Zwolle and Coevorden (The Netherlands)

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Our time in Amsterdam has come to an end (for now). It’s kind of sad because we both loved this crazy tourist metropolis with it’s old buildings, canals and streets filled with the sweet smokey scent of marijuana (which we didn’t partake in). Even the train station looks amazing as we walk across to it from the metro station. And again, it’s a Christmas miracle and the skies are blue.

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But our departure is not all bad news because we’re on our way to Zwolle and Coevorden to spend time with my godparents and cousins. The train swooshes along the tracks towards our destination at speeds of 140kph (97mph). It’s wonderful to watch the pancake flat world pass us by.

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Time passes quickly and, before long, we are storing our backpacks in a locker and staring in awe at the massive bike parking area. We don’t have anything like this at home.

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One of my cousins (my godparents’ daughter) lives in Zwolle but before we meet her we line up for 1.5 hours to see the Ice Sculpture Festival. My godmother bought us tickets and posted them to our hotel in Amsterdam so it would be rude not to wait. And, besides, we are both quite excited by the opportunity to see something totally new to us … ice sculptures not being a normal sight in the sub tropics.

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The theme for the festival is international. There are many countries represented and I am amazed at how many of them I have actually visited.

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This panda ice sculpture is my favourite.

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Though I am naturally drawn to the Australian entry too.

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My cousin meets us after our walk through the -8’C (17’F) freezer. I haven’t seen her since we met for ice cream in Melbourne in 2014 so it’s nice to be here catching up with her again. She takes us for a walk through her city’s old center and along the moat that used to protect it’s castle walls.

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While I’ve been back to Holland a few times since I left when I was 2.5 years old, I’ve never quite seen it like this. Perhaps that’s because I’m older than I was on previous visits (the last being 12 years ago when I was in my mid-20s) or because I’ve learned how to see the world now. Whatever it is, I loved our walk through Zwolle and could easily come back to see it some more and hang out with my cousin again.

My other cousin (my godparents’ son) drove all the way from Coevorden to pick us up. We were going to catch the train but he wanted to see us so it was a fantastic surprise. We drove in darkness but certainly not in silence to my godparents’ home just around the corner from his place. He let us in and we hung out until my godmother arrived home shortly thereafter. My godfather had a hunting break up dinner but she had cooked food especially for us. We whiled away the evening catching up on five years of distance and before long both Paul and I were nodding off in our chairs and retired to our cute separate bed rooms (my godparents’ only spare rooms are for their grandchildren so all couples have to make do in separate rooms … LOL).

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4 thoughts on “Zwolle and Coevorden (The Netherlands)

    • My godfather is a hunter. His hunting friends have an “end of season” dinner on 30 December. The season ends on 31 December but apparently their wives don’t allow them to have the dinner that night … Haha. In Australia we call an end of year / season dinner a “break up” dinner because you are “breaking up the group for the holiday” or you are “going on a break”. I can see now that it’s slang

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