Sunday, April 25, 2010

Home Sweet Home :)

I'm HOME!!!!! :) I got in last night after a CRAZY day in the Dublin and London airports...I'll spare the details, but trust me, it was madness. But I'm so happy to be back! It was sad leaving Ireland, though...I'm going to miss it there! Anyway, during my long flight over to the States, I wrote the following post regarding my last days in Dublin (I just couldn't post it since I didn't have Internet):

I made the most of Thursday and Friday since they were my last days in Dublin. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, which made the 2 places I toured even more beautiful!

Thursday I went in to town to get some last minute stuff done, and then I walked through Trinity College. I was on the campus in January, but it wasn’t nearly as pretty as it was this time around (thank you, God, for Spring!). I accidentally walked through on a day that happened to be their graduation…whoops! But it made me SUPER excited for my own graduation in just one week! J

Friday I went to visit Powerscourt Gardens in the town of Enniskerry, just south of Dublin. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves J

We attempted a self-timed picture but clearly it didn't work out :P Seeing our struggles, the people behind us offered to take it for us, hence the picture below

Then Friday night Erin and I took one last walk down to the beach (the picture kinda failed) but it was so fun. In case I haven’t said it before, I love the beach…and I love it even more when it’s a warm night and I can walk barefoot in the sand J It was a magnificent way to say one last “good-bye” to the Irish Sea and Dublin.

And so ends my time in Ireland, and this blog. I hope you enjoyed keeping up on what I was doing and seeing in Europe! I ABSOLUTELY LOVED my semester abroad, and am so thankful to have had the opportunity! I hope to see most (if not all) of you SOON! Thanks for your prayers and emails!

Love Always,

Tricia :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Trip to the Motherland

I am 100% Dutch, and therefore taking a trip to The Netherlands was so fun to meet relatives and see my family history. While my trip was only intended to last 4 days before I went on to Greece, the volcano eruption turned my 4 day stay into an 8 day stay. I absolutely loved Holland and my relatives who housed me were so welcoming.

Let's start off with introductions. Meet Ineke (my Mom's cousin), her daughter Merican, her son Alex, Merican's boyfriend Rene, and Ineke's husband Kees. These wonderful people showed me all around Holland, and were generous enough to house and feed me for a whole week!
This handy-dandy map that I made gives you a visual of all the places I was able to see during my stay :) And no, it did not take that long to make ;P I stayed in the town of Lisse, which is where the star is; Ineke and Kees drove me up and around Northern Holland to see where my Grandparents were born and raised (the dotted line shows our route ;) ; I went to Haarlem and saw Corrie ten Boom's house; Merican and Rene showed me around Amsterdam; and I made a trip out to Utrecht to meet up with one of my sisters' friends!

Lisse is home to tons of flower fields, and the world renown Keukenhof flower festival. It was absolutely beautiful.

Starting off my trip by visiting Keukenhof!
Just a few of the flowers in the inside portion of the festival

More flowers...
Flowers are to The Netherlands as corn is to Ohio.
Ineke and Kees live in a beautiful country home...above is a picture of their front yard and below is part of the house itself.

My spacious room and bathroom

Going up to the northern part of Holland was really interesting and very beautiful as well. I got to meet LOTS more relatives...all whom were very fluent in Friesen and Dutch, but not so much in English. I heard a TON of Dutch in general throughout the week, and even got to the point where I could recognize what the topic of conversation was, even if I didn't know exact words.

Near where my Grandpa was born...Van der Wielen is my Mom's maiden name
SHEEP! OK, so I love, love, LOVE baby lambs! Ineke and I went on a long walk in the countryside, and came across these little cuties! These are just a few of my approximate 50 photos :)


Please check out that face.
In case you couldn't tell already, northern Holland is farm country :)

Ineke took me the next day to Haarlem, home to the incredible Ten Boom family. I bought "The Hiding Place" while there (even though I think I read it when I was younger) and read it throughout the week. If you have not read it in awhile, or at all, you SHOULD.

In Corrie's room where the Jews hid...all of them had to crawl through that tiny space.
I love the above words by Corrie's sister, Betsie. While the above is a direct translation from Dutch (that's my guess at least), the English words in the book say it a bit more clearly: "There is no pit where His Love is not deeper still."

Then on Saturday Merican and Rene took me around Amsterdam. They were so kind and generous...paying for everything including a boat tour through the canals and a nice dinner at night!

Only in Amsterdam...I accidentally almost bought Erin a marijuana starter kit, thinking it was for flowers...whoops!
Canals, boats, bikes, and Dutch houses....everywhere.

The smallest canal in Amsterdam
Cool houses...I think they're called the father and the son or something like that
View of the city from the boat tour after entering the sea from the canals

Sunset over Amsterdam

Sunday was probably my favorite day...absolutely gorgeous weather and Ineke and I biked to the beach with flower fields on either side of us :)
I wish I could have captured the smells...mmm

I love the beach! And it reminded me SO much of I know why the Dutch decided to settle there; it reminded them of home!

After relaxing all day Monday, I made a trip out to Utrecht on Tuesday to visit my sister Stephanie's friend, Jolanda. Jolanda actually worked at Steph and Kris' hostel in Tibet while they were in America! She just got back last Thursday, right before the volcano mess. She is such a sweetheart and I'm so glad I got to spend some time getting to know her!
On top of the church tower which overlooks the small city
Cool view from above

Wednesday I tried to earn my keep by washing Ineke's car and scrubbing my bathroom :) After that, we had a delicious dinner and then headed to the airport! My flight took off with no difficulties, and I arrived safely and quite happily in Dublin that night :)

Holland was probably one of my favorite was so relaxing, I learned a lot about my family history, it was absolutely gorgeous, I learned some Dutch, and got to know my relatives really well! While I'm bummed I didn't make it out to Greece, I was so thankful to be "stuck" in such a gorgeous location!