Our immigrant ancestors had to be able to adapt to changes in their lives when they came to the US. The same is true today. A friend, Beverly Cambre, and I had a trip planned to the Netherlands, Venice, and a Tuscany tour in the spring of 2010. Just a few days before we were scheduled to leave the United States, ash from a volcano in Iceland shut down the airports in Europe as well as in the US. So, we regrouped and were able to leave a week later. We had to change the order of our trip. First we went to Venice, then did the Tuscany tour and ended up in Amsterdam on Saturday afternoon. We spent the next few days doing the sights in Amsterdam.
Thursday, we walked to the train station, and bought tickets to Lelystad. The parking garage connected to the train station was not for cars but for bicycles. The folks at the hotel said we could take an express train to Lelystad – about 45 minutes to the north. Not so. We had to change trains along the way but that was not a big deal. That day was a National Holiday. The express trains did not run on holidays. The person selling the tickets did not know what the holiday was; just that it was a national holiday. Our fellow passengers did not know either.
My cousin’s husband, Freek Warger, met us at the train station in Lelystad and took us to their home. Ina teKolstee Warger and I had been corresponding since the mid 1990’s. My great-grandmother and Ina’s great-grandfather were brother and sister. My great-grandmother was Janna Hendrika teKolstee who married William O. Walvoord in 1874 in Holland, Nebraska. We had morning coffee, learned that the National Holiday was Ascension Day, visited, and had lunch.
A trip of a lifetime began after lunch. We saw families riding bicycles and spending time in the parks. Ina said this was the custom on Ascension Day. It was especially nice to have Ina and Freek describe the countryside and places of interest along the way. Our trip across Netherlands was delightful. Our first stop was at a park with an eating establishment.
We sat around the original fireplace drinking hot tea or hot chocolate. It was awesome. Ina could remember the house before it was the eating establishment. Henk B. Walvoort and his wife Aafke, and his 1st cousin with the same name Henk J. Walvoort were there also. Henk and Aafke live on the farm next to Ina’s sister, Dini. The following Spring of 2011, both Henk Walvoorts visited the U.S. It was time to move on so we said our goodbyes to the Walvoorts and continued driving on closer to the German border.
We stopped first in Brevevoort where some of the teKolstee ancestors were born and walked around. Our next stop was at the home of Dini and Henk Meerdink-teKolstee, Ina’s sister and her husband. They farm land that has been in his family since the 1600’s. WOW. It was a wonderful visit with new found relatives, hot drinks and homemade goodies.
On the way back to Lelystad we stopped to eat at a restaurant that Ina and Freek recommended. It was great. It was getting dark and most of the bicyclists had gone home. Our first day with Ina and Freek was memorable.
We would have 2 more days with them. It was oh so nice to have our own guides for this part of our trip. I’ll write about the other days for a later blog.
Below are some pictures of me with my Walvoort and teKolstee cousins.
Ann Walvoord Graff, July 2012