After two weeks in Italy, I flew to Holland to see Anne and her stomping grounds. It´s a shame that Holland gets Amsterdam´s reputation because the rest of the country is nothing like it. The north of Holland is extremely green, lush and beautiful. And because its so flat, you can see the countryside and farms for miles and miles.
Again, there is so much to say about my stay. It was absolutely incredible and one of the highlights of my trip. As you can see, Anne´s parents live in a very nice house in the countryside. (Yes, their house has a thatched roof as do most houses in the area.) And from the time I walked in the door, they treated me like family. Maybe better than. I told them that I liked to see and try different things and they did just that. I had horse meat (lekker!) several times, sampled countless beers, wines, cheeses and typical Dutch dishes (my personal favorite, Stoomport (?sp?), experienced a real Dutch BBQ and birthday party, went on beautiful bike rides and runs through the countryside, went to a horse show (I had to go to Holland to watch one of these...) and much much more. I can´t thank them enough.
Fritz, Annegreet´s dog, was great. He absolutely loved to play, especially with his ball. I don´t think I´ve ever seen a dog with so much personality. Sometimes he fetched the ball and others, he made you fetch it from him. We had some good times. I came very close to tucking him away in my luggage and taking him with me. Part of me thinks I should have.
Regardless, when Annegreet´s father had his birthday party, we celebrated outside on the patio. Well, Fritz, thinking that since we were outside and someone would play with him, waited at the trunk of the tree you see above. (They sometimes keep the ball up there when they are finished playing with him.) What´s funny is that he waited there for over 4 hours! Poor Fritz. He didn´t budge an inch in that whole time. He just stared at the ball hoping and praying that someone would play. After it was dark, I went over and threw it a couple times just to reward him for his persistence. Fritz!
(Me, Annegreet, her brother and Mom after the 9K)
As luck would have it, I was able to run a 9K in Groningen with Annegreet´s brother, Henk. Although I don´t remember the time now, I finished in one of my times ever because the entire course was flat. (as is all of Holland)
Anne, her Mom, and our friend, Jolanda were waiting for me at the finish line. And Annegreet´s Mom bought me a bouquet of flowers congratulating me on the race.
I had such a great time and everyone was incredibly nice. It was really hard leaving.