Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dutch Watermills

You may remember that there is a Dutch database of 1173+ complete/active WINDmills in the Netherlands (with another 4000+ incomplete/vanished windmills), all in a country the geographical size of slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey.

But WATERmills...that's something else.  There are only 108+/- in the Netherlands.  That explains why Astrid and I were so excited to see TWO of them while on our Vasse trip in early December.

But first, you know how much it's not just the destination but the journey that excites us...on two separate days, one after the other.

Vasse is in the Twente region of eastern Netherlands in the Overijssel province.
The farm houses are a different architecture from where we live in South Holland province.

I don't remember seeing sheep, interestingly, though surely they were there.

But there were a few windmills...and even a lion, prancing about.

And as I mentioned on Facebook, I loved the drive-by "shootings" of people!
Life is at a slower pace out in the boonies, which I love.

As we neared our first watermill, I totally woke up to the trees everywhere.  
OMG.  They spoke to me....

And then, suddenly, we were there, at the 1880 Watermolen van Singraven in Denekamp.
As you can see out back, the watermill is used to saw wood.

But first, we spent time at the dam across the street.
Lots of water power!

Wonderful scenic views downstream.

And the Singraven Coach House (with its weathervanes) is also there, off to the left of the dam.
It goes all the way back to 1415.

But it was the watermill we had come to see, with its three wheels.

We couldn't have picked a better day for a perfect example of a Dutch watermill.

And because this is what the Dutch do, we stopped inside for our koffie break.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The next day, on our way home, we headed out to another watermill, 
De Noordmolen in Ambt-Delden.

It was built in 1325, renovated in 1984.

And what was most amazing...not another soul was anywhere to be seen.
We had it all to ourselves.

Well, that is, until we went across the street for our koffie break there,
just as they were opening for the day at 12 noon.

Two watermills in two days, Folks.
I kept thinking about a wheel in the middle of a wheel from Ezekiel 1:16!
It doesn't get much better than that, if you want to know the truth.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jack Frost and Some Macro Fun

Here's another break (from the Vasse trip in December) to keep us present with the here-n-now...which happens to finally have below-freezing temps here in Gorinchem.  Other places in the Netherlands have had snow, but not here...yet.

At least Jack Frost has visited!  So on Monday, walking home after grocery shopping, I took pics.  I'm still trying to make my Canon Powershot max its limit, hoping not to get out my big-girl camera and macro lens.  I'll keep trying....

This is pretty much in order of what I saw from beginning to end.

It intrigued my how some had frost and others didn't.

And how some had LOTS of ice crystals.


It really was cold but we all were in heaven.

Some more than others.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Still in the macro mode, a couple days earlier, I had to capture Astrid's amaryllis.
How is it possible they can grow so tall?  And this is the second bloom!
As you see, I had to stand on a chair (still in my pyjamas on a Saturday morning).

Later that afternoon we drove to our sister city, Woudrichem, across the river,
to buy more ingredients from the windmill for Astrid's bread machine.
Afterwards, for lunch, we dined at the nearby De Stroming restaurant...always a photo op.
[We plan to take sister Ruth and hubby there in July!]
The doggie vane was an added "gift" on the drive home.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

One last fun thing from Monday night, because I had free passes to the show skating in nearby Dordrecht,
we went to see what it was like:

I ended up having so much fun watching and filming Astrid.
And though neither one of us needs to do it again, Astrid said it was totally worth it.
Even worth her taking Tuesday off work, she said (since we got home at midnight).

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Vasse, NL, Trip

You may find this strange but a week after we came back from our Koblenz, Germany, trip (last weekend of November), Astrid had a week off from work because of too many free days to take over into the new year.  So, rather than sit at home, we were off again...this time to Vasse, NL, right on the Dutch-German border, 177 km east of us.

We arrived on Monday, 7 December, and stayed till Thursday,
with the Tante Sien hotel as our home base, built in 1881.

Because we had trips planned for the following days,
we decided to take the suggested 5-km walk around the area that first afternoon.

The St. Joseph and Pancratius catholic church opposite our hotel became our point of reference 
all along the walk.  If we could see it, we knew we weren't lost!

Almost immediately, at the beginning of our walk away from city center,
we were greeted by these lovelies, who totally made my day.

Later, it was the horses in the distance, waiting for supper to be called.

At which point we left the main trails and entered the Ice Age, literally.
Actually, because of recent rain, it was muddy and scary.
We slapped ourselves upside the head about starting so late in the day as the sun was setting.

While it was one of the best sunsets we've ever seen progress,
while deep in the woods, we were almost panicking.  Would we ever find our way out?

Well, yes, of course, because we got back to the hotel in time for our early 5 p.m. dinner!
Looking out the window from my seat I tipped my glass to St. Joseph and Pancratius outside.
Yes, we were back safe-n-sound.

It so happens this hotel stay was a special deal that included breakfast AND dinner.
We started every meal with the same Pott's Weizen beer from Germany 
and farmer's bread with 3 different spreads.
[As an fyi, Astrid and I drink red wine with our dinners at home but love
trying new, good beers while we're out-n-about.  There are so many!]

And this was Dinner #1.

Dinner #2

And Dinner #3
All dinners were 3 courses and were delightful.
We were happy campers, even though as a rule we prefer choosing different restaurants
while traveling out-n-about.  This time we had to return "home" to get our money's worth.
We were NOT disappointed.

The next 3 days we drove all around the area and found lots of goodies.

I never tire of these weathervanes!

How is it possible so many variations on a theme exist!

But, not to be outdone, I quickly found a new collectible from the area.
The following are uilenborden (owls boards) from the Twente area of east Netherlands:

They come in all sizes and shapes...

but can be unusually tall and complex.

Who knew I'd come away at the end of 2015 with a new collectible!
Not as exciting to me as the weathervanes, but exciting enough.

(to be continued....)

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Königswinter, Drachenfels, and Drachenburg: Germany

Not to confuse you, of course, but each is important, especially if you like old ruins and castles!  But I'll get to that in a minute.

It was time to make our way home from our 3-day, 2-night trip to Koblenz, Germany, the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I've already told you about Koblenz, the Maria Laach abbey and the Stolzenfels castle.

Astrid did the research and chose Königswinter as the perfect place for a stop on the way home, an hour west of Koblenz.  It would make a full last day, squeezing everything in.

So, we started winding our way on the back roads along the Rhine towards Königswinter, stopping 
at anything and everything that caught our eye...with the above ruin as our goal, seen from afar.

Some things were brand new even to Astrid, like these stacked bales of hay.

But the fly-by shots of the castles, churches and ruins took the cake,
even though we didn't stop to check them out.
Besides, there are more castles in this area than you can shake a stick at.

As we entered Königswinter, we started paying attention.
It's a summer resort area in a small range of mountains, known for it's half-timbered houses,
the Drachenfels (dragon's rock) and the Drachenburg castle.

Because it wasn't raining yet, we decided to go to the Drachenfels (dragon's rock) first.
Lucky for us, Germany's oldest mountain Drachenfels railway, built in 1883, 
was in holiday operation that day.
The train took us to the castle, from which we then hiked up to the dragon's rock/ruin.
But see the donkey mural on the way?  Astrid's mom rode them instead of the train in her day.

The Drachenfels is actually a hill rising 321 meters (1,053 ft) above the Rhine.
The now ruined castle at the top was built in 1138 by Archbishop Arnold I of Cologne.

As we climbed higher and higher, we saw the Drachenburg castle below,
which we would visit later up close and personal.

If you like ruins, it doesn't get much better than this, even if you don't hang around for long.

Maybe it's the views from the top that are the bigger reward, but that, my friends, 
is the mighty Rhine river below.  The same one from our Viking River Cruise in 2013.

Going back down the mountain was so gezellig...a good Dutch word:  cozy.
Did I mention that I LOVE the woods!

Back down to the train stop, we saw the Drachenburg castle from outside the gate,
before entering the castle grounds through the lovely gate house.
The castle was constructed in palace style in two years, 1882-84, which is young as castles go.
But it does not disappoint!

 See what I mean!
And unbeknownst to us, Christmas festivities were taking place that weekend.

Dicken's-type characters were everywhere to be found, inside and out.

Inside, the great hall was a-bustle with Christmas goodies for purchase or viewing.

Eye candy.

You can see the palace distinction as opposed to a castle, right?

Posh.  Elegant.  Eye candy.

Back outside, as the afternoon grew late, we walked around the grounds.

And of course, we ate the goodies available.  We're not dumb.

Back through the gate house, as we left, we were reminded of the dragon Fafnir from a nearby cave
who was killed by Siegfried, who then bathed in the dragon's blood to become invulnerable.
And thus the hill became Drachenfels = dragon's rock.

That's what legends are made of, giving names to the places we visit.
And there you have it!