06 September 2014

All roads lead home

I'm sitting on the patio of our camping chalet at Camping Het Amsterdamse Bos, enjoying a cool breeze, watching the bunnies swarm the grounds, and wondering where the last two weeks have flown.  

We have had adventure and misadventure, climbed the Scottish midlands and strolled the North Sea beach at Den Haag, and as much as we have enjoyed it, we are ready to be home.  
This campground sits at the edge of a municipal park four times the size of Central Park in NYC, and is ten minutes from Schiphol Airport.  It's a perfect find for our family.  Very basic accommodations, but beautiful and comfy.  All in all, we've been pretty lucky with accommodations.  We booked our Scottish lodgings through airbnb, and couldn't be happier. They were two very different places, but the people at both were wonderful and made the visit outstanding.  
In Holland, we were very grateful to be put up in the orchard bunkhouse of our exchange daughter's family, as well as in a backyard camper.  
Our trip started with learning to drive manual on the left, getting the two cars separated with no mobile phone service, reuniting , then blowing a tire along the Bonny, Bonny banks of Loch Lomond, which I couldn't even enjoy for the knot in my gut.  Luckily, it was smoother sailing from there, and the rest of our time in the Oban area was delightful.  We had a couple days on our own before joining up with the Clan MacDougall gathering at Dunollie castle. We visited Lismore on our own, taking the Port Appin Ferry, then walking three miles to the cafe and heritage center. 
It's a little different to trudge the Scottish countryside than my semi-weekly walk to the county road stop sign and back, but we strapped on our big kid pants and did the deed. The next day we visited Dunstaffnage castle with the Clan MacDougall group.
Then we explored Oban harbor and MacCaig's tower on our own.  
That evening we attended the Ceilidh with the clan chief and family (and my husband even danced!)
The following day we joined the group tour to Kerrera, another three mile walk from the ferry to the tea house, but this time near Gylen castle 
We sadly departed after A final trip through Dunollie, and headed for Glasgow for our flight to Amsterdam.  Scotland was a brand new adventure for all of us, but the joy of Holland was a wedding and the opportunity to reunite with four of our exchange daughters. 

We were so warmly greeted by our host family! They made us feel so welcome, even in the midst of preparations for a first daughter's wedding.  As a treat, a manicurist gave a house call for fancy wedding fingers. 

The next day, we were able to help decorate for the wedding and pick apples from the orchard for reception favors.  
The wedding was beautiful, and Thing 2 caught the bouquet, for which her long suffering boyfriend Jon, who is with us, gets no end of grief. My husband took far more and better quality pictures than I did, which I will share later. 
The next day, while the honeymooners honeymooned, we went to Efteling theme park. It's sort of an old-fashioned fairy-tale meets steampunk themed park, with attention to detail on par with Disney, but far less plastic-looking.  There we met up with a other of our borrowed kids.  
It starte off a bit rainy,  but after an hour it dried up an was pleasant. 
I was also pleased with how open folks were about bringing their own food and drink anywhere, without being relegated to a picnic area in the parking lot. Very cool. The next day we took the train into Utrecht and took in the Domkerk.   The kids were as amused with the pigeons as anything else.  
The honeymoon was relatively short, as the newlywed a are in the midst of renovating a house, so they returned in Monday and we spent the afternoon together in Den Haag, taking in some sights, the Politie, and the beach. 
This morning we packed up and headed in to Amsterdam, where the general consensus was to decompress
for the day. We were able to check in early, then explored the neighborhood a bit before settling in to enjoy a little sun. 
We'll check out at leisure tomorrow before heading to the airport and home again.  We are sad to leave, but we are ready for home. Perhaps soon I will be able to reflect more eloquently on our trip, but for now I wanted to put some of it down while it is still fresh. The saddest part of travel is how quickly the memories fade.