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A Purple Straw Hat
I was really worried about our Efteling Bosrijk reservations. They were supposed to mail us a packet, but all we ever got was what was e-mailed. I e-mailed them shortly before departure and they reassured us that they had received the money and our reservations were in order.

Well, they weren't. And I knew something had happened, because while our arrival was corrected and number of nights was correct, departure was listed as 4-8, which is _August_ 8, and which there was a real risk of misunderstanding as July 4, leaving us stranded for a night. Almost happened. Something very odd happened with the computer system and while it did not cost us any more money, we had to switch cottages half way through our trip. I found that annoying, however, the second cottage was better than the first (dish towels were stocked and it wasn't right next to the garbage bins) altho more distant from the Gate House.

On one of our trips to the Albert Heijn, T. wanted more of the donuts with sprinkles, but they weren't out. There was a man slicing bread, and I asked (sort of -- I forgot the word for sprinkles, which is fairly pathetic, I know), he acknowledged he had some but then kept slicing bread. I didn't get everything he said, but I told T. we would just have to wait until he was done. So the man goes back when he finished with the bread and after a longish wait returns from the cold room with _five large boxes_ of donuts. He then asks _T._ which he wants, and shows him that each box has a different kind of sprinkled donut in it. Yikes! T. sort of froze up, so I asked if we could get a box with one of each in it like had been out the first day, and T. was all over that. The man gave us a big smile, set up the box and handed it over, and T. spontaneously produced dank u wel!

The first couple nights at Efteling, the kids wanted to go back to the "old hotel", the house we had rented in Diever. Eventually, I realized that they were missing the trampoline and the cabinet of toys. Which just goes to show that a cheap vacation with a trampoline, toys and a bicycle can be as good as an expensive visit to an amusement park. At least for my kids. I, personally, kind of liked the rides. Altho Diever was amazingly calm and relaxing.

While waiting for rides, or on the Gondoletta or Pagode, A. and I kept meeting people who had relatives in Canada. There was a woman about my mother-in-law's age (similar hair cut, too) whose 86 year old sister had emigrated to Canada in the 1950s. She had just gone to visit Canada and see her -- in the Yukon! They also went to Ontario; I wasn't sure if it was two sisters or just one.

The man who compared the Pagode to (I think) a giant apple picker, and who pointed out various items on the horizon, has relatives on PEI. It took me a minute to understand what he meant, because he was, quite properly, calling it Prince Edward Island. But of course I never think of it, as everyone out here seems to call it PEI.

Efteling Bosrijk has a Klaas Vaak, a Mr. Sandman character, thematically. They do Dutch story telling in the evening at the Gate House, which I didn't attempt. But in the each cottage, there are night caps, and a little story book, which you can take home as a souvenir. I've got great pictures of A. wearing her night cap one day on rides. They liked to wear them at night, too.

While a lot of adult TV programming from other countries is subtitled rather than dubbed, kids programming is dubbed. A. was not amused; she preferred the Guide channel and listening to the music on it. T. didn't care one way or the other, especially if it was SpongeBob.

And a note about equipment:

I have a LeSportSac Cleo (in the it's a small world line, but you can get it in a million different prints). It is an excellent travel bag. There's a zip pocket that fits a passport really nicely, if you want to comply with laws saying you have to carry it with you at all times, and you don't have a wallet it fits in well (really, who does). It's an over the shoulder bag, light, can carry a lot, isn't bulky if you don't. It does not have a water bottle holder, so if that's a priority, something else would be better.

I have a wallet with a good coin pocket (Big Skinny); they really use coins in Europe, unlike here, where you get them, bring them home and dump them in a jar or whatever. If you don't offer coins, they'll ask if you have them.

I brought my grocery bags (I have the kind that fits into a pouch sewn into the side, and with a mini carabiner to hook them onto something). I used them. I'm glad I brought them.

I _wish_ I had brought wash cloths or a bath scrubber. I kept forgetting to pick one up at the store, too. Wash cloths are not a standard part of the kid in the Netherlands. I knew that and I forgot.

As is typical, no handwashing dish detergent supplied at Efteling Bosrijk, but we still had the clothes detergent (liquid). Wow did that work phenomenally well. Don't get it on your hands though; dries them right out.

I used my Kipling (Hiker Expandable, it's been part of the lineup under one name or another for over a decade now) backpack as a carry-on. Again, no water bottle holder, which is a bummer. But otherwise, a great bag, as it is very light weight, very capacious, compresses if not stuffed full, etc.

I remembered bandaids, neosporin and packed a small knife in checked luggage. They were all useful; I usually forget or decide they aren't necessary and it was so much better having them. Flipflops made nice slippers. The Keens are good for touring. I didn't have a great choice of jackets/sweaters. I had packed thinking it would be hotter than it turned out. I even brought umbrellas and rain coats (but not boots) and do not regret it. I think if I had packed some tights, I would have done better, as I could have worn them with the shorts, and it is well within current style.

I'm always surprised how few people wear caps/hats/brimmed whatever when at amusement parks. It's always been unusual, but Efteling hit a new low. I felt like it was me and about five other men wearing hats and that was it. Weird.

I wore my Casio Baby G; didn't have to worry about it getting wet at the park.

I've forgotten to write about -- and perhaps already forgotten -- a million more details. The kids are non-stop Go To Disney!! these days, altho they seem to understand that it'll be Orlando next time and not the Netherlands. They're still saying "dank u wel" to people sometimes, which is hilarious, because people are not hearing "thank you", come up with all kinds of unpredictable interpretations.