Motorcycles and Canal Boats

Day 3 here in wonderful Holland was a more relaxing day, but just as fun as all the rest.

Peter had an appointment today, so he suggested I take his 2003 Honda Fireblade 954 out for a ride around.  Which was a prefect suggestion.  I love his bike and getting a chance to learn some of the roads here would be amazing.

I left Peter’s with a smile from ear to ear, at around 1:30 pm and started to follow the route he had configured on his GPS.

The route was pretty awesome, going along side a few canals, over bridges and even a few minutes on the freeway.   My thought during the entire ride was, how lucky am I to be living this life.  Here I am cruising through the Netherlands on a sport bike.  How many people from Canada can say they have done that?

A little over 2 hours later I make it back without running any red lights or running over any cyclist. 🙂  My smile is even bigger now than when I left.

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The rest of the day was relaxing with good conversation.

Day 4 and my last day with my family.

We left around 10 in the morning with Marije and Mariëlle, to go for a canal ride,  lunch, maybe some beers and then the airport.  The sun was out and I knew it was going to be fun.

The canal boat we rented was about 12 feet long with an electric motor on the back.  Maybe the top speed would be 1 KMH, I think.  Was the perfect cruising speed for this day.

A few pictures of us cruising along.

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Some of the highlights were when Peter stood up and rocked the boat, Mariëlle screamed like a little girl.  The next one was when I rocked the boat, Mariëlle yelled at Peter, and I can’t believe he did this, but he pointed at me and told her it was me.  I thought we were best friends 🙂 The next highlight was when I ran into the land, while looking at my phone.  Yes, texting and Canal boating is dangerous.  However, Marije said it was OK, we made it out alive.

These were some great memories.

We ate lunch at this nice little patio where I had a traditional dutch pancake with cheese and what they call syrup.  Not like our Canadian Maple syrup, but still full of sugar goodness. 🙂

After lunch we dropped off Marije at the train station, and Peter, Mariëlle, and I headed through the crazy Amsterdam tourist traffic to the Windmill were we will have a few final beers.

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The beers at this place are always awesome, and the atmosphere is just as good.  I could not have asked for a better last day, and to spend with with Peter and his girls made it even more special. I love visiting them, as they always treat me like I am a best friend and not a distant relative who they have only seen a few times.

Peter is truly the nicest person I have ever met and hope he never changes.

Peter, Karin, Marije, Mariëlle and all of my family/friends in Holland, thank you and I hope to see you all again, maybe in April 2017, if not, 2018 Island of Man TT 🙂

Little clip below!

Great times in Alphen, Netherlands

Day 2 was a pretty awesome day.  Peter, Marijie and I took the bicycles into Alphen for lunch and then a little tour around town.  As you can see below, Marijie had the hardest ride of the day.

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Selfie on a bicycle, and yes, I am still awesome.

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Peter treated us to lunch on a nice patio where you could sit and watch people attempting to water ski.  It was pretty cool.  There is a cable pull that goes in a loop that pulls the person.  I loved it when people fell.

Check out this kid ripping it up!

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After lunch Marijie showed me how to play Pokiemon Go.  She caught one on Peter’s head and one on my butt.  I see Pokiemon have no respect 🙂

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Peter told me this is a man made lake, and the sand was used to raise the land around Alphen.  All of this area is approximately 60 meters below sea level and how they use dykes and canals to mange the water is dutch engineering.

Our ride continued around the town were at times I thought I should have a sign on my bike that says “Tourist, Look Out!”.  But in the end I did not hit anyone or cause any accidents.

In Alphen, Peter treated us to ice-cream, and a walking tour of the streets.  He also showed me where his mother and father were buried.  A very nice little cemetery beside one of the churches.

One last picture of our ride, when we were waiting for the bridge to lower.

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Later that evening Peter and I went over to see Karin’s, her girlfriend and Mariëlle at their new house.  It was a nice relaxing visit, and again some good laughs and stories were had.

Another sunny day in Alphen!

Back in Holland

I made it with ease!

At 9:30 AM I say goodbye to Kris and thank him for letting me couch surf for the last few months.  Those are some great memories I will never forget.

My next stop is my sister’s house where she will join my journey to Pearson Airport in my vintage 1996 Honda Odyssey.

I arrive at Sam’s place right on time and we don’t waste anytime time heading back onto the road. I only left a 1 hour buffer for arriving at the airport, which isn’t the smartest thing to do in Toronto traffic.

As we approach Oshawa, the traffic is already slowing down to a stop and start, and I decide there is a better way to get to the Airport.  We pull off the 401 highway in Oshawa, and head over to the Go Train.  The Go Train is only $13 dollars to the airport with no traffic.  This will save us from driving through T.O. traffic and also shorten my sisters drive back home.

Here I say goodbye to my vintage 1996 Honda Odyssey, as I may never see her again.  I gave the car to my sister to use while I am gone, and well, she is a female driver, so who knows if the car will even make it a day in her hands :).  Good luck and goodbye my friend.

After purchasing my ticket I realize it is not for the Go Train, but for the Go Transit Bus and the arrival time is is 5 P.M.  Hmm, this should work out.

15 minutes later I am on the empty bus, and am heading to Pearson.  The driver tells me there is an accident so he is taking another route, but not to worry because I would never had made my connection according to my ticket anyways.  He tells me to stay on his bus to the end of his route and he will drop me off at the next bus, which goes directly to Pearson.

We make it to my connection right on time, as it is loading.  I jump into the front seat and ask the bus driver how long it takes to Pearson Airport and he tells me 30 minutes, which makes my arrival time just before 5 P.M.  Excellent.

The driver turns out to be a pretty cool guy and we chat about traveling.  At the end of the ride I toss him one of my cards and we say goodbye.

Getting to my flight was a breeze!  The counter lineup for the my ticket was full, but moved fast.  I then went through security in minutes and made it to my gate with 1 hour to spare.

I checked out the food prices and wasn’t shocked by the over inflated prices.  For $12.00 I can get a cheap burger or a pre made sandwich.  I thought we had laws about increasing prices do to demand in Canada?

Anyways, I grab a burger, head for a final poop poop, plop, plop, and walk over to my gate, where they just start to load, and for whatever reason they are loading zone 4 first.  What perfect timing, I have not had to wait anywhere.

I jump into the plane and within no time we are already taking off.  My flight is to arrive in Amsterdam at 9.A.M.  However, our plane is going over 1000 KMH, and we arrive at 8:19 A.M.  More than 30 minutes early. Saweet!

Hello Holland again 🙂

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The plane ride itself wasn’t all that comfortable and I did not sleep at all, but I am here and heading to customs.

I am second in line and do not even have to wait again.  The customs agent ask me only 2 questions. “Family or Business?”, I say Family, and then he asks, “Where?”, I say Alphen.  He says, have a great trip and hands my passport back.  I wonder, “Do you think my last name of Kruis helped?”

I walk over to the baggage claim and with great luck, my bag is coming right out. I grab and start heading to the exit.  As I am walking I try to connect my smart cellular telephone to the internet to let Marijie know I am here, but as I am connecting to the net I look up and there she is smiling and waving.  Wow, again perfect timing.

From the airport to Peter’s house doesn’t take long and to my surprise, Marijie doesn’t make vroom vroom noises while driving.  She really has grown up in the last 4 months.

Walking through the front door of Peter’s house is so familiar, it almost seems like I am home again.

I missed Peter and was very happy to see him again.  He and Bob the cat are looking great.

My visit here in Holland is only 4 days, so Peter tries lining up when I can visit everyone in a short period of time.  Tonight we are going to drop off  Marijie in Rotterdam later, for an appointment, and Peter and I will head to Honey and Lex’s house for a visit.

After dropping off Marijie, we head over to a cool apartment / indoor mall for a bite to eat.  Peter gets fries and mayonnaise and I get Croquettes.  My favorite dutch food to eat.

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It’s a one hour drive to Hannie’s and I have to say, I am starting to get really tired.  I think I have been awake for 26 hours or more.

Our visit with Hannie and Lex was really great.  Some good laughs were had, and a cool pint of beer was had.  🙂

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I love how in Holland everyone sits outside and enjoys the warm, not hot summer air.  Oh yeah, it is only 24 Celsius here.  A change from our 35 during the day in Ontario and 26 at night.

Back at Peter’s he cooks us a really yummy dinner, we watch a few minutes of the Olympics, and I finally give in at 7:30 P.M. and head to bed.

I can’t wait for day 2!

Alphen – Last full day in the Netherland’s

On the last day, I wanted to pay Peter back for all his hospitality, by taking him out for lunch.  I know this doesn’t really equal all the things he has done for me, but at least it is a start.

Peter suggest we go to a lake not far away, where they do water sports.  I guess they have cable tows, that pull water skiers across the water.  Sounds pretty cool.

On the way to the lake, Peter says, “We should rent a boat for an hour or so and go through the canals.”  This is a great idea.  A few minutes later we are at the boat rental place.

The canal boat is electric with a steering arm at the back.  Pretty simple.

Peter calls me “Captain!” and I know this means.  You are driving!  The first 3 minutes goes smooth and I hit nothing.  Already a Pro at Canal Boats. LOL.

The Canal ride takes a little longer than expected because of the down wind and lack of power in the electric boat, however, it is an amazing day.  One of the cool things is some of the bridges are just not high enough, so we have to jump off the boat and wench up and down the bridge, by hand.

I can’t thank Peter enough for this adventure, as it is one of the best parts of my week stay here. I really loved it.

We are now starving and head over to the lake for lunch.  Unfortunately, it is still too cool for water skiers, but the view is amazing.  Food was pretty damn good as well.

Later that evening Karin, and Marielle stop by for a last goodbye.  It was really nice seeing them again, and I can’t wait to see them again.

Well tomorrow I am off to Toronto, then onto home.  Goodbye Family and Holland!  I can’t wait to come back again.

Netherlands – Visiting Family

In the Netherlands I have family from my Dad’s side scattered all over and today I get to visit my distant cousin Honey and her husband Lex,  They are going to take me around the city they live in and then after her son August and his family will stop by for dinner.

I have not seen Honey since I was 12 years old and I am not sure if I will recognize her at all, but I was wrong.  When she opened the door I could definitely see a familiar face.  Maybe a little older, but I still remember her.  She tells me, she sees the same in me.  Wow. This is truly amazing, that someone you have not seen in 24 years you can still remember them.

This is my first time meeting Lex and my first impression is he is a really nice guy.  Speaks very good English as well, which makes for getting to know each other a lot easier.

Before we head out on the town, we have a quick bite to eat.  A traditional dutch lunch of fresh cheese and bread.  I am really starting to love this type of food.

The city they live in has a lot of old buildings from 1500’s, and I love this.  In Canada, we have very few structures older than 1930’s.

One of the places we visiting is a church that was first built sometime during the 1400’s and took a few hundread years to build.  I can’t even image how they would build something like this without cranes and heavy equipment like we use now.

There are also canal rides which go through the town and under the buildings.  This would have been pretty cool to do, but there is a 2 month waiting list.  Next time!

The tour through the city was pretty cool but I am starving, so we head back to meet with August.

August, his wife, and 3 kids arrive shortly after we do.  August and I have have not seen each other in 24 years, but I have seen him on Facebook.  So it is to no surprise I recognize him.

We have lots of time before dinner, which gives me the chance to get to know August and his wife better.  Very shortly into our conversation, I realize I wish I kept better contact with August.  He is a really great guy.

It’s dinner time and Honey has cooked a traditional Indonesian dish, which I love.  Rice, with Peanut sauce and veggies.  Life can’t get better than this!

Not long after dinner Peter arrives to pick me up and I say goodbye to some old and now again new friends / family.

What a great day!

Amsterdam – Canal boats, great food and even better company!

Peter and I got up early so we can beat the long line at the Anne Frank house.

Well, it opens at 9 am and we arrived at 9 am.  The lineup was around the corner and down the block and around another corner.  My estimate is well over 2 hours, maybe even 3 and since I am only in Amsterdam this one last day, I decided this was not that important.  I can come back and do it again someday.

Next time we will arrive at 8 am!

Peter and I know have to kill time until 1 pm when the girls arrive.  By girls, I mean Peter’s two girls and their mom.

Marije you met in my last post, and her older sister Marielle who you have not yet met.  Marielle is pretty cool girl just like her younger sister.  She is taller than me, and loves shoes.  I don’t mean a little love, I mean, her room is filled with them. lol.  But who is counting (30+) shoes, right?
I don’t know why, but this is the only picture I have of her.  She is beside me.

Karin their mom is a lot like the older sister Marielle.  She dresses very nice and always looks her best.  Unlike me, who gets up and says, yeah, this will do!  Oh wait, pants.  Now we are good.
Karin and I relaxing on a Canal ride.

Anyways, while Peter and I are wasting time, he introduced me to Amsterdam’s best Apple pie, and yes, it was just that good.

Then we walked for a while to burn off the 1,000,000,000 calories we just consumed.  We checked out some cool cheese shops, and one of the daily markets, where you could get some yummy dutch food and items.

It’s now 1 pm and the girls arrive. We have a quick drink and head to the canal for our Canal Boat Ride.  This I am excited for,

I can’t even explain all of the cool things we saw on the ride, but below are some pictures I took.  The guide explained why the houses are slanted, and where people live and all kinds of cool facts.

After the boat ride, we spent a little more time walking about Amsterdam and then off for an amazing dinner at De Burgemeester.  Again Peter treated us all.  Someday I need to pay this guy back for spoiling me so much.

This was the end of another special day in Amsterdam with the best company I could ever ask for.

Rotterdam – Oh Marije you are a true artist :)

Last night was a pretty crazy night, so today Peter and I took it a little bit easier and spent the day driving around seeing some amazing sites.  Peter is truly a great tour guide, even though he says he is not.

One of the places we drove to, was the Kettle 1 Vodka brewery, but we only got to drive by, as the tours are booked well over a month in advance.

After a few hours of driving around, we headed off to Rotterdam to pick up his youngest daughter Marije.  She lives in Rotterdam during the week while in her Art school, and on weekends back home with dad.

When we arrived to pick her up, there is a small music festival going on, and her art class is doing some weird art thing.  I don’t know what to call it, so I will just explain.  They all made these cool costumes/puppets out of cardboard, and then danced around the music festival in them.  After 30 minutes of dancing, they all smashed them together into a big pile of broken cardboard.  I guess it symbolizes something?

If you look closely in the first picture, under the left eye, you can see her blue hair and face.  She is also in the last picture with the blue hair.

Yeah, I don’t know what it means, but it is something you do in college. 🙂  It was cool and rather funny, and you could tell she was having a great time.  So who am I to say, she is funny and different.

When we arrived back home, Peter ordered us pizza and we all sat around talking and catching up.  I have not seen Marije since she was 12 years old and she is now 21, a young women.  She still has a little kid left in her, which adds to her great personality.

This was yet again, another great day visiting my distant family!

Amsterdam – With Mr Peter and Hello Space Cakes

Peter and I decided to take the bus into Amsterdam so we can have some beers and not worry about driving.  The buses were easy to navigate and well planned out, but expensive.  It cost us 11.50 pounds ($17.85 CAD) each, one way to Amsterdam.  In a car it would be a 30 minute drive.

In Amsterdam, our first stop was the Heineken Experience.  This is where Heineken was first brewed many years ago as in, well over 100 years ago.

The tour took us little over an hour and was great!  It went from showing you how they brew their beer, to the history, and then onto tasting it.  I don’t know what part I enjoyed the most, but tasting it is a favorite thing to do.

Now that we have had a few yummy beers, we head off to the streets for some people watching and food.
Peter first treated me to some Dutch Mini Pancakes.  Mmm damn good!

Some pictures on our walk.

Next is to head over to the Windmill Brewery for some beer tasting.

A nice little tasting tray of beers! I loved the Belgium Triple.

The beers went down nicely, and now Peter and I are off to see more of the city.  I forgot to take pictures of the Red Light district, but it was nothing special.  Just a bunch of girls standing in windows.  None of the girls looked Dutch, they all looked Russian or Ukraine, but I could be wrong.

After walking down several streets, I tell Peter I want to try space cakes.  He wasn’t sure what they were, so I explained to him what I knew.  My understanding is, they are cakes, or brownies baked with weed, or hash, for people who hate smoking.

He says, OK,  Lets get one.

We head into one of the more famous Coffee Shops, where all you can smell is weed and a lot of it.  I order a space cake and Peter gets a coffee.  We find a place to sit down and we split the cake.

Just sitting in these coffee shops, you could get seriously high.  The amount of smoke in the air is unbelievable.

Well, it tastes like a normal Chocolate Cupcake.  Hmmm, I don’t know, is this a good thing or bad?

We leave the coffee shop and walk around town for an hour.  We both notice nothing different and no high feeling.

Peter says, maybe we buy another one.  I agree, and we find another coffee shop.  This time the guy says it will work for sure, and we get a brownie with weed/hash in it.

Hash Brownie and a little treat for you all.

Well, 45 minutes later, no real feeling, and it is late.  So we jump on the train to head back to Peters.

On the train, I feel this crazy urge to relax and sleep.  No high feeling, but major sleep feeling.

I had a very hard time staying awake during the train ride home, and when we arrived home, I feel asleep right away.

Well Shaun, and if you are reading this, you know who you are.  I didn’t go and see the paintings, but I did eat space cake!

Just another amazing day with Peter!

Deventer, Netherlands – Seeing where my Oma and Opa grew up

Since I was very young, I always wanted to know and see where my grandparents grew up.  Well, today I am in the Netherlands staying at my Dad’s cousins house, who would be my distant cousin, Peter.  Peter is a pretty amazing guy, and offered to have me stay at his house while visiting.  I believe I have only met Peter 3 times in person, when he and his family came to Canada to visit.

Before I get into today’s trip, I want to quickly talk about my first day here.

I arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday around 1:30 pm, after more than a 28 hour commute from Thailand.  Peter met me at the airport and drove us back to his house.  I don’t know how, but I am not that tired yet.

The first hour or so Peter and I just visited and caught up on each others lives and just before dinner, Karin arrived for a short visit before she went off to work.  Karin is also a distance cousin of mine and it was great seeing her.  Hopefully will see her a few more times before I leave.

For dinner Peter treated me to a meal and beer at a local pub.  I am already getting a taste of the true Dutch life and am loving it.

That night I went to bed around 9 pm and quickly passed out.

The next day Peter offered to drive me to Deventer to show me where some of my dad’s family grew up.  This is what I have been waiting for, for years now and am very excited.

Off to Deventer we go!

Back side of my Oma’s house.

We park on the same street and get out for some pictures and a walk around the city.

The house where my Oma grew up.




During our walk through the Deventer, Peter points out a building in the oldest part of Deventer and in that building is a museum with some artifacts from the cities history.

Peter again being the amazing guy he is, treated me to a walk through the museum.

You wouldn’t believe it, but the very first painting I see, is one from my Great Opa.  He is one of the famous Deventer Trio (Three).
Hendrikus Johannes Balsink

Another cool picture is of the WW2 cans that were dropped from planes with food and supplies.  At the back of the picture.

Little more walking around the city and then off to see where my Opa lived.

Sorry Peter for the bad picture of you, but you have to admit, I look cute as a button!

This is the house where Opa grew up on the left side, and on the front corner is where the Pharmacy used to be.

The people owning the house now have a bottle and labels from the old Pharmacy in the window.  I am glad they were not home, because I would be wondering who the heck this hot looking bearded guy is, looking in our windows.

Our next great stop was to see the street named after my Great Opa and the sign even has his birth date and death on it.  Pretty cool!

The last stop is at the grave where my Great Oma and Opa were buried along with their 4 year old son Hein.

Thank you Peter for the amazing trip, and being a tour guide.


The last time I saw my Oma and Opa.  See you soon again!

On the way home we stopped at the local grocery store, where they have a cute dutch girl handing out free coffee.  Why do we not have this in Canada?

Anyways, with the food we bought, Peter cooked me a damn good meal.  It has been forever since I had something home cooked and definitely missed it.  Oops, I don’t think Peter wanted anyone to know he can cook.

I am now heading to bed and cannot wait for our next big adventure in the Netherlands.