Monday, February 07, 2011

Virtual Realities

Another day. Another blogger met. Another photo hunt.
Today is my turn again at Vision & Verb, talking about when we meet blogger friends and when virtual reality becomes...well, real. In the above case, it was Petra, one of our V&V collaborators who happens to live in Tilburg just 30 km from us here in Holland. We knew we'd meet her eventually, so when we found out she was participating in a photo exhibition a week ago, we made a day of it.

The photo exhibition was in the small town of Moergestel, 7 km east of Tilburg in North Brabant province south of us. Approximately 6K residents. Astrid had already Googled the area to see what was there and found out there was a different kind of windmill we don't normally see, just outside the city. So we decided to first get the lay of the land before driving over to the exhibition. This weathervane was on the other side of the street from the windmill, so we got two for the price of one. (Click on image to see what he was shooting.)

This is a standerdmolen from 1852 and is similar to the wipmolen at Kinderdijk I have shown here. Both are post mills but this one has a round(ish) base. It was a frosty morning but the sun was shining.
Even Granny Towanda was in heaven.

From the windmill, Astrid kindly asked TomTom to take us to the Nieuwenhof Castle from the 14th century...and she did (our TomTom is a lady)! In 1840 it became a monastery named the St. Stanislaus Institution. Today it's used as a mental healthcare facility. I feel better already, don't you?!

Then into the tiny town of Moergestel to 'do' our koffie thing (no appeltaart, however, because they forgot to take it out of the freezer the night before). The town square has its ubiquitous church, the Roman Catholic St. John's Beheaded, whose tower was built in 1500. It wasn't open, but not to worry. We heard its one bell ring and we walked around it. Astrid, btw, is taking a picture of a giant bicycle air pump there on the city square.

This is the point at which we then went to meet Petra at her exhibition (photos at the top of the post). By the time we said our Good-Byes, it was time to drive the 7 km to Tilburg to find the water tower on TomTom's list of things to see. It's where we also planned to eat lunch.

But what to our wondering eyes should appear....

...the Adbij Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven (Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven) trappist monastery, right out in the middle of nowhere! Talk about changing the plans of mice and [wo]men. See the foggy image (above) of the church? We stopped dead in our tracks because the sun was shining through the windows from the other side...never knowing it was part of a monastery. As we turned the corner, there it was. We had to stop and check it out, of course.

After walking around a bit, it became crystal clear this was a monastery that made and sold its own beer! De Koningshoeven Brewery, a Dutch Trappist brewery, was founded there in 1884 and has an annual production of 145,000 hectoliters (3,830,495 gallons). Tell me someone's not having a lot of fun!

...not far from the restaurant where we decided on the spot to eat our lunch. What serendipity. It was as though the whole day was waiting to surprise us with this place. We could have taken a tour (the only way to get into the church and walk the inner grounds) but it was already crowded and we didn't really want to wait. Another day.

Clearly they do well for themselves. The business was brisk! And the beer was GREAT. Even Astrid, who generally does not drink beer, liked it. The whole experience was totally worth it.

Those monks aren't dummies, of course. They positioned their delightful Kloosterwinkel (Monastic Shop) right at the entrance, where we gladly took a look around and...of course...bought two stone bottles of the Dubbel beer (7% ABV) we had just enjoyed at lunch.
Authentic trappist product!

Astrid is always the Trooper, taking the bag to the car
and then coming back for our last photos before leaving.

Then finally, our last destination of the day....

...the Tilburg water tower, built in 1897 at 50.5 meters high.

Did you notice? We started the day with a weathervane and ended it with a water tower.
And in between, we met a wonderful blogger and then drank to it with a delightful Trappist beer.

How's that for virtual realities becoming the real thing!
More on Vision & Verb....


  1. They sreve the beer in a very elegant way-like wine or champagne:)

  2. I found my way here from another blog, Rennys I think and am glad I did!

    Wow! Lucky you, these are awesome photos and experience too as to be judged from the photos. I got all jealous :-)

    So much great architecture. Love it. To end up in a brewery... ah such a dream.

    We have been to Amsterdam & Haarlem once on the yearly flower parade and had a lovely time. We really loved it.

  3. That was a wonderful day, blue sky, meeting Petra, lots of wonderful things to see.
    The beer and food was a great experience, the waiter did a great job by showing all those glasses filled with that Trappistenbier.
    Every time over and over again, I am surprised with how much we see and do in one day.
    Thanks for being a great sport and making these beautiful collages and making the memory file, bigger and bigger.

  4. Ola: When beer tastes that good, it needs to be served elegantly! :)

    LCTB: I am thrilled that you have stopped by to visit!. I have often seen you at Renny's site, so I've always been lurking in the background, I guess. I love the architecture here in Holland. Well, in all of Europe. It's so old and full of character. We'll be meeting Renny and Tor in two months, as you probably know. Maybe one day we'll also meet YOU.

    Astrid: We are so lucky having all these experiences. Well, we do our part to make them happen and then the Universe kicks in to do the rest. It's a wonderful dance, MLMAMV!

  5. The foggy monastery photos is wonderful - just need a few grave stones and it would be perfect. I love the beer tap photo too. And the photo of you sticking your camera in between the fence posts.

    How fun - I just am amazed at the beauty that surrounds you. The detail of the water towers, the craftsmanship - just WOW. Looks like it was perfect weekend. :)

  6. Wonderful!

    Inge and Lar brought us little glasses like that from Germany, a little smaller, but the same shape.

    Yes, the church in fog is splendid, and light coming through the windows from the other side? I think I'd have died of pleasure.

    But no apple tart!

  7. Oh my... another series of wonderful images and a grand story to go along with it. I'm later than usual getting to your lovely blog because I had to research some things for a trip that I will be taking with family in June... to Sweden!

    I particularly love how you 'stumbled upon' the brewery without knowing it was there beforehand... such surprises make for wonderful experiences. And lucky you... getting to have a Dubbel along with your lunch. (A Dubbel is my favorite of all the brews that our nearest microbrewer makes... it is not always available but when it is, I go ahead and have one during happy hour even though for the special beer I must pay full price!)

    Your collages are as terrific as always and especially nice with the blue, blue sky setting off the architectural wonders.

    Thanks once again for stopping by my blog... the classes I'm taking are to improve my ability to process images after getting them out of the camera and onto the computer... sometimes I goof with the settings and there are ways to rescue images that might not ever be worth having a look. As for iPhoto, it is a Macintosh photo handling application... if you are on a PC, there isn't any reason you would know it. (and now... off to V&V)

  8. G,
    I love a good blogger meet up too! Isn't it so much fun to finally meet face to face. I can say without a doubt that everyone I've met has been exactly as I would have thought. This last trip to Paris, I met new Facebook and blog friends. We even threw a party at our apartment. Your photos for this trip are just wonderful. Thanks for taking us along with you two.

  9. As always, you do great photos! And if these photos are any indication, you don't lead a boring life. :)

  10. Margaret: It was a perfect weekend in every way and one so fun to remember...especially because of the beer. I like beer but don't have occasion to drink it that often, since we usually have red wine with our meals. I love these days out-n-about because almost always Astrid is the one who Googles what's in the area where we're going (like if there's a water tower) and then puts the addresses in the TomTom. In that regard, our day is usually half-organized. :)

    Ruth: The thing I most love about beer glasses in Europe is that there is usually a unique one for every beer with the name on it. I wonder who thought THAT up! The church took my breath away...and I had Astrid stop on a dime before knowing it was part of the monastery. That was the fun of it. And yes, no appeltaart meant no tip. :(

    Victoria: SWEDEN! Wow. Did I tell you we're going to Norway the first week of January? It's so close!!! You'll love Sweden, though I've only been to Stockholm.

    And yes, that Dubbel at the monastery was to die for. Now that I know it and have your recommendation, I'll keep my eye out for it in the future.

    Thank you for always making my collages feel special. I do enjoy doing having a second blessing. :) Whenever the skies are blue is another added pleasure.

    And thanks for explaining about your classes. That makes sense. Almost every image of mine needs to be straightened, which tickles me to no end. Oh well. :)

    Virginia: I can just picture you meeting your blogger friends. You maybe more than most! :)

    Tim: Nothing boring about my life, for sure! I actually feel very, very lucky!

  11. As usual, wonderful and interesting photos. I love the "beer ones" the best - ha, how come? How wonderful for you to have met Petra - one day we should get a V&V retreat somewhere.

  12. Serendipity-doo-dah! Only you two could stumble upon a brewery that produces nearly four million gallons of beer. I helped myself to one of the beers served so beautifully in those "kelken". Much more elegant than a mug. I think I'll have a second - they were small.

    I love your weathervane. That is a whole lot of gun for one poor little rabbit - at close range too!

    I believe this is the most beautiful water tower ever, Ginnie! The lighting in your large photo was unreal.

  13. Carola: I could have guessed you'd like the beer images the best. HA! It WOULD be fun to have a V&V retreat one day, wouldn't it!

    DB: Those beers were to die for. So glad you helped yourself. :) And yes, that water tower was something else at that time of the day. So often we don't have blue skies, so when we do, we eat them up!

  14. I do remember Tilburg having so much to see, but I don't remember much of the town anymore...

    I still am shocked at how much you can get out of just one day.. It's wonderful and lovely and so full of photo memories.. LOVE IT!!!!

  15. ET: We do get around in a day's time, I must admit. When we get tired we stop and go home. That's one of the things I like about us...we know our limits. :)

  16. Lily: Thank you so very much for stopping by and commenting here. It's always good to meet a fellow traveler!

  17. That looks a great day out :-) Your Abbey looks very impressive and is a lot more in tact than mine.

  18. Cherie: You're a sweetheart to comment here! Thank you. I hope to see more of yours in the days to come (hint hint).