evening I went back to my dad. We had Christmas dinner together at Rehobot which consisted of “brood met kaas” en there was also “warme ragout”.

Alsace

Yesterday was an unplanned day out of the schedule for us. I was feeling really sick; no idea why because Roos and I ate the same thing. We had Tarte Flambee at a restaurant near the Cathedral the evening before. Roos didn’t mind so much as it allowed her a day in her PJs, drawing on her iPad. In the early afternoon she however was sent out to a nearby Boulangerie to get some nourishment. She skipped over the pre-made sandwiches and came back with one dry baguette (for me) and a chocolate cake (for herself ). The chocolate cake had raspberry filling … so it had fruit I guess. The argument could also be made that a sick person should also have dry bread.

Towards the late afternoon I was starting to feel better. In the evening we had a hot chocolate milk in the hotel. The city of Strasbourg is beautiful at Christmas time. I’ve been here often for work in the past but never around Christmas.

This morning we are leaving for our next stop: Cologne. Wrapping up breakfast before we start driving.

Louvre

This morning we had a few hours to spare before taking the train to Strasbourg at 4pm. After breakfast we walked over to the Louvre. Roos was interested in the Egyptian section. Jet lag is definitely real however and after about 2 hours we both had seen enough Egyptian papyrus, trinkets and sarcophagi. We stopped to have a hot chocolate milk at a nearby cafe and are getting ready to pack our bags to take the high speed train from Gare D’Est.

Catacombs of Paris

This evening we visited the catacombs of Paris. It was one of the sights that Roos had wanted to go to Paris for. We had a quick dinner at Cafe Rendezvous-Vous before heading across the road and down the 234 steps to almost 60 feet below the streets.

We were the last ones in and the guard walked after us to close up. After we came out we took a taxi to the Louvre and walked around a the area a little until we found a cafe that had hot chocolate milk.

Roos has arrived …

This morning Roos arrived at Paris CDG after traveling by herself to France. Great time to practice her French language skills and impress the teacher back at school. We will stay in France for a few days but then drive to the Netherlands to visit family.

Christmas trips

The year is almost over: it went by so quickly. Roos almost has her drivers license and Alex is well underway in her first year of high school. My dad has moved into assisted living and Mom is working a new job at Irvine Unified School District. The last two weeks of December are to spend some time away and do something fun. Alex is going with Mom and Gary to family in Oregon and Roos wanted to go to Paris this year. It is going to be a special trip because Roos will fly by herself intercontinental for the first time. A few years ago she flew international from London to Amsterdam by herself. This was also during the Christmas break. I’m going to pick her up at Paris CDG as I am already in France this week and we’ll start the trip together from there.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit Verdun. I always wanted to see the World War I battlefields. The guide for the day, called Ingrid Ferrand, was very good. She has been studying the history in the area since 1989. I was able to visit the Mort Homme, the Fort Douaumont and underground tunnels near the Argonne forest. Some of these are normally closed to the public so it was a special trip, although also very cold and muddy.

Time at Thanksgiving

This week is a holiday week and I am working from home. Many people are off and Roos and Lexie have vacation as well. This gave me some time to dig up an old VHS player and start to digitize some of the tapes I found at Opa’s house. So far I’ve found a video of my Royal Military Academy final thesis presentation, Marco’s high school diploma ceremony and Mascha teasing our dog Max while wearing a cast. I hope I have a little bit more time in the coming weeks to organize all of it.