The Netherlands with Lexia Frank
November 7, 2013
It's official, Lexia Frank needs to be my BFF. We've already travelled to Paris, Switzerland, Amsterdam & Brussels with this lucky girl, and now we get to peek at The Netherlands through her lens. And her lens? It's been good to us. One peek through the gallery and I have no doubt you'll see exactly what I mean.
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From Lexia... My grandmother grew up in a tiny tiny little village in the Netherlands, and it has always been my mother's dream to visit the village she grew up in for the first few years of her life. Although all of our blood relatives have since passed away, their caretakers and friends still live in the same little village. After decades of planning this voyage, my mother, sister, and I decided to make it a reality.

The town my grandmother grew up in is extraordinarily small, just a handful of blocks. To get there, we had to rent a car from Amsterdam and drive through the vast countryside. This was a hysterical experience- my 66 year old mother driving through the streets of Amsterdam while my sister and I screeched in fear of the bicyclists flying by, but well worth the effort. one of my favorite memories was stopping along side a country road to run out into a farm field in full bloom of tulips. This wouldn't have been an odd experience other than the fact that I was running in my new wooden shoes I had bought from the wooden shoe factory the day before. If running through a field of tulips wearing wooden shoes isn't on your bucketlist... it should be.

After walking through the small villages where my grandmother grew up and visiting gravesites and visiting with family friends, we went to Edam (home of Edam Cheese) to see the cheese factory and windmills. The wooden shoe factory there is incredible- they demonstrate how they carve out the shape of the shoe, and then decorate it with carvings (like mine) that are typical of 'wedding shoes' or paintings that indicate the dutchman's home province. We are from Friesland (specifically) and our province's shoe is decorated with what look like hearts but are actually red waterlilly leaves. The shoes are still worn for things like gardening, and they are really quite comfortable. i wore my wooden shoes all day touring the countryside as well as downtown Amsterdam (although i did get a few funny looks, as they are not worn in the city, but i didnt care). When we return to Holland, i'm dying to stay at a tiny little bed and breakfast we discovered: hotel de fortuna on a picturesque little cobblestone street in the heart of tiny Edam.

Lastly, we visited the Keukenhof gardens, arguably one of the most famous gardens in the world, and it's annual tuplip time flowerbeds are awe-inspiring. For hours we strolled this garden, and it was amazing to have both the experience of this garden, as well as the experience of walking through the farmer's fields of tulips in the countryside.

The mix of personal heritage and beauty made me have so much appreciation for my dutch ancestry. The welcoming people, the misty cool atmosphere, and the sheer beauty of this low country makes me want to get back the first chance I get.