Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery

I’ve been interested in the Second World War since learning about it more in depth way back in History 12 (shoutout to Mr. Lepore for being the BEST teacher!) One of the places I’ve been wanting to go for awhile was the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery located just outside Nijmegen, Netherlands. Coen and I were figuring out where to go for a little getaway so I mentioned this and we decided to venture that way. It was 100% worth it!

The Cemetery is amazingly well taken care of. The grounds are beautiful; gorgeous flowers of so many varieties surround the headstones and there were SO many butterflies during our visit! There are 2610 Commonwealth graves, 2338 of whom are Canadians which is the largest number of Canadian war casualties at a Dutch cemetery. There are also nine graves belonging to fallen soldiers/airmen of other nationalities. A Memorial bears the names of more than 1000 Commonwealth whose graves are unknown. (Commonwealth War Graves, Veteran Affairs Canada)

I admit I cried a few times during our visit. I spent a lot of time thinking about how grateful I am for those who fought for our freedom including both of my grandpa’s who fortunately made it home. Seeing so many graves marked with 18, 19, 20 years old, I thought about how I’ve lived for twice the amount of time some of these men and women. I also found it incredibly sad that these soldiers and airmen never made it back to Canada so they could be buried at home.

I definitely recommend visiting the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery to honour and remember those who fought for us and didn’t make it home during the Second World War. Lest We Forget.

Oh The Things You Do For Love…Pandemic Travel

It has been AGES since I have last written. It seemed like I had nothing to write about – I guess a pandemic will do that! But now here I am sitting on a couch 7660km (4760mi) away from home. The trials and tribulations of how I got here are a story for another time but let’s just say the few weeks leading up to my journey were Top 3 in terms of the most stressful and anxiety provoking times of my life. I have a newfound appreciation for people who experience severe anxiety on a daily basis!

So, how did I get here? Well, with the world opening up a little bit combined with having summer holidays it seemed like now was the time to finally reunite with Coen. We had survived being apart since March 26, 2020 but neither of us wanted it to be much longer. So, I bit the bullet and booked my flight! As we all know travelling is a lot more complicated these days and non-essential travel is not advised by many countries, Canada included. For a major rule follower like me, booking a flight was a struggle- it felt like that little message on the Government website advising against non-essential travel outside the country was directed right at me! But, seeing that Canada and the Netherlands both have exemptions to their entry bans for partners in long distance relationships, I figure reuniting with family is deemed essential.

The Netherlands added Canada to their “Safe Country” list on July 8th. This made my travel SO much easier than if I would have had to travel under the relationship exemption (paperwork, testing, quarantine) or as a fully-vaccinated traveller (our proof of vaccination doesn’t include everything the Netherlands requires.) Travelling from a country on the Safe List means you just travel as usual. The only things that were different were filling out a Health Declaration during check-in, having my temperature taken before security and wearing a mask at YVR, Schiphol and on the plane. Easy peasy! Saying that, the woman at the check-in counter asked me if I had a PCR test. After a split second internal freak out I informed her I didn’t need one because Canada was on the safe list. She doublechecked with the woman next to her and I was on my way. YVR was super quiet. There were people around of course but NOTHING like what it usually is, especially during the summer. Starbucks didn’t even open until 11am! There were seven people waiting in line for it to open, haha.

The flight itself was great, as usual. I highly recommend KLM if you’re travelling to the Netherlands or need to transit through somewhere in Europe to reach your final destination. The plane was mostly full but I got lucky and sat in a row of four with the two middle seats empty. It was nice to have extra space to spread out and put my stuff! Anyone who has ever travelled with me knows my backpack is always stuffed with things to keep me occupied and with snacks galore. You’ll never go hungry with me if you’re stuck on a runway for hours! Service was back to normal throughout the flight and the flight attendants were friendly and attentive. Everyone around me was great with keeping their mask on throughout the flight. I’m also fully vaccinated so all of this made me feel very safe.

All Masked Up And Ready To Fly

When I arrived at Schiphol it was unbelievably quiet. There were two agents working at Passport Control and I walked straight up! The guy asked me the usual questions (purpose of my trip and how long I was there for) and then I was on my way to Baggage Claim. There were only a handful of people waiting for luggage from my flight. My guess is that most passengers were continuing on to other countries. The whole process was so quick it took less than 30 minutes from when I got off the plane to finding Coen!

I wasn’t really sure what to expect but all in all my journey was pretty similar (if not better lol) than flying to Amsterdam under “normal” circumstances. Going home will be more challenging with PCR testing and the ArriveCAN stuff but fingers crossed it all goes smoothly. I’m trying not to think about that too much!

Wherever your travels take you this summer, HAVE FUN and BE SAFE!

Did You Know? Couch & Coffee “Travelling”: Seattle & Chicago

Hello there! Today were heading off to Seattle and Chicago! I’ve yet to visit Chicago but yet another kind soul helped me out with a mug to add to my collection!seattle

Did You Know?

Seattle

  1. Pike Place Market is much more than just a market! There are also 400 apartments as well as a senior center, medical clinic, a child-care center, a food bank and an assisted living facility! (Pike Place Quick Facts)

    pike place
    March 2018
  2. The 605 foot tall Seattle Space Needle was built for the World’s Fair in 1962. It is estimated that 2.65 million people, including many celebrities, visited it during the Fair. (Space Needle History)
  3. Settlers first arrived in the area in 1851. The town was originally called New York followed by New York-Alki. Alki is Chinook for “by-and-by”. Eventually the area was named Seattle, after a Duwamish Leader named Sealth who had become friends with the settlers. (City Archives)

Chicago

  1. Chicago is the “traditional homeland” for several indigenous nations. The first non-indigenous settler was a trader from Haiti. Jean Baptiste Point du Sable was a free black man who arrived in the 1770’s from New Orleans where he lived with his Native American wife. (City of Chicago History)
  2. At 1450 feet tall, The Willis Tower is the 12th tallest building in the world and the 2nd tallest in the Western Hemisphere. If you visit the public viewing deck, which is the highest in the USA, on a clear day you can see Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. (Willis Tower Fun Facts)
  3. Dr. Bernard Fantus created the world’s first blood bank at the Chicago Cook County Hospital in 1937. (Dr. Bernard Fantus: Father of the Blood Bank)

Well, that’s that! My next post will bring you to Edmonton and Portland!

STAY SAFE. STAY HEALTHY. STAY HOME.

Did You Know? Couch & Coffee “Travelling”: England & Brussels

We’re headed back to Europe for both destinations today!england brussels

Did You Know?

England

  1. Her Majesty the Queen, Queen Elizabeth, has reigned longer than any other monarch in British history.  She has been the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth since February 6, 1952.  There are currently 15 countries that are part of the Commonwealth. (Her Majesty the Queen)
  2. Big Ben is NOT the name of the infamous tower at the Houses of Parliament in London.  It was the original name of the bell inside the Queen Elizabeth Tower.  The bell is now called the Great Bell. (Parliament – Big Ben)

    big ben
    London, 2013
  3. The Shepard Gate Clock is located on the wall outside the gate to the Royal Observatory where the Prime Meridian is located.  It was the first clock to show display Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) to the public.  (Shepard Gate Clock)

    shepard wall clock
    Greenwich, London, 2013

Brussels

  1. The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) headquarters have been in Brussels since 1967.   Approximately 4000 people work at the headquarters which is home to around 6000 meetings per year! (NATO Headquarters)
  2. According to a variety of websites, the Brussels Airport sells more chocolate than anywhere else in the world.  More than 800 tonnes per year are sold, working out approximately 1.5kg per minute! (The Belgian Chocolate House)
  3. Belgium has three official languages (French, Dutch and German).  While most people in Brussels speak French as their first Language, you’ll find signs and documents in Dutch as well because the city is considered bilingual.  (Brussels Info)

    grand palace
    Grand Palace/Grote Markt, January 2019

    Seattle & Chicago are up next!

STAY SAFE. STAY HEALTHY. STAY HOME.

Did You Know? Couch & Coffee “Travelling”: Lille & Montreal

Two French-Speaking cities today.  Full disclosure, I’ve never been to Montreal but a friend was kind enough to buy this mug for me to add to my collection!

DID YOU KNOW?

Lille

  1. Lille, which used to be spelled “L’Isle”, was founded in the 11th century.  Like many European countries, the city has been under the control of various European countries throughout it’s history, however it has been a French city since 1667. (History in Lille France – Lonely Planet)
  2. John Baptiste Perrin was born in Lille in 1870.  He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1926 “for his work on the discontinuous structure of matter, and especially for his discovery of sedimentation equilibrium.” (Nobel Prize – John Baptiste Perrin Facts)
  3. Construction of the Saint Maurice Catholic Church began in the 14th century.  The Gothic church became a “Temple of Reason” during the French Revolution. (Lille Tourism – Saint-Maurice)

    saint maurice
    August 2019

Montreal

  1. The Montreal Heart Institute has performed many “firsts” in Canada.  Some of these include: Heart Transplant (1968), Coronary angioplasty (1980), Implantation of a new type of aortic valve without open-heart surgery (First time in North America – 2006.)  You can find the larger list on the Montreal Heart Institute Website.
  2. The Montreal Canadiens hockey team was formed in 1909  and they have had five home arenas since their inception. Their first season was played at the Jubilee Arena.  They also returned there between 1917 and 1919.  A fire destroyed the arena on April 23, 1919.  Fire also struck the Canadiens second “home”, the Westmount Arena, on January 2, 1918 where they played between 1910 and 1918.  The Canadiens called the Mount Royal Arena home between 1920-1926.  Legal difficulties forced the Canadiens to move to the Forum in 1924.  They would play there until it closed on March 11, 1996.  The Canadiens have been playing at the Bell Centre ever since. (Canadiens History)

richard and morenz
Although the Hockey Hall of Fame is actually in Toronto we were fortunate to visit in 2009 when the Canadiens 100 Year Exhibit was on.

3. Montreal was originally inhabited by First Nations and was a trading area for these groups of people.  After becoming a “Port City” French settlers arrived, followed by the English, Scottish and Irish.  Montreal is now home to 120 different ethnic communities. (About Montreal)

That’s it for today.  Next, we’re “travelling” to England and Brussels!

STAY SAFE. STAY HEALTHY.  STAY HOME.

Did You Know? Couch & Coffee “Travelling”: Sacramento & San Francisco

On Tuesday we were supposed to fly to Sacramento to visit my family there. While we were visiting we also planned to spend a couple days in the Bay Area. It seemed fitting that we would use these mugs on Tuesday!

Sac

DID YOU KNOW?

Sacramento

  1. Sutter’s Fort is the oldest restored fort in the United States and has been reconstructed to reflect the way it looked in 1846. It was originally built by John Augustus Sutter after his arrival in Sacramento in 1839 with walls that were 2.5 feet thick and between 15 and 18 feet tall. Inside the fort, Sutter grew crops and raised cattle. You can find Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park in midtown Sacramento. (California Department of Parks and Recreation – History of the Fort)
  2. The Old Sacramento Waterfront suffered from severe flooding in 1850 and 1852. One year later a project to raise Sacramento above flood level was proposed however it was not fully accepted until a third flood hit in 1862. At this point the raising of the city began. (History – Old Sacramento Waterfront History)
  3. Sacramento has 40+ regional farmer’s markets as well as the biggest California Certified Farmer’s Market. Since 2013, Sacramento has hosted a Farm-to-Fork Festival! (Farm to Fork)

San Francisco

    1. The Boudin Bakery has been baking the best Sourdough in the world (in my opinion) since 1849! Their Fisherman’s Wharf location has been there since 1975. You can watch the whole baking process through a window – it’s pretty awesome! (Boudin Bakery – Our History)
    2. Ghirardelli Square has a long history. I love going there but never knew much about it until today! The square was originally a chocolate factory opened by Domenico “Domingo” Ghirardelli who was born in Rapallo, Italy in 1917. He worked as a confectioner’s apprentice before moving to Uraguay when he was 20. He sailed to Peru and became a chocolate and coffee merchant. In 1848, Ghirardelli’s neighbour, James Lick, took 600 pounds of Ghirardelli’s chocolate with him to San Francisco. Ghirardelli joined him the following year and opened a general store. After being located at four different sites, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory’s final establishment is its current location on North Point Street where you can find The Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory and Soda Fountain as well as Ghirardelli Square. (Ghirardelli Square History)

      ghiradelli
      Visiting Ghirardelli Square in 2015
    3. While the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge was being constructed, a safety net was placed under the “floor” of the bridge. It saved the lives of 19 workers however 11 others passed away. The first was crushed by a crane while the other ten died after scaffolding fell through the safety net. (Golden Gate Bridge Construction)
      golden gate
      I Love This Bridge!

Well, there’s that! Next up, we’re going to French-speaking cities, Montreal and Lille!

STAY SAFE. STAY HEALTHY. STAY HOME.

Did You Know? Couch and Coffee “Travelling”: San Diego & California State

Buckle up folks, today we’re headed south of the border to California State and the City of San Diego!

IMG_20200316_105102_757.jpg

DID YOU KNOW?

San Diego

  1. Kate Sessions was given the title “The Mother of Balboa Park” at the California Pacific International Exhibition in 1935.  Years earlier, she began planting 100 trees per year, introducing several species to the park. There is a children’s book called The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City that tells her story. I read it to my class a couple years ago and they were super intrigued. (Balboa Park History)
  2. San Diego State University is the oldest post-secondary institution in San Diego and is part of the California State University system. It was founded in 1897 as the San Diego Normal School which was for training elementary school teachers. In 1921 it became the San Diego Teacher’s College, followed by the San Diego State College in the 1930’s. In the early 1970’s the College became San Diego State University. (San Diego State University History and Mission)
  3. Seward Johnson is the artist behind the Embracing Peace (formerly Unconditional Surrender) sculpture which can be found on the Embarcadero. The sculpture celebrates the reuniting of a soldier and nurse in Times Square at the end of WWII. (Seward Johnson Biography)

My not-so-great photo from 2011

California State

  1. The Golden Poppy is the official state flower. April 6th is California Poppy Day! (California Legislative Information)
  2. California produced 11.0 million turkeys in 2018 (8th highest in the USA.) (US Department of Agriculture Turkey Sector: Background and Statistics)
  3. Monarch the Bear was the last wild grizzly bear in California. He was caught by a reporter named Allen Kelley. In 1889 Monarch was put on display at Woodwards Gardens in San Francisco which lasted 22 years. He was used as the model for the California State Flag. (The Monarch Bear Institute)

Dad at The State Capitol in 2015

Well, that’s it for San Diego and California!  Next up, sticking with the Golden State – Sacramento and San Francisco!

STAY SAFE. STAY HEALTHY. STAY HOME.

Did You Know? Couch & Coffee “Travelling”: Washington & Las Vegas

Neither of us is sick or has any symptoms, but we’re self-isolating just in case (and that’s what the government is advising.) We want to keep those at-risk safe! It’s definitely not the spring break we expected but who knows what travel restrictions will be like come summer. This might be the last chance Coen and I will have to see each other for a long while. With Justin Trudeau’s announcement today about restricting international flights we will be watching both the Canadian and Netherlands news closely as Coen is due to return to Holland in a couple weeks.

So here is the start of my “Couch & Coffee Travelling” Series. I always knew my collection of Starbucks mugs would come in handy. I just didn’t think it would be to help keep me entertained during self-isolation due to the Coronavirus.

Day 1

DID YOU KNOW!?!

Las Vegas:

  1. The oldest remaining schoolhouse in Las Vegas is Westside School. It was built in 1922 and was the first grammar school in West Las Vegas. (Government of Las Vegas)
  2. Although Las Vegas is one of the largest gambling hotspots in the world, you won’t be able to buy a lottery ticket there. The State of Nevada is one of only six states that do not have a state lottery nor do they sell Powerball tickets or even scratch tickets. Residents have to drive into a bordering state (not Utah) to purchase tickets. (State of Nevada Constitution)
  3. Between November 2017 and October 2018 AAA piloted a Self-Driving Shuttle in Downtown Las Vegas. It was the first self-driving shuttle available to the public in the United States. (AAA Hop On Las Vegas)

Washington State:

  1. The are 142 parks in the Washington State Park system (unless I counted wrong.) The first parks were donated in 1915: John R. Jackson House near Chehalis and Chuckanut State Park which is now known as Larrabee State Park. (Washington State Parks)
  2. Washington State grows approximately 58% of apples in the United States with around 30% being exported. (WSU Apples in Washington State)
  3. Mount Rainier has the most glaciers (approximately 26) of any mountain in the Lower 48. Mount Baker has the second most with 10 glaciers. (US Geological Survey)

Well, that’s it for now. Next up, the State of California & San Diego.

STAY SAFE. STAY HEALTHY. STAY HOME.

Delft, NL 🇳🇱

The week before I had to head home, Coen and I were trying to decide where to visit that was within an hour or so drive from his house. We narrowed it down to a few places (I can’t remember which ones now) and I chose Delft. I wasn’t disappointed!

We found parking easily and made our way towards Markt Delft, the main square. As we approached it we came along the cutest little bridge. Now in most cases if I saw green who knows what covering water I would be disgusted but I actually thought it was pretty this time!

There was also a little side street that I thought was adorable.

The Markt itself was crazy busy as the various clubs from the University were setting up for their “Club Day” type thing. We weaved around students carrying all kinds of things into the square. The Nieuwe Kerk was nice to look at from the exterior (we opted not to pay to inside.)

But it was nothing compared to City Hall. Oh my goodness. What a stunning building.

There were also plenty of restaurants and shops to check out. I could smell Subway as soon as we got there haha. We ended up eating a few hours later outside at Willem van Oranje Grand Cafe. I had a delicious pulled pork sandwich but I was NOT happy with the amount of wasps buzzing around.

We spent most of the day just wandering around. We came across the Oude Kerk and plenty of pretty canals and interesting buildings.

Our final stop was at Royal Delft. According to their website it’s the only Delft manufacturer of Delft Blue since the 17th century. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go on a tour. I want to do that another time. The gift shop was full of pretty things; some of which were VERY expensive😍

Delft is great for a day trip. It’s super pretty and there is a lot to see!💜

Bruges, Belgium🇧🇪

On our way home from Lille we decided to stop off in Bruges for a couple hours. We managed to find the same parkade we parked in when we went in 2016! As we walked towards the centre we stopped at a little bridge we had someone take our picture on last time and asked a couple to take a picture again. Here we are in 2016 and 2019!

Bruges is such a pretty city. The canals are beautiful and the buildings are lovely. It was way busier than during our previous visit. There were a few times when you really had no choice but to walk on the street because you couldn’t get by people standing on the sidewalk. Crazy.

As we wandered down some of the streets and through the centre we stopped to take a few pictures. I remembered some areas from 2016 but not all.

My top priority (other than keeping an eye out for my friend from home who was also there) was to return to Chez Albert for another of the best waffle I’ve ever had! I had a couple waffles when we were in Ghent and Brussels over Christmas but they never had milk chocolate. I had to settle for dark and white. Anyway we found Chez Albert easily with a little help from Google maps and stood in the line. I could smell the freshly baked waffles and chocolate as I got closer! I ordered the same waffle as before, milk chocolate with strawberries and Coen had the same. It was just as amazing as I remembered it being in 2016!

Coen had to work the next day so we had to hit the road after that. As we walked back to the car we talked about spending a night there next time we visit. Even though we’ve been there twice together (and Coen has been without me) we think there is much more to enjoy!💜