Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Dutch Polder Joyride in July


If I told you I had gotten so hungry for weathervanes and asked Astrid for another joyride out in the boonies, you'd believe me, wouldn't you!  Yes, of course.

So, what happens is that Astrid first researches exactly where we might find a good route out in the polder that might serve up some vanes for us.  One never knows for sure, of course, but the likelihood is there.  Her route took us from Drimmelen to Moerdijk.

 Of course, Astrid always picks a good place for lunch...which happened to be Drimmelen.
Drimmelen happens to be a harbor town in the Biesbosch National Park, 27 km from home.
That's where we ate lunch, on the Amer river...and saw the Dutch version of "beached" boats above. 

From lunch we wandered off the main roads into the polder.
What is the polder, you ask!
The polder is the low-lying land reclaimed from the sea or river, protected by dikes.
It's usually below sea level, which is why there are windmills to pump out the water.

I love the polder.  I love how the Dutch USE it for their health and pleasure...

...and sustenance.
It's out in the polder where we always see the farm machinery.
Don't you wonder what THAT one does!

We often also see something unusual, like a windmill without its sails.
There are ca. 991 windmills left in the Netherlands right now, down from 10,000 in its heyday.
This one, I suspect, doesn't count...because it can't be registered if it doesn't work.

Right about now, between Drimmelen and Moerdijk...a distance of 26 km...
we finally began finding weathervanes, our goal for the day.
Some of them, like the fishes and ram horoscope, were clearly custom-made.
In fact, the lady of that house was out in her garden and she is the Pisces part of the duo.
How fun is that!

 We stopped for a total of 13 vanes.  
Was I happy or what!

By the time we got to Moerdijk, we passed the Moerdijkbrug war monument from 1978.
The relief is from Frits van Hall, a Dutch sculptor, who made it for the first bridge in 1936.

The relief consists "of a triumphant figure of women for the north and south of the Netherlands.
She is standing on the waves, in the waves some fish are pictured, in the sky two angels, the sun and a cloud of rain.
The whole is surrounded by the twelve weapons of the respective places..."

Last but not least, we stopped at the cloister of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
that is now apparently a primary school (still trying to find a link).
ADDENDUM:  Astrid found this link in Dutch.  
It essentially was destroyed during WWII and rebuilt in 1948.

All in the course of a Saturday's joyride...and just before it started to rain on our way home!


Thursday, July 20, 2017

VERONA 2017: The Castelvecchio Museum and Bridge


One of the beauties of Verona, Italy, is its bridges crossing the Fume Adige, the second largest river in Italy.

There are 6 main bridges, starting from left to right:
Castelvecchio, Vittoria, Garibaldi, Pietra, Nuovo and Navi.
We stood on or crossed all of them in our 4 days there.
[scan of our Verona map/guide]

Sometimes we saw them from tower vantage points.

Most of the time we viewed them from one bridge to the other.
Our favorite was the Castelvecchio (bottom-left), which this post is about...
mainly because it's part of a castle and a museum.

We first saw the castle on our way to visit the San Zeno Basilica on our first day.
This was a pass-by because it was already late afternoon.

Still passing by, while walking to the basilica, we knew we'd definitely come back...

...which we did the next day for a proper look.
The Castelvecchio (castle) is "the most important military construction
of the Scaliger dynasty that ruled the city in the Middle Ages."  (Wiki)

The Arco dei Gavi was commissioned to be built in the 1st century by the Romans.
It stands next to the castle and was used as an entrance gate to the city during the Middle Ages.

From the arch side of the castle (the right side), we had views of the bridge we'd see later.

We decided to see the museum first before ending with the bridge.
The courtyard in front of the museum was its own...museum,

and photo op!

We did a quick run-through of what the museum itself exhibits.
Think Romanesque and you've got it covered.

Out the back side of the museum was another courtyard.

Back to the front of the castle, street side, we found the entrance to the pedestrian bridge.
THIS is what we had really come to see, saving the best for last.

Talk about red brick with its upright M-shaped merlons!

And see that church (bottom-right)...that's the San Zeno Basilica we visited the day before.

Later that day, while up the Lamberti tower at the other end of the city,
 I captured the castle from afar.

And the next day, while visiting several churches, I captured the bridge again,
this time from the Ponte della Vittoria bridge to the east of it.

It was our full-circle highlight of one of Verona's most memorable landmarks.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

VERONA 2017: The Arena


So, let's go back to our March/April vacation in Venice-Verona!  Sometimes I feel like I've barely scratched the surface, but truly I have, I know.

You can safely say that after doing all the research before Verona, what we most wanted to see was the Arena.

As you can see, it stands out like a sore thumb...looking like Rome's Colosseum.
[Google image]

In fact, it really is oval in shape, as you see here, like the Roman Colosseum...not round.
Interestingly, the Verona Arena was built in AD 30, before the Colosseum was built in AD 70.
However, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater in the world, while the Arena is the 3rd largest.
[Google image]

The Saturday we visited Verona's Arena was during their Garden Floridea flower show.
OMG!  What a showcase for such an historic landmark!

Before we went inside, we walked all around its outer perimeter.
The outer ring of white and pink limestone was almost completely destroyed from an earthquake 
in 1117.  But the inner ring you see now is well preserved, considering.

Like Rome's Colosseum, if you've ever been there, you enter via the passageways below.
Look at how tall they are.

Some passageways seemed stunted by comparison, but once you climb the stairs, 
you quickly find the doorways into the actual arena, like baseball stadiums in America!

In earlier years, the Arena was used for gladiator fights, jousts and game tournaments.
Since the 18th century it's been used primarily for opera performances.
In fact, they were setting up for one while we were there.

You can picture it, can't you...attending an opera there.
We have good imaginations and left it at that...picturing it.

The next day, Sunday, as we walked back through town, we had our own free performance.
Apparently Italy is known for its flag-throwing competitions, as part of their Medieval festivals,
so we felt lucky to happen upon this one, against the backdrop of the Arena.

These are the memories you don't soon forget!


Thursday, July 06, 2017

CORNWALL 2017: The St. Mawgan and St. Eval Parish Churches


Believe it or not, this is my last Cornwall  2017 post before I go back to Venice and Verona.  Or did you think I had also finished our Italy trip????  HA!

As you may recall, we had off-n-on rain our entire time in Cornwall except for that beautiful Sunday in Tintagel (King Arthur's legendary birthplace) and Boscastle.  But that didn't stop us from getting out to see something of interest.  And because Pauline knows we love the parish churches, she picked two that are geographically close to each other.

As you can see from the inset, we drove to the north coast of Cornwall, 
approximately 17 miles from our St. Austell home base.

We first went to Mawgan Porth beach where we got the lay of the land...

and the Atlantic Ocean!
(It's also where we ate our lunch that day.)

From the beach we drove 2 miles to visit our first parish church of the day...in the rain.
This is the St. Mawgan in Pydar parish church from the 13th century.

Usually the churchyards are every bit as interesting to me as the church interiors.
There's an old thorn tree associated with the legends of Joseph of Arimathea...

a memorial to the 10 men who froze to death while at sea in 1846 (center-right)...

and a lantern cross carved around 1420 (top-left and bottom-right).
Look at how the gravestones circle the church, from front to back!

It was a Monday when we were there, but there were bell ringers...practicing?


Wouldn't we all love to ring the bells!

We did indeed feel welcomed, even though much of the space was dark, without the lights on.
The font is 15th century, Norman style, made of Pentewan stone.
The pulpit is from 1533, Dad.  And I know you'd love to play that wee organ, Mom.

And should any of us require a kneeler, there are plenty to go around.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

From St. Mawgan we drove the 3 miles to the St. Eval parish church, also from the 13th century.

It happens to sit out in the middle of nowhere, visible for miles around,
surrounded by the disused RAF (Royal Air Force) runways of the WWII command airfield.
See the sundial over the entrance?  "We shall Die."

Besides the church itself, 21 war graves are maintained here by the RAF.
The RAF ties to this church after the war are very strong, as you'd imagine.
It was their church while stationed nearby.

It was another dark church that rainy afternoon, but you can get the gist of it.

The bench end (top-left) is from the mid-16th century.
The "plain" font is also from the Norman times.

Pauline is always on the lookout for green men in these old churches.
These are from the high-up ceiling in bad camera light, but, again, you get the gist.
Besides, Pauline often tells us green men don't like being photographed. :)

Back down on terra firma, there is "World Peace!"

And a reminder that the RAF is covering our back.
In fact, Pauline's dad, from Squadron 612 (top-right), used the base back in the war.
Thank you!


And thus ends this 6-day stint in a very special place:  CORNWALL, England.
We'll never forget it.