Going back to Grand Rapids is always a highlight for me (Jen) since I have so many friends and happy memories of my eight years there. While Niels loves my friends and appreciates my memories, I think the real highlight for him is that it's a little like home.
West Michigan has the highest per capita Dutch population of anywhere in the United States, and was the first American city he ever visited (even before I moved there). There are two great Dutch stores, VanderVeen's and deReuze (which means The Giant), both filled with all sorts of Dutch treats and housewares.
Of course, the homegrown "Target"-type store is Meijer, which our Dutch readers will readily recognize as a thoroughly Dutch name. Most groceries stores have an international aisle, and the grocery section of Meijer is no different. What is different, however, is that in addition to the typical Asian, Italian and Mexican sections, Meijer has a generous selection of Dutch foods, as shown above. So even when we don't have time to visit VanderVeen's or deReuze to stock up on stroopwafels, hagelslag, or drop (nasty double salt licorice), we can still stop by the ubiquitous Meijer for our fill.
Just before we took this picture, a woman approached the aisle and expressed surprise at the price of hagelslag. Turns out she is a Dutch citizen, here on vacation, shocked by the imported prices. Niels was able to have a nice conversation with her and her husband. Though I was able to get the general gist of the conversation, I mostly stood by and looked pretty. Still working on my Dutch lessons. Niels says I'm about a five year old now! :-)
Hopefully, we'll be making another trip to GR soon to close on the condo! Tot ziens, Grand Rapids!