I was contacted whilst we were in Nepal by my uncle, he told me of the upcoming plans to have a family reunion for mums, Dutch side of the family.
It was to be held on the 17th of may in Laren, Holland.
We didn’t think that by this date we would be in Holland or even have the troopy but thought it would be worth while making a quick trip over there on the Eurostar to meet the Dutch chapter.
It sounded simple but ended up being far from that. We were told by the Russians that our visas would be ready for the 14th of May which was perfect. Except for the fact they then rung us shortly after explaining that something was missing from our tourist voucher. Apparently we were meant to get an “automotive” tourist voucher because we were travelling in our own vehicle. When we applied for the tourist voucher we told them of our travel plans but seems they did not take notice.
So after supplying the correct tourist voucher we were then Told that the visa won’t be ready until the 22nd. Also meaning that they required our passports until that same date. This makes leaving the country particularly difficult, especially if you fancy getting back in.
Turned out Jess was able to get hers back slightly earlier, having a UK passport and applying in London makes things a little more straight forward.
That still left me without a passport. After contacting the Australian High Commission here in London they advised us that they could supply a concurrent passport due to the special circumstance. Not without jumping through the many bureaucratic hoops in place.
So after four visits to the High commission, including a rush visit to the consulate in Sydney by my mum to drop off my birth certificate (thanks mum!) we were issued the concurrent passport valid for 18 months. That was on Friday afternoon, not even two hours before our train was due to leave.
So after a quick bolt to kings cross/st pancras station we boarded the train set for Amsterdam. Just as we boarded the train I received an email saying that the troopy had passed customs and was ready to be picked up! Everything was finally coming together nicely.
We were picked up from Rotterdam station at 1am the same day of the reunion. Thankfully we were able to stay with my cousin as we had not made any prior arrangements for accommodation.
The next morning we woke to a traditional Dutch breakfast with all the cheeses, bread and chocolate sprinkles for your toast mmmm!
We shared breakfast with Marion, Sjef and their children Wijnand and Eva my new cousins I had never met before. We were also joined Horace and Renee who came all the way from Carolina USA.
Renee is a Jewish lady that my Great Grandparents took in during the German occupation of Holland.
I had heard stories about her from my mother as Renee and my grandfather were very close during that period. My Grandfather was also hiding from the Germans as he would have been forced into labour camps which not many people actually returned from.
It was great to finally meet with her as she is part of the family and my grandfather who has now passed on would be grateful.
Later that day we made our way to Laren, it’s a beautiful little farming town that has now become trendy (yuppie) and expensive unfortunately.
My great grandfathers house still stands as is but has been split into a dual occupancy and sold off. Peter my cousin owns the other half where the reunion was held.
It was great to get to know everyone, there was a turn out of about 50 people an number of my aunties and uncles made it from oz as well as some I hadn’t met from Mexico and all over Holland. I had only ever met the aussie relatives so it was great to meet so much family. Funny thing is Jess had only ever met one of my cousins from my mothers side so got to meet up with three of my mums sisters. They live in South Australia but we met halfway across the world.
Anyway it was a good day to meet and catch up with everybody. They were all very interested in our trip. I learnt about all the cousins in my generation who, coincidentally, are all engineers (I have a diploma of mechanical engineering).
We had a nice feed and took a bunch of family shots. Then called it a day. The next day we were back on the train again headed for London and our Troopy!