The Bradburys +1 (Great Grandma), have been in Amsterdam Holland Netherlands for the last five days. It was a dousy of a ride over, but we made it, slept, ate, regrouped. We flew out of Baltimore and though we had to spend the weekend getting there it was incredibly enjoyable. We were able to spend a lot of quality time with our dear friend Casey and meet our old neighbors for lunch along the way, which brought a ridiculous amount of joy. It also complicated things a bit; Rhodes. . . my Rho Rho. He grabbed the wrong shoes from the play area where we met our friends for lunch. They were the exact same color, shoe, brand and only one size difference in his defense, but of course he would take the shoes of an autistic child that couldn’t live without them. It also happened to be a child that our friend knew so we were trackable with his shoes and arrangements were made to get them back to him, but that meant I had to go find Rhodes’ new shoes because I had no way of getting his back to us. Actually, they didn’t even take them from the restaurant; her child left barefoot. So after trying a few places during daylight hours, I left Grandma in the hotel room and ran into a Dick’s Sporting Goods, 13 minutes before it closed, found a pair of shoes, asked for a size 13 and ran to the register before they closed. Not moving mountains, it was ok, but definitely an added stress that I wish I could have avoided.
Our first flight was from Baltimore to Iceland. It was rough, putting it lightly. We had some seating issues with a very angry woman. The seats and leg room were exceptionally limited. Very very small, no complimentary drinks, snacks, food, etc. Luckily the kids slept 2/3 of that flight or it would have been much worse, but of course I wasn’t able to sleep at all. Holding a baby in an airplane seat for that long is no light matter.
Our second flight was much more enjoyable, a much larger plane, more leg room, better seats, better neighbors and my kids didn’t sleep at all so neither did I. I did pay to eat food on that flight because we were starving and didn’t have time during our layover for food. We enjoyed the company of an Icelandic Grandmother on the second flight. She told us all about her farm in Iceland, how rural they were, what the country was like, her grandchildren and of course Rhodes asked her a thousand questions about her farm animals.
Before we left the states we did a brief study about sheep shearing and wool yarn production. She was able to walk us through that process again and tell us about shearing her own sheep and goats for wool, how she learned to use the spinning wheel and then taught herself to knit. She let us feel a head cover that she made. The band was made from the wool of her sheep and the flower additions were made from wool of her goats. The goat wool feels like cashmere. I had no idea that goat wool felt that way, it was incredible. She gave me her email and I gave her ours. She extended an invitation to visit her farm on our travels and I hope someday that we do. It is these types of stranger to friendship interactions that make travel so wonderful. It typically isn’t where you stayed, the tourist things you did, but the conversation you have with the baker, with the woman on the plane, with the school children. If you’re traveling to see “things” then you’re missing most of the experience.
Grandma was not seated with us on any of the flights so it wasn’t until we landed in Amsterdam that I actually felt the aid of a second set of adult hands, but it was just in time because we were hurting for some sleep.
My Grandma, the boys’ Great Grandmother, has joined us for the first three weeks of this trip. My bold sense of adventure definitely stems from her line of crazy. We enjoy the same aspects of travel, we are content to chat for hours, or not speak at all. We have perfected the art of people watching, tuning out the volume and book reading. We are both frugal and need to be so. We are upfront about our wants and find humor in the same things. It is going swimmingly well so far as I knew it would.
We were shown great kindness again while trying to get a taxi. There was a huge line for a taxi and an airport worker moved us beyond the front of the line and got us a vehicle and put us into it. He said “She’s carrying a baby, let them through.” Surprisingly, despite the ages of our children, I get very little special treatment while traveling, but when we do I try to be gracious and accept. I know, all too soon, that I will be traveling with smelly middle schoolers that don’t trigger as much sympathy. Given the shock of the 0 celcius temperature and frigid North Sea wind we were thrilled to skip the line.
Our little house here in Holland has been superb though the picture is misleading. The portion that we are living in is actually just that first front window and the owners live in the other half. I imagine it is very spacious by Amsterdam standards, Lux thinks it’s teeny tiny, but it just puts a spotlight on the American want for space. It is big enough, everyone is sleeping off the floor, washer (no dryer), small oven, table and one toilet. Despite my minimal packing efforts, we have filled the space with bodies, luggage and school supplies.
We have gone to a few touristy areas, been to a few “must see museums,” but we are also living here. Slow traveling. Going grocery shopping, taking out the trash, cooking with few utensils, getting to know the newspaper seller on the corner, washing our laundry, learning the rhythm of the local flow. We have many days that lack agenda intentionally. We wake when we want, there’s no rush. We school when the opportunity arises or when it seems like the next logical step in our day.
We are living to learn and learning to live.