Thursday, June 28, 2018

Nicholas in The Netherlands, 2018 Review

After our time in Atlanta for Nicholas' high school graduation (last post), we flew back to Amsterdam, bringing Nicholas back with us as our graduation gift to him.

You may remember that he was here for 2 weeks back in 2015, when he turned 15.  How 3 years can make such a difference is beyond me, but at his age, that's 1/6th of his life.  HA!

So, for those of you who have watched him grow up, here you go:

Our first full day after arriving was Monday Market day.
Astrid began this stay by making a Dutchman out of him, eating herring the Dutch way.
More Dutch you cannot get.  [Even I have not done that!]

To be honest, this time we didn't try to cram everything in, going all over tarnation.
But we DID do something almost every day, even it it was just a citadel walk.
One goal was to find the 27 Memory Bricks that are hidden around Gorinchem since his last trip.

 Nicholas helped us find 25 of the bricks over several days.  
[Astrid and I are still hoping to find the other two.]

On his last Saturday, Astrid and Nicholas climbed the church tower of our nearby Grote Kerk.
I stayed below to capture them once they reached the top.

There were also times of meeting up with friends and family close to home, 
where Nicholas could share in the life we live here.
He said those times were some of his favorites.

We DID go out-n-about, of course, even to Germany,
giving him another country-notch on his belt, like Belgium the last time.
We drove to Monschau, Germany, 218 km southeast of Gorinchem.

OMG!  Half-timbered houses, a castle and a river running through it all.
This was actually a birthday gift to me from Astrid!  Can you see why?!

So many wonderful memories in that idyllic tourist town.

I even collected a few weathervanes while there!

We then drove to Düren for an overnight before driving to Cologne, Germany, the next day.

We wanted Nicholas to see a HUGE European cathedral!
It doesn't get much bigger or better than the Cologne Cathedral...
and it's neighboring promenade along the Rhine river and it's bridge of love padlocks.

A shorter trip to nearby De Haar castle in Utrecht gave Nicholas another castle experience.
We took him last time to the Loevestein castle (from 1368) across the Merwede river from us.

De Haar is from 1892 and hosted many movie actors over time because of the Rothschild family
who funded the rebuilding of the castle that had gone to ruin over the years.

Then it was my 73rd birthday on June 13 and Astrid took us to the Rotterdam shipping port
for a 75-minute cruise of the 3rd largest shipping port behind Shanghai and Singapore.
Guess what!  On your birthday you get the cruise for free.  Lucky me.

Seeing monstrosities like this gives new meaning to the word 'shipping.'

Rotterdam is one of the cities destroyed during WWII
whose rise from the ashes gave new meaning to quirky architecture.  We love it.

We then drove 30 km west to the world's largest lock/storm barrier in nearby Hoek van Holland.
The Maeslantkering is part of the Dutch Delta Works and closes when flooding is a threat.

You know me.  I have to play around.
The top of this hill was our vantage point for seeing the storm barrier.

And because we were so close to the North Sea, we continued on to the beach.
Just had to touch the water...and eat an ice cream!

One last trip was to nearby Wijk bij Duurstede, 53 km from home.
Can't believe we didn't take him last time to the only drive-through windmill in the world!
The castle isn't available for inside viewing apart from event venues.

I bet you can imagine getting married there, right?!  

We even picked up fresh cherries along the way.
It's one of our favorite short-trip visits.

And like the Memory Bricks in Gorinchem, Nicholas helped us find the windmill tiles in the road.
They must be new since our last time because it was our first time seeing them. 

That was our last outing before taking Nicholas back to Amsterdam on June 17.
Two delightful weeks of just BEING together before he goes off to Oregon in the fall.

Nicholas Joseph Grannan.  Class of  2018.
We're still pinching ourselves because we feel so lucky to be his g'mas!


  1. Love, love, love, love! As always, thank you for capturing these moments for us to cherish for a lifetime. What wonderful memories!

    1. You're ever so welcome, Amy. And thank YOU for entrusting him to us!

  2. I echo the words of Amy. It was wonderful to have Nicholas here and show him around and in that regard he is a "sport", nothing is too crazy and we had many laughs. Almost off to Oregon, we both wish him all the best and who knows, maybe in 4 years after his graduation????....... Great post and a wonderful memory added, thank you, IHVJ.

    1. As long as we are able to have him with us, we will do everything to make it possible, Astrid. We are so fortunate to have this memory twice now!

  3. And Nicholas is a lucky young man too.

  4. SUCH a dream, for an 18-year-old, and for a grandma!! I am thrilled that you had TWO whole weeks together to do it all up as only you and Astrid can do!

    1. A dream, indeed, Ruth. We feel so very lucky. I would like to think Nicholas does, too!

  5. this is one of your best posts! so much to see! so much joy that your pictures are lousy with it lol... do you have that expression there? 'lousy with it?' lol i hope you do, so this gives you a smile :)

    1. No, I don't know that expression, Elaine..."lousy with it"...but I'll take your word for it. Thanks.

  6. I have missed being here and have to scan through your past posts (many, I know) to catch up. He is SO handsome and looks so fun! You all do and see so much - what a fascinating country you live in (and those surrounding you as well!)

    1. How fun to see you again, Margaret. I used to get notices of comments on my blog but ever since upgraging to Office 2016, I'm not getting them. So sorry this is a late reply.

  7. What a handsome young man he has become. Congratulations!

    I take my hats off him eating that sardine(?)raw (?) like that!!!!!

    1. Thank you, Maria. I take my hat off to him, too, because I never have any intention of following suit. HA!

  8. Happy birthday, Ginnie and many, many more. Does one eat the herring whole, bones, fisheyes and all?

    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Ted. Let's see how many more we all get, right?! :) But NO, the herring comes with its head chopped off and the body filleted. The tail has bones but I doubt anyone eats that!

  9. He is a cutie for sure! What a wonderful time to have him all to yourselves. Creating memories via experiences. Priceless!