Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A last day in Leeuwarden

On Tuesday morning Olivia and Paul and the kids joined us for breakfast at the hotel. Kate stopped by as well. When a family is separated by an ocean every opportunity to share real face time is precious. The kids ran, danced and played while we finished our coffee and shared stories.  Check out was at noon but we were packed and ready by the time Robert arrived.  Everyone was going their separate ways. Kate had to get to work and Paul and Olivia had about three hours of driving to reach home. Alex had taken the train back to Leeuwarden so there would be enough room for our suitcases in Robert's car. He had gifts and flowers and his large diploma as well, so the back seat was packed around me as we left. 

It took a little over an hour to get to Leeuwarden where Alex had prepared lunch. It was the first time we had visited since Robert had moved. The apartment was modern, comfortable, and full of books.

After lunch Robert took us to the hotel where we spent the night. It was the former palace of the Frisian  Stadholder, and the downstairs rooms bore witness to an elegant past life.
Crystal chandeliers, damask wall coverings and family portraits distinguished the sitting rooms and dining areas. 

The hotel was in the town center, so we walked to the shops.

It had been many years since I had walked in Leeuwarden, but the streets were still familiar, and the leaning tower had stayed put.

We stopped at a cheese shop where we could sample before buying
and even poked our nose into a bookshop, more by habit than interest in Dutch literature. As the wind picked up and flakes began to dot our coats, we looked for a coffee shop. But instead of coffee we ordered hot, creamy chocolate and watched the bikers pass outside.


It was a short walk back to the apartment. I dozed and Grace read as Robert helped Alex put the finishing touches on a delicious salmon dinner. After dinner Robert took us to visit his former house at Troelstraweg. He had rented it to a colleague of Alex, and they were delighted to show it off. Since I had last visited Leeuwarden in 2003 a transformation had taken place. Everything was freshly painted. The kitchen had been enlarged and modernized. The upstairs bathroom was unrecognizable. Two bedrooms had been combined into a large master bedroom by taking out a wall. Memories flooded back as we sat and shared tea and cake with the renters. 

And then it was time to return to the hotel. Robert promised to pick us up at 6a.m. For the drive to Schiphol airport. My flight was at 10:30, but Grace will stay until Monday. After seeing me to the baggage drop off, they headed to Leiden to see where our ancestor Elder William Brewster stayed before he set sail on that historic voyage to Massachusetts in 1621. It hardly seems possible that I can leave Holland and arrive in Massachusetts on the same day in this 21st century.  Elder Brewster would surely consider it a miracle. It still even seems miraculous to me. 

They say that Massachusetts is expecting a Nor'easter on Thursday so I expect to feel right at home. Our next trip is planned for June. 

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