H = Holiday in Holland

I developed my first serious case of wanderlust when I was 17 and simply announced one day to my parents that I was going to Europe for my 18th birthday.  I had saved my earnings as a summer lifeguard, had a part-time job after school and could finance this trip I was planning.

My plan had been to take a ship across the Atlantic to Holland to visit with my mother’s family, take a side trip to Paris – the centre of the universe – and then fly home.  Why take a ship? … both of my parents had arrived in Canada on a ship and I wanted to share that experience of a trans-Atlantic voyage.

I obtained the first of what would ultimately become many passports in my life ….

passport

February 1973

…. and then began investigating airline flights, costs, and trans-Atlantic cruise schedules.  That’s when my parents started to become concerned.  It appeared that I was serious and was really going to follow through with it.

… and that’s when my plans started to go sideways.

Before I knew what was happening, my mom was coming with me.  We would be flying both ways – there was no chance she was getting back on a boat – and, oh-why-not, my younger sister might as well come with us too.

This was not exactly the holiday I had planned – for in addition – we weren’t going to Paris either. That trip would have to wait a few more decades.

Holland 1974

My younger sister, Mom, and I. Holland 1974.

In spite of my disappointment over Paris, it was a wonderful trip.  I spent my 18th birthday in the beautiful city of Breda in the southern part of the Netherlands.  It is here that I had the extraordinary experience of having a gun pointed at me.

My sister and I had gone out sightseeing alone and discovered a beautiful old building with a moat.  Where I came from, we didn’t have buildings with moats and therefore, by definition, this became something worth investigating.  We attempted to venture inside to look around.

We were intercepted by two guards I assumed were asking if we needed any assistance.  Since we didn’t understand exactly what they were saying, I simply smiled, shook my head and continued walking.   They called out to us a second time and I gave the same response.

The third time, they drew their guns and shouted “NAY!”.  THAT I understood … and we made a very hasty retreat.

In relaying the story afterwards to my uncle, he explained that we had attempted to enter a military training school for officers in the Royal Dutch Army and Royal Dutch Air Force. Both he and my mother thought our story was quite hilarious and that I had a knack for finding trouble.

I was less impressed.

I never admitted to my parents that – in the end – I was grateful for the company of my sister and mother on this trip.  Having someone to share the memories with was a wonderful side-effect I hadn’t appreciated in advance.

…. and my sister and I still chuckle over our close encounter with the Dutch military.

H

Thanks so much for visiting.  Please help yourself to a cookie …. today I am offering Hamandash.

hamandash

Photo from playbuzz.com

 April A to Z Challenge 2015

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge - 2015, Family, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to H = Holiday in Holland

  1. Pingback: Feeling Nostalgic in a Strange Place | My Life Lived Full

  2. jannatwrites says:

    I’m glad you were able to appreciate the ‘tagalong’ of your sister and mom. I know that’s not exactly what we want when we are trying out our adult wings, though 🙂 Had to laugh at the accidental brush with the military! I wouldn’t say you find trouble, but maybe adventure 🙂

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    • joannesisco says:

      The older I get the more I appreciate that trip with my mom and sister. Shared memories are so much more valuable than I ever realized.

      With my sons now – both in their late 20s – we often have conversations that veer into things we did together. As we get older, the opportunities to create those memories seems to decrease so the ones we did create become such valuable touchstones.

      I wish I had known that truth a lot earlier!!

      Like

  3. I wandered over from the A-Z list. Love your format of travel story plus dessert.
    That Dutch souvenir picture is too funny!

    Like

  4. What a precious photo of you with your mom and sister – so glad the family trip turned out well in spite of your original plans for a solitary trip. Are those little tarts meant to look like the hats you’re wearing? Neat!

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    • joannesisco says:

      Damn! I wish I had done that on purpose! That would have been so clever!! 🙂
      The truth is I was having a difficult time finding a cookie/pastry that started with the letter H and didn’t start with *hot*. I leaped all over this cookie when I found it 🙂

      I don’t know about you, but unlike the current generation that seems to photograph every passing moment, I had very few photos from my youth.
      Even my school pictures were not saved by my mom with a couple of exceptions that seemed to survive whatever purge she was on.
      As a result, every photo is rather special. This is one of them 🙂

      Like

      • It’s so true that we have far fewer moments from our childhoods captured in photos. Makes you wonder if the current generation will have their favourites or be overwhelmed – the selfie obsession is one I can’t figure out!

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  5. Mrs. P says:

    What a determined spirit you are…I like that! 😀

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  6. It’s great seeing your old photos and hearing about your past misdemeanors Joanne!

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  7. beeblu says:

    How funny.
    H is for Holiday in Holland, and I is for Intrepid Joanne.
    (PS – I have one of those costumed photos of my parents and me from a trip to Holland in 1979 🙂 )

    Like

  8. NancyTex says:

    Sorry I’ve been quiet, Joanne. Have been dealing with some health issues the past 10 days (and still ongoing). I’m trying to read and comment when I have good days (like today). Loving this series because it’s such a great glimpse into your world. xoxo

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks for dropping me a note Nancy. You’ve been on my mind and I’ve resisted the urge to poke you to see how you are doing.
      Hope your problems aren’t serious. Sending you healthy, positive vibes 🙂

      Like

      • NancyTex says:

        I’m not one to complain, and I’ve tried to be a rock through all of this, but a couple times I’ve just had to break down and cry. Partly due to pain, but mostly due to how broken our healthcare system is. Dogs are treated better than I’ve been these past 10 days.

        Like

        • joannesisco says:

          I’m really sorry to hear that. I’ve often said that I hope I never have to deal with health problems because the healthcare system would drive me insane.

          If you need a shoulder to cry on, don’t hesitate to call me.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. zannierose says:

    glad there was a turn- around and you were pleased to have your companions.
    zannierose A-Z

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  10. Funny story, my daughter is 18 and talked about going to Europe the is summer. I supported her because I didn’t think it would happen. As it turns out it is not happening but I might have been like your mother had she actually done it.

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    • joannesisco says:

      hahahaha! Sometimes the best response is to agree knowing that nothing is likely to come of it. That would be the case with my younger son.

      If it was my older son, there is no question I would have had small heart attacks knowing he was going to do what he says he wants to do!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. badfish says:

    What a lovely, lovely story. And yeah, sometimes it is more fun to travel with others and have someone to share the experience with (my first choice wouldn’t be my mother or my sister, but hey, you take what you get in life). My ancestors were Dutch, too! From Texel. And in 1974, my hair looked exactly like yours, only mine was blonde (Dutch blond). I’d show you a photo but they are all on slide film, not digital.

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    • joannesisco says:

      As you can tell, I didn’t exactly get a lot of the Dutch out of the family gene pool 😉

      My mom and sister were not my choice either – especially at 17 – but in the end, it’s what you make of what you get that really matters. There was a lot of laughing which is always good 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sammy D. says:

    That’s hilarious. After your attempted breakin at the military facility one can only imagine the trouble you woukd have gotten into (innocently of course) on your own. Keep the fun tales and photos coming. I just love getting acquainted trough these personal narratives.

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  13. I can see you in the passport picture, Joanne, and of course remember dotting my i’s with little circles. I did stop that eventually….did you? How our paths diverged in 1974…..we’ll discuss on the porch someday. Now. The cookies are Dutch, perhaps?

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    • joannesisco says:

      Thankfully that stage of using little circles was short lived! … but now you have me very curious about our diverging paths in 1974. I may have to show up on your porch sooner rather than later 😉

      I couldn’t think of a cookie/pastry that started with the letter H, so I had to resort to Mr Google. I had never heard of hamandash before and Mr Google tells me they are a Jewish cookie, I’ve also seen it spelled hamentash and I thought they looked really yummy 🙂

      Like

  14. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Your black and white pictures look like the pictures you used to see during the Cold War of people in the USSR. No smile, stare at camera. (hopefully you get my intent is humor and not insulting!)

    What great adventures you have had ! 😀

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    • joannesisco says:

      LOL – no offense taken … it is a classically horrible passport photo and I think that’s why I love it. It makes me laugh. It does have a mugshot kind of look to it 🙂

      Like

  15. Oh how funny! I think every teenager has dreams of traveling on some wild adventure, and yours was intercepted by your mother! I’m glad it all turned out for the best anyway, and you even managed to have some rebellious adventures to write home about. Love the pic!

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  16. Such an exciting age, 17, wasn’t it? Like the picture of you three all decked out in traditional dress. A wonderful story to share for the letter H. ❤ ❤
    When I was 17, I wanted to go to the World's Fair in New York. My mother promised to give me anything else I wanted not to go, and alone. This trip wasn't as ambitious as yours (a bus trip).
    At 16, one of my sisters went from Ontario to visit her best friend in Vancouver. Never came back. They set up house, went to school, found jobs and my sister has been living there for the past 40 years with visits to Ontario now and again.

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  17. Sue Slaght says:

    I hope you still have that dress! What an adventure at 17. Yes an early start to the wanderlust disease. 🙂

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  18. 17! Gosh! It took me until 23 but my mother was still in tears at the airport about her daughter heading off alone for 10 months. Love the dress up photo! Hilarious!

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    • joannesisco says:

      You know Heather, I was thinking about you when I was writing this. Although I was prepared to go off alone, I didn’t, and I’m glad I had the company to share the memories with. I look back now and think how very brave you were – for 10 months!! In comparison, I was going to be gone only 1 month.
      If I was your mom, I would have cried too.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Heyjude says:

    I was just a few years ahead of you in the wanderlust bug biting, but the same age. At 17 I decided to hitch-hike (yup, you read that correctly) around Europe with a girl friend. I was SO fed up with England and the strikes (this was 1971). My mother refused to get me a passport so I tricked my dad into signing the form for me. I was a bit of a rebel too.

    You have the look of a young Buffy Sainte-Marie in your passport photo! And I haven’t heard of these cookies, but they look like a sort of squashed up jam tart 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • joannesisco says:

      I don’t remember needing a parent to sign my passport form. I’m thinking the age of ‘consent’ in Canada was 16. I did a quick search of the Canadian passport Q&A and an adult passport kicks in at 16 so perhaps my memory is correct.

      I would definitely not have been as brave as you to hitchhike though – with a friend or otherwise!! I really hope you are considering writing those stories from your past. I think they would be fascinating 🙂

      Now that you mention it, I guess there is a bit of a resemblance to BS-M, although I’m sure her nose isn’t quite as prominent as mine 😉

      Like

  20. lovetotrav says:

    I loved your post having spent time with my own family in Holland. A wonderful place but always better to share travel with those you love. This is why I prefer to not travel alone. I want others to laugh with about the shared memories and things that go awry. Cheryl

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    • joannesisco says:

      I certainly learned that lesson on this trip. Now I can’t imagine travelling alone. I think so much of the fun of discovery would be lost!
      What part of Holland is your family from? Mine is scattered around the country now, but originated in Hilversum … although my grandfather was Belgium from the Antwerp area.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lovetotrav says:

        I lived in Zwolle after highschool on Rotary exchange. I fell in love with it and have returned since then with family. My own parents also visited when I lived there. Just love everything Dutch!

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        • joannesisco says:

          I just looked it up relative to Hilversum and it’s only an hour away. On the other hand, almost everything in Holland seems to be only an hour away 🙂
          I’ve only made the one trip to Holland and I would love dearly to return one day and re-experience it!

          Liked by 1 person

          • lovetotrav says:

            Yes, I know how much I missed it. We were there on a layover two years ago so I got to show my family some of Amsterdam and Haarlem, but sadly nothing more. Have to go back and do more of rural Holland and Zwolle.

            Liked by 1 person

  21. Lynn says:

    I am sure you must look back on the trip with such fond memories Joanne. In spite of the fact it didn’t turn out as you thought, it is a lovely memory to share with your sister & your Mom. BTW, based on your story, I am sensing a rebel in you again!

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    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks Lynn. As you know, travelling with people you care about creates the best kind of memories. Why I thought travelling alone would be a good thing, I’ll never know!

      It’s funny – I would never have pegged myself as a rebel. I always thought of it as more curious and free spirited 😉

      Like

  22. OMG. What a memory that must be of the three of you all kitted out in that pic! Hilarious! It’s even fun just to see it and not have shared the memory! Funny your mother decided to tag along once she knew you were serious….I think she probably already knew then that you had a “knack for finding trouble!”

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    • joannesisco says:

      In my mother’s words “I’ll not have my 17 year old daughter traipsing around Europe on her own!”
      I would have done it and she knew that 🙂

      I have great memories of that trip. Growing up in a small isolated community, experiencing the bigger world for the first time was often beyond description … airplanes, public transit, outdoor markets … I could go on and on 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Phil Taylor says:

    Sounds like a fun trip. I’ve yet to get to that part of the world. If only those cookies at the end were real this would have been the perfect post.

    Like

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