RV Snapshots

RVing equals freedom for this Dutch couple

Dutch couple Margreet and Peter Klein share their experiences with RVing in Canada

by Kimberly Schoenberger
Peter and Margreet relax in their Canadian camping chairs in a quiet RV lot.
Peter and Margreet relax in their Canadian camping chairs in a quiet RV lot. — Photo by Kimberly Schoenberger

It’s been a long journey to visit beautiful British Columbia for Margreet and Peter Klein of Amsterdam—a journey that took them over 7,700 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean. The retired couple, ages 64 and 65, decided to travel to Canada for adventure, and this year marks their second trip from the Netherlands to British Columbia.

“In 2010, I was at a coffeeshop and I read a magazine,” said Margreet. “My husband always wanted to make a cruise, and I didn’t, and I saw the combination of making a cruise to the Inside Passage and two weeks RV, and we never did that, so I came home and told him and he said, ‘Wow!’ and we booked. Simple as that.”

Coastal adventures

Margreet and Peter began this year’s journey in Vancouver and travelled around western Canada for three weeks, also stopping in Alaska on their route.

“(In 2011), we went by helicopter on the glacier and it was awesome, then this time we went to Whistler with the gondola from peak to peak,” said Margreet. “I could go on and on and on about everything, but it’s all just so beautiful.”

Some of the most memorable sights the two encountered were orca whales off the coast this year and humpback whales in 2011.

“We saw the humpback whales and they jumped out of the water and that was amazing,” said Margreet. “It was very nice to see them in their natural habitat.”

Canadian hospitality

Something that seemed to surprise both Margreet and Peter about Canada was the sheer politeness of the people they encountered.

“The people here are very friendly and when they can help you, they do it,” said Peter. “Everything is, ‘Hello, how are you?’ I don’t think that people always mean it, but society and everyone, not one or two, but everyone is friendly.”

“Everyone here is so relaxed,” said Margreet.

Out of all of the places that they’ve visited, the pair agreed that Canada is their favourite destination.

“We’ve been in America, Brazil, Bali, Thailand, South Africa and countries in Europe, but this is different, and what can I say, the nights there aren’t like this. In South Africa, there are nice parts, but—” Peter started, “—but you can’t compare it. It’s totally different,” finished Margreet.

Even after so many years of marriage, the two still finish one another’s sentences.

An international connection

It’s not just the friendliness of Canadians that made Peter and Margreet feel drawn to Canada—there are historical ties between Canada and the Netherlands, as well.

“A lot of people here have connections with people in Holland,” said Margreet. “A lot of people have grandparents, or they’re emigrated from the Netherlands. A lady told us that her uncle was sadly killed in the war when they liberated us. Everywhere, you see connections with the Netherlands and that’s special, too.”

On May 5, 1945, at the end of the Second World War, it was Canadian troops that largely liberated the country from German occupation—an event that has been celebrated in the Netherlands as Liberation Day every year since.

“It’s impressive what the lady told us,” said Margreet. “Her uncle, he died when he was 19 years old, but it was for our liberation and that’s special. It gives a connection.”

All throughout their travels, Margreet and Peter have been meeting people from back in their homeland.

“We were on the boat to the mainland, to Vancouver, and a man comes to us and he said, ‘Finally, I can speak Dutch again!’” said Peter. “He had come here 60 years ago to Canada.”

“He came from the Netherlands,” said Margreet, “so when he heard Dutch, he was like, ‘Oh, I want to talk to you!’”

GoCanada

The two booked their travels for both 2011 and this year through an agency in the Netherlands called GoCanada, with help from travel agent Roderick Aalbers—who, coincidentally, is friends with the owners of the Fort Steele Campground where we met with Margreet and Peter.

“It’s a very good agency,” said Margreet. “After you talk to that man, you just have the feeling, ‘I want to go to Canada and I want to go now!’ He’s so enthusiastic—he lived here, and he comes here a lot.”

Though there are people who go RVing in the Netherlands, both Margreet and Peter agreed that it was nothing compared to the experience that they can get here.

“There are so many campgrounds here, so you can go everywhere you want,” said Margreet. “The feeling of travelling with an RV is a feeling of freedom.”

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