amsterdamOkay, our trip is officially over.  It is our last night here and we're packed up and ready to head home tomorrow.  The final night is always bittersweet; you can't believe the trip is actually over and yet you're secretly looking forward to your own bed and a different set of clothes.  It's been such a great trip.

I didn't post much yesterday because by the time the day was done it was 1:30 in the morning and I didn't have any gas left in the tank to post.  I'll do a quick recap - we slept in very late yesterday because the night before we had a visit from our friend Sven and we talked until almost 2 in the morning.  I can only imagine how tired he was because he had to get up for work and we just lazed around until 10 am!  We took the bus into Amsterdam pannekoekand had a pannekoek lunch - a 'must do' for us when visiting Holland.  Chloe thoroughly enjoyed hers (in was covered in powdered sugar) while Julia chose a bowl of mushroom soup instead.  Very interesting choice when you are given the option of sugar for lunch!  We then did a little shopping then came back to get ready for a family party that was put on by Jeff's aunt.  It was a great evening with lots of family as well as our friend Jennie who arrived that afternoon from London.  soupThe family is so welcoming and warm and she fit right into the festivities - she even ate some pickled herring with raw onions (although admittedly she needed a pickle chaser).  Brave girl!  The girls played with some more of their cousins and ate a lot of chips and licorice.  Great times were had by all!  We always feel so welcome and loved when we come here - we are very lucky people!

Today we planned to head into Amsterdam again, and this time Jennie would join us.  Julia really wanted to go on a boat so we did a 1 hour canal boat tour.  Urgh……… painful!  By the 12 minute mark we were all thoroughly bored and wishing there was some kind of bar service on board.  We learned a few interesting facts and the captain was fairly funny, but it was much too long and quite honestly we've been there so many times that we didn’t really learn too much that was new to us.  Having checked off Julia's 'must-do' it was time for Chloe's - she wanted to visit a market.  So, we hopped on a tram and headed to the Amsterdam Market.  It was exactly as expected but unfortunately the large drop stand (Dutch candy and licorice) wasn't there today and that was a little disappointing, but we did get to fill Jeff's craving for loempia (a type of springroll), as well as little chunks of deep friend fish that I can't remember the name of right now.  He worked on the market in Holland for a year after high school and whenever he gets near to a market now he has a visceral need to eat these particular types of food.  I enjoy them too so I don't mind at all!  Of course we also needed to stop for warm, fresh stroopwaafels… yum.

Having fulfilled most of our Dutch food needs we were free to walk the streets.  We did a little shopping, visited Jeff's uncle in his electronics store, then jumped in a taxi and headed home.  We were having dinner with more friends tonight and arrived home only about 20 minutes before they showed up.  It was amazing because they came and brought all of the food as well as the actual barbeque!  Another wonderful night with great people; I feel like a broken record but it's so fun to have so many great friends here!  Shout out to Bart and Nancy (and their daughter Summer) for all of their much appreciated work with dinner tonight.  It was great fun.

And so now it's done… the licorice has been purchased, the dirty clothes smushed in the suitcases… the memories locked in.  The summer trip of 2011 has drawn to a close.  And what's next?  We already know that we'll be back here next summer for a big anniversary party, and we'll be adding on another (as yet unknown) destination.  Suggestions?  There are so many great places to go, and we have the fun 'problem' of figuring out where we should go next.  Pretty nice problem to have!

Goodnight from the other side of the pond for the final time in 2011!  Afscheid!


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