Wednesday 5th September, 2001
We take off on British Airways at 7:04pm London time and at 8:25pm Dutch time we are 120 miles out, it is 14C in Amsterdam, there is light rain and we are scheduled to land at 8:50pm. At 8:30pm we start our descent, there is a fair amount of turbulence, at 8:34pm we are 55 miles out and the seat belt signs are on. At 8:37pm the Captain advises we are 10 minutes from landing.
We land at 8:49pm, a 45 minutes flight. Gary is back in Holland, where his parents had been born. The last time he had been here was in 1987 and once before that in 1980. Rayls has not been in Holland since 1980 and this is Scott’s first visit.
We dock at 8:54pm. Immigration is not a problem, there are no lines. 15 minutes wait for our bags and we then meet Gary’s cousin Arjen and his son Ariendo. We drive to the Hotel Molengroet in Alkmaar North. Bags to room and Scott and Gary then go with Arjen to his house.
At 11:45pm Gary drives Arjen’s car back to the hotel and that’s it for another long day.
Thursday 6th September, 2001
Today we sleep in and miss the hotel breakfast – we are all tired from a hectic few days. The hotel is nice and in a nice recreational area. It is far superior to South Ealing.
Gary calls Arjen who picks us up and takes us to the train station. At 1:30pm we catch the train to from Alkmaar Noord to Amsterdam where we arrive at 2:15pm.
We walk to Amsterdam’s Dam Square and check out the Dijbeinkorf Department Store. Walk down the Kulver Straat and rayls buys a mug, plate and dish – more luggage!
We walk around Amsterdam until 5:30pm and then catch the train to Alkmaar where we arrive at 6:30pm. Gary calls Arjen who picks us up and takes us back to the hotel.
Gary, Rayls and Scott take Arjen’s car and look search for a mall, a McDonalds, anything – we get lost.
Arjen rescues us and takes us to his home where we meet his wife Amalia again. Arjen and Amalia had visited Australia in the mid 1990’s so we knew Amalia from that visit. We all got to McDonalds – you have to buy everything at McDonalds in Holland, the little extras you get tossed at you in Australia and the US has to be bought in Holland.
At 9:45pm we arrive back to Arjen’s house and Rayls stays and talks with Amalia, Scott surfs the net and Gary goes with Arjen and his step daughter Shonella to a horse riding centre.
We eventually all arrive back at our hotel at 12:05am.
Friday 7th September, 2001
Had breakfast at 8:00am and Arjen picked us up at 9:55am.
From Alkmaar we travel to A7 and drive along the dyke. We stop for petrol and check out the view of the North Sea.
We continue on the town of Hinderloopen where Gary’s forbearers had come from in the 1600’s. Gary had been here in 1987 with his parents and was keen to show Rayls and Scott. At 11:20 we go into a church and see Gary’s Great++++ Grandfather’s name, Douwe Hartman, on an old chandelier. Douwe Hartman had built the Church, with others, in the late 1600’s.
We also checked out the shops, Hinderloopen is famous for its decorative folk art.
We then drove onto Wezep and the estate of Isselvleidt where Gary’s father had spent time as a youth in the 1920’s and his last years in the early to mid 90’s.
At 2:00pm we had lunch at a pleasant snack bar in Wezep. We then went in search of Gary’s fathers grave. Arjen had been to the funeral in 1995 but we still managed to go to the wrong cemetery. The correct cemetery is in the Wezep city centre and we arrived there at 3pm and stayed just a few moments.
Then we drove onto the Noord Hilversum Graveyard and located the gravesites of Gary’s grandparents on his father’s side. His mother's parent's graves had been removed some years earlier.
Then we went to Baarn in search of the Christopher Pulman statue. Gary’s parents had a photo taken there when they had first met in the mid 1930’s and Gary and Rayls had a photo taken there in 1980. Sadly we could not locate the statute.
At 6:00pm we drive to a McDonalds near Hilversum and we then drive back to Arjen’s house. We chat, check email and then get taken back to hotel.
Saturday 8th September, 2001
We had breakfast at 8:30am.
At 10:00am we drove to the Alkmaar shops and bought some film for the camera.
At 11:30am we drive to Castricum and locate Arjen’s property in the Stetweg. This was where Gary and Rayls spent many nights on their 1980 trip. It is a large home built for group visits of up to 60 people. We had fond memories of having this enormous house to ourselves and the room we had slept in and the kitchen with its enormous pots and pans used for cooking for large groups in which we wanted to cook just 2 potatoes.
Arjen’s father (Gary’s uncle) had owned it back then but now Arjen runs the Hinloopen Travel group holiday business from this location. It was good to see it all after our last visit 21 years earlier.
At 1:00pm we head back to the hotel and east some toasted sandwiches for lunch.
At 3:30pm Arjen collects us and we go to a travel agent to try and book our hotel in Paris. No real luck there so we decided just to find something when we get there. Silly us!
5:00pm we are back at the hotel and talk to Ryan on the phone. Watch soccer on TV and relax.
This time we are able to find the McDonalds for dinner – Gary misses Dennys.
9:15pm we are back at the hotel to pack for tomorrow’s departure for Paris. A bit later Scott and Gary are daring and head out to a service station to refuel the car and buy chocolate and drinks.
Chocolate in the USA is not good and it is nice to get the more Aussie style chocolates in Holland.