I haven't decided yet if it's easier for the reader if I write about the picture before it appears or after. I'll make this post before intros.
My dad took the train up on Monday night so he could come out to the airport with us the following day. We left the house around 3:30 to make sure we got there on time.
It was an overnight flight, so it was actually really easy for me. I slept about 4-5 hours on the plane, which was almost the entire flight. We landed at 8am local time, got our rental car, and headed out to Oma's house in Den Bosch. My first time driving in Europe, hooray! Too bad I didn't get a pic of the car. It was a cute, teeny Fiat Punto. Too bad they don't sell Fiat in the US.
We at breakfast at Oma's and then went downtown to see the market and the city. It was a bit rainy when we started out, but the day turned out fine.
We stopped in the department store HEMA to buy some candy and ran into a couple of Zwarte Piets. These blackface characters would certainly not fly in the US, but Holland doesn't really have the same history in regard to slavery, etc that we do, so it's perfectly acceptable in their culture. Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete, is:
We couldn't get over it.
In the folklore and legends of the Netherlands and Flanders, Zwarte Piet ( pronunciation (help·info)) (meaning Black Pete) is a companion of Saint Nicholas (Dutch: Sinterklaas) whose yearly feast in the Netherlands is usually on the evening of 5 December (Sinterklaas-avond, that is St. Nicolas Eve) and 6 December in Flanders, when they distribute presents to all good children.The character of Zwarte Piet appears only in the weeks before Saint Nicholas's feast, first when the saint is welcomed with a parade as he arrives in the country (in the Netherlands by steam boat, from Spain), and is mainly targeted at children, who come to meet the saint as he visits stores, schools etc.
And, of course, everyone loved Alivia. So many people stopped to talk to her! But seriously, how could you resist this cute girl? Her adorable-ness is overwhelming!
After walking around town for a few hours, we headed back to Oma's on the bus. We had a delicious dinner that night of traditional Dutch foods, including stamppot and rookworst. Yum!