Day 8

I woke at 7 but refused to wake up till 8 since I didn’t have to, still feeling very anxious I got ready for the day, going to breakfast was interesting seeing everyone and recalling the last days activities. Then we were off on the bikes. From the hostel we rode to the WW2 museum. It was four floors of memorabilia and facts about the war. Filled with interest in cultural connections to music, film and consumption.

Then we left for the panorama, it was a long and bumpy ride on what I am assuming (praying) will be the worst road we will experience on the entire trip. On this trip we had our first person fall: Janice was literally standing still and fell off her bike and like a lady bug on its back she laid there flailing for a second before being picked up off the ground. When we arrived at the panorama we were late so we got 10 minutes to see the entire museum it was nuts. It was a big room with a three story look out were you could see what happened to Dresden because the allies in the war, a quote by Amber Laurie comes to mind:

“History is often written by the winners. There are two sides to every story. “

It is true when you see the accidental bombing here just how things can happen. Although we didn’t have much time here it doesn’t take long to understand the war crimes of the allies and understand that the losers are not the only ones committing crimes. With that we left for lunch in the park, the bike was beautiful and terrifying, a beautiful nightmare if you will, the landscapes were beautiful but the cobblestones were terribly uneven and hard to ride on. We went to the town square where the sisters chapel which was destroyed in WW2, the rebuilt to its former glory.
We had free time for the afternoon, Allison, Hannah, Allison, Ellen, Calvin, and I went exploring the square, in and out of little stores. After Allison, Ellen and I broke off from the group and went on our own back to the mall, found a store called New York Style which was like a hybrid of Pull and Bear and H&M. Got some things. It was cheap.  We returned to the square to take a few group photos in front of the Martin Luther memorial and lay a wreath there. 
After that we biked back for supper. I showered because all of that cobblestone really worked up a sweat. When I returned to the group I made some new friends, inviting the people I hadn’t really met to sit with me, I want to be able to look back and remember everyone, all of their names and smiling faces. Tonight I met and chatted with Demi and Tom, who are from a town called Nijmegen. They are extremely nice and funny, we drank together and chatted about the differences in our cultures. After supper we all hung out together on the patio until 11 when the patio closed and decided to go find somewhere outside to sit. When we left the hostel we had a big group of 20 people, but by the time we made it a block down the street the re were 9 of us and I was the only Canadian. So I stay thinking this is an opportunity to hang out with the people who all hang out together. Of course it didn’t really go as planned and they mostly just spoke to each other in Dutch the whole time.
Honestly about half of this blog and the whole last one were written sitting there with the Dutch kids. After a while it started raining so we returned to the hostel, and after a good chat with Ellen we hit the sack at 2 am.
Also a picture of our Mexican hostel:


Day 6- the hard stuff

I honestly have been scared and nervous for this day for the entire trip because I wasn’t sure how to handle what I was going to see. Growing up in Canada you read and learn about it in school but it doesn’t seem real until you see it in person. Walking in to Auschwitz was surreal, it had an odd beauty to it, the buildings were old brick and the trees were blooming, you disconnect the tragedy from the landscape in front of you. But as soon as you enter the barracks that prisoners were kept in the emotion changes.




In the second barrack we entered you see a room filled with balls of hair, human hair. This was hair shaved off women’s heads when they entered the camps that was then sold for money to German textiles companies. That shook me, not only were these people strip of their homes, loved ones and belongings but also their dignity. Upon entering the camps the people were give a number, a pair of striped pajamas and a photo of them, then they were moved into the camps. But by far the worst thing of the day was learning the fate of the children that entered the camps, most died of inhumane conditions like starvation, disease or pneumonia. In this building it became obvious how real this was, piles of glasses, hair, shoes, pots and pans and babies clothing were seen throughout the museum. This is something that people should see and understand, I feel as though not everyone gets that these piles of things were owned by real people, and those things were so easily taken from them. I am extremely grateful for the freedom we have today as humans to travel, move and talk freely because without this I wouldn’t have been able to ever go to Poland and see this for myself. I think as people today we sometimes take for granted something that is a basic human right, but after today I understand how something so under appreciated was just taken away from innocent people. This day has definitely changed my perspective and how I think about the Holocaust. After Auschwitz we biked to Birkenau, the second part of the camp. This is what you think of when you hear Auschwitz, rows on rows of brick barracks within a barbed wire casing.





From the outside there is a railway leading right through the entrance of the camp, leading to an end in the forest. As we walked through we were told about how the families were shipped hundreds at a time in a cattle car from all around Europe there and by the time they arrived half had died from suffocation or disease. Upon arrive their belongings stripped from them they were or to work or brought straight to the gas chambers. Hearing that the Russians were coming to liberate Auschwitz, the Nazis blew up the gas chambers in order to hide what they had done. Upon that spot was where our ceremony was held, some of our cyclists and heard some really good things that have stuck with me.

“If we forget the past we are blind to the future” Stefan Polychuk

It was crazy how big Birkenhau is, so many people went in to the place, of the over 4 years so few made it out. A few things I took from today: I know everyone says it but never again, we are in a time of progression, moving forward and healing, that we never happen again. Through the education of our youths and understand the implications of the tragedies of the Holocaust. Also the shame you feel as a human that other humans were able to do these crimes to other humans. As a species we should work together to accept our differences not blame and hate those who are not like you. This is where we see the darker side of human kind, the mass murder of the Jewish, the gypsies, Polish, and soviets should not be taken lightly. Freedom is a basic human right and I hope that by writing this at one person has felt the necessity to educate themselves. But we move past this and see lighter days, I have a new appreciation for the life I have been given, my friends and family and for the chance to see what I have. Take a moment to think about what freedom means to you.

Day 5

so we basically start off where we left off. I’ve got back home at around 11pm after a drunk bike ride. Never knew that I was such a skilled drunk bike operator! When we got home Suus and I replaced our final time for Poland. Then it was time to get a bit of sleep, which wasn’t an issue but we had to be back at the Havercamp for 3:30am and board the bus to leave by 4:00am. Of course as soon as we board the bus I did something stupid: brought hot tea onto the bus. I set my hot tea on the little try on the seat in front of me which is when Bayley sat down on the chair and with my luck the tea fell off onto Allison, Hannah and I, creating some nice second degree burns. So after getting ointment the bus was on its way. We spent the the next hours trying to sleep as we travelled through the night. To put into perspective how boring this actually was our bus driver felt inined to inform us about an accident the was on the other side of the highway for something to do. There was also a good ten minute laugh at the truck driver who was so full of stereotypes that you just have to laugh. We hit Poland at 1:15 and got a 45 minute break, first impressions of Poland: language is very rough, has own money and people don’t like to take Euros. I respect that. Once we got back on the bus everyone started to lighten up, most woke up and played games or chatted. Once the radio was turned on everyone was up and except for Stephan who had extreme car sickness everyone was good. Hannah, Ellen, Allison, Luke, Bert and I got playing heads up which proved to be very entertaining with both Canadians and Dutch kids. It was only a little while before we were to Mikolow where we are staying for the next two nights. When we got there we went straight to the botanical gardens which we had a tour, supper and free wifi (very important).

Then we went over to the hotel and went to bed pretty quickly, we have an early more tomorrow: 5:30am.

Day 4

Sorry I didn’t post last night but we didn’t get home till 10:30 and had to pack. So today started off at 11am, I woke up, packed for Poland and went down to join my host family. We had breakfast then I went back up stairs to pack for the day.

 My intentions were to visit the family my mom stayed with last time but when I finished getting ready the leaders of the trip stopped by the Touw’s restaurant for lunch. So instead I stayed and joined them, when Suus returned we headed for Markelo. We had a meeting at the havercamp where we watched half of Schindler’s list which was extremely sad and left me in an emotional crisis. After that we got fitted for our cycles for Poland and Germany which wasn’t exactly terrifying but still terrifying. Then we left, stopped at a convience store where the people were extremely nice. We then returned home on the biked for stamppot which is made up of potatoes, chives and sausages and served with a sausage on the side.

 I feel the need to mention that it wasn’t an extremely long bike ride but about 5km that we did twice there and back that day. After that is when the exciting stuff began to happen. We had our first official ceremony where the people of Markelo sent us on our way and we heard speeches from various veterans.  We also heard from a 95 year old woman who survived Auschwitz, which was really the first moment when I fully understood why we are doing this, to spread her story and others like it to our generation so it isn’t lost or forgotten. Especially seeing her I knew that this was for something good. We were then given Holland’s eternal flame of freedom. It has been given to us to travel from Poland all the way back to Markelo marking the first ever time the flame has travelled from east to west. Every year the flame is brought from one place to another to commemorate Holland’s freedom but for the 70 anniversary of the ending of WW2 we have been given the honor of bringing it with us.   After some photos and a shot of some nasty black licorice liquor we headed into a bar for some drinks to commemorate the start of what is sure to be an amazing trip. Now I am sure that I am in good hands, after tonight I feel closer to the other cyclists and have seen the beginnings of friendships that will last forever.

So cheers to that! Proost!


Day 3

hey there friends!

I have survived another amazing day in Holland! Wooooooooo🇳🇱 side note: I slept again last night till 7am this morning. And from there we got up and ready to go, packed our bags for the day ate a quick breakfast and we’re off to Lochem train station. Side note 2: woke up this morning with a horrible headache and nausea. So despite that we were off to go see the tulips. We took a two hours journey on 3 trains and a bus and arrived at Keukenhof, a gigantic flower garden an hour west of Amsterdam. For there we spent the whole afternoon walking through the flowers and enjoying each other’s company. I was amazed at how hyper aware you have to be of your senses since there is so much going on. While in the garden:

See: so many flowers, of every color, just stunning.

Touch: not a whole lot haha, my ice cream, mmmm ice cream

Smell: so many smells to be smelt, I have never been so overwhelmed by such good smelling things.

Hear: children and adults laughing and playing and talking. There were thousands of tourists there.

Taste: warm ham on a roll, so simple but so good. Also the ice cream. haha

So below are some photos from that adventure.



So after that we left and headed for our bus, it was rush hour so the traffic was awful. One lesson I learned today is that you ALWAYS look both ways before crossing the bike lane, I also hit/got hit by a cyclist. Oops. We left on the train and took our 4 train ride back to Lochem  where we met up with Gea (my host mom) and returned home. After that we caught up over our days, seen a wild hedgehog (yeah apparently they aren’t just pets) and packed for Poland. I wrote some postcards home and now I am off to bed! Another exciting day tomorrow!

welterusten! (goodnight)

Day 1 & 2

since it is 2 am here in Dutch land and I can’t sleep I figured, why not blog? So here it goes!

Yesterday (April 18th) my friend Coleman drove me to the airport. I have to say that I was very anxious/nervous about this trip and still not 100% ready. But when I got to the airport and met everyone, the anxiety was gone. My mom was there to send me off which made leaving right from school easier, and then we were off! I will skip past any waiting in the airport because nothing truly notable happened but sitting and hating airports. So then in-flight. I hate long haul flights, they are nasty and you are expected to sleep but who can sleep when your are body to body with another human? I just happened to be between two girls on my trip so we got along well. I mean the flight wasn’t interesting unless you were the girl behind me who watched me endlessly switch from movie to movie and games and TV shows and flight tracker to pass the time. I probably watched more flight tracker then anything else.

We arrived at 6:30 am in Holland and that one hour of sleep I had on the plane had to carry me from then to when I actually fell asleep. When we arrived in Markelo we met our host families and were free to go and have fun. I was exhausted then so my family took me home.
But our first day together looked a bit more like: drink coffee, open gifts, eat, go for a walk, bike ride to Deipenheim for ice cream, eat, fall asleep on couch.


 Yes, you read that right, while watching TV after supper I was overcome by exhaustion and feel asleep at 7pm. So here we are now, at 2:45 am and I am laying awake, granted I am yawning so after this I will probably go back to sleep. Anyways, tomorrow is a tulip field, so stay tuned for pictures of me frolicking!