Thursday, February 28, 2019

Daughter Amy in the Netherlands, 2019

It was a pretty spontaneous decision but when I realized Amy had some time off between two jobs, I asked if she could come visit us, even if for just a week.  She agreed and she came!  In fact, she just returned back to Atlanta yesterday.

Each day I posted a collage on Facebook, documenting her time here with Astrid and me.  In this post I'm adding a few more photos to fill out the trip.

Day 1:  Thursday, 21 February:  Amsterdam Airport to Gorinchem

She arrived at the Amsterdam airport, we drove home, ate at our favorite Metropole restaurant for lunch, she took a nap and we chilled the rest of the day.  Even watched a movie together that night:  Sideways.  What you need to understand about Amy and us is that we LOVE watching movies together!

Believe it or not, I took no photos that first day.  This was all about chilling!

Day 2:  Friday, 22 February:  Gorinchem

We wanted Amy to sleep in as long as possible every day, which she did!  She needed to restore her body after 2 years of negative work stress.  She'd arrive at our apartment (from our center's guest room across the courtyard) by 11 a.m. each day.

The only thing we did at home that day, before Happy Hour, was to watch The Adjustment Bureau after lunch.  We wanted to get in our cozy movie time together.

Friday afternoon is Happy Hour here where we live, from 3:30-4:30.
Riet (top-left) planned Frikandel Speciaal especially for Amy 
(as she had also done last year for son Mark).
Amy ate the whole thing!

That was our appetizer before an evening dinner with nearby friends, Femke and Jeannette.

The only photos I took that evening were of Amy bonding with ragdoll Finn.
It was love at first sight for both...because Amy really has the touch!

Day 3:  Saturday, 23 February: Antwerp, Belgium

Before Amy came we had discussed the possibility of visiting another country, just to say she did it.  HA!  Because she is now working at the Mercedes Benz headquarters in Atlanta, we all assume she will one day need to travel to their worldwide headquarters in Germany.  So Belgium was the next country of choice...and because Antwerp is only an hour's drive away, we picked it.  (Remember, we were trying to keep this trip easy for her.)

On late-morning arrival at the market square, we first stopped for latte macchiatos and wine.
The shining sun called to us all!  It was good to soak it in.
Then we visited the cathedral, walked around city center, and then ate mussels.
It was exactly how we pictured the day.

BTW, the Cathedral of Our Lady, from 1531, was Amy's first Roman Catholic experience.
Like her mother, she was awestruck.

And that evening, back at home, we watched another movie:  Don Juan DeMarco.

Day 4:  Sunday, 24 February:  Kinderdijk and Pannenkoeken

Kinderdijk is always a must for us because of how soulful it is.
Besides, it's a UNESCO World Heritage site just 30 km away.  A no-brainer.

After Kinderdijk we met up with Jeroen, Eva and Hailey at our favorite pannenkoeken restaurant.
It was a perfect chance to share the "Dutch pancake" experience with Amy and meet the family.
Eva and Jeroen, after all, are her step-siblings!

Day 5:  Monday, 25 February:  Gorinchem's Citadel Walk

While Astrid did a short babysitting stint that afternoon, Amy and I walked our citadel.
Are you paying attention to the weather we had!!!

Amy was such a good sport, climbing all the way to the top of  De Hoop (The Hope) windmill.

That evening we ate at home and watched another movie:  A Star is Born (new version).

Day 6:  Tuesday, 26 February:  Loevestein Castle

Much like Kinderdijk, visiting the Loevestein castle across the Merwede river from us is a must.
After driving along the dijks, we crossed over the river by ferry in Brakel.
Both the ferry and castle were firsts for Amy.
How many times do Americans step foot in a place as old as from 1361!

We even had time to chill out in the sun again.

That evening we ate at out favorite Japanese restaurant in town.

And afterwards we watched Air Force One.

Day 7:  Wednesday, 27 February:  Back to the Amsterdam Airport

Bright and early...the only day she couldn't sleep in...we were back in the car for Amy's flight back to Atlanta.  That was yesterday!

I can't begin to express the joy and fulfillment I had in this first visit from Amy, maybe because after 9+ years she can finally picture what my life is like here in my new country.  You know how the mother-daughter relationship is like none other, on so many levels.  I needed THIS level and am so thankful to Astrid for the following images that speak louder than a thousand words:

Thank you, Amy, for coming.  Thank you for being YOU.

As you often used to say, we should to do this more often!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Den Bosch Photo Hunt with Ayush

You remember Ayush, right?  Before this past Saturday in Den Bosch, we've met up with him 3 times previously:  first in Venlo (Nov. 2015), where he works when in the Netherlands, next here in Gorinchem (Mar. 2016), and then last year in Utrecht (Apr. 2018).

Ayush is one of our Shutterchance buddies.  He's from India but lives in Singapore where he works as an engineer for OCÉ, a Canon company that develops, manufactures and sells printing and copying hardware and related software.  From time to time he is asked to work in Venlo, NL, where he has been this past year.  At the end of February he flies back to Singapore, so we caught him right under the wire.

This time we agreed to meet up in nearby Den Bosch, 40 km from home.  Technically, it's 's-Hertogenbosch, colloquially known as Den Bosch (pronounced Den BOSS).

Ayush took the train from Venlo to Den Bosch (one hour) where we met him.

While we waited for his train to arrive, we took photos, of course.

And then we walked together from the station into city center, past the dragon fountain,
Den Bosch's most famous monument from 1903.

Actually, Astrid had printed a walking tour of the city center passing some of its statues.
Ayush had first sent it to her but now needed to get bearings between paper and smart phone.
Since the dragon above is one of the statues, let's continue on with the other statues we saw.

Zoete Lieve Gerritje (sweet, gentle little Gerrit) is a singing woman with her cockerel.
Except that she's not a woman but a man and not sweet or gentle!
He'd steal from the farmers and then celebrate by dressing up as the farmer's daughter.

In the market square is Den Bosch's namesake, Jheronimus (aka Jeroen) Bosch (right).
He's a world-famous painter representing the Early Nederlandish painting school.
He lived from 1450- 1615.

The Dieske statue (1991) is of a little 15th-century boy who would secretly pee in the canals.
While peeing one day, he discovered the enemy approaching the city across the canal in the reeds.
He warned the city and thereby became an overnight hero (he's the one on the pedestal).

This is the Musician with Dancing Children, from 1969.

And this one???  
I have no idea what it is, since it wasn't on the list and I can't find it yet by Googling.

But you get the idea of the charm of the city by it's statues alone.

Of course, there's much more than statues.  See the "rainbow" crossing (right-middle)?

This is what Astrid put up on our Shutterchance blog this past Monday.
Don't you love her take on it with the selective coloring!

And listen to that busker!

As we walked around, I started collecting gable stones, like I've done in the past.

Gable stones and those "things" that catch my eye.

A surprise was The Morian, the oldest brick house in the Netherlands, built in 1220.
It sits right on the market square, with hardly anyone paying attention!

And speaking of the square, evidence of the upcoming carnival was everywhere.
Many cities have an alternative Carnival name and Den Bosch's is Oeteldonk.
Carnival is celebrated mostly in the southern parts of the Netherlands,
closer to Roman Catholic Belgium.
Den Bosch's Carnival colors are...GUESS:  red, white and yellow.

Roman Catholic Carnival is a good segue to my own personal goal of the day,
 to see St. John's Cathedral, designated a Basilica Minor in 1985 by Pope John Paul II.

Thankfully, it was open!

A service was being held near the altar, so we couldn't get much closer than this.

But we could look up and around elsewhere...

...especially in the back of the nave, where the high pulpit and organ are.
Remember, I always look with Preacher Dad and Organist Mom, as though they are with me!

Our Baptist eyes stare shamelessly.  We can't help it.

As we left city center and headed back to the train station to say goodbye to Ayush,
we were reminded that we live in a "changing" world.

It's friends like Ayush who keep us grounded!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Totally changing the subject, guess who arrives today here in the Netherlands???
Astrid and I are on the way to Amsterdam this morning to pick up daughter Amy
who's taking a week's break with us between jobs in Atlanta,
her first visit to us here in Gorinchem!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Dubrovnik, Croatia: Redux

This is a surprise for me, to go back to 2007 and revisit a place I had all but forgotten about.  But there's a reason....

First of all, I'm working on a comprehensive photo book of images that showcases the different places/countries I've been fortunate to visit over the years.  Just when I think I've covered all the bases, another country pops Croatia.

Croatia is the operative word here, because right now it's at the top of the list of where I want to go next year for my 75th celebration.  Santorini, Greece, is also up there, but Croatia may win out because we've heard so much about it from many sources.

And THEN I realized I had already been to Dubrovnik, even if for only a day back in 2007 when Donica and I were on our Mediterranean cruise.

So, this is a way of whetting my appetite again....

What I most remember is sailing into the city and passing under the big bridge....

...and admiring the lighthouse that first greeted us.

Dubrovnik fronts the Adriatic Sea, so, yes, there was water everywhere.
And besides that, it was a rainy day!

Here you can see Croatia...

...with Dubrovnik all the way down at the bottom tip of the country.
The capital city, Zagreb, is way at the top.
(A possible trip next year would take us along the entire coast, 1,104 miles, via coach for 12 days.)

Massive stone walls from the 16th century surround the old town center.

Most of you know that THIS is what I most love about Europe...the OLD part.

Talk about being "protected."  But from what?

A city that sits on a hill and goes down to the sea has breath-taking views, of course.
What goes up must come down.

HA!  Exactly.

The OLD TOWN feel is in my hart-n-soul!

How else can you explain it.
(Sister Ruth would probably say it's in my DNA.)

And always near the water!

So I had to let my creative juices flow.

Back on the ship, we passed under the bridge again....

...and then out to sea.

That was 12 years ago!  Would I want to return to a country with that kind of "appetizer?"  OMG, yes.  But I have a year to decide.  If you've been there and want to convince me, please do, of course.  But based on what I've seen of the rest of the country, it's kinda like a no-brainer!

Besides, maybe we can do Santorini the next year, right?

To those of you who celebrate it (we don''s American!)
Happy Valentine's Day