Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Welcome to Newcomers

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor....

And that's exactly how last week Tuesday evening started...a beautiful day... when all of Gorinchem's newcomers from the past year were invited to a welcome by the Mayor, no less...wined and dined (well, cookies go with wine, right?) on a delightful river cruise to see our citadel city from a different perspective. And all for free.

Before the river cruise began, we all had a chance to walk around the different booths set up on the river bank to answer any questions we might have about our gemeente (= municipality) which is Gorinchem, population 35k. In attendance was the firemen's brigade, with trucks and ladders, giving free rides to children, 35 meters up, to see the city from on high. I stood on the ground and took pictures of one little fella in particular who, unbeknownst to me, was one of the firemen's grandson. I was immediately asked by G'pa if I'd be so kind to e-mail him the pictures (which I have since done, yes)...and from that, Astrid and I were then invited up the ladder. And this is is what we saw (before our cruise even started!):

It's a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty....

You can imagine the thrill it was for us to see our 'neighborhood' in this way, high above the city. We couldn't stop saying Thank You. And guess what: the city photographer even got a picture of us (which was included in Gorinchem's online newsletter) while we were on board the fire-truck ladder. Are we famous or what!

Then the river cruise began...on a perfectly clear evening during what we photographers call the Golden Hour. The Merwede River borders one side of our city where thousands of freighters are coming and going from Rotterdam to the rest of Europe, all year 'round, 24/7. And that's the river from which you can see our city in all its glory.

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you....

Even with 150 of us, the mayor (and his right-hand man) got around and spent some time talking with us about this-n-that. 1) There's apparently one woman on the city council who is not in favor of same-sex marriage and who technically could be fired, since the country legally endorses our marriage. 2) If I pass my Dutch inburgerings examen (= integration exam) next year, we will be invited back for another river-cruise welcome, at which time I will be singled out by the mayor to come forward to receive the city book and have my photo taken with him. HA! But look here...I've already taken a picture of him with Astrid.

I love this city!

In this image you can see the 4 churches of the citadel AND one of our 2 windmills.

Our windmill on the Merwede River is De Hoop (= Hope), which I have shown before here.

In this image you can see the 2 windmills on opposite sides of the citadel. I was shocked by how close they appeared to each other from the river.

On the Gorinchem side of the river, we see the church and windmill of our neighbor city, Woudrichem, across the river from us. Here she's up close and personal (sans church or windmill).

Another up-close view of Woudrichem, our neighbor on the other side of the tracks river (with windmill but sans church).

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please,
Won't you please,
Please won't you be my neighbor?
(Mr. Roger's Neighborhood lyrics)

Speaking of integration, I have one week of Dutch classes under my belt and can't believe how much I've learned. Astrid can't believe it either. A year from now I expect to be totally shocked! :)


  1. Hi Ginnie,
    I think I must come down and visit you.
    Is the Weeze Airport very far from you?

  2. looks like you had a wonderful time! your photos are amazing and i love the processing you did on them!

  3. It looks so Dutch! I love the windmills, really nice pictures. I am glad you are enrolled in classes too, you know Dutch isn't too far from the Norwegian language, maybe we can soon understand....

  4. I think I love your city too, Ginnie. Your enthusiasm shines through in your text and the photographs - it really does look like a beautiful place. And so welcoming!! It seems rather unusual for a city of that size to still pay such personal attention to it's citizens - especially the new ones.
    That lens you have is massive!!

    You remind me of a kid at Christmas. Everything is a marvel to you and your pride and delight spills from every phrase. How lovely - lucky you, lucky Astrid.

  5. My words are nearly the same as Deborah's.. I'm in love with your city too Ginnie!!! Wow, what beauty all around you!!! That's always something I loved doing while I was in Europe. I guess here in Victoria it's old hat. Some places are nice, but I have to travel away to do that..

    And you know I think you will know a lot of dutch in one year! I too want to come and visit... :)

  6. P.S. I saw Tor ask about Weeze airport vs how far? It's roughly 1hr 30 mins according to Google Maps. :)

    I'm always curious!

  7. I did not realize how pretty your town was – the windmills certainly add that extra special touch. Your mayor sounds nice too. I’d love to visit your neighborhood.

  8. I'm so delighted to see how well you are doing, and how happy you both are, Ginnie. It really puts a big smile on my face! :)

    I think it's so great that the city organizes these welcome days for newcomers :)

  9. 'Gorinchem is a big enough city to have everything and a small enough city to know everybody'
    That is how we could describe Gorinchem, you did an amazing job presenting the city we both like so much, we feel at home here, we feel very welcome here.
    I have a smile on my face everytime you come home from school, you even explain me why some Dutch words are the way they are......
    I am so proud of you and it is so strange to me that I can speak Dutch to you and you get the gist of it, it amazes me how fast you learn, but than I kind of know you will pick it up soon, determined as you are.
    Ik ben zo ontzettend trots op jou.
    The pictures are a delight and it is a big invitation to everybody to come and visit it some day.

  10. Gorinchem really is picturesque, I didn't realize it either. You are becoming a Dutch Master, my dear, both in the language, and in the art photography.

    I miss Mister Rogers.

  11. hoi hoe is het met je? Kom je taarjes eten? bla, bla... blabla,
    so it's written on a cup Anna received from or Dutch friends that lives in Huizen;)

    Haha, I don't speak Dutch, but I understand most when reading: It's not that different from German, which I learned in School many years ago. And due to the fact Ingelin now lives in Düsseldorf, we both have to refresh our German.

  12. Did you really go to the top of the ladder? Fantastic! The photos are terrific. What is it you're using for processing to get some of the lovely effects? You keep getting better all the time.

  13. Tor: According to Jen, Weeze airport is 1.5 hrs. away from us, and that's not bad!!! Just tell us when you are coming and we will make sure to meet you, if we can! :) Wouldn't that be something.

    Mad: You are always such a big fan. So, when are YOU gonna fly over? :)

    Renny: I can't tell you how many times I say to Astrid "That looks so Dutch!" It's become a joke for us. HA! How interesting that Dutch and Norwegian are similar. I never would have known that.

    Deborah: You have such a delightful way of affirming who I am and what I am experiencing. It means the world to me, so THANK YOU.

    ET: This place continues to awe me, Jen. I never get bored with it. I especially like that it is big enough and still small enough to make it homey. One day you may see it for yourself. :) And I see the Weeze airport is very doable for Tor. Who knows...we may see him before we know it.

    Vagabonde: You'd have a heyday with your camera here. I wonder how you'd show it off on your own blog. :)

    CS: We couldn't be happier, Sandra. Seriously, it's a taste of heaven on earth. And I feel very welcomed everywhere I go.

    Astrid: Feeling welcome is everything in the world. We are so lucky to be where we are, even here at De Lindeborg. I am so loving this learning. I just don't want to forget anything, that's all. But my head is already exploding. So many words, so little time.

    Ruth: How can we ever forget Mister Rogers! I hope he smiles whenever we sing his song. :) I certainly don't feel anything close to a Dutch Master in/of anything, but I sure am loving the process of learning all about it. Thanks for your vote of confidence, sister!

    Tor: HA! You really ARE a Dutchman. Little did I know. And yes, it IS very similar to German, even if neither side wants to admit it. :)

    Ted: Oh yes, Ted. 35 meters up. It was spectacular...somewthing I would never have expected to experience in my lifetime. Much of the processing you see here is the overlaying of textures through PhotoShop...textures you can find for free on the Internet. There is so much you can do and I've just scratched the surface!

  14. Gorgeous and unique photos. What a great city that is so welcoming. American cities and towns should take a cue.

  15. It is indeed a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Wat een uitstekend idee om een rondvaart voor de nieuwkomers to maken. Echt gezellig!
    Whatever you did to process those windmill photos, you deserve a prize for the outcome. They look like Vermeers.

    I miss Mr. Rogers and the unhurried, simple neighborhood he created for our kids.

  16. Susan: I totally agree. I'm sure they just add the expense to their budget each year...and gain great reward for it!

    DB: You're a sweetheart and I do appreciate your kind, flattering words! I have so much fun playing around with the photos of places that feel like they're from the middle ages. I feel so lucky to see them!

  17. Soooooo glad you're settled down and love you're new hometown!

    What fantastic photos - after seeing this, I say to TorAa: We just have to come to visit one day - okay?