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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

From Groesbeek to Gennep

Yesterday we had a "rest" day. Instead of hiking we bicycled to a large  Canadian war cemetery.  A total of 2,600 Canadian soldiers and airmen are buried there. Most of them so young, just teenagers in some cases. Very emotional to know that these guys came across an ocean to fight people they did not know and to liberate people they did not know.  No wonder the Dutch are maintaining there graves meticulously and hold a major celebration every May 5th (Liberation Day) and pay for thousands of veterans to come and join in the celebrations each year.

The owner of the cabin we have rented for a couple of nights, drops by. He wants to talk about Canada because he is applying for an immigration visa to the States and wants to know what we think of life on the other side of the ocean.  I have met quite a few Dutch who want to emigrate to Canada recently, but not to the States. Apparently it still sounds like the land of milk and honey to many in spite of the economic situation.

Monday morning we are off to Gennep.  Margriet is joining me.  First a friend gives us a ride to the beginning of the trail section we’ll be hiking today, otherwise it would have added another 5 kms to our hike.
We get dropped off at an operating Dutch windmill, looks great.  We dive into a forest after a few hundred meters and that is the landscape we will be hiking through for the first 7-8 kms. Wow, I’ll never say again that the Netherlands is flat everywhere. We are climbing hills which the Dutch call mountains (a major exaggeration) but which are still some 200 feet or more and fairly steep. We are walking through a German ‘walt’ (forest) and have a coffee break on the border.
Another couple of hours (and lunch) we get to Gennep. This city has been in the middle of the fighting during the last winter of WW II and hardly a building in the entire city survived the German shelling and allied bombing.  Fortunately the beautiful city hall from the 1600's has survived as well as an old church, everything else is no older than 60-65 years. We climbed a church tower with an interpretive display. Hard to image tanks rolling through these very streets.

Since it was a relatively short day hike we spent much of the afternoon sitting on patios at the market, a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.   The weather forecast is not good for the next several days, but knowing the past track record of the Dutch weather forecasters I am not too worried. (famous last words!)

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