Monday, November 14, 2011

On Top of Our World

First up (yup), is my Vision and Verb post today about School Spirit. Actually, it's more about arch rivalries. You know, like MICHIGAN against Michigan State (sorry Ruth), or against those dang inedible Buckeyes horse chestnuts you want to chew up and spit out of your mouth!

[Sadly, the recently reported sex scandal at another of America's great universities was disclosed after I had drafted my piece. It could have happened anywhere, of course. Please know I grieve with all the victims who are part of this very sad story.]

But now, today, how many times have I shown you something about our Grote Kerk just two blocks down the street from us here in Gorinchen, Netherlands! Inside or out, it's as much a part of our lives here than just about anything.

Does it surprise you, then, that it took us almost TWO years to finally climb it's majestic (and crooked) tower! It so happens that every second Saturday in September, in all of Holland, is Open Monument Day. Over 4,000 historical buildings and sites are open to the public free of charge in order to encourage interest in them. It's one of those times when you'd be stupid not to take advantage of the day, whether in your own city or elsewhere.

We had always planned to climb "our" tower, at €2 pp. It didn't matter how much it cost. But we never got a "round tuit," as we say. This was our chance to finally just do it!

Notice the short tower entrance door. Match that with the tall-tall Dutchman!

True to all the church towers I have climbed in Europe, we spiraled our way up to the first level.
It's good "management" to have those resting spots on the way up.

On that first level, our tour guide opened a floor trap so we could look down to the ground entrance. THAT was worth the entire day because of seeing the prayer vials I had seen the previous year.

Also on that first level is a rooftop-level viewing platform outside the tower.
It was fun to spot all the landmarks so recognizable to us by now:
the two windmils, Dalem Port, the water tower, Merwede River, Rehoboth Church,
sister-city Woudrichem across the river, Loevestein Castle, etc., etc.

At the second level, we found the clock and bell contraptions!
How things work has always been a total fascination for me.

Did I mention we had as many kids on the tour as adults?
And several of them had their own cameras, taking pictures just like the rest of us.
I loved how the kids were part of this education, seeing how things work!

That second and top level, just above the tower's clock, gave us another POV (point of view).
New landmarks included the Merwede Bridge, our firehouse (bottom center),
and even where I went to school last year (image above the firehouse).

Then I zoomed in on our street.
The top-right image gives a ground's-eye view of where we live at our senior-living complex.
Pay attention to the church a block away, to which I'll return in a minute.
See also the hanging paint can, one of my favorite art objects in the city (bottom right).

BTW, while we're up there, have you ever had a voyeuristic eye like mine?
The rooftops of Gorinchem and how some people live!

Once down on ground level, we were on to another open monument, but stopped first to chat with some friends passing by in the market square (where the Grote Kerk stands!):

The top friends are from where we live. I play Rummikub every Friday with the gentleman.
The bottom lady with Astrid is the mother of Astrid's best friend (my wedding witness).
It's a small world after all!

Across from where we met our friends is our favorite flower shop,
standing next to the Gasthuispoortje (Guest House Port) from 1391.
See how short they were back then! Even I duck by instinct.
It's also known as the Hugo de Groot port, where Hugo escaped from the Loevestein castle jail
in a bookcase. Long story, I guess. But that's the fun of some history.

In between the Grote Kerk and where we live two blocks away.... the Waterstaatkerk from 1836,
the Roman Catholic church that is now an apartment building.

Because of Open Monument Day, we were able to go inside without a key,
something we've wanted to do since living nearby.
So that's what a church looks like once renovated for apartments!
At least it's not a prison.

There you have it. Our city where we live, from the top of our world! Did I mention that I love where we live?

And now, another reminder about my School Spirit post at Vision and Verb....


  1. that's a great program; is it only open to locals or tourists/foreigners also can avail of the open monument day?

    ginnie - i think i got it why i sometimes cannot leave a comment on your shutterchance. when i use my computer at work we use Internet Explorer and I have no problems leaving comments. at home I use Mozilla Firefox. I cannot leave a comment because the comment box would be all the way down to the bottom of the screen and while i can fill out everything else, the part where the send button or whachamacallit is hidden. i wonder if others using firefox had the same headache.

  2. PC: Open Monument Day is open to everyone, Maria, which is the beauty of it. No one asks if you are a tourist!

    Re the SC comment box, I'm not sure what the issue is because I myself use Firefox and have no issues. I have no clue why that's happening to you. If you send me an e-mail with a printscreen, I can show it to our administrator!

  3. We both love great heights, the higher the better.
    This opportunity to go to the top of the church, came unexpected and we were so lucky with the weather.
    The pictures show that we could see far.
    Occasions like this, also makes me proud to live were we do.
    It is big enough to have everything and small enough to know the people......
    A wonderful set of pictures again, 'just a Saturday afternoon' ;)

  4. SAstrid: I'm just glad we finally did it! And yes, I LOVE where we live. We are so lucky.

  5. Hi Ginnie, I love the portraits in this post. The one of the young boys that kind of sneaked in, and the mosaic panel. Glad to see you are always getting out and about.

  6. Talk about taking to the heights...that is a LONG way up!!! But so obviously well worth the climb..both for the views inside and the views you were able to capture outside. It's all so very, very beautiful!

  7. Karen: It never ceases to amaze me what we find in that church! Thanks. We LOVE getting out-n-about, even if only in our own back yard.

    Sherry: Thank you, dear Lady, for stopping by and commenting here. That means a lot to me. And to think this isn't one of highest church towers we've climbed! :)

  8. I would love where you lived too if I had THAT much to look at in the city! We too love where we live, but I'm unsure I could find that much to see in one concentrated area.

    Perhaps if I could view it higher up I would see more!

    Lovely pics and yes I love looking at rooftops!

    I was just thinking We have been in new cities not far from the same amt of time (okay I'm 1 yr more but still). Interesting to know that! :)

  9. ET: You know Europe: conservation of space! And thus so much to see within walking distance! Astrid and I are not afraid of heights, so we go as high as we can as often as we can. Church towers are usually a safe bet to see somehting very interesting.

    Thanks, Jen, for connecting the dots. :)

  10. Oh those views! That photo of the windmill and lake in the background is amazing. Yes, you live in a wonderful place.

    I am so sick about the Penn St scandal, all I can think about is what if it were my grandson who was victimized. I don't usually feel violent, but ...

    Oh dear, take me back to the tour, and the boys and how they are learning, part of the beauty of the world (and sadly, the ugly too).

  11. Thanks for the information about regarding the Open Monument Day. I'll plot it into my Calendar for next Year,-)

    The view from the Chuch is amazing and worth all the stairs to the top.
    Ginnie, it seems you were a bit anxious on your way up;-)

    Besides the wonderful views, it is good to see you two as well; with Camera on hand of course;-)
    .. and not to forget all the fascinating details you present...

    btw. Thanks for your comments from our posts from Austin/San Antonio.

  12. Ruth: Whwn I saw your word "lake," I realized our Merwede River is so big, that's what it looks like. You'd never know from this that freighters pass by there hourly, back-n-forth to and from Rotterdam. The windmill against it calms things down a bit!

    The Penn St scandal breaks my heart, like what's happened in the RC church for years. We just didn't expect it at one of our national universities, did we! I heard on CNN the other day that it'll be considered the worst college scandal of history. So sad. And yes, to think one of our sons or g'sons could have been there.

    Thanks, sister, for stopping by so faithfully and showing me what you see.

    Tor: On those stairs to the top or bottom, you have to be very careful, Brother!!! :) Totally worth the views from every church tower we've climbed. Thanks.

  13. Wow Ginnie, the clock tower and bells are just amazing. I love clock mechanisms and the interaction of all those cogs.

  14. Anne: I can imagine you being interested in all these contraptions, figuring out how they work! I'm a bit that way myself! :) Thanks.

  15. Looks like quite a climb but also great views! I also would stop to appreciate the bells. :)

  16. Hey Ginnie, I'm so happy to see where y'all live and I sure would have wanted to go into that church, now apartments, as well. Love the beautiful bells and the flower shop.
    I'm wondering what it says on the back of your georgous teal tee shirt!

  17. Tim: You and I are often on the same page when it comes to such things! :)

    WS: I would love for you and Larry to see this neck of the woods, Susan. You'd have so much fun. I can see both of you selling your creations here. :)

    That teal shirt is a Hard Rock Cafe shirt from New York and says "Rock Couture" on the back. :)

  18. Heerlijk om jullie hier nog eens te zien. De foto's zijn prachtig en ik denk meteen aan deze:

    Het is prachtig de natuur daar!
    Heb het goed jullie samen!!

  19. Ank: Ohhh, bedankt voor deze comment. The link is a great one to show Gorinchem and our sister Woudrichem over the Merwede river. I love it.

  20. Very impressive architecture with lots of interesting details. Well worth the waiting to climb! Fantastic.

    ...and what a difference from the Waterstaatkerk apartment building! It do have some similarities with a prison, just so much nicer :-)

  21. LCT: Just think what would happen if we combined all our travel experiences together and wrote a book just on that! It would be quite a book, wouldn't it. :) Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

  22. Thanks for this virtual climb up a church tower. I wish there were more places in the US where you could climb to the top pf towers and domes, but that seems to be a European thing. ...and thanks for stopping by my blogand leaving a message.

  23. Ted: You're welcome, of course! This is what I love so much about Europe. It's still "new" for me and continues to gobsmack me! :)

  24. What fun... a free day to visit monuments and museums... put climbing the church tower on my list! :-)

    I too love knowing how things work and really enjoyed the clock and bell collages!

    The collage with all the orange roofs and the paint can is really wonderful, as is your little bit of voyeurism looking down on the rooftops. It must be great fun to live in an apartment building that was once a church... those images are marvelous!

    And now I'm off to your latest adventure... am so glad I got 'a round tuit' today (Around to visiting your blog, that is! My great-aunt whose house I bought 30 years ago had at least five 'round tuit' hot pads when I moved into the house with all her stuff still in it... they said something to the effect of wondering if you'd ever wished you had the time to get around to things... well now you have a round tuit! Pretty silly.)

  25. Victoria: That Open Monument Day is one of the best things ever, as far as I'm concerned. I wonder what would happen if they had such a thing in America?!?!

    So, yes, when you come, we'll climb at least one church tower...but not necessarily ours. There are better ones but we were glad to finally get a "round tuit" for ours. :) I've always loved that play on words.

    Thank you!

  26. Well, first of all, that trap door would have DONE ME IN! I'm OK as long as I don't look down... The skylines with castles, windmills, rivers and steeples... I sat here for a minute trying to find the right word... "sigh" :)

    The floral shop is stunning. I know I would make an almost daily trip to that charming store, if not just to photograph it!

    And the church... for some reason, I would feel guilty living in it.. I don't know why. But it is bette than sitting empty or becoming a prison, that's for sure.

    I am off to read V&V!

  27. Margaret: Thankfully I'm just fine with much to see up there! That floral shop is the one Astrid uses for everything flowers/bulbs. She loves it. And yes, living in that church would seem very strange. Not sure I could/would do it either, but so much better than a prison!

    Thank you for stopping by!