A Rendezvous in South Holland

Trip Start Mar 31, 2011
Trip End Jul 05, 2011

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Flag of Netherlands  , Limburg,
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We woke up early on Tuesday (6-21) to get more pastries and catch the train to Roermond. This first required a train to a place in Germany with a ridiculously long name that I can't remember, so we will call it M-town. Unfortunately, our train to M-town was delayed by about 30 minutes. We were so confused because they were making tons of announcements about it in German, which we could only understand enough of to realize they were talking about our train. Three other trains left from the same platform in the time we were waiting for our train! When the right train finally showed up, it pulled WAY up to the very front of the platform, so we had to literally run to catch it before it pulled away.  Bleh-- running with the backpacks is quite troubling. Naturally, since our first train was so delayed, we missed our connection in M-town. There was another train about 30 minutes later, so we hung out in a bookstore and read German tabloids until it was time to leave. This train went to Venlo (Holland), and our connection to Roermond was very easy. It was funny to cross from Germany to Holland-- the language got kinder and the people got much taller. Excellent!
We texted Daniel from the train, so he was waiting for us at the station when we arrived! For those of you who don't know, Aaron and I met Daniel at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala last May. Guatemala's police force was striking and blocking all of the roads, so the public buses were beginning trips but stopping way before reaching their destination.  We all got dropped (from different local buses) on the side of the road about 20 kilometers from Atitlan and took various forms of transportation (walking, trucks, cabs, etc.) to make it to the lake... definitely one of our more stressful travel adventures. Anyway, we met Daniel at a restaurant after we all arrived at the lake very hot, tired, and hungry. The three of us took a little boat tour of the lake the next morning and had a nice time exploring the surrounding towns. Now we are having a rendezvous in Holland! 
Daniel lives in Roermond, which is very near the German border in the South of Holland. took us back to his apartment to drop off our stuff and then we headed even further South-- almost to the border of Belgium. We stopped first at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, which is a mass of unnamed graves from WWI and WWII. It was really moving to see over 8000 white crosses and stars of David all lined up so close to one another. There were also really nice views of Dutch countryside around the cemetery, so we spent a while walking on the grounds. 
Then we continued to Maastricht, which was only a 10 minute drive from the cemetery. Maastricht is the place where the agreement to create the European Union was signed! We grabbed some sandwiches for a quick lunch then spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Maastricht. We went to the main square to check out a big red church and some nice shopping streets. The inside of the church was really excellent but very dark so the pictures kind of suck. Then we walked to a nice park and found a fountain with a ton of birds around it. We walked along the water back to the center of town, where we had some beers in a little outdoor cafe.  Holland, like Germany and Czech, provides a number of imported beers to America and are very proud of their brews.  We each tried a different kind, and Daniel ordered us some Little friend balls of smashed up meat to go with them. I'm sure they have a better name than "fried smashed-up meat balls," but I can't remember. 

 On the way back to Daniel's apartment, we stopped by the grocery store to pick up ingredients to make tacos again! Tacos have become our go-to American cuisine... Tex-Mex is American, right? Beef is too expensive in Europe so we can't make hamburgers, and it is far too hard to find cheddar cheese to make mac and cheese. So, tacos it is. They turned out to be pretty delicious and were much easier to make than last time because we were able to find tortillas in the store rather than having to make them ourselves. 

After dinner, we had a few beers and watched Jersey Shore! In Holland, most of the TV shows are played in English and have Dutch subtitles, so we were actually able to enjoy television without having to listen to horrible German dubbing. We were pretty tired, so we went to bed pretty early. Doei!
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Mom on

Another fabulous blog, thank you. The cemetery piece is so moving. What a beautiful tribute to those who fought in the World Wars. It really touched me deeply. I want one of the giant pretzels and all of those foreign beers! Glad you were able to meet-up with yet another "global" buddy from your world travels. Fabulous!

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