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Oh my goodness, we are having such a dreamy adventure so far – our first little European family vacation! How blessed we are. As I write this, warm winds are blowing outside off the North Sea in this small beach town called Noordwijk, it’s 10pm and still completely light out. It appears that we have a pattern of bringing California heat waves with us to Holland – they had the hottest day of the year this week, on the summer solstice, just two days after we arrived. The last time Erol and I were here in June 2010, it was the hottest week of weather they had had all year. But the massive thunder and lightning storm yesterday definitely blew in a cooler front, we shall see how the next couple of weeks bode.

 

The flight here was pretty great all things considered – Jules slept the entire way in the middle seat and Bas sort of slept most of the time on me (cozy for him, rough for mama). It was nice to jump right into the new time as we arrived around 12pm and kept the kids up until 8pm when we all crashed hard (and the kids slept til 10:30am the next morning, yeehaw! I think the homeopathics and calm powder helped). Our only rough patch of the trip so far was the day we landed: first KLM lost 2/3 of our bags, then on 2 hours of sleep we managed to find the rental car booth only to find out that they would not rent us a car as my license had expired and I still didn’t have the renewed card. And then whoops, Erol forgot his credit card, so we were shit out of luck. Somehow an angel always shows up during our travels though when we are in need, and of course mid crisis a new woman took over the shift and hooked us up no problem! Hallelujah. Feeling like we just got a get out of jail free card, we then proceeded to get pulled over by a police man on the final stretch to our home. That whole signaling in the roundabout thing. So to complete the stretch of hilarious mishaps, he followed us all the way home on our tail (which made the already exhausted Erol feel like he was, indeed, drunk driving).

Sleeping until 10:30am our first morning here was heavenly – I can’t remember a single morning except the first time we returned from Hawaii with Jules where I got up before the kids, after going back to sleep three times leisurely. Our little huisje (house) is so cozy. It’s called Bungalowpark Puik en Duin and everyone is so so nice. They have a huge grassy play yard for the kids next door with a big trampoline, teeter totters, swings, bars, etc. and we’re surrounded in the most picturesque fields of purple and yellow and white and pink flowers, sheep, horses, cows, vibrant green crops, and sand dunes and nature trails through forest right to the North Sea. The sand is so white and fine, and there are thousands of blue mussel shells scattered along the water’s edge. The kids are in heaven playing in the pools of water 20 feet before the north sea’s waters calmly lap the beach.

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After getting a new outfit for the boys (thanks, KLM, they literally only had the dirty plane clothes) we visited our dear friends the van Kesteren’s in the neighboring town Voorhout, the town where Erol’s mama Henny was born and raised.

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Jules and Bas played with the other kids in the heavenly back yard – Niek and Marjan have 3 daughters and 10 grand kids between the ages of 15 months and 17. We stayed with them our last trip. Their home is so full of vibrant colors, we love them!

We also paid a visit to Hein and Nell, Erol’s uncle and aunt. The boys loved all their pig toys and visiting the cows.

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We also spent a day in Leiden – a mini Amsterdam – it was just so so beautiful and we had the most amazing morning at a quintessential European coffee shop in a gorgeous cobblestone plaza drinking coffees, hot cocoas, fresh bread and fresh squeezed orange juice.

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Erol’s aunt Marjorie took us to an incredible outdoor market place along the canal where we bought incredible, fresh Muhumarra, pesto, olives, macadamia nuts, and aged gouda. I could spend hours in those open marketplaces along the water! Then we bought too much at the organic “biologique” grocery store and somehow carried it all and the two kids back to the car a mile away ๐Ÿ™‚ It was worth it – the fresh pasta with Muhumarra sauce was orgasmic.

Our first day in Amsterdam was a huge highlight! We found two different organic health food shops, the kids devoured their first smoothie in a week, I savored every drop of my cold-pressed green juice, andย Erol had 3 different coffees and a chocolate croissant ๐Ÿ™‚ We cruised around the Museumplein, had so much fun taking pictures and window shopping, and loved all the sweet musicians. And then we met up with Erol’s cousins Yves and Charlotte and spent the day seeing the spectacular city by water. What a treat! Yves owns the boat and he and Jules were the captain steering us all day long. Such kind people!

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After 24 hours of travel, we’re back in the magical sf bay in the erol star loft! Feels good to be home, drinking my first vita-mix blueberry kale flax smoothie in a month, feeling sooo grateful for this amazing, blessed life we live. I’m moving into Erol’s loft for the time being, while my Castro room continues to be subletted through July and possibly August. After almost a year in the Castro, I’m looking for a new home that is cheaper and quieter, exciting!

Dutch all the way baby...

The last week in Holland was amazing! We went on a full day canal boat ride with Erol’s aunt Marjorie and adorable cousins, Char & her brother Eve.

We just cruised along through miles of canals, through Leiden and many small, traditional, adorable Dutch towns, farmlands, and tranquil countryside. Swans, ducks, geese, birds of all sorts singing, sheeps and their precious sheepy babies, fat cows, pigs, chickens, horses, llamas, kitties everywhere….so nice. Especially I liked the ripe, super gnar gnar smell of fresh poop clouds along the water – truly the smell of Holland and a special treat! In Leiden we stopped at a marketplace along the water and bought some delicious cheese & I bought some very nice Dutch fabric for my mama to complement the very gorgeous Italian fabric that I got. Another day we boated through the canals leaving from Kaag with his aunt and uncle Nelly and Hain, and we pulled the boat off on a grassy island for a lovely picnic. But his aunt pressured me to take a bite of some nasty meat-filled quiche that supposedly didn’t have meat in it. Gross! Experiencing Holland by boat is a mUsT!! Such wonderful tastes, smells, and perspectives this way of travel! It’s especially amazing and unbelievable that the brilliant predecessors managed to elevate the canals above the farmland – wow. Will be interesting to see what happens with climate change and rising water levels.

The following day we had the brilliant idea of taking the scooter into Amsterdam, which is some 35 km. But the scooter is pretty old and maxes out at 40 km/hr so we bumbled along pretty slowly, and we didn’t know the fastest route so we ended up winding through an excess of country roades and canals. We stopped under a highway overpass when it started raining. Who would have thought?! A week of hot, gorgeous weather, but the one day we scooter to Amsterdam it rains and is cold. But that passed and we continued on. At one point, despite the cold and craziness of taking a 3.5 hour scooter ride into the city when it could have taken 20 min. in our nice European rental car that sat at the Van Kesteren’s, I felt so high on life with the wind blowing through my hair, a huge grin on my face, reggae blasting from the ipod headphones we shared, crossing bridge after bridge over canals, and enjoying that sweet taste of exhilarating freedom that accompanies wild and pure adventure.

After hours of blissful Amsterdam explorations and some tasty Indonesian food with Floris along the magical sunlit canal, we grumbled about the scooter ride home but decided that it was the best choice to head home while it was still light out. So we did Scooter country road trekk Part II from 9:30pm til 12 midnight.

Erol was our bug and wind shield, bless his heart

We saved an hour on the way home without rain and with a little better navigating luck. We must have asked at least a dozen people throughout the day how to get here or there, and we got many entertaining answers. By the time we got home, we were so incredibly exhausted and wind blown. It was so hilarious though, the bugs on the way home were so bad, Erol was riding with his sunglasses on, but as it was getting dark, the battle was between him driving in sunglass darkness and scootering through poop piles or getting bug missiles in his eyeballs. I definitely had fun on the back, laughing the whole way at the situation, feeling bad that he was shielding me from all the wind, bugs, and cold.

Another hi-light from last week was cooking a big feast with Erol for the Van Kesteren’s! We made coconut rice with fresh mango, chicken and veggie skewers with Marian’s amazing peanut sauce, huge arugula salad, and patat frites (french fries) with fresh fig, strawberry, bananas & dark chocolate with cream for dessert. Lekkers!! We sat in the garden drinking wine until 11pm when it started to get dark. The balmy, humid evenings of the Holland heat wave were fantastic. It was an abrupt return last night to the dark, cold bay at 9pm!

I found it very interesting that Dutch people don’t believe in “doggy bags,” or saving leftovers. I found it almost offensive, the whole idea of wasting food when there are so many hungry people in the world. The Van Kesteren’s thought it was disgusting that Erol and I were constantly saving leftovers for the following day. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, maybe it’s a philosophy related to fresh food and good health, but considering that Niek Van Kesteren doesn’t eat anything green or fresh that’s not meat or starch, I’m not sure about that.

Go Oranje

Friday, our last day in Holland, we watched the second Dutch World Cup match in Holland, and again they won! They beat Brazil in an incredible feat and now they’re going on to the Semi Finals!! I had orange eye lashes, orange lipstick, orange cake, orange chips, an orange hat, and all the kids were blowing their orange blow horns in the streets with every goal. What a treat to be in Holland for the World Cup!! Amsterdam went OFF that night! We sat in an outside cafe drinking iced coffee as everyone was sweating balls that day with the intense heat, watching the excitement grow with the sea of orange writhing in the streets, all the car and scooter horns blowing constantly, and copious amounts of beer getting consumed. GO ORANJE!!!

Just found out tomorrow is a holiday! Yay no work til Tuesday!! Today is Summer BBQ at Erol’s with all his best friends who are in town, my sis and her baby (yay!) and some of my amigas too! LOVING THIS LIFE.