Thursday, July 01, 2010

Summer Vacation!

I don't know about you but I had never seen anything like this in my life until Astrid pointed it out to me. When a kid graduates from high school here in The Netherlands (not grade school and not college), this is what happens: the student's backpack is hung from the house with balloons and Holland flag and whatever. Anyone who sees it knows what has just happened.

The day of this picture was Saturday, June 19, when Astrid and I took the Fast Ferry to Rotterdam to meet up with 2 of our Shutterchance bloggers. On that street alone we saw 4 such packs hanging out the front of the house...and I imagined them as buddies having grown up going to school with each other. I hope they were all good friends.

Anyway, that day in Rotterdam was fun. While we waited for Nadiuska and Cherise to arrive, there on the riverfront a wedding shoot was taking place. With my 300 mm lens I was able to stay far enough away to not be obstrusive but to still get several fun shots.

This is the 'Cig Bity,' as my mom would say. Things like this happen there.

We weren't meeting up specifically for a photo hunt ourselves, we 4 gals, but how can you NOT hunt for photo ops everywhere you go when you're not in your neck of the woods! Once the two gals arrived, we started walking and talking and walking, across Rotterdam's famous Erasmus Bridge (lovingly referred to as The Swan by the locals) on our way to the New York Hotel where Astrid wanted us to eat lunch.

In this collage the bluish gray bridge is The Swan. See how tall and graceful she stands!
The river is the Nieuwe Maas on which is Europe's largest port, Rotterdam (where my truckpacks were shipped last year, if you remember), with images on both sides of the river. If you squint (or click to enlarge and then click the image again), the huge cruise ship in the bottom left-hand and right-hand corners is the world's 2nd largest cruise ship: the Norwegian Epic. It so happened to be in port that day, lucky us. At 4100 passengers, it's almost as big as the town I grew up in! (Astrid and I have decided to choose a smaller river-cruise ship, when the day comes....)

We moseyed on over to the New York Hotel (also in that bottom right-hand corner above), ate lunch and then went back outside to take more pictures. There sitting as pretty as you please was this Excalibur, just begging for a photo shoot. What a model for all of us.

We had so much fun acting like we were big-time photographers.
There you see Nadiuska (25) and Cherise (23). I could be their grandma. :)

We walked back over the Erasmus Bridge...the pretty swan...said our good-byes to the gals and hopped back on the Fast Ferry towards home. When it dawned on us that our Granny Towanda was parked within a few kilometers of Kinderdijk, home of 19 windmills in one spot, we decided to drive over and say HI.

We had last visited Kinderdijk two years previously, almost to the day. If you've paid attention, this is now the image I'm using as my blog's header. And yes, if you count, here are 13 of the 19 windmills. Talk about soulful!


Some of you know that the World Cup soccer competition has been going on in South Africa now for about a month. Holland has won their first 4 games and today plays Brazil in the quarter-finals.

It's a mad house these days in this neck of the woods.


But tomorrow our focus totally changes as we begin a week's vacation in France, thanks again to Granny Towanda. That gal sure is getting around! We have Dutch friends who now live in SW France just north of Toulouse. Yes, we'll drive right by Paris and will wave for all you fans who won't believe we aren't stopping there for one minute. We've both been there at least twice and for now have other apples to pick....

We'll have a B&B night farther south before arriving at our friends' house on Sunday afternoon. On Wednesday morning we plan to head for home the long way, via Bordeaux and eventually the vicinity of Mont St. Michel and the Normandy beaches for 2 days before driving home on Saturday.

Miles to go before we sleep...but are we excited or what! I still can't believe France is basically in our backyard like this. It will be like driving to the family cottage in Michigan every summer and taking a week to do it.


  1. That was a fun day, we did do and see a lot, when I see that route drawn on the map, I am just thrilled, I have never been to the west of France, we did many years of camping in the Ardeche (under Lyon).
    We both are so thankful we are able to make this trip with our tough Lady Granny Towanda.
    You have made beautiful pictures again.
    The header is a joy for the eye and even I never get bored by seeing windmills.

  2. Looks like you had a wonderful day!! And your blog header is fantastic!
    I know i don't have to tell you to have fun on your road trip because I know you will! I look forward to all your photos!

  3. Oh, what an exciting life you lead.

    That's funny about the backpacks for high school graduation. I have never heard of that before.

  4. I am so excited for you both!!! The photos of your Rotterdam outing are amazing. I do love the windmills shot the most. Really I do wish I had more energy to take photos right now, but maybe it's because we haven't had a vacation in over a year!

    I'll be looking forward to your return and all of the great adventures you both had. It is so exciting to drive and be on vacation through France! :)

  5. Astrid: Soon we will be on our way to another great adventure, mijn vrouw! We will both see things that will amaze us. We are so very lucky. Probably no windmills but they'll be waiting for us when we return. :)

    Mad: Thanks, my dear friend. The camera is packed and ready to go. :)

    Karen: Never a dull moment, for sure! I love the backpack idea. So cute. Astrid's own son did it himself a few years back. :)

    ET: I love that you get excited about these trips with us. You, too, have the wanderlust. I'm sure there will be times when I will see things through your eyes. I'll try not to miss anything. :)

  6. How lucky of you to be there just after graduation, and stumble right into a beautiful bride!! Your photos are amazing as always and no wonder with such good views, and friends to inspire you!! Quite professional indeed!

  7. Oh thank you for putting your vacation route on the map.

    The swan bridge is lovely. We saw a lone swan at the cottage this weekend. No one knows what happened to the wife/family.

    Ex Caliber is gorgeous!

    How fun for you to meet up with your SC friends. And now, off to France for what I think will be glory. I hope it isn't too hot. Mont St. Michel: I'm envious!

  8. Looks and sounds like you're having a great time! And I like the wedding shot. :)

  9. I was at Mont St Michel 5 yrs ago, a fantastic place but very commercialised now.
    Loved the description of your trip to rotterdam, each time you go to a new place I am insanely jealous!

  10. So different than the Wind Mill Farms popping up all over the plains!

  11. Your Excalibur photos are fantastic. The top one against the black background is so dramatic and the spokes of the wheel with the logo is also great.

    Your Kinderdijk photo is wonderful and makes a beautiful banner. My husband and I drove round and round trying to find Kinderdijk but we kept getting swept onto the wrong highway. That was in the pre-GPS days and our map was not detailed enough to give us enough guidance.

    Gotta love that Christiaan Huygens (at least that's who I think he is) bust with the oranje cap. If you hear a cheer from across the Atlantic during the World Cup Finals, that would be me. Hup, Holland, Hup!

  12. I hope you had a nice trip to France. How do you like to drive in France? I am afraid to since I have not driven there in years. While in Brittany I hope you tasted some of their cider and ate some of their crepes – they are made differently than in Paris. It must have been warm because I have been watching le Tour and it looked like the weather was quite warm for the riders. I am sure you picked some of the Tour on the TV if you saw any TV in France. I heard here that viewers of the Tour around the world grew up by 50% since last year. That is quite unbelievable.

    Your picture of the Excalibur was outstanding – you could sell it to an uppity magazine I am sure (by the way I got paid yesterday for my photographs that were used on the web – if the check is good that is – lol!) Can’t wait to see the pictures from your trip.

  13. Renny: Don't we all love the serendipity of these photographic experiences! Thank you for knowing.

    Ruth: You know how soulful these experiences are for me and understand. Thank you, sister. France was incredible and I can hardly wait to show it all!

    Tim: It has been a great experience living in Europe. I feel it's Home! Thanks.

    Sham: Mont St. Michel was incredible but we went at night and apparently that made all the difference in the world. During the day it's elbow-to-elbow people. We did not experience that, thank God. Soon I'll tell you all about it! :)

    Susan: Yes, I'm sure of it. :)

    DB: So sorry you missed Kinderdijk. I have now been twice but Astrid clearly knows the way, so I'm the lucky one. We watched the Holland vs. Uruguay game while in France and now that we're home, will watch the game vs. Spain tonight. I will be wearing my ORANJE shirt! :)

    Vagabonde: It was indeed very hot in France…everywhere, even here in Holland, too. But we managed okay. Yes, I did drive in France and found it to be just fine. I have driven there more than in Holland. HA! At least they drive on the same side of the road as I’m used to!

    We did see the Tour on TV once for a few minutes but nothing more. We’ll catch the end of it now that we’re home. We did watch the last Holland vs. Uruguay soccer game (Holland won) at our friend’s house…and tonight will watch the final with Spain here at home. I can’t believe Holland got this far!

    I am delighted you got paid for your photos, finally. I hope you are happy by the number. :) Thanks for your praise of my Excalibur. I will have it on SC this next Friday where it looks even better, if I may say so myself. :)

  14. So enjoyed seeing these images of Rotterdam. Did you get to the Nederlands Fotomuseum ? They have so many wonderful shows.

    Years since I've been able to get there (ill health) and not so far in UK near Harwich-Hook sailing.

    Thanks for all your lovely work :O)

  15. Cusp: I wish I had a link to your site to find out who you are. I'm guessing you found me through my sister Ruth at Synchronizing? Thanks for stopping by and commenting! That means a lot to me.