Welcome to the DeCaigny Abroad trip blog for 2018: Windmills, Wallonia, World Wars and Waffles! This year is a very special trip for me because I get to visit the land where the DeCaigny’s come from – Normandy and Flanders – and we get to meet some relatives.
Our trip started off pretty easily – got the YVR with plenty of time, breezed through check in and security, had some late lunch and a coffee, then found our gate with a myriad of other silver haired folks (I joked with Ma and Pa that they must feel like they’re flying with their people). At one point and woman approached me and asked ‘Are you Kelly?’ As it turns out, one of my girlfriends at work has a friend who was taking the flight, and told her to ‘look for the girl with the blue hair’. We chatted with Anya for a bit and then it was time to board. The flight was pretty uneventful and after 8 1/2 hours and 2 subpar meals for what we’re used to from KLM, we landed at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at noon. We did the usual airport stuff – disembarked, went through customs (‘you’re here for a month? You’re going to be here for your birthday!’) grabbed our luggage and bought our train tickets for our first home base – Delft. When we started planning this trip, we quickly discovered that staying in Amsterdam would cost a small fortune, so we chose to stay in Delft – known as “Little Amsterdam” – it has all the charm and canals of the big city, just smaller, less busy and much less expensive.
The trains in the Netherlands are plentiful and efficient – like those in Germany. Our jaunt to Delft took about 45 minutes and we even spied a beautiful old windmill! We grabbed a taxi and told him the name of our hotel – De Emauspoort. The first thing he said was ‘Perfect location!’ We drove past old brick houses and snaking canals and took a turn down an absolutely adorable street:
This is the street our hotel is on and it was everything I was hoping and dreaming it would be = quaint, with bikes and flowers everywhere you looked.
We checked in and found that we were staying in the ‘Vermeer Suite’. One of the things that Delft is famous for is the birthplace (and famous resting place) of painter Johannes Vermeer, whose greatest hit is probably The Girl with the Pearl Earring. The room is decorated in the old Dutch style, up a flight of very challenging stairs, and adorned with prints by the Dutch master himself. We dropped our gear and hit the town in a attempt to stay vertical for as long as possible.
The other thing that Delft is famous for is ‘Delft Blue’ or ‘Royal Delft’ – a style of pottery characterized by blue ink on white porcelain. There were shops all around the main square (or Markt) filled to the brim with dishes, tiles and other trinkets depicting very Dutch scenes (windmills, row houses, clogs).
We picked a little restaurant and Pa and decided to indulge in our first brews (of what will be many, many brews) on the square.
A note about Dutch people so far – I was nervous because I had read a BBC article about how the Dutch are known for being very direct, and I’m very sensitive, but so far the Dutch people we’ve met have been very friendly, eager to chat and interested in Canada.
We finished our drinks and took a brief walk around the square. Pa and I decided we wanted to check out a cheese shop, because we both really enjoy Gouda. As it turns out, this cheese shop was the place to be, the Baskin Robbins of cheese as they had 31 different flavours of Gouda, all available to sample.
After sampling some delicious Gouda (we’ll be back there) I bought some postcards from a Delft Blue shop and we tucked in for some dinner, which I could barely stay awake through. After a 2 minute walk back to our hotel, I uploaded some photos to instagram between nodding off and hitting my head on the table. I gave up on the idea of a blog post for that night, and apparently climbed into bed (which I don’t remember doing).