Thursday, September 24, 2015

DORDRECHT, NL: Open Monument Day 2015

In case you happen to remember, every year there is a weekend in September that is Open Monument Day, when over 4,000 "monuments" nationwide, not normally open to the public, are available to visit for free.

We already know where we're going next year (ha!) but this year, we decided to go to nearby Dordrecht, since King Alexander and Queen Maxima had chosen it for their King's Day visit in April.  It's only 25 km from where we live here in Gorinchem...and, yes, we have been there before, in 2010, for Dordt in Stoom.

It used to be that Open Monument Day was only on Saturday, but starting last year, it's now also on Sunday...the day we chose to go to Dordrecht.

First of all, Dordrecht is a harbor city that is an island, bordered by 4 rivers,
and is the oldest of the North and South Holland provinces, granted city rights in 1220.
Pay attention to that Grote Kerk = Big/Great Church.  (Wiki image)

Did you pay attention to the Grote Kerk in the aerial view?
We parked on the other side of a canal from it...but did not visit it that day,
having already seen it previously.
Notice the absence of a spire...because they ran out of funds in the day!

The main portal into the city from the Oude Maas river is near the Grote Kerk.

From there, as you'd guess, there are canals everywhere throughout the city.

We actually were on a mission that day, to see two of the "monuments" that caught our eye in our research but ended up catching 4 altogether:

1:  The Augustijnenkerk (The Augustine Church)

This was one of the unexpected  "accidents" of the day.
It used to be an Augustinian monastery from 1293, becoming a reformed church in 1572.

I fell in love with the bluish-green and red colors against the white walls and pillars.

2:  Atelier Gerhard Lentink

You could safely say this was our biggest "accident" of the day, 
the workshop of this wood sculptor in what used to be a Catholic boy's school from 1906.

I think our jaws were on the floor the entire time we were there.
These wood sculptures are beyond incredible.

Gerhard Lentink himself was present.
I bowed my "namaste" to him with tears in my eyes.
If you want to see more, check out this video that Astrid found.

Astrid really wanted to see this house of violin and guitar builders.
It was where the King and Queen had a violin made for one of their daughters.

Talk about a photo op.  Totally worth the stop.

Believe it or not, this was our main mission of the day.
Friends of ours told us that Rutte & Zn had achieved an incredible honor worldwide:
two of their gins, a vodka and a jenever were voted the best in the USA.

 While Astrid and I aren't connoisseurs of such liquors, we wanted to take the tour.
There's always so much to see!

And, yes, we also got to taste, just to say we did it!
It was a fun way to end the day.

Of course, we were short of eyes in between our "monuments."
After all these years, Dutch architecture still amazes me.

As do the gable stones!

I never tire of them.

Or of the weathervanes.

You could say that "things" impress me, everywhere I look.

It's as it should be...because I love where I live!

As we returned to our car, this said it all!

And since I put it out there, we plan to visit the war prison in Breda next year, closed since 2014.
God willing and the creek don't rise, of course....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

CITYSCAPES: A Dot-to-Dot Commercial Break

This really is a commercial in hyping something that has brought me a lot of fun and joy.

It started when friend and blogger, Anne, introduced me to this book a couple of months ago:

It doesn't take much to make me happy, and since the first cityscape was Amsterdam,
I immediately thought of it being a project for grandson Nicholas and me while he was here in July.
Besides, we had an Amazon gift-card, so it made sense.

I first went to the printers and made a copy of Amsterdam, which we both two days.
(After the first 500 dots, your eyes are criss-crossed, trust me.)

Did I mention that there are 20 cities and each page is 16.5 x 12 inches?  
Too big to scan and the photos aren't easy to process?
And 1,000 dots each, in batches of 100 dots in 10 different colors?
In other words, you have to c o n c e n t r a t e.

After Nicholas left, Astrid and I divvied up the 20 cities so we each could do 10 of them,
mostly based on where we have been and what was left.
These are my 10, in alphabetical order:

Amsterdam, Netherlands
(yes, I've been there)

Barcelona, Spain
(yes, I've been there)

Berlin, Germany
(yes, I've been there)

Chicago, Illinois, USA
(yes, I've been there)

Edinburgh, Scotland
(yes, I've been there)

Moscow, Russia
(haven't been there but have been to St. Petersburg)

Paris, France
(yes, I've been there)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
(no, I haven't been there)

Sydney, Australia
(yes, I've been there)

Venice, Italy
(yes, I've been there)

Here's a close-up to show the detail.

And since Astrid will eventually get to all of hers, here's her first one:

London, England

She has yet to do Athens, Cairo, Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, New York,
San Francisco, Toronto and Tokyo.

One day I'll show the rest of hers, to complete the batch.
But I don't know when I've had more fun...almost as fun as coloring!
Thanks, Anne!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fort Vuren on the Dutch Waterline

So, remember when we took grandson Nicholas to see Fort Vuren (and the Loevestein Castle and the Woudrichem windmill) in July?

Well, that reminded me that I had never found a "round tuit" to make a post on Fort Vuren when Astrid and I were there alone in April.  That visit, actually, was the main reason why we wanted to take Nicholas.

So, for the record, here's what we saw 5 months ago.  And it's only 1.5 km from home (Gorinchem)!

Every time we passed the sign while driving along the dijk of the Merwede river,
we said we needed to stop and visit this fort, part of the Dutch waterline.
Now we plan to take all our guests there, if possible.

The fort dates back to 1844 as a fortress on the river against any enemy.
Today, since 2013, you can use it as a B&B.  How ironic.
They even hold weekend concerts there.

And as we often do, we first stopped for a nice break in the cozy café...

...where we both had a delightful uitsmijter, accompanied by the café's own beer:
De Drie Mutsen = The Three Hats.

Fully satisfied, we then took our own self-tour of the underground fort.

I don't know how to adequately express our shock/surprise at what we saw.
I've decided it's one of the best-kept secrets of the Netherlands!

There are TWO levels that keep going and going, from room to room.
You'd need a map to figure it out, though I suppose the soldiers were quick learners.
Talk about a photo-op...and it's all free.

As we left over the moat, we saw the Loevestein castle across the river.
A fort and a castle opposite each other!
I bet they were always saying to each other, "We've got your back."

As we drove away on the dijk, we looked back on the fort, surrounded by its moat,
with the Merwede river on the other side.
I wonder if the cows are old enough to tell the stories hanging in the air?

In this day and age...

which is why I needed to add this for the record!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Watercolor Sundays, Coloring, etc.

Many of you who follow me on Facebook have already seen these, but for the record, here they are again.  I'll try to add these after every month of Sundays:

August 9 (photo manipulation):
"To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years.  To destroy can be the thoughtless
act of a single day." -- Winston Churchill

 August 16 (photo manipulation):
"Old age is when the liver spots show through your gloves."
-- Phyllis Diller

August 23 (photo manipulation):
"Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun."
-- Pablo Picasso

August 30 (photo manipulation):
"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."
-- Martin Luther

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

For some reason, these last weeks I've been coloring up a storm.  Don't ask me why but I'm addicted to it right now and am having a blast.

 I was attracted to this design because of the upcoming season,
which happens to be my favorite of them all.

Every once in awhile there's a centerfold in one of my (14) coloring books,
and I tackle it, a bit with fear and trembling.  HA!
You really have to pay attention.

And as most of you know by now, I LOVE the VPP
(vanishing point perspective).

I'm not yet happy with the color quality of these scans, which are much brighter (HD)
in real life.  Still working on that.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It really is my favorite time of the year!
So, I'm out walking...and especially like what it feels like after a rain.