Sunday, June 06, 2010

Dordt in Stoom

...or in other words, Dordrecht in Steam = Dordrecht Steam Festival, the largest of its kind in Europe, just 13 miles from where we live here in Gorinchem, Netherlands. That's where we went by train on Saturday, May 30th. By train because, with the thousands of visitors expected (250,000), there'd be no place to park. It was a no-brainer.

We knew there'd be so much to see! Because we went by train and were already at the train station, we decided to first find the steam train and take our ride on it to the model train pavilion too far away for walking. It was part of the full-ticket 'Steam circuit Dordt' pass so we had to think ahead for how we'd schedule our day.

We were early and had to wait for the steam train to arrive at the station from its back-n-forth trip to the model train pavilion. The anticipation was intense because both Astrid and I wanted to get pictures of the train puffing its way in. We and everybody else! How fun when we finally saw it coming. After lots of pictures, we hopped on and took the 15-minute ride to the model train stop. (And if you guessed the bottom-left photo above is a model, you're right.)

There's something about model trains, and what's funny about that is both Astrid and I are mesmerized by them. So it made sense that our first order of business was to check out the pavilion. I have always loved things in miniature and think I must have made the buildings and scenery set-ups in a past life. Brother Nelson had his own model train set eons ago, which is still in my subconscious, I'm sure. (Did you notice the sulky race horses in the collage above...just like the real one from my last post!)

Before and after going into the model-train pavilion we strolled around all the vintage trucks parked for viewing. They don't run on steam, of course, but they were there just for the halibut and added nostalgia to the scene. They deserved to be there. And they led the way to the river bank where we then picked up our steam boat ride to the Dordrecht city center on the Merwede River...the same river that runs by our city Gorinchem.

Talk about all the stops and whistles. They really did it up big, bringing back the memories of a by-gone day. If I counted right, there were 23 steam ships from all over The Netherlands, all with their own names and all blowing off steam. And all were in working order, taking visitors up and down the river. The top-left contraption, by the way, is a lightvessel/lightship...a ship that is a lighthouse. We didn't take the time to tour it but at least I got a picture of it. (And did you find Astrid in the collage?)

When we got off the steam boat, we were at the harbor in the midst of the main crowd of the city-center hoopla. That's where all the steam tractors strutted their stuff, some like whirling dervishes spinning their gears. Most of them were miniature tractors, like the one Astrid is photographing above. This video shows you how cute they are when they work.

By then we were totally ready for a late lunch and started to walk through the city center away from the beaten path. We had a friend's apartment-warming party to attend that evening back at our senior-living complex and decided we had seen what we wanted to see at the festival. So after lunch, we wandered our way back through the streets towards the train station. Unbeknownst to us, we ended up on the main run of the old-timer buses driving visitors to the station. And since that was also part of our pass, we hopped on and enjoyed our ride back to the total vintage style.

Steam-powered trains, ships, and tractors. Vintage trucks. Old-timer buses. Model trains. It may not be everybody's thing but Astrid and I were like kids in a toy shop. It happens only every other year and only in Dordrecht, so we felt lucky that it happend this year and, as I already said, just 13 miles from home. How does life get any better than that!

Update on Nicholas: A week after his attack by the 3 pit bulls, he is like his normal self, according to Amy. He even still likes dogs, he says! Amy says the owner surrended all his dogs which were then put down. He was also cited in violation of the leash law and not being proactive with the rabies shots. We truly believe Nicholas' healing is due to the "collective consciousness" of all of you who cared and prayed. Thank you.


  1. Being on the bus going home was a kind of re-living times of my youth.
    I did not grow up with my parents having a car, so we did a lot of traveling by train and bus.
    My grandparents lived next to the railwaystation in Hilversum, there was a bridge over the rails and I would stand there for hours looking at the old steam-engines that would come underneath me.
    No need to say mom was not happy with me when I came home black and smoke-smelling.
    I love the smell of grease of those miniature machines, we had a fabulous day, amazing how people keep old times living.
    A joyful day and sunny, yes we are so lucky.
    Wonderful collages, those pictures say it all, we came short of eyes to see everything.

  2. I can totally see you and Astrid LOVING this. The mechanics and beauty of it all. So fun!

    I am so grateful about Nicholas' health and wellbeing!!

  3. Wow, what a great day you had! It all sounds like so much fun. So glad Nicholas is well.

  4. What a trip indeed! Loved seeing the model trains as I am TOO VERY mesmerized by them. LAst time I was a kid in Osoyoos visiting the trains. This was definitely a treat and I can't believe how much you saw in one day... Amazing!!!!

    Great to hear about Nicholas too!

    :) By the way, the cat video is back up working.

  5. Astrid: When cities and countries have great transportation like yours, Mijn Vrouw, why would anyone need a car...unless they want the 'control' to come and go and travel as they wish, like we do on weekends. We still ride our bikes everywhere when we can. Why use the car! The world would not be so dependent on our fossile fuels if more of it operated as your country. Of course, it helps that you're flat! :) We have so many memories already in our young life together, don't we!

    Ruth: Yes, sometimes you just know what other people will get a kick out of! :) We are thankful for much, Nicholas included.

    Karen: It was indeed great. We are happy and thankful for much, Nicholas included.

    ET: We always come to our limit in a day but not before we have seen a lot. We both feel so lucky. Thanks, Jen.

  6. What an outstanding trip you had – it sounds and looks like so much fun. I love to take part in events like that. When we were in Baltimore my daughter thought we should take the two grandchildren to the railroad museum that they have there. I thought it would be “boring” but then I also thought I should do my duties as a grandmother. So we went. And I was dazzled and love it. I took many pictures and shall do a post on it soon.
    I am very very happy that Nicholas is feeling well - that is outstanding news.

  7. I am always so happy to find interesting new blogs. Yours reminds me of the 2 years I lived in your part of the world (I lived in Germany, in Wilhelmshaven, but often drove to Holland.) The pictures are wonderful. Machinery can be really beautiful.

  8. What a day!
    Reveals so many memories from my childhood as well.
    Even the model trains. I remember we were a couple of young boys that combined our trainsets and rails to build large systems of rails. My first locomotive, I did build myself; could not afford to buy a ready to use one.
    haha, the bottom left: Holland and Mountains;))
    Must have been a day you will remember for a loooong time.

  9. Vagabonde: HA! See, you learned something new about yourself at your age. :) I love it. Thanks for sharing that fun piece. And thanks again for all your mindfulness towards Nicholas.

    20th Cent. Woman: You have honored me by stopping by and commenting here on my blog. It's much appreciated. Thank you. It really is a small world after all.

    Tor: I'm guessing we all have our stories that take us way back to childhgood. So fun to go back down memory lane. :)

  10. Knowing you, Ginnie, you must have had the time of your life!

    I'm so happy to hear that Nicholas is doing well again. That was a close one!

  11. My! You have been busy. Thanks for the glorious tour!

  12. CS: You know me well, Sandra. :) Have always been more interested in stuff like this than in girlie things. :D Thanks.

    Ken: Awww. Thank you for stopping by here. You're a sweetheart. I've missed you at SC and have wondered how you're doing?

  13. I'm insanely envious of you seeing all that old-time machinery, buses, trains, etc. As I had 2 sons, we went to lots of 'boy' style events, air shows, model train shows etc, and now that they have both left home, I miss that part of my life. But now I have 2 grandsons, so when they get old enough, I'm sure we'll be visiting the same kind of event. This isn't meant to be a sexist comment, I know girls like this kind of thing too, but boys REALLY like it!

  14. Ginnie; I'm really impressed - both for you're report and of course the lovely photos that document the whole things in perfect details!

    It really seams that children in all ages could love this :-)