Travel journal Netherlands
2010 - 2012

by Claudia and PJ Potgieser

 

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July 2010, Netherlands
7 July 2010
Three years ago in Mexico we met this fantastic family from New Zealand. We hung out a lot with Geoff & Ann and their five children who were traveling for a year through the USA and Mexico in a travel trailer. We had never expected to see them again this soon in Holland! They took another sabbatical and are going to travel through Europe for about six months. They bought a camper in England which fits them all seven.

We got them acquainted with Dutch traditions and sweets. But also Indonesian food which has started to become a real Dutch  dinner. On their weblog http://nieuwys.blogspot.com/ the kids were talking about ' the great Dutch feast'.

8 July 2010
The next day we took them to the historic center of Maassluis and let them pose in front of a Dutch windmill. We let them taste a Hollandse Nieuwe (raw herring) in Hook of Holland and we have fries and kroket (beef ragout rolled in bread crumbs) while we watch to boats go by to the port of Rotterdam. They loved everything except the herring...

       


Beschuit with strawberries and chocolate sprinkels


Tasting Dutch treats!

   
The Kiwi family in 2007 in Mexico with their travel trailer                  The Kiwi family in 2010 in the Netherlands and their camper



       
                                                              This is the traditional way to eat raw herring....

11 July 2010
The Dutch Soccer team gets into the finals of the World Cup Championship 2010! Dressed in the national color (orange) we watched the game. What a disappointment when the team lost with 1 - 0 against Spain.

   

12 July 2010
The fun part of buying a new house (read mobile home) with a ready made garden are the surprises. Which color will the hydrangea bloom? And what is this weird scrub going to do? The biggest surprise was an enormous tree with velvet leaves who started to bloom with huge exotic flowers! It turned out to be a magnolia tree who was blooming for the second time this year.

   

13 July 2010
Our friends from New Zealand are still traveling through the Netherlands and we loved to spent some more time with them. We met again in the northern province Drenthe and had some lovely days together. When it started raining during the barbecue we just moved to the garage.
Ten days later the family joined us for PJ's birthday and the next day we took them to the center of Rotterdam. There we visited the cube houses designed by the architect Piet Blom. The concept behind these houses was that he tried to create a forest by each cube representing an abstract tree; therefore the whole village became a forest.

   
                Group picture                         PJ is getting a pedicure from Johanna                  'Vla' is the favorite desert

   

   
Tree houses from Piet Blom in Rotterdam

 

24 July 2010
Redecorating the mobile home is taking more time than expected. But it will turnout just as we like it.

   

30 July 2010
The last weekend with the Kiwi family, before they are heading south. We went to the sailing flower parade. Along the canal we found a spot and saw about 50 flat boats passing by. In the past these boats were used to transport horticultural products to the auction building. Now the boats are decorated with flowers, fruit and vegetables. The theme of this year was 'Strange Birds'.

   

   

In the evening we drove to Rotterdam for the 'The Battle of Drums', four brass bands drumming for the golden drum. This event is a warming up for the Rotterdam Summer Mardi Grass which will start the next day. The four finalists departed on four different spots in the city to end up at the center of town. On a stage they started the musical battle against each other. At 10.30pm we call it a day and the next day we read in the newspaper that the Earthquake Brass won the battle.

   
                                                                                                                
The Erasmus bridge (The Swan) light at night

31 July 2010
The Summer Mardi Grass (Carnival) of Rotterdam started 26 years ago as a small scale party in the center of Rotterdam, organized by the community of the Netherlands Antilles and Cabo Verde, just like they did in their 'homelands'. But nowadays all nationalities are joining the carnival and more than 900.000 visitors are watching the street parade. With thirteen persons (six adults and seven children) we took the subway to the center of Rotterdam and for two hours we watched the colorful parade go by. It was hard for me to stand still with all the swinging music.

  

   
Laila is the Queen Summer Carnival 2010

   

   
A transvestite is posing for me                                People from Bolivia                                        Silver eye lashes!

   
                                               Dutch public toilet at festivals                                     After the parade....
August 2010, Netherlands
27 August 2010
We have visited our Belgium friends Patrick and Greetje in Oostende. These travelers have interrupted their trip around the world for the birth of their first grandchild. We have met Triek and Greetje in 2006 in Argentina and we traveled together for a while. Our Belgium friends have built a beautiful vehicle with a very modern interior in which they are traveling the world. Their camper is parked at the moment in Malaysia. You can follow their trip on www.wijzijnweg.com

     

31 August 2010
I should not complain after the flooding in Pakistan, but August in Holland was a very wet month. With an average of three times more millimeters of rain (170mm) it was on of the wettest months in years. On August 30 gusts of wind of 100 km per hour were measured.
We noticed that, but fortunately our mobile home and new covered deck survived the storms.
 
 

September 2010, Netherlands
The month of September was dedicated to the remodeling of our mobile home. The blue color is fading and it got greener and greener inside. 

                         BEFORE:                                                           AFTER:
   
                          BEFORE:                                                           AFTER:
 
                          BEFORE:                                                           AFTER:
 

   
Claudia enjoyed painting and tiling an old sideboard. This way she can use the Mexican tiles.
The garden becomes really nice when PJ build a covered patio.
   

October 2010, Netherlands
Fall announces itself with fat spiders and mushrooms in the garden.

   

It is time to fly back to the USA and Mexico.

December 2010, The Netherlands
On December 17th we get the sad news that the partner of PJ's dad has passed away. We exchange the tropical Mexico for a snowy Holland.
   
On the plane from Detroit to Puerto Vallarta, we are with only 27 travel companions, so we had lots of space. In Detroit, we were told that only passengers with Amsterdam as their final destination are allowed on the plane! We were lucky because 90% of passengers had to stay behind! Without delays we arrived  to a snowy landscape and stumble at the airport on the stranded passengers and see corridors filled with abandoned suitcases.

Unique: a white Christmas in the Netherlands. In the last 110 years this has only happened seven times!

   
our mobile home in the snow

What a weird experience when we hear knocking on our door and PJ finds a white goose on our doorstep!

     

On December 30th we flew back to Mexico.

April 2011, Netherlands
29 March - 24 April 2011
Our house has not been rented since December 15th, which is our basic income. Something has to been done about it. We are not satisfied with our broker and we decide to fly back to Holland earlier than planned and work on our house ourselves. After a major cleaning, painting, replacing a water bed for two single beds, new laminated floor in one of the bedrooms and some wall paper our house is ready for new renters. We contacted a different broker and he rents out our house within two days! Till the end of December we have renters. We can leave Holland and start traveling again without worrying about our house. In July till half of August we planned to be home to enjoy the Dutch summer in our mobile home.

June en July 2011, Netherlands

19 June 2011
My brother-in-law Harry died today of leukemia cancer. He became 60 years and was my brother Gertjan's partner for 28 years. I flew home on June 16 and PJ came a week later to attend the funeral.
We stayed in Holland for six weeks and are living in our mobile home. The summer is typical for Holland: rain, lots of rain.
We are having a great time with our friends and family. PJ tries very hard to stop smoking.

We wanted to store our camper in Calgary, Canada and fly home on July 2nd, but because my brother-in-law passing away the camper ended up in the backyard of my cousin again in Utah. So we still have this problem with our American visa: If you fly into the USA by plane you have to leave the country within 90 days, but also by plane to your home country.
If you fly into Canada you are allowed to stay 6 months and if you cross a land border into the USA you can drive out of the country within these 90 days, but you can go f.e. to Mexico, without flying home first. Confusing? Yes it is!

We have bought a new flight ticket and are flying on August 1st to Salt Lake City and fly out on October 11th from Calgary to our home country. We will stay home for two weeks and fly back to Canada end of October. Then we will cross the USA to Mexico.

 

 

 

 

October 2011 - March 2012, The Netherlands
With an unreliable camper in Calgary we are just not looking forward going back to Canada. PJ likes to invest his money 'in stones'; a house that we can rent out to foreign flex workers. Pretty soon we find a nice house, close to the Rotterdam harbor. PJ buys the house and we start working on it beginning of December. It takes longer than expected (3 months) but when it is finished we are very pleased. We put it on the rental market and within four days (!) it is rented and the next evening the seven workers move in. We move to our other house that has been rented for 14 years. This house is without renters at the moment and needs some work. PJ wants to built a second bathroom on the loft and two separate bedrooms. He is in the middle of the construction when a real estate agent wants to come and have a look with a tenant. The next day the broker called that his customer wants to rent it! We now only have four weeks left to finish the house.

   
                                                                             Before                                                    After         

   
                 Loft before                                      PJ is building walls                                     Three extra windows

   
       Claudia is fighting with wall paper                             More walls                           Tight here! (placing central heating)

   
Result on the loft: extra bathroom         One bedroom                   Second bedroom

April 2012, The Netherlands
For six weeks we are rebuilding our house in Maassluis. The bare loft turns into two bedrooms, a laundry room and a bathroom with shower.
Just in time we are ready and the renters can move in.

 

 

 

 

   
Before the rebuilding                              Placing a window

   
This is where the second bathroom will come             PJ is building walls                              Claudia also helps...

       
Result: bathroom and one bedroom             Bathroom                 Second bedroom with window                 Laundryroom

We move to our small mobile home park:

 

With the lack of wildlife around our mobile home I take pictures of these animals:

   

A duck feels at home in our bath tub pool. She even lets her mate join her.

   

Finally we have decided on a date to go back to Canada. Our camper has been stored on a field near the airport. In the mean time it has frozen -2F, snowed and thawed again. The fact remains that after the hugely expensive repairs in Alaska, the engine is still not functioning properly and after the remark of the mechanic in Kamloops who said: "Make sure you get rid of this truck as soon as possible" we are eager to go back. So in May we pick up the camper from storage, drive via Yellowstone to Utah and the Dodge is replaced by a Ford. Claudia flies back home after three weeks to find a secretary job for summer and PJ plays around three weeks longer.

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July and August 2012, Netherlands
Applying for jobs, applying for jobs and getting rejections....that is what is happening to mee all summer. So I decide to give the outside of the mobile home a make over.

 
                 entrance in 2010                                          entrance in 2012


                                  garden in 2010
                                                     garden in 2012

3, 4 and 5 August 2012: Sailing Flower Parade by boats

   

   

   

   

   

   

Nice sunset at the trailer park.


 


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