Our nine days in Holland and Belgium went by quickly. Today we experienced the beauty of Brugge with its canals and wealth portrayed in the early 17th century buildings in this historic city.
We experienced the awe of the countryside of Flanders Fields and we experienced the sorrow as we visited Ypres-Ieper, Belgium. This area, where there was much fighting during the First World War, has over 1,000 cemeteries.
We saw the Hospital of Dr John McCrae, the Canadian from Guelph, Ontario famous for his poem ‘In Flanders Fields,’ written in the midst of death and tragedy. The bunker was his hospital and it is here where the poem was written.
Ross commented on the difference between Dr. John McCrae and Lord Kitchener whose famous poster he noticed: “In contrast, Lord Kitchener – who the city I was born in is named after – was Minister of War for England and was not a nice man.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to our friend and colleague JP Weber. He travels back to Luxembourg and then his home. We fly home to Ontario with wonderful memories.
On Wednesday, September 13 my friend Ross Kennel and I arrived in Brussels, Belgium. We were met at the airport by my long time friend and coach driver, JP Weber. JP and I had planned this time together, traveling with his car. I invited Ross to join us on this holiday.
Our first stop after entering Holland was the Delta Works Museum. This was very informative how the Dutch people have learned to control the water. The last major flood was in 1953 when 1,000’s of persons drowned when the Dyke broke. We discussed how the Dutch are raising the Dykes in Holland as the water table is rising. Globally, the Dutch are helping other nations deal with flooding as global water levels rise.
We were impressed by the size of the Aalsmeer Flower Auction which covers the same land mass of 220 football fields. The air was so fresh as we walked along the catwalk, enjoying the beautiful flowers. The guide told us 34.5 million flowers are sold here each day. The top 5 importing countries were Kenya, Ethiopia, Israel, Belgium and Germany. The top 5 exporting are Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Russia.
Later, at the Rijksmuseum, we spent time exploring the work of Rembrandt. His paintings depict the famous Dutch sky.
Walking around Zaanse Schans to explore the Windmill it started to rain. I forgot my umbrella leaving it in the Ccar. So I found a red, broken one in a garbage can. It helped to keep the driving rain off. I couldn’t figure out why JP and Ross and everyone was laughing at me.
This morning we visited the famous Alkmaar open-air Cheese Market. We enjoyed tasting and talking with some of the workers and our families will enjoy tasting the cheese too, when we get home.
Walking around Volendam JP reminded us that this town was also the name of one of the ships that carried Mennonite refugees from Europe to South America. Tomorrow we travel to Menno Simmons country, to spend two days with my friend Onijdes and his family.
I was privileged to host my first cousin and her husband, Ruthie & Willie Kauffmann in my home the last three days. It coincided with the first anniversary of Janet’s death, September 7.
My children and grandchildren also enjoyed visiting and sharing meals with them. We toured many sites in St. Jacobs Country, as well as the village of Tavistock and around Waterloo Region. This morning they joined me in planting a chrysanthemum on Janet’s grave. As we left Ruth Ann said “a much loved Wife, Mother and Grandmother. And it shows.”