Welcome with kindness By Janet...

A MEMORABLE PLACE A

November 18, 2001|By Special to the Sun

A MEMORABLE PLACE

A welcome with kindness

By Janet Hoolachan

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"Do you think this is right?" I asked my husband out of the side of my mouth, not wanting to alarm the three children in the back seat of the car we had rented in France.

We were in Holland now, driving down a narrow road lined on both sides by canals. The Netherlands had never been high on my list of travel destinations, but a professional opportunity took us there during a summer-long trip to Europe.

The place we were looking for was booked through the Internet, after typing in the words "Dutch farm vacations." There had been a lovely photo, and the location was right.

Now I wondered whether this was such a good idea. The address of the bed and breakfast was 9 Oude Ruige. The road we were on, which jogged off to the right behind a cheese farm, was not one upon which you might happen.

Finally, we turned onto the bridge to 9 Oude Ruige, and our concerns gave way to private reveries: for our oldest son, at the sight of the fishing hole laden with pike; for the younger two, at the dog waiting to play; and for my husband and me, at the glimpse of the thatch-roof cottage surrounded by acres of flowers and fruit in bloom.

We had arrived a little after 6 p.m. on a Saturday. To our dismay, we learned that the food stores in Holland close at 5 p.m. on Saturdays and don't reopen until Monday morning -- an untimely reminder that the rest of the world does not share our American expectation of "everything, all the time."

As we considered what to do, our hostess appeared with a tray of Gouda cheese, bread, yogurt, fresh eggs, peanut butter and a basket of plums picked from the 18 varieties of plum trees that dotted the property. It was the first of many kindnesses that prompted us to stay longer than planned and to appreciate the bounty and beauty of this part of the Netherlands.

While others may have been attracted to the excitement of Amsterdam or The Hague, both close by, we were content to examine the Dutch countryside and old towns.

Had we taken the more common tourist route, we would have missed the sights and experiences that form the basis for our fond recollections: the little girl lowering her clog on a rope to collect a toll from the boat passing under the canal bridge, the baskets of Gouda cheese piled beside the gum and candy in every gas station.

Two weeks later found us driving back up Oude Ruige to begin our return trip to England. We knew that this would not be the last time we would travel this road.

Janet Hoolachan lives in Ellicott City.

MY BEST SHOT

Indonesian giant

By Pat Hutchinson, Towson

Indonesia is a country of more than 13,000 islands. They are beautiful, in many shades of green, and surrounded by huge volcanoes -- some still active. This is a picture of Mount Bromo at sunrise in East Java.

READERS RESPOND

Have you canceled travel plans since the Sept. 11 attacks, or are you more determined than ever to travel?

"We were scheduled to leave for France and Spain Sept 13. We had our air tickets, hotel and rental car reservations and lots of enthusiasm for what promised to be a beautiful trip. Unfortunately, due to the national tragedy, we were not able to fly and had to cancel our journey. Instead of being defeated, we piled into the car and headed for a 10-day, 5,000-mile road trip through America to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and back. Seeing the patriotism of Americans from Baltimore to Cheyenne, displayed in flags, signs and warm hospitality, made it a great time to experience America."

-- Eric Wert, Catonsville

"I have not canceled my travel plans, but neither am I more determined than ever to travel. My perspective toward airline travel has not changed, except that I am more convinced that domestic flights will be safer. Getting on a domestic flight used to be like getting on a bus. Now the security measures for domestic flights will match those of international flights."

-- Tina Cavaluzzi, Baltimore

"We couldn't fly to attend our son's Sept. 15 graduation from U.S. Air Force basic training in Lackland, Texas, because of the airport shutdown. He is now at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. My husband, daughter and I are definitely flying to see him."

-- Joan Serio, Kingsville

"I've made plans to take a Mediterranean cruise in February. I've been looking forward to this trip, so I'm definitely more determined than ever to travel. If the tour company cancels, then I'll plan to go somewhere else. I do not like to be pushed around."

-- Ginny Dorman, Salisbury

Our Next Question

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, much has been made about increased airport security. Based on your experience since Sept. 11, has airport security really improved?

Answer in 50 words or less. Send by fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Dept., The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. Include your name and phone number.

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