Friday, September 12, 2008
One of the purposes of our trip was to visit Anneke’s parents, who are living now in Heerenveen, Friesland. They decided to move from their home to a service flat a few years ago, as the house became to much work for them, as they are both in their mid eighties. Based on my limited experience, the Netherlands certainly has better options of living choices for the elderly in terms of accommodations. They live in a service flat that is something between a 55 plus apartment complex and an assisted living facility in the USA. They have most of the services of assisted living but in a real apartment style environment.
As I noted in the last posting, one of my challenges was to get back safely on the Dutch road system. They have a number of rule and design features that will catch the unaware driver and potentially cause lots of problems. I am glad to say I survived this process with no close calls. We did, however, have our moments from an unexpected source, namely the car we rented. After checking several options, we decided to go with a discount rental place just a few kilometres down the road from Maaike and Bert’s place. In hind sight, this place could be thought of as the Dutch version of rent a wreck. We figured out quickly that they mostly rented to local college students. The first car they offered was so dirty, that you could have had your own beach party in the back seat-sand included. We accepted the second car and we were off without a checkout process. In the first hour or so, we discovered that the 12 volt plug was not working, so we quickly lost our GPS system when the internal battery died. This being Holland, it started to rain and we found that the wipers only worked on high. At a stop, I noticed the fuse box was seriously loose in its hangar and several fuses were on the floorboards. The next morning the car barely started and I discovered that the radio was hard wired to the battery and could not be turned off. So I had to pull the radio out to unplug it to preserve battery power. The signal lights failed to work on our trip to Anneke’s parents. Time to call for help. When the ANWB (national road assistance service) arrived, it said he had never seen such a mess. When he pulled down the fuse box a large amount of seeds fell to the floor. Did I mention that the main customers were college students in a country noted for its drug use? They managed to fix all the important items and we were hopefully going to make the rest of the trip safely.
We had arranged to stay at a B&B farmhouse in a very small town near Anneke’s parents. It proved to be a wonderful place with a very hospitable hostess. We were the only customers for part of the time and it was so much more enjoyable than a hotel. We used the fireplace several evenings and enjoyed the homey feeling of this former farm. In fact our bedroom was in the old hay loft. Quite an interesting place.
We had a pleasant visit with Anneke’s parents over the course of four days and managed a little sightseeing in a small waterside town of Grow. This is a very busy place during the summer boating season and we have been here a number of times over the years by boat.