Before the Trip Begins

Wilmington Travel Blog

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Windmills and wooden shoes.  That’s what pops into my mind when I hear somebody refer to the Dutch, shamefully reinforcing the scant knowledge I possess about most places and people on our planet.  But once again ‘Captain Travel’ comes to the rescue and invites me to get in touch with the Dutch.


The motivation for this trip is very cool --- a birthday present to my wife (well, the plane fare anyway), whose maiden name is Fylstra.  Kim’s ancestors hailed from the village of Sneek (pronounced 'snake') in the Netherlands province of Friesland.  The first lesson offered by the endeavor was that the Netherlands consists of twelve provinces --- two of which are North and South Holland.  Pretty sure I never distinguished between Holland and the Netherlands before, but Captain Travel enlightens me to appreciate that Holland is not a distinct country, but a subset of the Netherlands.


Initial investigation of the Dutch validates that this country is very liberal, though I doubt we will partake of offerings at a ‘coffee shop’ since I have scant confidence my claim that it was “legal at the time” would insulate me from random drug tests where I am employed.  Researching the Netherlands would also prompt me to dwell seriously on WWII.  Only in the past few years have I recognized the extent of agony inflicted by my ancestors (loosely, Western Europeans) on other cultures.  The sad testament is how pervasive this calamity proves - no matter where you go it seems my predecessors wrought death and destruction and it is shallow comfort that the travesties of WWII were largely self-inflicted.


I never read Anne Frank’s Diary: it remained on the “to do” list with a bazillion other books I want to read some day.  But a visit to Amsterdam, where Anne’s story unfolded, prompted me to finally digest this brilliant and tragic work (and I am happy to share that I passed it on to my 12-year old daughter at her request after she noticed me reading it).  The surprise was how little it really dwelled upon the terrors inflicted upon Jews during the Holocaust.  Though I always perceived the import of this book was detailing that suffering, it really is about a young woman growing up.  But Anne’s story was ended by the Holocaust and the truly sobering realization was that Anne Frank could be an eighty-year old grandmother and famous author today had her life not been ended by incomprehensible hatred.   Recognizing how recent this horror was forces one to ponder whether or not we can really consider ourselves civilized.


If more folks had Captain Travel as their muse, interacting with other cultures would help dismiss the ignorance which breeds these travesties.  Remaining isolated and insulated makes one wary and mistrustful.  Ignorance isn’t bliss:  ignorance is missing an appreciation of how similar we are despite the fascinating diversity of our planet.


TravBuddy is a way to help build bridges between cultures and while I have treasured learning and interacting with so many good people here, this trip will offer a dose of tangible proof.   I have enjoyed exchanging jokes and comments with Rudolph (Sweetski) who lives in Den Haag.  Naturally I let Rudolph know about our plans as the trip came into focus and he has been a gracious resource on his home, patiently answering the many, many questions we had.


After sharing that we wanted to take the train to Friesland, Rudolph alerted us to the availability of Spring Tour tickets, which permit you to ride unlimited distances in first class and even purchased a pair on our behalf before they were all gone!  Even better, Rudolph is taking a day off from work to give us a personal tour of his home, Den Haag.  There is much crossover between our cultures, but there are also profound differences and it is powerful how this web site drives connections.


Where else could you wind up getting so much insider information on a destination for no charge?  And more important, where else can you interact with people from other places such that one of the motivations for the trip is simply to meet the people?   Places attract us to travel, but people are the key which unlocks insight into a place.  I’ll wrap up this intro by sharing that I have great confidence of validating that statement.

Aditu says:
Congrats on another feature!! This may be the best intro to a blog I have ever read on TB!
Posted on: Jun 18, 2009
Lord_Mike says:
Super read, congrats on your feature!
Posted on: Jun 18, 2009
ik-ben-10eke says:
Yep, u got it, Holland is a part of the Netherlands. Hol(lowed out )land, big part of Holland actually is below sealevel, and so do I live below sealevel :)
Posted on: Jun 18, 2009
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