Geocaching Souvenirs: Netherlands

Continuing my series where I revisit each of the Geocaching Souvenirs I have earned and reminisce about how I came to earn it…

“Souvenirs are virtual pieces of art that you can discover and display on your profile

page. They are associated with a particular location and may also be bound by time.”

I don’t like to admit it, but I haven’t had much of a chance to travel the world.  In fact, prior to 2006 I had only been on a plane three times.  Once in kindergarten when our class rode a Time Air plane over Coaldale, once when my Grade Three teacher awarded a short flight in her Cessna to some students who won a math competition (yes, kids, when we were little we actually didn’t consider competition a bad things and some people won and some people lost!) and finally when I flew from Calgary to Minneapolis for business in the mid-90s.  That was it.

So, in 2006 when we finally decided it was time to visit my father’s native country, a trans-Atlantic flight to the Netherlands was a huge deal.

The flight was a charter with Air Transat.  I won’t make that mistake again!  There was nothing wrong with the flight or the flight crew, but the seats were SO small.  I couldn’t even put the table tray down because it hit my stomach.  It was a very claustrophobic experience!

Once we arrived in Amsterdam we were fortunate that we had my cousin Arie hosting us.  Having someone who knew his way around and could speak the language certainly eased the transition for someone who had never left his continent before.

The trip was three weeks of non-stop sightseeing and entertainment.  We went to Keukenhof, toured a replica of the Batavia, camped near Arnhem, toured the Dom Tower of Utrecht, had a personal tour of a windmill, visited some work farms, ate cheese, toured the Amstel brewery, and also checked out the Open Air Museum.  In between we visited sites related to my family history, including the school and church attended by the Overes family as well as the site of their original family home.

One of my favorite moments was my cousin getting us access to the bell tower at his church.  While it involved climbing several sets of narrow stairs, a narrow catwalk, and a ladder, it was simply an incredible experience. 

So, as for the cache that allowed me to earn the Netherlands souvenir?  Well, it was a Multicache called Buitenplaats (GCH2RC).  It wasn’t the first cache we attempted, but it had the advantage of having an English translation so we could follow the instructions. 

We had to get the year a train bridge was built and then find count the number of “iron bends” at a second location.  The final was located in a nice wooden area.  We took my cousin’s youngest son with us and tried to explain caching to him.  Language was a bit of a barrier as he was still learning English and we knew very little Dutch.  As we were walking towards the final, I had the idea to switch my GPSr’s language into Dutch and then handed it to him.  Suddenly his eyes lit up and he got very into the hunt.  It was a great moment. 

Now, almost seven years later, this remains my only trans-Atlantic flight and my only Geocache find outside of North America.  I can’t wait to one day change that.

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