Monday, August 09, 2010

Breda, NL...and I'd Rather be Fishing

A couple of weekends ago Astrid and I were out-n-about in the countryside on our way home after a delightful drive to nearby Breda. We love driving the back roads coming and going whenever possible. It's such a different look than what you get from the freeway.

Lo and behold, while minding our own business but keeping our eyes open, there she was, fishing. Astrid hears something out of me...a grunt...body language...intuition--"Ginnie would like this"--and she stops. I get out of the car and snap the pictures.

Were they sisters? Actually, there was also a boy nearby at the bank of the canal and I wondered if they all belonged to each other. All doing what they love.

It's my turn at Vision and Verb again today, where you can read about what I'd rather be doing...and where this experience took me.

But speaking of Breda, since that was the day, take a peak with me at another fun city that's almost in our backyard, 19 miles away. It's Grote Kerk (Big/great church), or Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady), was the main attraction for us, as almost always. Nor were we disappointed!

This is a gothic, protestant church that dates back to the 15th century. It's tower is 97 meters high. Sadly, very few services are held there anymore...except for baptisms, weddings and funerals, concerts, exhibitions, symposiums and fashion shows. But this is what's happening these days all over Europe.

When I see churches like this, visible from all over the city, I marvel. I still haven't gotten used to them. Surely the residents who have lived there all their lives are ho-hum about I'm almost becoming of the one just two blocks from our apartment. [Did I say that?]

Lucky for us, this church was open on a Saturday. Actually, the map we follow religiously has a different icon for city churches that are open to the public or not. So we know ahead of time if we'll be able to go inside.
If we can, we will!
This particular church pays tribute to to its members by hanging heraldry shields/emblems everywhere your eye can see. It even has a map where you can locate whatever shield you're looking for. This was a first for us.

But what astounded us more than anything was the pipe organ...the magnificent organ extending from almost top to bottom. This, too, was unique for us. It was worth the entire trip.
The organ of the Grote Kerk in Breda is one of the few complete mechanical 4-manual organs of the Netherlands. It has an interesting history which dates from before 1530. The organ has been restored in 1969 by Flentrop.

It so happens that this church in Breda is from Oranje-Nassaus (House of Orange-Nassau), the Dutch Royal Family, where 17 members are buried in the chapel. In this collage above, you can see some of the art work throughout the church that pays tribute to their religious and historical heritage.

By far, the above Grote Kerk is Breda's most important city landmark. But as a fortified city, it also holds strategic military/political significance, and is home to the Dutch Royal Military Academy, as seen below:

As Dutch cities go, this one is a beauty. Not too big and not too small. Just right. It has it all, as you see below...the architecture, history, canals, art, water tower and windmill.

What more could you ask for...except for maybe a RED HAIR FESTIVAL coming up in September. Can you believe it! Initiated in 2005, it attracts attendees from 30 countries. Will we go? You'll be the first to find out, trust me. I suspect not, since we're not fans of huge crowds. But just the thought of it sounds fun, doesn't it. That's Breda!

Back to the beginning of this post is the little girl fishing, who was the frosting on top of that day while out-n-about here in The Netherlands. Also, the reminder that today is my turn again at Vision & Verb. Did I ever tell you I LOVE LOVE LOVE my life here in this country!


  1. I love these posts, chock-full of images, history, and other fun facts. I love those little cherubs playing the musical instruments.

  2. Love all of the pics... And fishing... yes that would be fun!!!

    Breda - I've been there! More specifically last time to cheer on friends doing a relay run in the city centre back in 2002... I don't remember much besides the ribbon and friends running by...

    And only 19KM away for you!!!

  3. I am so happy that you LOVE LOVE LOVE your life here in this country, I am the one that sees your sparkling eyes when we are in all those cities.
    You are doing an amzaing job with all these collages, so much to see and sometimes I wonder...was I there too?? yep, but than we always see different things on our hunts.
    On our trips I get to know my own country more and more.
    Thank you for being with me on these trips and yes I sometimes can feel when you like for me to stop the car so that you can get out and take pictures...I love it, I love you.

  4. Oh yeah I love the shots of the two girls rapt in the task at hand.

    We almost don't have these majestic cathedral/churches here.

  5. DB: It sure has helped to put my photos into collages instead of albums. So much easier for me and for you. Thanks for your kind words.

    ET: Isn't it strange to think of all the places we have seen in common, though at different times. How fun. Everything seems so close here in this small country. It's a total delight!

    Astrid: If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be here! I love that you are seeing so many of these places for the very first time and through my eyes. Sometimes it takes someone else to help us fall in love with our own country, so I'm glad I can be that person for you! I love it.

    PC: I loved the littlest girl watching so intently. She is learning everything she needs to know at the feet of her master. :) And yes, these churches just aren't what we're used to in the States, for sure!

  6. Another wonderful travalogue from you, Ginnie! A couple of things struck me in particular - Astrid's 'reading' of you so well, and being so willing to stop. MFB does this with me too and it's lovely to have someone know you so well, and to be so responsive.
    The second thing was the sky! Beautifully blue and sunny. You should go to work for the Dutch National Tourist Office, because you'd have the whole world convinced it never rains in Holland.
    Third thing is the organ. I absolutely love pipe organs and promised myself years ago that I would do a tour of European churches and cathedrals, but only the ones with magnificent pipe organs in them!
    A few years ago I went to St. Albans Cathedral in England, and by fabulous luck happened to be there while a visiting American organist was practicing - a contemporary piece I had not heard before and which, honest to God, had me levitating.

    Although I am not religious in the least, I appreciate these wonderful old churches, their history and the richness of their architecture and interiors. I really enjoy your posts about them, Ginnie - thanks!

  7. Deborah: Once you visit church after church, you start to see the differences in organs. Sometimes there will be more than one in the same church/cathedral. One church we saw had four! But this one may have been the biggest/tallest we've ever seen. It really was magnificent.

    Long, long ago I stopped being "religious" and see that most of Europe has done likewise. The new wine isn't fitting very well into the old wineskins (that's another post unto itself)! But seeing these huge structures in all their splendor is an more of an educational experience, to say the least. Just when I think I've seen one and therefore have seen them all, I end up with another surprise staring me in the face.

    Astrid is so good at reading me, so I know how good it is for you, too. YFB is lucky to be able to read you. Clear messages, clear communication. :) I love it.

    I had to laugh at the "spelling fail." Astrid and I often say to each other, "I know your English/Dutch!" :)

  8. Bootsie,

    It was cool to see pictures of the organ and hear about its history! Hope has a pipe organ in its chapel that was imported from the Netherlands in the 1930s. They spent a lot of money (several million if I am remembering correctly) shipping it back to the Netherlands to be restored piece by piece. It is again in full working order and is used during our Christmas concerts!

    Love the pictures!!


  9. I love fishing too and the city you have showed is amazing

  10. ps. Ginnie, have a look at my link Athens, several pictures more:)great city indeed

  11. I really like your fishing-related photos even though I am not a fishing person.

  12. That church is HUGE and beautiful. I think my favorite thing about old churches is the worn marble floor.

  13. Katy: What a delight to see you here and to get this added info on Hope's organ. I have seen it...and in fact, I think that's the one I heard David Colburn play a few years back. How fun. Thank you so much for stopping by here and commenting. That means a lot to me!

    Ola: It really is a great is this entire country! Thanks.

    Tim: It's been years since I last fished but I still remember how fun it is! Thanks. :)

    Ruth: Speaking of marble, we check it out in every church because in some it's actually painted to look like marble. We get tickled pink every time we find that out. :)

  14. You know I love fishing too - not to mention to clean them and eat it afterwords!

    What a wonderful cathedral report - you're photos is breath taking and the post was really readable - thanks for sharing!

  15. I'd love to attend the redhead festival! I'll meet you there next year, OK?

  16. I can't help wondering, what do you do at a redhead festival? Just walk around and let people admire your red hair?

  17. Renny: You're a sweetheart. You know I'm in heaven here, seeing all theae wonders before my very eyes. :)

    Sham: I have no idea what happens at a Red Head Festival! Maybe that's what we would do...go around admiring each other. :)

  18. Lovely post, Ginnie, with great pictures. I’d love to hear a concert played on this organ – it must truly be beautiful.