Sunday, February 5, 2017

Such a great day

Our first day in the Netherlands was just about as good as it gets. We arrived in Amsterdam after a smooth flight on a rather empty plane. Although we arrived early Robert had arrived and was waiting as we exited customs control. Our bags just fit into the trunk of his tiny Renault and we headed east on the way to Olivia and Paul's new house.
 They recently moved into a new development on reclaimed land in a country whis has been turning lowlands into living spaces for centuries. As we turned off the highway Robert exclaimed at the new block which had appeared since his recent visit. It looked like traditional brick row houses but was prefab construction which had been recently assembled. 
Olivia welcomed us to her modern white living room and gleaming kitchen. The kids were watching a soccer game on a tablet
and gathered around to shake hands and welcome us. The kids were happy to see Opa
but until the soccer game ended that was the main attraction .
Kate surprised us by joining us for lunch. Bread, cheese, sausage and chocolate sprinkles were a hit with both kids and adults.
Then the kids played in the yard where they took turns on a mini trampoline with net fencing to keep the game safe. Trucks and digging toys in the sand pit were the other activities. This is a great improvement over their apartment in Rotterdam. The yard is a necessity for such active kids, but soccer in the kitchen is another great option for practicing ball control.

After lunch we headed north to Groningen. Since I was in the back seat I gradually lost the thread of conversation and drifted into a nap. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and clouds reflected in various water surfaces. Ancient windmills alternated with modern wind turbines in the landscape as we sped along modern highways. I came back to consciousness as we entered Groningen. Robert drove us to our hotel where we checked in, stretched out on white sheets and sank into a deep sleep. 

We woke in time to shower, dress and meet Robert at six. He took us to a warm and welcoming restaurant which was close to the concert hall. As I started to decipher the menu Robert pointed out that duck was on the list and that's all it took. Nothing else comes close in my book so the choice was easy. The plates only had meat on them, but there was a plate of fries and vegetables to share in the center of the table. This is a great way to serve a restaurant meal.  Grace and I shared a plate of mini desserts which was lots of fun. We turned the plate counterclockwise and each had a taste of a very sweet medley. 

The concert hall was a brief walk away and we arrived shortly before the intermission.  We waited in the modern hall with a black ceiling and dramatic red lighting.

Kate came out at intermission with our tickets. The first half of the concert had been a tutorial on Tchaikovsky's First Symphony with examples from the musicians. The second half would be the performance.  We had seats on the fifth row with perfect sight lines to the cello section. This was the first time I had actually attended a performance of Kate's orchestra and we thoroughly enjoyed the music.
Thanks to our afternoon nap we even stayed awake. We got broad smiles from Kate during the curtain calls and after the encore. It was the end of a great first day. 

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