In May, Chris and I travelled back to the Netherlands for Bas and Esther’s wedding in Amsterdam. My mom flew out a few days before to watch the kids with Nelly while we were gone. They had a blast with us away!
As usual, our travels were not without some drama. The trip began with Chris and his passport woes. He was already sitting in his seat on the outbound flight when the AirTransat staff came and pulled him off the plane due to the fact that his Canadian passport is expiring within the next few months. Fortunately, he also had his Dutch passport (expired also of course), but he showed his application to have it renewed while in the Netherlands, and they obviously accepted that and let him go back to his seat. And when he went back, they upgraded him to Club Class…go figure!
I left on Wednesday morning really early and was flying through Chicago. Unfortunately, a massive storm closed the Chicago O’Hare airport moments before we were scheduled to land. We circled for a while in hopes that it would re-open, but after about 30 minutes the pilot announced that we were running out of fuel and would have to divert to Madison, Wisconsin. Once we landed, we sat on their runway for a very long time because that airport wasn’t equipped to refuel that type of aircraft and they had to figure out how to do it! At one point, it looked as though we were going to de-plane in Madison, but fortunately, they figured it all out and refueled us and got us back in the air just as the other airport was reopening. As you can imagine, with O’Hare being a massive hub, almost everyone on my plane was transferring to other flights…as was everyone at the airport. It was chaos. Flights delayed, diverted and cancelled! People frustrated that they’ve now missed connections are not a pleasant bunch. At any rate, I happily checked into the United Club lounge where I was able to find a stool at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine. I was relaxed because my layover was so long that things sorted themselves out by the time my flight was leaving to Amsterdam.
Now, I have to make a comment about United airlines Business Class. I booked on points and because my trip was only five days, I thought it best to try to get some sleep on the flight and booked a business class seat.
Difficult to decide what the nicest part of the flight was:
- the super comfy mini duvet and fluffy pillow that were waiting for me on my seat?
- the champagne while we were settling in?
- the bowl of warmed nuts to go along with the bubbles?
- the hot towel service?
- the choice of superb wines with dinner?
- the cheese course with port?
- the ice cream Sundae with choice of toppings?
- the seat that reclines entirely flat so that you can actually sleep!
Needless to say, it was by far THE best flight I’ve ever had. I also have to mention the amazing the United airlines staff who were professional, friendly and absolutely attentive to details! Very impressive.
I arrived in Amsterdam and was met by Tante Renee, who picked me up and drove me to Jet’s house where Chris was staying with his parents. Of course, one of the highlights of the trip was to be able to meet baby Lily-Helene for the first time! She is absolutely perfect. Such a warm, sweet bundle of pink. So absolutely cute. I think that we are all a bit smitten! What a treat to be able to hold and cuddle her!
After a nice visit, we left to head to Voorburg where we were staying with Oom Rob and Tante Renee. We were treated to a fabulous dinner overlooking the city at a great new restaurant called the Penthouse which is in the Haag tower. It was a stunningly bright evening and we enjoyed a lovely meal at the highest point I’ve ever been in the Netherlands. It was so high, we could actually see Rotterdam! Amazing.
Friday was spent doing all the shopping that I needed to do while I was there including Hema, Albert Heijn, and the Wedgewood store. I stocked up on everything from jeans for the kids to laundry detergent…yes, we buy our laundry detergent overseas…crazy, I know! Everything on the list was covered within a couple of hours! Amazing. We even got a chance to pop by Marjolein’s twins since I didn’t get the chance to meet them last time we were here! So sweet.
Friday evening was the first of the wedding events. We drove into Amsterdam to a restaurant called Hotel de Goudfazant. The Friday night was a dinner for the wedding party, close family and out of town guests, similar to a rehearsal dinner. The one difference is that this was the occasion where all the speeches were given. We heard great stories about the bride and groom! Everyone had a lovely time and it was a super warm-up for the wedding the following day.
Next day we had an early start and we headed to Esther’s parents’ house in Huizen (close to Amsterdam). They had a lovely pre-wedding garden party and it is where they did the family photos and cake cutting. Everyone was, of course, wearing hats! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any photos of myself in my great hat! I will ask Jet as I am pretty sure that she took one!
We then drove to the wedding location which as the West Indies House in downtown Amsterdam. The ceremony was beautiful and officiated by a justice of the peace. Unfortunately, we were sitting near the back, and with it being in Dutch, it was a bit tricky for me to follow.
The ceremony was followed by a reception in the courtyard which was lovely and an absolutely ideal location for a wedding (see the images in the link above). We had the chance to chat with all the family and catch up with everyone.
After the reception, we headed to Maartje and Michiel’s for a bite to eat and to change our outfits for the evening party. It was also a nice chance to visit a bit with Oom Frans and Tante Loes and Stephan and Karin. I really regret not taking any photos from that part of the evening, but somehow I completely forgot! Once we were all changed, we headed back into the centre of town, near the Anne Frank house, to go to the dance. This part of the event was held at a very stylish, canal-side club called Werck. The theme of the evening was a cruise, so everyone was dressed in full-on glamour with lots of bright colours and sequins! We danced the night away and partied until the wee hours! The bride and groom even got to DJ for a while! Super cool.
The next morning, we traveled to Jet’s house where we spent the whole day chilling out with Lily and everyone else. It was great just to hang out after all the excitement of the wedding events. It included an obligatory grocery shopping trip to Albert Heijn and an absolutely fabulous BBQ that evening.
After a wonderful evening with family, and a tearful goodbye, we headed back to Voorburg. Monday morning, we puttered around and repacked our stuff a bit before heading back into Amsterdam to visit the Rijksmuseum, which has just re-opened after undergoing about 8 years of renovations! The past few times we’ve been to the Netherlands, we haven’t done any museums because the kids were with us and it just didn’t fit into the plans. This time was truly a treat though! They’ve done an amazing job of the massive space and we got to see many of the masterpieces from Rembrandt, Vermeer and many more. Of course, the Night Watch was a highlight but there was so much to see that we couldn’t stare too long. One of the things that both Chris and I enjoyed viewing were the photos of everyday life and what people had on the their tables. It was cool to think about what food they ate and what life was like in 1600 in the Netherlands. Here are some of my favourite pieces.
That evening we were lucky to go to see Marjolein and Roderick and their very sweet little girls, Bo and Jo who are about 16 months old. Tante Renee had prepared white asparagus and other traditional treats for us to enjoy while chatting and playing with the kids. We didn’t make it a late evening since we had to be up early to get to the airport, but at least we got the chance to visit for a short time.
It was truly a whirlwind trip, but so enjoyable. Every moment was spent talking with family, witnessing special occasions and of course, meeting Lily and every moment possible with her since we won’t see her until Christmas. Thanks to everyone who helped to make our trip so special! Hope to be back again very soon!!