Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A long weekend in the Netherlands

This last weekend we headed to the Netherlands, to visit some of Luuk's extended family. He's a Dutch boy, though hasn't lived there since he was very young, and seems mostly Kiwi, I think. But that handy EU passport has saved us a few headaches, and his miraculously-well-kept grasp on Dutch language has been useful as well. (For some strange reason the supermarket in-house-brand products in France often have labels in Dutch and French.)

We got off to an excellent start - on the road at 7.30 in the morning, and then found a fantastic place for breakfast at 9ish. There was a play area for Louis and good hot food for us.

A very good start.

Louis slept for most of the remainder of the trip north. Drove right through Belgium without stopping. We stopped for lunch in Veldhoven - got us some good dutch frites - and then continued on to Luuk's aunt and uncle's place, in the vicinity of Nijmegen.

Unfortunately, Louis was fighting a cold and was grumpy, coughing a bit, off his food... But Stef did find something that kept him happy...

King Louis, in his carriage!

Oom Stef, taking Louis for a ride...

along the dijk. And that's a cyclist going the other way. How very quintessentially Dutch.
We were treated to an amazing feast of a welcome dinner that night.

This seems to be a popular special-occasion meal. Similar to stone-grill, everyone sits around the table and cooks their meat, eating as they go.

And there was a whole selection of meats! This was only half of it. There was another plate of delicious seafood. Then the sauces and salad, as well as bread. What a feast!

On Sunday we drove into Amsterdam for Luuk's cousin's birthday. Louis was at his worst health-wise: was sick in the car, probably from coughing so much. Poor wee man. Perked up a bit in the afternoon, playing with all his new-discovered family...

bubbles! Ah, the joy.

Luuk's aunt and uncle.

Louis cleared the coffee table (if only it were a marketable skill) but managed not to break anything. Played with an ornate Moroccan tea pot for a while, then the remote control. Only knocked the table over two or three times.

Louis and I, and the birthday boy.

For dinner we had the same thing as the night before and it was just as delicious the second time around. It's a nice, leisurely way to eat a meal and very cosy with everyone sharing, cooking, eating and talking together. 

Monday was 'Queen's Day' in the Netherlands, a public holiday. We went to the fair/market in Beuningen...

The market - a special case for Queen's day - no fee/licence required to sell wares. 
Loads of people were selling off their old toys and things. We got Louis a great little trike with a trailer, as well as a couple of little toys and a dutch children's book.

We took advantage of the gorgeous weather and enjoyed a very Dutch form of transport. 
No helmets required and very leisurely. Louis (much happier/healthier) loved it and the view from this seat is much better than from the one on my bike in NZ...

Even I biked, 7.5 months pregnant and all. 

Tuesday we were heading home but not until after lunch. Luuk and I also got the cold/cough and were glad of the leisurely morning. Louis slept lots and was thankfully eating more and coughing less.

We had a delicious lunch at a great cafe in Beuningen, including bitterballen, a Dutch favourite of mine. Then we drove on to Sittard, where Luuk's Oma lives, for afternoon tea. On the way there we accidentally drove into Germany, thanks to our charmingly confused GPS. We were only a few minutes late...

Louis and his great Oma! (and his new green race car)

We still had a long drive back to Paris, and so, well stocked with coffee, cake, and some extra food supplies for the journey, we headed off. I was certain Louis would sleep in the car but he stayed awake, and happy, for nearly the entire trip.

Are you serious?

As we came into Paris he nodded off, only to be woken when we got home, of course. It was a beautiful drive - a different road through Belgium because we came from a different direction - and much more picturesque. France, with the sun shining, and then setting rather spectacularly, across the farms and fields, was looking gorgeous. 

It is strange that coming home feels like coming home, but I am glad. I am tired and sick, glad to put my feet up and achieve little more than laundry for a few days. On that note, the laptop battery is low and I am peckish. I think some good ol' tv watching and snacking is in order; another hot drink and a heat pack for my achey back as well.

Later, perhaps, I'll do some writing, hang out the washing, tidy the bench. When Louis wakes there are a few things we need at the shops, and some good fresh, french bread for lunch. Maybe a quiche too. Ah, the food in France. One day, in the not so distant future perhaps, I will start to feel homesick for NZ, but the food in France will always be a comfort, methinks.

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