I had an idea that in our first three weeks we would not meet "life-long" friends. That bore out to be true. This does not mean that we didn't meet people who were very nice and made our stay more enjoyable. All of the people I will describe in this post were very warm and genuine. Here goes:
Eelco Fetter: Eelco is the owner of Fietsco, where we "bought and sold back our bikes". He always had a smile on his face, and in the beginning worked to put bikes under our butts. He got on our blog early and even asked that his website be included (see lisa's earlier blog on bikes for his website). When the terrible day arrived that we had to return our bikes, he wanted to know first how we had liked Haarlem and even prepared "bread with butter and sprinkles on it" for all of us. He took pictures of us at the end and helped make our experience with the bikes that much better.
Kaziban Tepeyurt: Kaziban is the young lady who sold us our "daily bread" from Kartal Turkish Bakery in Boter Markt ( Butter Market ). She is on the right in the picture. We bought good bread there almost every day and when we just dropped in for a snack, she was there with a smiling face and "How much longer will you be here"? We didn't tell her about our "Round the world" plans until the last day. She was so nice on our last day she insisted upon giving us bread and baklavah, which we really enjoyed. A truly nice person.
Loekie and Nancy of Samson Cheese Market. We met them early on and they were very nice and asked us each time we came in what we had done so far and what we were going to do next. Loekie, the young lady on the left, kept insisting we should bike to Spaarndam, her home town, just twenty-five minutes away by bike. Sorry we never got there. I'll bet it is nice. And Nancy told us how much we will enjoy Krakow, our next stop. It was up-lifting to go in there and chat. I believe Loekie had better English than anyone I met. She could kid around with you in English where as most people could understand simply that you needed directions or wanted to buy things.
Dick Van Dansik: When I went into the local butcher shop the first day, you could tell that Dick was a cut-up. He had the poster of the Dutch football (soccer) team with his face posted over where the head coach's face was. He carried on a banter every time I went in, which was often. We enjoyed his horse meat wrapped in bacon for several nights and our cholesterol level will take months to go down as a result. Fun.
The Dutch Football Team: We don't know the players. We just know that their play in the 2008 Euro Cup had this small nation SOOOOOOO enthused. Why else would I stay up with Av and Si to watch the matches. None of us know anything about this sport. But the fervor overtakes you. Kind of like UK Wildcats fans during March Madness".
lisa and I talked to a lady in the park about Haarlem for about forty five minutes while the girls played with her dog Sheba. The "bridgewatcher" lady who controls the drawbridge over the Spaarn River let the girls operate the controls, only to not be able to get the bridge back to where it was supposed to be. And the nearly deaf lady who gave me a ride to the bus stop after I took a wrong path out of Linneaushof, the large playground. She didn't have to give me a ride but she offered and I took her up on it. When was the last time we as Americans offered someone who looked lost a ride?
Haarlem was great. For Eelco, Kaziban and Loeke who have our blog address, thank you for your kindness. As for the others who don't know about the blog, you will never know how much your unsuspecting niceness made us feel welcome.