There’s no place like home. But the second best place might just be Ede.
The day we left Paris for Belgium, Ray started talking about home. He was getting tired and home sick and we were pretty “done” after Paris took us by storm. And then we got to Holland. In fact, we didn’t even have to make it there. We just needed to step onto the familiar blue and yellow trains and we knew we were going “home.” It had been five years since we had been to Holland, but it had always stood out to us as the favourite of all our travels. When we were there it was my grandparents 50th anniversary. They decided on a whim to go and visit their family in Holland (my Oma’s sister and brothers live here, as well as their kids and grandkids, and my Opa’s sister lives here, with her children and grandchildren). When they told us they were going, and how little the flights were ($550 direct!) Ray and I, also on a whim, decided to join. When my mom and dad heard that we were going, and how cheap flights were, they decided to join us too. So there we were in 2008 with 3 generations of Canadians headed to Holland. And every minute was extraordinary.
Now that is hard to live up to – the memory of the trip that tops all trips. Except that it isn’t. Because the reason Holland is so extraordinary is that it feels like home. Nothing will ever compete with that. Biking down the streets, going to markets, the amazing foods, the smell of the country side, the FEEL of being in Holland – I wish I could describe it fully, but it’s a feeling that cannot adequately be put into words.
I have to start by saying, that I am SO blessed to have the most amazing extended family out there. We don’t see this family often (Canada and Holland are quite far apart…if you were unaware of that, let me recommend a globe…or google maps). And yet they are the warmest, most welcoming, most hospitable people we could imagine. When we were planning on trip they graciously invited us to come and spend some time with them, and we were overjoyed! We spent 5 days in the town of Ede with Frank and Lubica, and Bart and Noa (Frank is my mom’s cousin). These are some of the most warm and generous people you could ever meet. They both speak amazing English, so we were lucky to be able to enjoy many long conversations, and through that learned so much about them, and about Dutch culture that we never knew before. Noa and Bart don’t speak English yet, but it is amazing how much language is unnecessary when you have Dora, playgrounds, play dough, bikes, soccer balls and stamps. Spending time with family easily transcends language. Frank and Lubica treated us to our favourite Dutch foods (which are just that much better when made in Holland), such as Nasi Goreng and Endivestump (not sure how to spell that, but it doesn’t matter, because it was so so so yummy). In addition we got to see my Oma’s brother Joop and his wife Tiny, who live in the town nearby. [Note: we did make a day trip to visit my Auntie Miep (my Opa’s sister) in Winterswijk – as talked about in a different post]
Being in Ede is like time melted away. Lubica took us to the market in Barneveld (also now known to us as “chicken-town”) and then we had a Pannekoeken lunch with her and Noa (after fighting through crazy market crowds and Noa’s horse ride). We had dinner out at “the chicken restaurant” (appropriate for chicken day). We borrowed bikes and went into Ede Centrum and wandered through the shops and had a nice relaxing lunch with the locals. Ray learned to like Coffee (thanks to Frank’s fancy coffee maker) and enjoyed an evening sipping whisky, while I indulged in the chocolade vla and slagroom (whipped cream). Everything about being in Ede was perfect. Except that our time there was all too short. We are SO SO SO grateful to Frank and Lubica for helping to make our time here so incredible.
Though I was never born here, nor was I raised here, it doesn’t change the fact that a part of me feels like it belongs here. Growing up as a grandchild to 4 Dutch grandparents makes Holland feel like home to me. When I am here I feel like I know myself better. I feel connected to my routes. I value my family more. Everything feels richer and more complete. I wish I could freeze that feeling and savour it. I hope to hold on to it for as long as I can.
When we left Paris, we were ready to go, and when we left Germany, we were ready to go, and when we left Hawaii, we were ready to go. But we never seem to be ready to leave here. Everything about the Dutch countryside is pulling on our heart strings, begging us to stay. Who knows – one day we just might.