Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Home Sweet Home: Visiting Olana

Our day at Olana with my nephew was by far the best day of this vacation. Every time we travel to visit my family, Jaap and I like to explore something that we haven't seen together in the Hudson Valley. Having grown up in the Hudson Valley, many of the sites, parks, and places we visit are not new to me, but new for the two of us to explore together. I've developed a greater appreciation and admiration for the beautiful region that I grew up in. Jaap proposed to me two summers ago across the river. We could see Olana in the background up on the mountain. It's something we've wanted to go back and visit ever since.
Having grown up just across river from this site, I have many memories of Olana as a very young child. I was nervous about taking my nephew there because I wondered how much a 9 year old boy would really enjoy touring a historic site. I was impressed by how much he enjoyed it; asking questions to the tour guide and seeming to be genuinely interested in the life of Fredrich Church and the house itself. We were off to a good start!
Olana is a large, Persian inspired mansion built in the 1800s by Fredrich Church, one of the famous Hudson River School painters. We followed an indoor tour of the home and learned about the Church family's world travels and what inspired them to build Olana. 
View of the Hudson
Now, on to the fun stuff. After our cute little picnic lunch in the grass (complete with Jaap teaching Joey how to burn ants alive with a magnifying glass), I watched on as Jaap and Joey flew the kite we purhcased in Mystic, CT through the fields of Olana. Beautiful sunshine and the perfect amount of wind.
It was a day full of art, history, exercise, and nature, followed by a stop at Friendly's for some ice cream. (This was my favorite part). We finished our day together with an art project back home. Fun times.
Living in the Netherlands and being so far away from family make me appreciate these moments together much more. From beginning to end this day was perfect. And what better way to end the day with a free haircut from your 2 year old niece back at the house.

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