Monday, October 11, 2010

Zeeland Province, Netherlands

Ready, get set, GO! And don't forget to put your seatbelt on.

A week ago Saturday, Astrid and I drove 310 km (192 m) roundtrip from home to Zeeland province in the SW corner of The Netherlands. See those brownish fingers in the bottom-left image (click to enlarge)? That's Zeeland with its many islands, much of which is below sea level. Our main goal was to spend time in two cities: first in Goes and then in Middelburg, the capitol of the province. But we also wanted to island-hop by way of the dijks and bridges, all part of the Deltaplan, one of the wonders of the world. Leave it to Dutch engineering. But this is one of the things they're known for: "God created the world but the Dutch created The Netherlands."

Goes was first and gave us one of our biggest treats of the day with its two-for-one main church: the Maria Magdalenakerk. If you Google for images of this church, it will show you two different churches that face each other across the street. On each church is the same name but one is the protestant church and the other is the Roman Catholic. We're sure there is more to the story but for now, these are the two churches from both viewpoints:

On the left, you see the RC church, taken at the corner of the protestant church.
On the right you see the protestant church, taken at the corner of the RC church.

First, the protestant church, with some more views.

And inside the protestant church.

Then across the street to the RC church (in the bottom left image you see both churches again).

And then inside the RC church.

It so happens we were there at just the right time because both churches were preparing for a musical festival. In the protestant church there was a small chamber concert going on, which we could have stopped to listen to for several minutes longer than we did. Both of us were in heaven. In the RC church, a choir was rehearsing. The acoustics in both places were out of this world. When we got home and talked about it later, we made the decision to make sure we find such a church nearby during the holiday season where we can listen to some of the great music of the world in such an environment...maybe Handel's Messiah!

That was Goes. We could have turned around and gone home right then and there! We even got some splendid sun for a few minutes, especially during our late morning koffie and appeltaart, sitting outside where we could see both edifices.

But on to Middelburg we drove, another 27 km further...the capit0l of Zeeland province.

Surely by now you get the picture of why we always visit the churches everywhere we go!
When you see a tower such as this from several vantage points around, you are drawn like a magnet. This is Middelburg's 1568 Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) with its Lange Jan (Long John) tower from the 14th century. Actually, it's an Abbey with 3 churches all connected by the Lange Jan tower.

What we usually do, once we get our bearings, is try to find any door of the church that's open. Usually it's the main entrance but not always. In this case we never got inside because there was a reunion going on for the Snoek family within the courtyards of the Abbey. The outside architecture for us was to die for, and since we had already been inside the churches of Goes, we took advantage of a horse of a different color altogether: the historic costumes (klederdracht)of the Zeeland province within the Abbey courtyards.

Astrid tells me that's gold and red coral...the wealth of the family, worn for the world to see.
These were the welcoming committee for the Snoek relatives from all over the world. And we just happened to get in on some of the action, lucky us.

That's when we found out the church wasn't open, but the Abbey's inner court with herb garden was, so we walked along the inner passages and went inside.

As you see, Astrid was in heaven...and so was I, watching her.

From the church/Abbey, we then headed to the market square for lunch...and this is where my mussels collage from last post comes in. Remember? That restaurant overlooked City Hall:

City Hall in Middelburg just happens to be the main building of Roosevelt Academy, ranked as the top liberal arts college in The Netherlands for the third time in four years since its inception in 2004. Not bad! Remember the collage of the college guys from my last post? Bingo. Their school.

After a great lunch, tummies full, we strolled around a bit more till we headed back to the car to continue our Zeeland island-hopping on our way home. There's always something to grab my attention, of course.

Then it started raining cats and dogs! Astrid was so upset that I didn't really get to see the Neeltje Jans Delta Park at one spot connecting two of the islands. Astrid calls it the 8th Wonder of the World...because it is! But I assured her it was perfectly okay we couldn't see it then because otherwise we'd never get home! And we now have a good excuse for going back.

We did see 3 more water towers this trip as well as a light house, so my collection is growing:

And two more special windmills...from Zeeland province:

See, I told you to put on your seatbelt! I'm such a glutton for these trips.


Change gears now because this Friday Astrid and I will fly back to Atlanta where we will be till the 26th. School has its Fall Break next week, so we're both taking advantage of it. We'll take grandson Nicholas (now 10) to the Cumming Fair, carve pumpkins, celebrate birthdays and enjoy the North Georgia mountains, in the same cabin as last year. We'll also spend time with friends south of the city.

Hooray for vacations and breaks! I'll be keeping my next date with Vision & Verb on the 18th, a week from today, so I won't be absent. Just not in The Netherlands!


  1. I am sitting here and reading all we had done that day, am I glad I am still buckled up....
    Those collages are a delight for the eye, you do wonders with them.
    Before we went to Middelburg I hoped we would be able to spot some ladies wearing their Zeeuwse Klederdracht (costume) not knowing we would be in the middle of that reunion, I asked the people if they had a problem us taking pictures, I could tell they were proud showing it to us/you.
    You are right, we will go back one day when there is sun, erm.... NO rain, that is.
    I know I keep repeating myself (that is the age I think), you did a great job again, my wish for you; maybe one day some company will use this blog or at least your pictures to show the beauty of our country.
    I am looking forward to our trip to the Atlanta, counting the days :)

  2. I didn't realise that such a think as fall holidays exist;) have a great trip! Beautiful church architecture

  3. Ginnie,
    I really enjoy the photos of the water towers - I have never seen such interesting ones here in France. It's whimsical, what the Dutch do with such utilitarian structures. Design, art, aesthetics in general are obviously a significant part of their culture. Very interesting!

    Also interesting is the reference to the gold and coral jewellry and how this reflects the family's wealth. This is such a foreign concept to me, but I was talking recently to a Scottish woman who married a Moroccan and she enlightened me as to why gold jewellry is so important to Moroccan women (and those of many other cultures too). I had never thought of these glittering displays in terms of financial security/personal worth. But then, even Western women do that, although perhaps not as consciously. Why else would anybody want a diamond ring???

    As for those two churches - one suspects a certain competitiveness there, hmm??

    I'm rambling, sorry! I also left an equally wordy comment on the last post. :)
    Have a great time in Atlanta and enjoy being with your family!

  4. What a wonderful tour and photographs! Now I see also that you have changed your emails, and probably all of my emails to you have been going astray. In any case, it was terrific to hear from you. Enjoy your trip back to the tates, and be sure to let us know if you will be anywhere near Connecticut. We can't show you windmills, but we can show you land above sea level.

  5. When I saw a church during our travels, I immediate thought of you! And yup, see what happens. :)

    I must admit the windmills captivate my interest the most though!

    And you are going to the US! I do hope you enjoy every minute of it. And Autumn break is sure long. I think the kids had one as well in California but we had no idea of course.

  6. I just had to tell you that after my briefer, morning visit I had to come back again and explore in more depth. Your photos have really reached new levels of perfection, and the composite arrangements are a delight. Among my favorites are refinishing the table composite, the composite of the Middle-Eastern boys (or are those Astrid's pictures?). The two windmill shots against gray sky have a wonderful stark beauty, but this series of church photos are superb.

    Do you know the Becher water tower photos?

  7. Astrid: You can see how much fun I have doing these posts, MLMA! It's like this is what I was made for: do the traveling and then show-and-tell all about it! Thank you for your loving support throughout. If we can ever find someone to use my images, that will be the cherry on top! :)

    Ola: I know...not in the States, either, but here in The Netherlands, YES. It's a lucky break for us!

    Deborah: When we were in France last July, we saw at the most maybe 3 different kinds of water towers. Nothing like in The Netherlands! We did notice that.

    I guess all cultures show something of their wealth in what they wear, but these costumes definitely take the cake.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment...midst all your busyness. Thank you.

    Ted: Too bad we won't be anywhere close to Connecticut. It would be so much fun to see you and Jane again. Maybe one day! And yes, we'll get on track again with the right e-mails....

    ET: Don't you love it when we see something and it reminds us of another blogger! :) You know me...I love the windmills, too. I never tire of them.

    Ted: I have seen the Becher mills, yes: One day I want to make a big collage of all the ones I have. I like the idea of making them all in B&W, so I'll work on that. The Becher collection is astounding. A real inspiration. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Dear Ginnie,
    I'm honest when I say:
    We have to experience in real life together.
    I know it is more in Holland than just Tulips. Dikes, Kanals and a very flat country.
    It's 5000 Castels...

    My large challenge right now is TIME.
    And that is serious. When working 16 hours per day.
    I'll write...

  9. What beautiful old stones.
    I have never seen that type of hair rolled on top of the forehead, it is different and looks nice with the head gear they wear.
    For such a small country Holland has so much history and lovely places – it will offer you years to photograph all this wonder.

  10. The architecture of those churches and other old buildings always leave me in awe!