Cartoons and Bicycles!
Trip Start Dec 27, 2010
105Trip End Aug 15, 2011
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Arriving at the train station in Groningen, we were immediately amazed by the number of bicycles all around. There was a huge, underground bike parking lot just off the entrance to the station, and there were bikes locked up to hand railings and posts all around the area. We got a taxi to our hostel (a very basic but tidy and handy accommodation) and couldn't really believe all the bicycles on the roads! They out-numbered the cars by far! We were wide-eyed in amazement.
We checked into the rooms and did some speedy ironing of clothes and tidying of hair in an attempt to look our best for Jesse's show. The Comic Strip Museum was nearby, so we walked over, careful to watch out for bicycle traffic (which you cannot usually hear coming!). The kids had worked out a plan to surprise their friends, but their plan was foiled by the fact that the friends were on the lookout for them too. Anyway, when the five of them got together, there was great excitement, and they immediately took off together, away from the parents.
Mark and I had a quick "hello" with Jesse, but he was busy signing books and had to keep at it for a while. Marleen greeted us and took us through the room of Jesse's colourful and interactive displays (in Dutch, so we couldn't fully appreciate them!) and to the party room for a drink and a chance to meet some of their friends and relatives from Holland. Everyone spoke English well, and we had a nice time getting to know a little more about Jesse and Marleen's lives before their move to Canada. Talking with one of Jesse's cousins, Mark and I learned she was TV personality who lived outside of the city. She is a little older than I am and was dressed very nicely for the event. We commented on all the bicycles in the city but understood that she would have driven in today from where she lived, dressed so nicely for the occasion. She said, "Oh no, I came by bicycle." Everybody bikes!
When Jesse was finished his official duties, he joined us, and we got the kids together to go for dinner. It was nice to be with locals who knew the best things to order! We had a very nice dinner and a great time catching up with our friends. We made an arrangement for getting together in the morning, when the family was going to take us on a day trip to some of their favourite places nearby. We didn't know any of what they had planned, but we were looking forward to it very much.