Saturday, August 30, 2014

BIG 6-0 Birthday Celebration in Huizen, NL

That would be Astrid, of course, who turned the BIG 6-0 last Sunday.  HELLO!  And YES, we celebrated.

Astrid loves to find good deals through the Dutch VakantieVeilingen (vacation auction) site, so for her birthday, we had a hotel and 3-course dinner in Huizen for less than half price.  How can you say NO to that!

So, off we went last Sunday morning, with a route already mapped out (another thing she loves to do) on the back roads of Holland.  The destination that day, Huizen, was only only 66 km from home taking the fast route.  But, no, we weren't in a hurry.  Once we got off the main road, we stopped at every Dick-Jane-and-Sally weathervane...which you'll see at the end of this post.

But this is a start at the Trompenburgh, a 17th-century manor house in 's-Graveland.
Believe it or not, Astrid's brother knew the son who lived there when they were both 14,
going to the same school in Hilversum, nearby.  Remember that Astrid grew up in Hilversum. 

After that, it was already time to eat lunch, which we did at the nearby 't Bruggetje in Loosdrecht.
We knew we'd have a big dinner, so "light" was the vote.

Astrid knew there was a water tower in nearby Bussum, from 1897.
In 2001 it was sold to an engineering firm that turned it into an office building!

Remember that we were stopping for weathervanes all the time, before and after...
but soon we drove into Huizen, our destination for the day.
Astrid learned to ski there on those green slopes...on grass, yes.
In her day, Huizen had 4K people; today they have 41K.

And before we could say "Jack Sprat," there was our Fletcher Hotel with a HUGE weathervane.
It was opened in 2012 and is quite the complex.
Our room was in the side tan building (left-middle), overlooking the harbor.

All of this was right in front of our very eyes.

And because we had plenty of time before dinner, we took a walk to the harbor head.

We wanted to see the big water of the IJsselmeer lake,
and watch some of the boats sail into the harbor.

Then it was time to eat, and boy, were we ever looking forward to it.
(In the middle-right image you can see the building where we stayed.)
As Astrid says, we had the best seat in the house.

Her appetizer was mussels, mine was we were both in heaven.
Our main course was beefsteak and salmon, which we shared, with au gratin pototoes and frietjes .
Dessert was crème brûlée (for me) and a caramel delight (for Astrid).
After all, it WAS her BIG 6-0.

After dinner we took a nice walk around the Fletcher complex...
and enjoyed our breakfast the next morning, part of the cost of the stay.
WOW.  How can you beat that.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It was a new day, the day after, and we were off to nearby Muiden to see the castle Astrid had known as a child (next post).  But on the way, she wanted to stop at the Jewish cemetery in Muidenberg that she had never visited while growing up.

It's the second oldest but largest Jewish cemetery in the Netherlands, from 1642.

What is it about cemeteries?

Since we couldn't read Hebrew, we made up our own stories.

We had seen so much before finding the castle.  We were short of eyes!

Can you imagine seeing a camel out in the middle of nowhere (top-left)?
How about a school sign telling you to slow down (top-right).
Astrid told me the (bottom-left) fur-ball was spit out by an owl, with parts of a field mouse still in tact.
And one of the 50 weathervanes that didn't make any of my following collages is the troubadoor.

Are you ready for all the vanes we saw in the space of two days?

Yes, I separated them into themes.

The boats first...some of which just blow my mind, in 3-D.

Animals and fish.


And everything else.
One is even "gone with the wind," as Astrid so cleverly says (top-2nd-left).

Next up will be the castle we saw before heading back home....

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen, NL

Put on your seatbelt because this one is quite the ride, which I want to keep together in one post.

This past Sunday Astrid and I drove 135km north to Enkhuizen to visit the Zuiderzee Museum on the shores of the IJsselmeer.  We had already visited the harbor briefly back in 2010, so I remembered it, but this time we were on a mission and we took Margreeth and Natascha with us.  Remember that they were the ones who encouraged us to buy the annual museum card, which we did.

So, here goes....

You enter the building, fetch your tickets, and grab the next boat to the open-air museum.

On that 15-minute boat ride, you pass the magnificent harbor of Enkhuizen, part of the museum fee.

And you end up at the chalk-factory chimneys, to start your open-air museum experience.

Before going off into the museum's town, we stopped at the bronze-age display near the chalk factory.

That's when I realized this museum was a lot about interactive play for kids of all ages.
That's the kind of museum I LOVE.

From the bronze-age site we walked along the shore to the museum's open-air village.
What you could see from the shore was its own special "museum."

But before we did anything else, we stopped at this darling café for koffie,
and to get our bearings (on a very off-n-on blustery, rainy day).

After koffie, first up was the fishing village.
(The Dutch use underground telephone lines today.)

The fun thing was to walk into the houses and see how they lived back then.

 And since it was the fishing village, we saw the fishing nets out everywhere.

Even real fish were being dried...which I wished I could have tried.

The windmill was nearby in the polder, where Astrid could demonstrate the drill for pumping out water.

As you'd guess, the animals were right at home, never guessing this was a museum.

 From the polder and fishing village we entered the Town Canal.
I just LOVE the little pedestrian bridges of the Netherlands, don't you?

I fell in love with all the boats everywhere within this open-air museum.
I love the Dutch harbors but canals are so cozy.

From that point we walked back-n-forth between the Town Canal and the Church Quarter.
After awhile my images started running together, but it doesn't matter.

We spent a lot of time in this man's sign/calligraphy shop.
It's a dying art and Astrid spent time talking to him intelligently about his profession.
She knows how hard it is because she once dabbled in it!

In fact, there were many professions/trades to see or watch in action.

I'm a sucker for tools of the trade, as you know by now.

 There even was a school where you could practice your penmanship skills.
See what I mean by interactive?!

Remember that this is an open-air museum.  It could be a real village!

 And just like everywhere, you had a chance to play.

The kids could even dress up from the dressing-up chest.
Doesn't this remind you of Humans of New York:  Microfashion!

 I don't think it gets better than this for an interactive museum.

Speaking of dressing up, there was even a room where you could find your shoe size
and try to walk around in wooden clogs.

You know the Dutch and their wooden shoes, of course.
They're everywhere, even if only for show.

 I told you this would be a ride!  There was something for everyone.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

As an aside, you may recall that we started our museum card in early May at another open-air museum, in Arnhem, NL:  the Openluchtmuseum.  I didn't think anything could get better than that.  But it did, with this Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen.  There are many similarities but also many differences.

Both museums have got to be right up at the top of the list of all open-air museums anywhere!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Vision and Verb: My Blurb Book

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, here it is.  The deed is done.  And I must say, after working with Shutterfly in the past, I'm a very happy camper.  Of course, it's mostly text (98 posts with an image for each)...which is the main difference.

Make sure you view it on Full screen to see it as intended.  I've also added it to my sidebar with my other two (Shutterfly) photo books.  [I do not intend for anyone to BUY this book...way too expensive!  But I'd love for you to be able to see it, if you wish.]

I also purchased the PDF version, in case you want to download it.

For those of you who have followed me during the last 4-1/2 years of my visions and verbs, THANK YOU.  It's been quite the journey!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The "Nooit Gedagt" Windmill in Woudrichem, NL

You may remember that we who live in Gorinchem, NL, have a sister city across the Mervede river from us.  You can actually see their windmill and church from our side of the river.

It so happens the windmill has now become our favorite windmill of them all, not only because of it's educational factor (we plan to take all our guests there from this day forward!) but because it has every flour we'd ever want for Astrid's bread-making machine, as well as corn meal for my baking needs.

Woudrichem is just adorable.  There's no other way to put it.
With 14+K people, it's just the "sight rize."
We parked near the St. Martinus Reformed Church, built in the 15th-16th centuries.

From where we parked, the church was straight ahead and the windmill was off in the field to our right.
This is the Nooit Gedagt (Never Thought Of) grain mill from 1995.
The original mill from 1662 was destroyed during WWII.
It's the only Dutch mill with all 8 sides completely covered in brick.

Here it is up-close and personal with its Victor van Marseille gable stone.

Now, come inside and enjoy!  
You could spend a long time in the ground-floor shop, checking everything out.
But go upstairs to the first floor....

...and that's where the guys package up and store their stock.
It's the biggest grain-mill operation I've yet seen to date here in the Netherlands.

Next floor up (3rd, if you're counting) is where you can walk out onto the platform.
(Room for more storage, too.)

From that level you can inspect the wheel that operates the sails,
and look out over the lovely town and harbor.  It really is adorable.
(And that duck's nest is from 1531 mm away, as an FYI.)

One more floor up, the top floor, is where the gears are being turned by the outside sails.
It's so fun to see a mill in operation, so I decided to record it for you:

If you view this on your browser, you'll get more info,
but the passing shadow you see is from the rotating sails outside.
Dutch mills are run by wind power, NOT by electricity.

And that was that!
We took special note of the bunker café below the windmill, which wasn't yet open that day.
We'll have to try it out the next time we go.

We bought the flours we wanted to buy and got a few extra goodies thrown in.
And you wonder why I love this country so much???

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

By the way, did you miss me last week?  HA!  Well, I've been making a Blurb book of my 98 Vision & Verb posts.  It's done except for final proofs and edits.  Once I hit the Publish button, I'll see if I can upload it to my sidebar, so you can see it there.  I'll pick up my copy in Atlanta during our October annual trip.