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Wednesday January 21 - February 10, 2009
It had been almost 4 years and my kids hadn't meet almost all of my family yet, so it was time for another trip to the 'father land' aka the Netherlands. On top of that we had another good reason namely the 40th anniversary of my parents.

The flight to the Netherlands went pretty well. We were fortunate that the plane wasn't full so Mariska had 2 seats so she could lie down. Catherine and I both found that it felt like the quickest trip back home ever. After a stop in Amsterdam, we flew too Cologne since it turned out to be cheaper than only flying to Amsterdam (I know it doesn't make sense but it was about 600 dollars cheaper and I checked it several times to make sure I didn't make any mistake...)

In Cologne we picked up the car which was a little bit bigger than the one we originally ordered. In fact, it was huge so we called it the Tank. It was the VW Multivan that had all the stuff including the navigation system. However the negative side effect of being a tank is the size. We were for instance never able to park in a parking garage since the car was too tall. We also had problems with parking at a grocery store. The first time we parked there neither Catherine or I could open the doors because the cars next door were too close to us. But driving in general was pretty great :)

Of course it was great to see my parents and brother again although I have the stinking feeling they were happier to see my kids than me...grandparents, you know ;) Since we were away for 3 weeks, it didn't feel that we constantly were in a visiting mode but we visited many people and many people visited us of course. The toy mountain of my kids grew and grew with every present they got. Many thanks again.

We visited family and friends. Some I hadn't seen for 4 years, some I hadn't seen even longer. But you can see that things change since when I got together with some of my friends it turned out that some of them hadn't seen each other also since my wedding. I guess we are all growing up ;)

As you can understand, my parents were excited to spend some time with their grand kids and for me and Catherine it meant that we had time to do things with only the 2 of us. I can honestly say that I think that I haven't spend that much time with her alone in these 3 weeks than in the past 2 years. We went for several walks (interupted with pie and drinks of course :), we visited the graves of my grandparents and visited the castle again where we had the Dutch wedding. We went shopping together (so I could update my CD collection of Dutch music which is still way too expensive...) and we enjoyed a very nice Indonesian Rijstafel together.

Here is a HDR picture of the St Gerlach church in Houthem - Valkenburg a\d Geul, that we obviously visited:
St Gerlachus Church - Houthem -  The Netherlands

We also went abroad although that doesn't mean much since within 20 minutes you can be in Belgium or Germany from my parents. We visited the Belgium city Liege (30 minutes to get there - 30 minutes to find a parking spot...remember what I said about the Tank) and one day we left early in the morning for a nice ride through the Ardennes and the Eifel. We visited a American WW2 cemetery, a small but beautiful village called Monschau that has many old buildings, and the Belgium town of Spa. And we just drove over small(er) roads through the hills since I had told the navigation system not to use any high ways.

At the end of the trip we had the party for my parents which was a lot of fun. Even more uncles and aunts and friends to meet my kids for the first time. With the same band that played at my wedding and a surprise visit from a Carnival Monarch who decorated my parents with a medal as well as my kids.

And so a great trip came to an end. Sad to leave but happy to have been there again. It had been too long.

Pictures can be found here: and there will be more on my flickr stream

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