Monday, February 21, 2011

First Wedding Anniversary: Part III

Even by now, before you begin reading Part III of our anniversary weekend over 5 February, you know we had the time of our lives, staying at this windmill B&B in the NE part of The Netherlands.

That's what my post is on at Vision and Verb today: the time of our lives.

In Part I a week ago, I told you about the windmill part of the trip, 125 miles from home. But we went the long way, through 6 of The Netherlands' 12 provinces, to get there. That 'getting there' part is what I end the series with in today's post.

In Part II this past Thursday, I ended the trip with what happened after breakfast that Saturday when we left the windmill for home. Again, we drove the long way home, going north to the coast before driving back south through 3 more provinces. In the end, we drove 390 miles through 9 provinces.

Here's the funny thing: for Astrid, who has lived in this small country (relative to America) all her life, driving through the 9 provinces was almost like my driving through 9 different states in America. The geography, architecture, and language change in much the same way. It's quite astonishing, to be honest. And this is when I realize how compact Europe is compared to my own growing-up experience.


You know how we get started on a trip and almost immediately think about where we're going to stop for koffie met appeltaart!

That would be in Lemmer, just across the border from Flevoland province as we entered Friesland. Talk about another world! But I'll get to that in a minute.

It so happens that Lemmer is a water-sports town of approximately 11K population. In the wintertime, if/when the canal freezes (the one here and right outside our café window!), they have the Pronk Schaatsen festival (literally 'flaunted skating') when the skaters skate as couples and in groups wearing their old-timey costumes, as seen in the following video:

Astrid and I have already committed to keeping tabs on this each winter so that we can go back when the canal freezes. This is so incredibly soulful to sleeping inside a windmill B&B!
If you pay attention, some of the boats in the video are the same as in my images. They're Lemmer boats made there. It's part of their industry, much of which is also about fishing.

As we left Lemmer, there were two things Astrid had Googled to see: the lighthouse (yup, that's what it is, above-left) and the Lemster sea lock with its 2 rounded towers at the entrance to the harbor from the IJsselmeer, dating from 1888 (bottom-right above).

Now. Look at this. It blows me away!

Only 8 miles north from Lemmer, we got out of the car in Woudsend/Wâldsein, a small town of about 1300 citizens on the Slotermeer (lake), still in Frieseland. Very nonchalantly, Astrid started to tell me about when she was 17, at university, and was teaching students how to sail in this very spot. They would dock here to eat lunch before heading out to meet the other boats from the sailing school.

BTW, in the Friesland province they speak a different language that isn't easily understood by the rest of the country. Notice the middle image above that has both the Fries and the Dutch name of the city. It reminds me of countries like Ireland that use both English and Gaelic in their signage.

The reason why Astrid was able to teach sailing was because her dad taught both her and Sander (her two-year-older brother) how to sail when she was 12 (left image above). By age 17 (right image) she was a pro, teaching students at sailing school.
You get a feeling for why this woman to whom I'm married amazes me!

While driving the backroads this entire trip, you can just see my eyes trying to take everything in. The farmhouses, for instance:

This still astounds me.
See how the roof tiles change in color or how there are clear sections to the entire farmstead.
The smaller part is the house where the family lives. The larger part is the barn where the animals live. The farmer only needs to open a door from his house to step inside his barn!
If you think of severe winters, it sure makes sense to me.

The two main cities Astrid wanted me to see before the windmill B&B were Lemmer and Sneek (pronounced 'snake'), 13 miles from each other.

Any city that has a water tower this handsome is a must, as you know by now.

But it is the waterpoort (gate) of Sneek, from 1613, that is its most famous landmark.
So famous, in fact, that an entire line of clothing, Gaastra, uses it as their logo for nautical gear.
See how close the water tower is (bottom-right image above)!

How could you resist such a model from every possible angle!

Inside or out, she's a beauty if there ever was one.
HA! The waterpoort isn't bad either! :)

Can you imagine living in this city of 33K people and seeing this every day. Ho-hum.
See how even Granny Towanda tries to take it all in!

Once we could tear ourselves away from the port, we took a walk around the city center, of course....

...first to the Martinikerk from 1498 with its carillon of 50 bells....
(no entrance possible that day)

...followed by the Stadhuis (city hall) from 1550, going through façade restoration....

...and various other city impressions which we take to heart, as you know.
Every province has it's own flag and this one (top center) belongs to Friesland, the province before you drive furthermost north into Groningen, where we found our B&B...on a very windy day.

Before leaving Sneek, Astrid had one last mission:

A Friesland bakery!
Known for its suikerbrood (a loaf of baked sugar bread with cinnamon added) and dúmkes (taking it's name from the shape of the thumb, a butter cookie with anise flavor and whole almonds), Astrid just had to buy both.
I don't need to tell you they're both long gone.

By this time we were ready and eager to find our windmill B&B 44 miles north of Sneek. We had already had a full day and were ready for some R&R at our B&B, which is Part I of this 3-part series.

In those two days, look at all the weathervanes we saw...

...along with our prerequisite water tower, lighthouse, and gevelstenen!

So when I say we had the time of our lives, how could you possibly not believe me! Remember, I talk more about this at Vision and Verb today.

Thank you for taking the time to see this trip through my eyes. It was totally worth a 'First Wedding Anniversary' celebration. We really did have the time of our lives.


  1. :) It was a great weekend and thank you for making this in 3 wonderful posts.
    You have seen a large part of Holland and I think that each part is unique in its own way.
    I love to see the landscape change, to see the houses/barns change.
    After seen your pictures, it is almost impossible to not be proud of our country we live in.
    Sailing in Friesland is wonderful, we had great times on and in the water..... ;)
    I had the time of my life, seeing you so happy, seeing your sparkling eyes.
    Thank you MLS for making this weekend into an success.

  2. When you said "And this is when I realize how compact Europe is compared to my own growing-up experience."... I think that is it! That is why I'm so fascinated by it all too Ginnie!!! I love that you can see so much in such a small area so to speak. I love that each part is so different and so unique yet there is always so much to see EVERY time, and different EVERY time..

    Still being pregnant, you got me on the apple tart and the bread, YUMMY!!!

    And yes I know that while I was in Switzerland I had the time of my life, just like you now are having the time of your lives together! :)

  3. PS - love seeing the picture of Astrid at age 17!

  4. Europe may be compact; but there is so much there! Your pictures attest to that!

  5. I so enjoy your collages... and have been studying the architectural images you post with an eye to improving my 'eye' for such images. I do have a passion for studying interesting architecture but have never had worked on taking pictures of buildings as much as I have worked on improving my skill for capturing nature scenes and macros.

    When I look at your collages of the small details alongside the larger picture image of churches, city halls, windmills and so forth, I am in awe of all the wonderful details you manage to capture and share with us! The images of the waterpoort of Sneek are particularly marvelous! It is so nice that Astrid wears a bright red coat so she is easily spotted!

    I LOVE too the close-ups of the city hall... it will most likely require another visit when restoration is complete!

    The collection of weather vanes is amazing! Mostly when I see them they are so high up atop a church steeple or the like that I cannot get a good photograph. Perhaps the next collage I put together for my vacation blog will have at least one weather vane in it for you!

    I look forward to Monday when I get to read another of your posts... when I worked... I hated Mondays. Retirement is wonderful!

  6. Wow, Wow! What a post! The video of the Pronk Schaatsen was mesmerizing. I love how some of the skaters were connected by "stokken" to keep pace with each other.

    That water tower is most handsome indeed.

    That Sneek waterpoort must be the most photogenic bridge of all. Not a bad angle to it.

    I love the details of the Stadhuis with the cherubs and the coat of armor.

    Right now I wish I could steal a "hapje" of your "appeltaart".

  7. Wow, just an extraordinary tour, so many delectable details to savor! The video was amazing.

  8. !!! I have so much to comment on and I know I'm going to forget something.

    The boats are just picked up and placed on the side of the canal when it freezes? I can't believe how close the buildings are to the waters edge - in all the pictures, really.

    The arched water tower... I think I would still be there taking photos. And the houses attached to barns... hmm. Maybe a little too cozy!

    And those weathervanes are amazing. I like how you lined them up - you should frame them that way. Now I have to go to your Vision and Verb.

    How many photos did you take on this trip? 300? How wonderful - glad you had a great time!

  9. Astrid: You can imagine how long this would have been if I had done it as just one post. Even the 3 posts are long enough! But at least now we have it all down for posterity...and for coming back to review whenever we wish. That's the fun of it for me. Thank you for being so supportive of this process. It's my great pleasure, as you know, and "my job," as I often say. :) We have much for which we are thankful!

    ET: Compact Europe is what makes it so geographically accessible and that's the part that still dumbfounds me! While I live here, I'd be stupid to not take advantage of what's at my fingertips. Seriously. I do know this is how you felt when you lived in Switzerland. Now you have a huge country, like America, in which to spread your wings and fly. I bet you'll do a lot of that when Baby arrives.

    And yes, seeing Astrid at 17 brings a big smile. I would have fallen in love with her even back then. :)

    Tim: Compact Europe really packs a wallop, for sure. I feel so lucky to have seen so much of it. Thanks.

    Victoria: You are such an encouraging sweetheart, dear Lady! You always make me feel all this work is worth it. It is for me but when it's appreciated by someone else, it's the cherry on top of the frosting on top of the cake. HA!

    I love that you are now doing your own collages. Sister Ruth got me onto Picnik so I get excited when I see you using it now, too.

    The reason why I carry such a big lens all the time is because at 28-300 it gives me the wide angle as well as the long zoom for such things as the weathervanes. In that regard, it has become my everyday lens and I have learned to carry it all day without getting tired. You know I'll love your own weathervane. It'll bring a smile to my face. :)

    And yes, isn't it wonderful to love Mondays again! :)

    DB: Since you know this incredible country, I can just imagine what it's like when you see these images. Someone showed an image the other day of the stadhuis in Hannover, Germany, which I immediately recognized. It brought back so many happy memories.

    Just yesterday I noticed the 'stokken' in the video that kept the skaters fluid as though they were one. I love that idea.

    You are so good with the deserve a whole piece of your own appeltaart! :)

    Ted: Just let me know when you and Jane would like to come visit! :)

    Margaret: HA! I never expect anyone to comment on everything, of course. Just an overall response is more than fine. :) But thank you nonetheless for the details....

    I have seen places here, like in Brugge (Belgium), that remind me of Venice, with the buildings growing up out of the water. It still astounds me. How they can do it is beyond me. Just walk outside your front/back door into a boat!

    As long as there are so many different weathervanes, I will keep collecting them...just like the water towers. One day I will make a huge collage of all of them...maybe when I no longer live here and know I have them all...or when I think it's time. In the meantime, I'll just keep adding them to the file.

    I took 623 images but reduced them to 314. With 3 posts, that's about 100/post...which is about normal for me. :)

    Thank you again for your careful and wonderful comment!

  10. Ahh, a long drawn out road trip. I'm ready! I still get such a kick out of the European mindset that thinks traveling a hundred miles is very far and a big commitment. And then when European tourists come to the U.S., they are ready to travel the whole breadth, thinking it's a hop and a skip!

    Ahh, appeltaart.

    So fun, skating in the old costumes. I love it! Everything in the Netherlands seems so painterly.

    I love the pictures of Astrid!

    That house-barn! The waterpoort! That foot bridge reminds me of the Ha'penny bridge across the Liffey in Dublin.

    Now I'm off to V & V . . .

  11. Ruth: It's always fun to see what parts people pick up on, but especially you. I thought about Don when I saw those barn-houses. I'm guessing in the warmer months the smell would be quite overwhelming. But then, the animals would also be outside! :) Thank you for wading all the way through this. It really was quite the trip for us both.

  12. I just came back from my trip but reading your posts I am on another trip – to Holland. Your photos are so neat that I feel like I am there with you. So great that you can visit places close to your home. I was looking at finding a place by the sea or some water to go to for my birthday in late March, and everything is far – Hilton Head at least 5 hours and so on. You would be in another country in 5 hours!

    The windmill B&B looks very inviting – what a great choice. I love your collage of the waterpoort – such handsome towers begging to be photographed. I wonder if there is a recipe for the dumkes cookies – they really look yummy. I enjoyed your 3 part series – very nice!

  13. Vagabonde: I feel very honored that you have read my 3 posts after your trip. Thank you. It was such a wonderful trip for both of us. And yes, you're so right about where we would be if we drove 5 another country.

    I found a recipe for the Dumkes cookies. Call me surprised: It's the aniseed that gives it its unique taste.

    Take care of yourself after your trip…and settle in softly. :)

  14. I have to admit that I am a little envious of your wonderful life in Holland, with a fascinating companion that you obviously think the world of! Congratulations on you anniversary, and may you and Astrid enjoy many more.
    Your pictures of the Dutch architecture and countryside are lovely. One of these days I'll take a trip to Europe again.

  15. Ginnie & Astrid, thanks for another amazing trip! The photos are fabulous,
    as always, but all I can think right now is how much I would love some of that bread from the bakery! I know,
    I need help!

  16. Sham: It was a long time coming, all this happiness and fulfillment. I feel so fortunate to have the life I live. Trust me. I do not take it for granted. If you do come this way again, please let us know if you're in our area and we'll take care of you. :)

    WS: You are so welcome, Susan. If you were here, we would have gladly shared the suikerbrood. :D HA!

  17. I do not understand why the Dutch flood into the south of France. I know, I know, it's all about the weather, but STILL!
    Gorgeous, gorgeous architecture. I would absolutely love to spend some significant time in Holland, and in fact I'm thinking that maybe we'll put it down as one of our choices for a house swap!
    And the food - well cinammon and sugar are an unbeatable combination, for sure. I know I'd love it there.

    Wonderful pictures and fun to trabel along with you, as always, Ginnie. Now I'll hop over to V&V and do some catching up.

  18. Deborah: A house swap! I have been thinking of almost nothing else since I first read this a couple hours ago. It’s something I’ve never done but would LOVE as a first. Why not! I have a feeling people would do it all the time if they could manage it.

    If you’re really serious, so are we. You would get the short end of the stick if you expected gorgeous, Mediterranean-type weather. If not, then this is the place. What’s here to see more than makes up for the weather, as far as I‘m concerned. I love this country. Everything is at your fingertips!

    Please let’s pursue this further. The sky is the limit! :)

  19. Excellent post and the pictures are terrific, sounds like a great trip. I have never had the pleasure of visiting that area, but hopefully someday.