The first daytrip (2 July) we made was to Kinderdijk. After leaving the highway we followed the small river the Alblas. It meanders through the Alblasserwaard polder, a very scenic part of the Netherlands. Small roads led us to villages such as Bleskensgraaf and Molenaarsgraaf. We drove further to Groot-Ammers and followed the river Waal in the direction of Kinderdijk. We parked the car and walked in a very hot sun over the small dyke towards the windmills. Hai and Yen Ngoc visited a windmill, while Van and I were waiting outside.
The next day (3 July) we visited zoo Blijdorp in Rotterdam. We (Van, Yen Ngoc, Hai and Willem-Jan) started at the northside of the zoo. We first visited the sealions and the Oceanium, looking at the wonderful colored fishes, sharks and pinguins.
After the Oceanium it was back into the hot sun and we walked past a polar bear, wondering how he was doing. We took the small train to the Asian section where we elephants, lions and other large animals. The African section was also interesting with camels, tapirs, rhinoceros and of course the monkeys. Since it was so hot, most of the animals were resting in the shade. Slowly and tired we walked back to the exit, passing buffaloes on our way.
Le Ha (Sisi's niece) invited us for a visit to Madurodam. So on Saturday (11 July) we (Van, Yen Ngoc, Hai and Willem-Jan) drove to Capelle a/d IJssel, where she was living with her husband Bart and son Leonard. Together with Le Ha and Leonard we drove in Le Ha's van to Den Haag (The Hague).
We walked for a few hours in Madurodam until everybody was tired of walking and looking at all the miniature buildings.
After Madurodam we drove to the beach in Scheveningen. This was not a very good idea, since we were not the only ones with this idea. We soon left the car and headed for the boulevard of Scheveningen, while Le Ha and Leonard went looking for a place to park the car. We walked towards the pier in the hot sun. It was around 5 o'clock and the beach was still full with people, enjoying another nice day. Finally Le Ha and Leonard caught up with us and after some discussion about where to eat dinner we went back to Capelle, while Bart was sent to the Chinese restaurant to pick up dinner for us. Sisi came up from Dordrecht where she was helping her friend Chi in her nailstudio. Around 11 o'clock we were back in Breda.
After the midweek holiday in Landal Hochwald, Germany (6-10 July) and the accident in Plopsa Coo, Belgium (11 July) we stayed home for a week. Hai was brought over by ambulance from the hospital in Malmedy, Belgium, to the hospital in Breda. The next monday he was operated succesfully and after a few days he was enough recovered to go home. He had an enormous plaster around his chin to keep his jaws tight and was still in pain and could only eat fluid food for the next 6 weeks. But it was good to have him back home where Van could look after him, 24 hours a day.
After 4 days staying at home Hai was ready to make daytrips again. So on a Saturday (18 July) we (Van, Yen Ngoc, Hai and Willem-Jan) decided to visit Amsterdam. We first picked up Chi and her daughter Mi in Dordrecht and together we drove to Amsterdam. We parked the car in the parking garage at the Olympic Stadium and with the tram we traveled further. The first stop was of course the Dam with the War Memorial.
Since it was around lunchtime by the time we had arrived in Amsterdam, we, according to good Vietnamese custom, first had to eat something. Chi suggested to go to a Chinese restaurant, but I protested against it, because it was taking too much time. So instead we went into a Turkish snackbar for falafel and shaslick, which they also liked. After lunch we visited the Chinese temple, explored the Red Light District and took the canal cruise with Rederij Lovers for which we had discount tickets.
The ladies wanted to do some shopping, Yen Ngoc needed a pair of sunglasses, so Hai and I dropped them at the Bijenkorf, a huge shoppingmall. We decided to explore the Jordaan, a very scenic part of Amsterdam with old houses, canals and lots of shops and restaurants. We walked back to the Dam and waited there for the ladies to finish their shopping. A Hara Krishna festival took place, with lots of music, singing, dancing and good Indian food.
After the shopping we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. We took the tram back to the Olympic Stadium to pick up the car and drove back to Breda.
The Fair in Tilburg is held every year for 10 days in July and is the greatest fair in the Benelux. So on a Tuesday afternoon (21 July) we (Van, Hai, Yen Ngoc, Yeri and Willem-Jan) took the train to Tilburg for some fun and excitement. The Fair was spread out over different streets and squares in the center of Tilburg. We looked at the many attractions, ranging from all sorts of caroussels and ghosthouses to attractions where luck and skill was needed to get the item you wanted. Yeri tried to pick a fluffy animal with a small crane, but had no luck. When it started to rain again we decided to go back home.
The next day (22 july) was a long day. Hai wanted to see the Afsluitdijk (Closure Dike). I decided to let them see a bit more than just the Afsluitdijk. So we (Van, Hai, Yen Ngoc, Yeri and Willem-Jan) drove first to Lelystad from where we drove over the Houtribdijk, a smaller version of the Afsluitdijk, to Enkhuizen.
We walked around Enkhuizen, a small harbor village with houses that date back to the time of the Dutch East India Company.
From here we drove to the village Den Oever, the beginning of the Afsluitdijk in North Holland province. From here it was 32 kilometers to the village Zurich, on the other side in Friesland province. So we drove the full length of the dike, turned in Zurich and drove back to the Monument and Watchpoint for a short break.
It was Sisi's birthday today, so we drove back to Rotterdam, where we met her, Chi, Mi and Phong. Phong had made arrangements for us at Shabu Shabu, a Japanese restaurant. It was a nice and foodfull end of a nice day.
In the last week we visited Willem-Jan's parents in Zevenaar and sister Antoinette in Lichtenvoorde (27 july). They live all in the east of Holland, so it was a long ride to visit the family.
The next day Van, Hai and Yeri went into town to buy things and presents they wanted to take back to Vietnam.
And finally we (Van, Yen Ngoc, Hai, Sisi and Willem-Jan) made it to the Efteling (29 july). Yen Ngoc was really glad to visit this park, she had been asking for weeks when we would go. We arrived a bit late, around 11 o'clock, at the park and it was already getting busy with visitors. We walked all day and visited most of the attractions, especially the children attractions. Too bad we missed out on the Dream Flight, because it was near closing time and we had spent too much time in the Fairytale Forest. But it was a nice end of their holiday in Europe.
So the next day all the luggage was packed and we drove to Schiphol, where Sisi helped Van, Hai and Yen Ngoc with the checking in procedures. Then it was time to say goodbye and hope to see you soon in Vietnam.
On the map you can see all the places we have visited.