Thursday, February 17, 2011

First Wedding Anniversary: Part II

Since the main event of our 2-day anniversary weekend was our stay at the windmill B&B on 4 February, that's where I started this past Monday with Part I (see the map there). Today we'll follow to the end of the trip...before I end the series next Monday with Limmer and Sneek from the beginning of the celebration.

So, we hopped in the car after our B&B breakfast and headed out of Onderdendam to one last destination north before heading back south towards home. But on the way north....

...and as we left Bedum, the municipality of Onderdendam, we were greeted by this 11th century
St. Walfridus Kerk whose tower is the most-leaning in all of Holland
and is supposedly in competition with the Leaning Tower of Pisa (around 12-13 feet, if I'm correct).

St. Walfridus was actually an unexpected surprise while Astrid was on a mission to show me something important....

...the beginning of the footpath in Holland on which you can walk all the way to Rome. Seriously.
When we got there, she discovered it's not the beginning (the one in Pieterburen to the west is the beginning) but one close to the beginning and similar. Both views are from opposite sides of the road and show the kind of systems for which Holland is known. Their bike paths, for instance, have full detailed maps and are a big deal in this country where biking is a science.
I can see biking to Rome, maybe. But walking (774 miles from our house)??

While still driving the backroads north to Delfzijl, our most northern destination, if anything jumped out at us, we stopped. Like this Solwerd Kerk in Appingedam from 1783.
It's open for rent every day of the week and can accommodate up to 80 people, used especially for weddings. Too bad it wasn't open for us to peek inside.

It was the bell tower that most attracted my attention.

Also in Appingedam we stopped at the city square to see the 1630 Stadhuis (City Hall) where on the façade Lady Justice (below) appears without her blindfold....

...and where the pelican motif, the city's coat of arms, is prominent.
The bottom right-hand image (above) is a gevelsteen (gable stone) on a nearby building.
Also on the square is the wood-carving similar to a totem pole.

Here's the pelican story: the pelican killed her chicks with one well-directed flap of her wings when they became too unruly. After three days she pecked herself in her breast, and with the blood flowing from it she sprinkled her chicks, who became alive again.
Hmmm. Definitely one way to discipline the kids?!

I don't often tell you about the drawbridges that are all over this country but when you drive through the countryside and even in some cities, like ours, you have to be prepared for such a boat crossing. If you're going to work, as happens for Astrid each weekday, you have to calculate in the possibility of a bridge delay.
For me it's still as fascinating as the first time I saw it.

THEN we arrived!
Our B&B hostess told us we'd enjoy this little café at the top of the Holland world in Delfzijl, where we could look across the Eems River and wave to Germany. Delfzijl is Holland's 5th largest seaport and is known for it's aluminum and chemical industries. The wind could have easily blown us across the river.
All 3 of us love the wind--even Granny Towanda.

It was the perfect place to stop and eat the Sandwich of the Month for lunch:
a Western Makreel Salade Broodje for €2.95 each...similar to a tuna sandwich.
It was just what the doctor ordered.

With our destination reached and our tummies full, it was now time to head home, taking as much or little time as we wanted for the remaining 135 miles.

You already know I'm a glutton for church/city towers and spires.
Sometimes all I need is for Astrid to stop the car so I can step out and snap the picture. By now she expects and anticipates it. If you squint real hard, you can even see the 1289 date on the tower to the right (above).
(or click to enlarge)

Some churches take more time, like this one in Slochteren. Maybe it's the name of the town that catches my eye as much as the church itself, distinctly separated from its tower. If you click to enlarge, you can see the square clock in the tower through the trees.

It so happens this area is the center of a gas field discovered in 1959, "ensuring the position of the Netherlands as a major energy exporting country. The estimated gas reserves in 2009 was 95,350 billion cubic feet."
I didn't know that; did you?

As we drove south through the Drenthe province, we happened upon the Magnuskerk in Anloo (225 inhabitants in 2001), believed to be the oldest from the province. The nave is from 1100 and the tower from 1200, with the stepped gable from the late 1800s. It was the stepped gable that caught my eye because it was the first of its kind I've ever seen...on a church tower.

Astrid says we will definitely go back to the province of Drenthe because the architecture of the houses alone is so different from what we're used to in our own neck of the woods (Zuid-Holland province).

It was about this time in the mid-afternoon that I could tell Astrid was looking for something. A surprise, she said. She stopped when she saw this sheep and asked for directions. HA! Just kidding. There was an information board nearby which she checked out. At this point we were in the vicinity of Rolde, a tiny town of less than 4,000 people...with a church and a windmill. Once she found the church, BINGO.

The Molen van Rolde is a smock mill built in 1873 for grinding corn and barley.
The St. James church has a long history that began in 900 but whose present brick building is from the early 15th century.

Before I get to Astrid's surprise, see the little contraption out in the field in the lower right-hand corner (above)? We actually got out of the car and walked up to it so Astrid could show me.

It's the watering hole for the horses and cows!
Where Astrid's hand is, the animal pushes with it's nose...and water comes out to fill the basin.
Maybe we have those in America but it was my first time to see one.
It doesn't take much to make me excited.

THIS was Astrid's last surprise of the trip: two ancient hunebed burial sites just a few meters away from the field where the animals drink from the water basin, with St. James watching in the background
...on a very windy day.
These megalithic tombs above ground are thought to be over 5,000 years old and built without mortar.
The deceased persons were placed inside the burial chambers which were then enclosed with earth and smaller stones. The whole place reminded me of the sacred burial sites of our Native Americans.
What an education!

As we left Rolde and hit the highway to get back home, saying enough was enough, this 'cloud of witnesses' to our weekend bid us Tot Ziens. We had just finished a wonderful celebration of our first wedding anniversary and had a good taste in our mouths....

[to be continued on Monday with a backtrack to the first part of the trip before the windmill B&B....]


  1. There is so much to see and love about this post... as you know... I'm a BIG fan of your photography and some of the images in this post particularly strike me as marvelous... the facade of Lady Justice without her blindfold (too lazy to find the punctuation mark for the c in facade)... the image of the café jutting right out over the water... the windmill and church you found near Rolde, the ancient burial sites and the 'cloud of witnesses' are all especially appealing... as for the burial sites... I'm absolutely fascinated by ancient stone and have so much appreciation for such things that I think I must have been an archaeologist or geologist in a past life (not really believing in such things) or that (if such things exist in our realm) I will be one or the other in a future incarnation!

    I look forward to the end of the story on Monday! :-)

  2. We will go back to Drenthe, there are many places to visit and not too far away ;)
    Your pictures are a delight again and to me it is such a pleasure to show you special things, like the Hunebedden, I saw them the first time when I was about 10 years old, the stones than, were even bigger than now :)
    The churches are beautiful and have a main place in the communities, but every time it is a delight to see them.
    I am looking forward to the next post, although I was with you on the trip.
    Thanks for these wonderful collages/pictures and wrtiting down every thing to remember.

  3. Well, it looks like I am a little late to the party, not the first time!
    But my heart fills with joy for both of you ... I can tell it was a wonderful and special time that you had on your anniversary celebration.
    What fun, what memories! Here's to many more loving years.
    Ginnie & Astrid, all the best.
    Love & light,

  4. Victoria: You always make me feel so good about my posts, even though I know they are long and packed full of so much. As I often say, this is more for US, Astrid and me, to keep as a running commentary on all our travels. If I don't stay on top of it all, it'll get lost by the wayside. So THANK YOU. Having said that, I'd love to do a photo hunt with you. I have a feeling we'd have a great time 'seeing' things.

    I actually DO believe in a past life and often say I can remember what something feels like, even with never experiencing it yet in this life. Why not! :)

    Astrid: I love your sense of humor. HA! You know that you always make me laugh. I'm sure the stones were bigger back when you were 10, Nicholas' age. :) It has been so soulful doing these anniversary posts. And rightly so. It was an experience of a lifetime. Thank you again and again.

    WS: You're not late at all, Susan! HA! I just posted this less than 24 hours ago. :) As always, thanks for celebrating with us and wishing us more loving years to come.

  5. I loved the leaning church and the homes from the province of Drenthe which you will go back and visit again! Wow oh wow, what an adventure... :)

  6. ET: This whole country is an Adventure, Jen, with a capital A! :)

  7. Your posts continue to be both fascinating and educational. I have a broader view of the world because of you. :)

  8. If you were the National Enquirer, you could have titled this post "Lady Justice Unveiled!". Or even "LaJu Unveiled!", given their propensity to give contraction nicknames like JLo or Scar Jo.

    I learned about the "hunebedden" in Drenthe in "lagere school" but I don't recall seeing one in person. Thanks for supplementing my education!

  9. A path to Rome... Ha! Love it. How much fun you have had!! Forget 300 photos, you probably took closer to 500! I love how she knows to stop... I need to get John and the kids to do that for me.

  10. Tim: You're a sweetheart to say so. Thank you.

    DB: HAHAHA. Thank God I am not the National Enquirer! Not to say there aren't parts of me that aren't seen as sensational. :D

    I had no clue those ancient grave sites existed in The Netherlands till this trip. Color me surprised. I feel lucky to have seen them!

    Margaret: As you know by now, it was a tad over 600 but once I went through them, I was able to delete half of them. That's what I love about digital photography. We have the luxury of taking more than we need, knowing we can pick-n-choose the best and throw the rest away. :)

  11. Walking to Rome! Just last evening we were talking at dinner with Peter and Andrea about biking around Michigan, like the one from Lansing to Mackinac Island.

    The fish sandwich sound delicious! Those meals stopped for are maybe the best part of traveling for me. :)

    The age and prolific volume of bricks in these buildings just astonishes me. Don't you love that pile of logs!

  12. Ruth: I would LOVE to bike around Michigan...or Holland, for that matter. It's such good exercise for the soul! I know that the meal times are your cup of tea. I always think about what YOU would do. :) I'm sure you know by now that the Dutch architecture takes my breath away. All of it has seeped into my subconscious and conscious, both.