My favourite place?
I have probably never been happier than when I stayed in Dalfsen. Nowhere in the world are people more lovely, friendly or generous than in this fantastic town.
I travelled to Dalfsen in 1995 and 2000 for the 50th and 55th anniversary celebrations of the Liberation of the Netherlands at the conclusion of WW2. My father is a veteran of the Second World War, and although he fought in Sicily and not in the Netherlands, the Dutch people extended a generous invitation to ALL Canadian war veterans and their families to visit and participate.
This was my very first trip outside of North America, and my introduction to the "wanderlust" that has caused me to visit 9 countries in the past 12 months. My parents and I stayed with the family of some friends of ours from Canada (there is a huge Dutch immigrant population in my part of the province) in a beautiful 19th century farmhouse a few kilometers from Dalfsen. We (and the thousands of other Canadians who participated in the visit across the Netherlands) were welcomed by our host communities. They planned activities for us, introduced us to survivors of the war, etc.
I have never felt so welcome or so loved anywhere else in the world. It was incredible to see the graves of young Canadian soldiers, in perfect condition after more than 50 years because they are faithfully tended by Dutch citizens and schoolchildren. Strangers ran up to my father in the street, to kiss him on the cheek or to hand him flowers and thank him for his participation. We visited a former Nazi transport camp and cried with a Jewish friend, the child of two parents who were each the sole member of their family to survive the extermination.
The whole experience was incredibly touching and emotional, and one that I will absolutely never forget. Not only did we return five years later, but the friends that we made in Dalfsen have spend many weeks at our home in Canada. No matter where I travel in the world, I will always consider the Netherlands my second home, and the Dutch my extended family.