Utrecht, 2019

During my last stay in the Netherlands, I visited Leiden and I was very enthusiastic about this historic town. This time I had arranged to have lunch with a friend in Utrecht and I decided to make it a daytrip, so I could explore another historic town.

Let me start with three images. First a map of Utrecht , drawn in 1652. The town is surrounded by defensive moats (singels in Dutch).

This map is from 1856. Still not much development outside the singels

And here is a Google Earth screenshot from 2017. To guide the eye, I have marked the “singels” in blue and also indicated the locations where I have taken pictures. Click to enlarge. (I have rotated the GE image in such a way that North points in the same direction as in the old maps)

I arrived at Utrecht CS, the largest and busiest railway station in the Netherlands. To reach the historical town, I had to cross a shopping center to the Vredenburg square, from where I had a look at the TivoliVredenburg (2014), the modern music complex of Utrecht.

From the square I entered the Zakkendragerssteeg, mentioned for the first time in 1425 and reached the Oudegracht, dating back to the 12th century. In a few hundred meters from the 21th century to the Middle Ages ūüėČ

The canals of Utrecht (Oudegracht, Nieuwegracht and a few minor ones) are rather unique in the world, very different from the Amsterdam ones. They have functioned in the past as an inner-city harbour. The canals were connected to the rivers Rhine and Vecht, and alongside the canals there were wharves, giving access to basement cellars, underneath the houses of the merchants.

I crossed the Oudegracht (more pictures later) and walked to the Janskerk, founded shortly after 1040, built in roman style, but of course modified many times later.

I had no time to visit the interior, and continued to the hallmark of Utrecht, the Domtoren (Dom tower) built between 1321 and 1382. With a height of 112 m it is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands. Work was being done on it during my visit.

On the Dom square I took a picture of the statue of Jan van Nassau, the younger brother of William of Orange, who has been instrumental in the signing of the Unie van Utrecht (1579), regarded as the foundation of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, during the war of independence with Spain.

The Academiegebouw on the Dom square looks old, but isn’t ! It was built between 1891-94 in Dutch Neo-Renaissance style.

Then it was time for lunch. I met my friend at the Rechtbank, in earlier days a courthouse, now a popular cafe. He was one of my first students when I was a physics teacher, and is now a physicist himself…:-)

AFter our lunch I continued my walk, crossing the Nieuwegracht to the Maliesingel. The Nieuwegracht (New Canal) is actually very old, built around 1390, but still newer than the Oudegracht (Old Canal), which was built in the 12th century. The Maliesingel is one of the moats, still surrounding the old town.

In the past, rich people sometimes built simple houses for the poor around a courtyard. The Dutch name for such a compound is “hofje”, in Utrecht you still find an alternative name : Kameren. The houses consisted basically of one room (kamer). Here is the Bruntenhof (Bruntscameren), built in 1621.

I wanted to visit the Centraal Museum, so I walked back to the Nieuwegracht and the Lange Nieuwstraat. This “New Street” dates back to ca 1300, same as the Dorstige Hartsteeg. The church tower you see in the background, belongs to St Catherine’s Cathedral, no time to visit.

Walking to the Centraal Museum I noticed a sign for The University Museum and the Hortus , the former botanical gardens of the University.

I spent some time in the University Museum. Interesting mixture of sometimes weird objects. As a physicist I was of course interested in the particle accelerator, in this case even more, because my friend told me that he had actually been working with this machine, during his research!

Walking to the Central Museum I passed the Beyerskameren (1597), another charity project to give (free) housing to the poor.

The end of the Lange Nieuwsstraat is dominated by the Fundatie van Renswoude. Built in Rococo style in 1757, it was meant to provide education for “intelligent” orphan boys. The interior must be magnificent, but is only open to the public at specific times, like the Open Monument Day.

The Centraal Museum is the main museum of Utrecht, founded in 1838. It has an interesting collection of “old” art, modern art, applied art, the history of Utrecht etc. For me it was the first time that I visited the museum. Therefore quite a lot of pictures.

Many museums nowadays show their collection, combining the various art forms, like here: paintings, furniture, fashion. I really like this approach..

Of course the museum has lots of Rietveld furniture. The dollhouse is from the end of the 17th century and obviously not meant for children ūüôā

Two examples of art mixing. Left 17th century portraits combined with a self-portrait by Carel Willink (1922). Right various forms of fashion.

Roelant Saverij (1576 ‚Äď1639) was a Golden Age painter who lived a large part of his life in Utrecht.

Pyke Koch 1901 ‚Äď 1991 ) can also be considered an Utrecht painter. He and Carel Willink were the main representatives of Dutch Magic Realism. He was a perfectionist, his oeuvre is quite small, and I am always happy to find one of his paintings in a museum. The Centraal Museum has quite a few!

J.H. Moesman (1909-1988) was born in Utrecht and lived there almost all of his life. A Surrealist painter, the “Dutch Dali”. The museum houses a large collection of his works.

I spent only about one hour in this museum, a next time I will stay longer, there is a lot to see, but I had to make my way back to the station.

The Nicolai church is located next to the museum. Its origins go back to the 12th century, the front with the two towers is still in the original Roman style. In 1586 one tower was raised to make room for a carillon.

A few more pictures of de Oudegracht.

On my way back, I visited a few more “hofjes”. Lot of heritage buildings, a very pleasant part of Utrecht.

But Utrecht is not only interesting because of its heritage. It is a lively town, with many cafes, restaurants and entertainment outlets. And there is a lot of Jugendstil in Utrecht, one of my architecturale favourites. But that will be for a future visit.

When friends of mine are visiting the Netherlands, I sometimes advised them to skip overcrowded Amsterdam and visit Utrecht instead. Now that I have walked around myself, I will keep telling them: Visit Utrecht!

Aei Ling’s visit, April 2019

My usual visit to the Netherlands started this time in a special way! During the first two weeks, Aei Ling, Aric’s sister, stayed with us in Amsterdam. As it was her first visit to the Netherlands, we showed her many of the Dutch tourist destinations. Here is a report.

Monday 15 April

We arrived early morning at Schiphol airport, took the train to Amsterdam Zuid station and decided to walk to my apartment, although it was only a few degrees above zero! Just outside the station we saw our first tulips ūüôā

After a few hours rest (and having our first Dutch strawberries) , we went into town. It was cold but sunny and everywhere the “cherry” trees were in full bloom. Aei Ling would have liked to ride a bicycle, but I thought that would not be wise…:-)

We took the metro to the center of the town, the Dam square with the National Monument.

Back home we had our first Dutch dinner. Of course with potatoes.

Tuesday 16 April

We visited the windmills of the Zaanse Schans, one of the top tourist attractions of the Netherlands. Several of the mills are working and you can visit them. In this picture Aei Ling is standing on the jetty at the left.

After coming home, we had another Dutch traditional dinner, mussels with fries. Yummie.

Wednesday 17 April

Our destination was the Muiderslot, one of the historical castles in the Netherlands. We took a ferry from Amsterdam, which lands at the castle itself, a very romantic approach.

The history of the castle goes back to 1280. In the 17th century P.C. Hooft, a Dutch writer and poet has been living in the castle, many of the rooms are furnished in the style of the Dutch Golden Age. It must have been many decades ago that I visited this castle, so it was a nice experience for me too.

It was my 75th birthday and I had invited a few people for dinner at the Zoku restaurant. A very pleasant evening.

Thursday 18 April

My sister Lous had offered to show us around in the tulip fields of North-Holland. We arrived by train, enjoyed their garden and had lunch with them.

The Keukenhof is the most famous flower garden of the Netherlands, crowded with tourists from all over the world. Not many people know about the Poldertuin in Anna Paulowna, a miniature Keukenhof, quiet and F.O.C ! We were lucky, it was a perfect time to visit.

There were so many species of tulips, daffodils, etc, that I kept taking pictures…:-)

After visiting the garden, Lous and Arend drove us around through the flower fields.

We visited one garden where you could pick your own tulips, for 25 euro cents per flower.

We had dinner near the beach, it was not cold, we could even sit outside.

We stayed overnight, enjoying a beautiful sunset.

Friday 19 April

The famous Cheese Market of Alkmaar was the destination for this day. Arend dropped us near the Waagplein, where the market is held every Friday morning. It is a colorful spectacle, attracting massive crowds of (mostly foreign) visitors. Background information can be found here.

It is a honour to become a cheese carrier and you need years of training. Each cheese weighs 12-13 kg, and a barrow carries eight of them. The market started in 1365 and the whole process is steeped in tradition.

Alkmaar is a beautiful historic town, where you could easily spend hours.

We took a train back to Amsterdam and had a late lunch in the Pancake Bakery, one of Aric’s favourite eateries. And at home a late dinner with escargots. By the way, Aei Ling is drinking 0.0 % alcohol beer, getting more and more popular these days .. ūüôā

Saturday 20 April

The Amstelpark is in walking distance from my apartment. Many years ago I had visited in this park the rhododendron valley, and after breakfast we tried our luck. It was a nice , easy 20 minute walk to the park, you can easily forget that you are in a suburb of Amsterdam.

And lucky we were, the rhododendrons were in full bloom

Near the park a beautiful windmill is located, the Riekermolen (1636). Almost any time of the day tourist buses stop here., we had to wait a bit for a picture without people ..:-)

Before walking home we had lunch in the park. I had an uitsmijter, a visit to the Netherlands is not complete for me without this traditional lunch of fried eggs with ham and cheese on bread ūüôā

Later we went out again, because a tourist visit to Amsterdam is also not complete without a visit to the Red Light district. Too many tourists, the ladies of the night are not happy about it and often close the curtains of their rooms.

It is actually a beautiful, old part of the town.

We had snack food at a FEBO outlet, a typical Dutch institution with vending machines for the different foods provided.

Sunday 21 April

Easter Sunday! My friend Inez had invited us for lunch. With eggs, that is the tradition.

In the afternoon we visited the Vondelpark where lots of people were enjoying the nice weather and even sunbathing. We joined them and also had a look at the Boomzagertje, a hidden jewel near the Leidseplein

The next day we took the train to Paris, where we stayed four days. I have written a separate post about it, Paris, April 2019, and continue this one, after we came back to Amsterdam.

Saturday 27 April

Koningsdag! The celebration of the King’s birthday is very popular in the Netherlands. Unfortunately the weather was not very favourable this year, cold with rain showers. But of course we went to town. The Vondelpark is a huge freemarket on this day, where kids try to earn a few coins by playing music etc. Pity that it was so cold.

Sunday 28 April

My friend Yolanda is singing in a choir and they were performing Mozart’s Requiem in the Dominicus church this Sunday afternoon. Before the concert we had apple pie in restaurant Winkel 43, supposedly the best apple pie in town ūüôā

It was a beautiful concert, in a beautiful church.

After the concert we had a drink in a cafe nearby with Yolanda (left) and friends.

Monday 29 April

Aei Ling was flying back in the evening, still time enough for a last activity, a visit to Leiden. During my last stay in Holland I had “rediscovered” this beautiful town, near my “hometown”, see my report Leiden 2018

Only a few pictures here, to give an impression.

Then it was time to say goodbye. It was very nice to have Aei Ling as our guest!

A meeting of pensionados

In 1976 I started teaching physics at the Snellius school in Amstelveen. I was 32 year old and had just graduated from the Free University in Amsterdam. Left I am defending my thesis, right I am teaching my students, in a different outfit. And yes, my hair was long..:-)

Here is a photo of the school team in 1990-91. After a merger with other public secondary schools in Amstelveen, the school was renamed Nieuwer Amstel school. I am wearing contact lenses and have less hair.

Two years later. Can you find me?

This photo is from 1995-1996. I am wearing a brown jacket.

The next year, 1996-97, was my last regular teaching¬† year.¬† Here is my last “Lerarenagenda”, I still have the complete collection ūüôā

The following years, until 2002, I worked part-time at my own alma mater, the Free University, on education-related topics. In 2002, at the age of 58, I became a full-time pensionado..:-)

So, it is more than 20 years ago that I was in daily contact with my colleagues, although several of them have become friends, whom I meet regularly when I am back in the Netherlands.

One of them told me in May that there was a plan to organise a reunion of pensionados, who had retired from one of the schools which now, after another merger, form the Amstelveen College.

The date proposed was 5 October, and I was so eager to attend this reunion that I decided to prolong my yearly visit to the Netherlands a few weeks…:-)

In the afternoon of 5 October I went to the Amstelveen College, the old Snellius school building has been demolished quite a few years ago.

The meeting of pensionados was well organised. About sixty of them were present, basically from the schools that had merged into the Amstelveen College, but more than half of them had been working at the Snellius, so there were many familiar faces and fortunately in almost all cases I still could remember their name ūüôā

There was a short introduction about the present status of the Amstelveen College.

But of course the main interest of the attendees was social, meeting former colleagues and chatting about their shared past.

Left three colleagues who were already working for many years at the Snellius, when I arrived in 1976. The right picture shows me with a few colleagues of the former Casimir school, in the past the rival public school in Amstelveen.

It was a pity that there was no “official” photographer. In between conversations with former colleagues, I managed to take some pictures but they are not representative for the group. Here are my pictures.

During the meeting old photos , taken in the period 1976 to 1988, were shown on a big screen. They belong to the collection of Dick Vader, who worked at the Snellius during the 70s and 80s and who was (and still is) an avid photographer.

He has given me permission to use these photos and below you will find a¬† selection, with persons who also appear in the color pictures above. It will be an interesting exercise to compare the two sets and find out the corresponding images…:-)

I have cropped most photos to show only one specific person.

Because most attendees were busy chatting with each other, many of them may not have paid full attention to the photo presentation of more than 500 photos.

That’s why I have put a representative selection of these photos in a separate album Snellius 1976-1987¬†(text in Dutch)

It was a very successful meeting, worthy of a repeat.

 

The Marker Wadden

Would you like to go with me to the Marker Wadden, my youngest brother asked me during my recent visit to the Netherlands.  The Marker Wadden? I knew about the Wadden Islands and the Wadden Sea, but had never heard about the Marker Wadden.

He explained to me that it was a project of Natuurmonumenten, the Dutch Nature Society, to create a number of artificial islands in the Markermeer.

Ok, I knew about the Markermeer. Have a look at the left map, taken from the informative Zuiderzee Works entry in Wikipedia. After closing the Zuiderzee with the Afsluitdijk in 1932, it was renamed IJsselmeer, and gradually changed from a salt water lake into a fresh water one. Large parts of the lake were reclaimed to form polders. The original plan was to reclaim also the Markermeer, and a dike, the Houtribdijk, was already built between 1963 and 1975.

But the reclamation plans changed, and in 1986 it was decided that the Markermeer will remain a lake. When you look at the right picture, a Google Earth map of the same region, you will notice the different color of the water in the Markermeer. Because the lake is separated by a dike from the IJsselmeer, there is a lot of siltation, resulting in turbid water. This has a negative impact on the aquatic flora and fauna.

In 2012 Natuurmonumenten,  with other partners, presented an ambitious plan, to create  a couple of artificial islands in the Markermeer, using sand and silt from the bottom. The islands will not be used for human habitation, but will become a bird sanctuary.

The project has been accepted and is now in progress, with support of several sponsors. In the left picture you can see the location of these Marker Wadden relative to the Houtribdijk. The right images shows more details, the north-west island has a harbour and some infrastructure (footpaths and walkways), this island will be accessible to the public (but only if you have your own boat!). The other islands will be strictly nature reserves.

To show these Marker Wadden to the general public, Natuurmonumenten organised a temporary ferry service during the weekend of¬† 8-9 September and my brother bought tickets, for of course I eagerly accepted his invitation…:-)

The ferry left from the Bataviahaven in Lelystad. We arrived early, so we could have a nice seat and a cup of coffee. Many interested people, often  armed with binoculars and cameras.

After about 45 minutes we arrived at the jetty of the Marker Wadden

There were two walking routes on the island, 2.5 km and 6 km. We took the shorter one. At the start it looked like a crowd, but it spread out quite fast.

Work is still going on, but this was a weekend, so no activity.

Here I am posing as a climber of the Marker Wadden mountains…:-)

There is a lookout tower, solidly built.

From the balcony at the top you have a good view of the surroundings.

It was an interesting walk, In many places the work was still in full swing.

A warning sign for dangerous quicksand.

Regarding plant life, the philosophy of Natuurmonumenten is to let nature take Its course.Slowly¬† plants will start growing, from seeds blown over by the wind from the surrounding polders. I have my doubts about the single patch of sunflowers I saw…:-). Could it be that somebody has bought¬† a packet of sunflower seed and sowed it here?

We walked over a nice walkway, sat down and had the sandwiches we had taken from home. In a few years time this will be a beautiful region.

It will also become a paradise for bird watchers. During our visit we did not see many birds, because it was  not the migratory season yet.

We spent a few hours on the island and then took the ferry back to Lelystad. A very nice outing.

 

Leiden 2018

Most of my life I have been living in Amsterdam, but I was born in Alphen aan den Rijn, a small town 15 km from Leiden. Of course I have been in Leiden many times in my youth, but I have never really explored the town.

Therefore, on the first Sunday in September, I  took the train to Leiden Central Station and visited the town. Leiden has a long history. It  received city rights in 1266 and flourished in the 16th and 17th century, because of the cloth industry. Here is a map of Leiden in 1690

And here is a Google Earth view from 2008. It is remarkable how the historic town center is still easily recognisable. The blue markers indicate some of the locations where I have taken pictures.

The 1690 map is full of interesting details, Click here for a large size image. Count the windmills on the city walls! And notice that numerous canals have nowadays been filled in to become roads.

These days only two windmills are left. The Valk mill will draw your attention when you walk from the station to the old town. The water in the foreground is one of the singels (moats) surrounding the 17th century town.

De Valk is a tower mill, built in 1743, replacing an older mill. In the past the miller was living in the mill with his family, nowadays it is an interesting museum. The mill is built so high to catch the wind. In the right picture you see the wheel to rotate the top of the mill in the direction of the wind. This is a cornmill and still operational

The lower floors show how in the past people were living here.

You have to climb many steep ladders to reach the top of the mill. The complicated machinery (wooden gears!) always fascinates me.

The second windmill on the ramparts is the mill de Put. Although there has been a mill here since 1619, several times rebuilt, it was destroyed in 1817. Only in 1983 the mill has been reconstructed and is now a museum. It is a so-called post mill, the whole mill structure can be rotated around a central axis.

The mill was under renovation when I visited Leiden. The bridge in the foreground is also a recent reconstruction of an old bridge. It is called the Rembrandt bridge, because not far from here Rembrandt, the famous Dutch painter, was born in 1606.

In a small park nearby there is information about him, with his statue, painting of course. All tourists want to have their picture taken here, and so did I…:-)

Both tourists and locals were enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. The cafe terraces, which in Leiden are often placed on floating pontoons, were crowded.

In the morning, the sky was incredibly blue. Left the monumental facade of the Stadstimmerwerf (town carpenter’s yard) built in 1612. Next to it the Doelenpoort (1645), in earlier days the entrance gate to the exercise grounds of the Schutterij¬†, a typical Dutch institution in those days. Many houses had characteristic stepped gables..

Leiden has the oldest university of the Netherlands, founded in 1575. It is still one of the  important ones, the royal family has been studying here.

This is the Academiegebouw, the oldest building in Leiden, in 1516 built as the chapel of a Dominican monastery. SInce 1581 it has been used by the university, nowadays mainly for ceremonial functions.

The Pieterskerk is the oldest church of Leiden, building started in 1121 and lasted hundreds of years.  It is within walking distance from the Academiegebouw and  a cortege of professors walks twice yearly from the university to the church, for the dies natalis (anniversary) and  for the opening of the Academic Year. An old tradition, this year the 443th time! When I visited Leiden, they were very busy in the church with preparations for the ceremony the following day.

I would really have loved to watch the procession. Here is a video taken during the dies natalis ceremony of 2016. Fascinating.

The church had a 110 m tall tower,which collapsed in 1512 and was never rebuilt. Not so easy to take an overall picture of this church, also because houses have been built against the church walls.

The interior of the late-gothic building is very impressive. Of course it was originally a Roman-Catholic church, but after the Reformation and the infamous Beeldenstorm in 1566 it became a Protestant church in 1572.

Many famous people were buried here (Jan Steen, Boerhaave), but I had no time to find their tombs. Just a few more pictures. The magnificent Van Hagerbeer organ is from 1643.

The Hortus Botanicus (botanical garden) of the Leiden University is the oldest in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world. I had never before visited the Hortus, and spent quite some time there.

There are many greenhouses with tropical plants. Probably the most famous one is the Victoria amazonica, with leaves that supposedly can carry a  baby.

The park is  very attractive.  Left  a view of the singel, right the Japanese garden

Also in the garden is the Leiden Observatory. It is one of the oldest in the world, originally housed in the Academiegebouw. In 1860 it was moved to the Hortus and in 1974 to the science campus, outside the town center.

After my visit I had lunch in the Hortus cafe

Leiden has numerous “hofjes” and I visited three of them. A “hofje” is a courtyard with almshouses. Rich people in the 17th century founded such hofjes as a charity. The almshouses were meant for various groups, poor people, or spinsters, or foreigners without family, etc.

Nowadays they still have rules and regulations for the tenants. They are oases of tranquillity, many of them have free access , but you are expected to be quiet and not disturb the people living there.

Jean Pesijnhof (1683)

This hofje, near the Pieterskerk, was founded by the widow of Jean Pesijn. They came from France, had no children and the almshouses were meant for members of the Walloon Church. A beautiful, idyllic courtyard.

Eva van Hoogeveenhof (1652)

Eva came from a wealthy family and never married. As the inscription above the entrance gate says, she was a “virgo castissima et laudatissima” (Google for translation). In her will she had stated that the almshouses were meant for honest women, above 40 year old and unmarried..

Van der Speckhofje (1645)

Also know as St Pietershofje. A secluded one, you can easily miss the entrance gate.Founded by Pieter Gerritsz. Van der Speck. In his will he stated that four of the eight almshouses were meant for widows, the other four for elderly couples. Nowadays younger people are housed in this little gem.

The town hall of Leiden stood in the Breestraat as early as the Middle Ages. In 1596 it was given a new facade in Renaissance style to show the importance of the town. It still looks impressive, although it is “new”! In 1929 a devastating fire destroyed the town hall, leaving only a skeleton of the facade.¬† In 1932 it was rebuilt , the facade in the original style, the tower in a different location and the rest in modern style ( a design by Dudok was rejected, understandable, but still a pity!)

Some details of the facade

The Burcht of Leiden is a fortress built on an artificial hill, constructed in the 11th century, located where two tributaries of the Rhine come together.

Here is the south gate (1651). access is free, it is a pleasant park.

From the ramparts, you have a view of Leiden. Here two churched I had no time to visit, left the Hooglandse Kerk, a gothic church from the 15th century, right the Marekerk, built in classicist style and opened in 1649. The Hooglandse Kerk was of course built as a Catholic church and only after the Reformation transformed into a Protestant one. The Marekerk was designed as a Protestant church.

I could not resits the temptation to have Poffertjes, a traditional Dutch mini-pancake. Served with butter and sugar, not healthy, but so delicious.

With my interest in architecture, I could have spent many days in Leiden. The Lakenhal was built as a guild hall for cloth merchants and is now an important museum, but closed for renovation during my visit. The Hartebrugkerk is the first Catholic church in Leiden built after the Reformation.

The Koornbrug is from 1642. It was so named, because for many centuries corn was traded on this bridge

With its many singels and canals, Leiden looks a bit similar to Amsterdam. Here  is a collection of photos taken during my visit.

After a long day it was time to go back to Amsterdam. The central station is an attractive modern building from 1996.

Walking to the entrance of the station,  I came across a pavement decoration, which did not make much sense to me (left picture) . Until I walked past and watched it from the other side (right picture). A spectacular anamorphic work of art!

It was a very enjoyable day!

 

Groningen 2018

When I am in the Netherlands, I always try to stay a few days in Groningen with my brother Ruud.¬† We usually spend a day in the countryside and this time we decided to visit the Menkemaborg. A “borg” is a manor house, typical for the province of Groningen. In the past there were many, now only less than twenty¬† survive, here is a list¬†of the existing borgs

On our way to the borg, we passed the small hamlet of Eppenhuizen with an attractive church. The church is not old, built in 1882 and no longer in use as church.¬†Surrounded by a graveyard with a “baarhuisje”, a mortuary.

The Menkemaborg was originally built in  the 14th century, but altered to its present form around 1700. Owned privately by the Alberda family until 1902, it was donated in 1921 to the Groninger Museum. It is surrounded by a moat and extensive gardens.

The interior of the borg has been furnished in the style of the 17-18th century. The result is beautiful, it gives the impression that the residents are away for a moment and can come back any time.

Only the ground floor and the basement are accessible to the public. The basement contains the kitchens and the servants quarters

There were two toilets, located outside the main building, flushing into the moat…:-). The lion is carrying the coat of arms of the family and the pedestal shows the year¬† that the Alberda family acquired the property and altered it.

The Schathoes was originally the farm belonging to the Menkemaborg. Now it is a restaurant where we had our lunch.

After our lunch we walked in the well-maintained gardens. There is a maze in this garden where we almost got lost…:-)

In Google Earth the Menkemaborg is clearly visible. When you enlarge tie image, you will notice the maze in the garden with an old plane tree in its center

My brother suggested to drive to the coast of the Waddenzee after our visit. On our way we passed another beautiful church, in Uithuizermeeden. The church is old, but in 1896 the church tower was destroyed by lightning and rebuilt the next year in this interesting neoclassical form. A real gem.

The Waddenzee is a Unesco World Heritage site and also a Ramsar site.

Dykes protect the low-lying lands against the seawater  At several places roads have to cross these dykes,  in these pictures you see the old wooden doors that can be closed

And of course you will find windmills in many places to pump the rainwater back to the sea. The windmill here is the Goliath , built in 1897. In the background many modern windmills which generate electricity.

When we stopped at the mill to take pictures, the miller told us that we could enter the mill and climb up, using steep ladders. After our visit she would have coffee and cake ready! Of course we accepted her invitation…:-)

This  type of windmill is called a bovenkruier, the top part of the mill can be rotated when the direction of the wind is changing.

The miller had lots of interesting stories to tell about the Goliath and her efforts to preserve the mill and keep it in mint condition. We asked if the name Goliath was a pun, but no it was the original name.¬† It was a pun that one of the huge new windmills nearby had been named the David…:-)

Personally I think the modern windmills are a form of horizon pollution, although in the picture below they fit quite naturally in the landscape.

The northern part of Groningen has a special charm. Look at this Google Earth View

It was a very rewarding outing!

MORE Museum in Gorssel

Five years ago, in 2012, business tycoon and art collector Hans Melchers bought more than 1200  artworks from the bankrupt DSB bank. He owned already a large number of paintings by Carel Willink and wanted to create a museum for his collection. He found a suitable location in Gorssel, a village south of Deventer in the province of Gelderland. The MORE museum was opened in 2015 and is now the largest museum  for Dutch Modern Realism.

When I am back in the Netherlands, I always try to meet Nellie, my friend of more than 55 (!) years. We both like art and this time we decided to visit this new museum. She traveled from Friesland where she is living, I took the train from Amsterdam, we met in Deventer, took the bus to Gorssel, and started with coffee in a nice cafe opposite the museum

The museum is housed in the former town hall of Gorssel and a new extension. A very successful combination of old and new.

A few months ago Melchers opened a second museum in nearby Ruurlo, specially dedicated to Carel Willink, the most famous Dutch “magic realist” painter. We decided to keep¬†this museum for a next visit, fortunately quite a few of Willink’s masterpieces were still on view in this museum.

Carel Willink (1900-1983)

Zeppelin (1933)

Terrace with Pergola (1951)

City Square (1958)

Towards the Future (1965) and Landing on Mars (1969)

Willink’s Imaginary Realism¬†is easily recognisable, it was a surprise for me to see that he has been experimenting with other styles when he was young. This¬†is also Willink, when he was 24 year old!

The Silver Wedding (1924)

The ground floor of the museum houses (part of)  the  permanent collection. Well-designed exhibition halls

Here are¬† a few examples of Dutch “modern realist” artists. Still-lifes are a popular genre. Click on the links for Wikipedia info.

Raoul Hynckes (1893-1973)

Jan van Tongeren (1897-1991)

Wim Schuhmacher (1894-1986)

Portraits are also common

Philip Akkerman (1957- )   He painted thousands of self-portraits!

Charley Toorop¬† (1891-1955) Easily recognisable style…:-)

Pyke Koch  (1901-1991) Another favourite of mine..:-)

Resting Somnambulist (1930)

The Signal  (1975)


Herman Gordijn (1932 Р2017)

And of course various other subjects

Co Westerik (1924 -)

Jan Mankes  (1889-1920)

One hall is dedicated to photography. Not my main interest

But I am a fan of Erwin Olaf…:-)

Erwin Olaf (1959 Р)

We had lunch in the museum cafe and continued with the first floor of the museum.

 

The first floor is for temporary exhibitions. We were lucky, a retrospective of the versatile artist Herman Berserik had just opened.

Herman Berserik (1921 Р2002)

When we left, the weather had become clouded, I could not really take pictures from the outside. I have to come back, it is really a very interesting museum, worth a second visit.

Summer in October!

When I decided to come back to  the Netherlands in October, I knew the weather could be unpredictable, hesitating between autumn and winter. In old times October was called the aarselmaand    (hesitation month)

So it was an unexpected, but very pleasant surprise that my first weekend was warm and sunny, even breaking records!

Here is a report about three summer days in October. Click on a picture to enlarge it

Saturday 14 October

With my brother Ruud I visited the Spaardammerbuurt, famous for its Amsterdamse School architecture. First we had coffee and cake in the Buurtboerderij Ons Genoegen. This “farm within the city” dates back to 1880, was almost demolished around 2001, but just in time saved by a group of concerned citizens. More about this interesting story can be read here (in Dutch).¬†It is amazing that such a rural enclave exists, sandwiched between two railway lines.

We walked from the Buurtboerderij to Het Schip following this route. Not the shortest one, but worthwhile, you don’t realise that you are surrounded by development

When we arrived in the Spaarndammerbuurt, we were a bit disappointed to see that Het Schip, the famous creation of architect de Klerk, was being renovated, so I took only a few pictures. You can find more  in an  earlier blog Amsterdam Architecture

During my last visit the Schip museum was closed, fortunately it was was open now.  It is housed in a former school building and worth visiting.

We ended our trip at the Central Station. Beautiful weather and the¬†forecast for the next day was¬† even better…:-)

Sunday 15 October

The second day I went with my friend Yolanda to the Utrecht Hill Ridge, a  forested ridge of low sandhills, created 150.000 years ago as a moraine during one of the glacial periods. We followed a marked hiking trail of 12 km, indicated on the Google Earth map below.

It was a pleasant, easy walk.

Our hike took us to the Beerschoten and Houdringe estates and to the Pan forest. Stately lanes, beech and oak forest

Many  trees had beautiful autumn colours.

Mushrooms all over the place.

Hard to imagine that in winter this nice lake will become a skating rink.

The former coach house of the Beerschoten Estate now houses  an information center

It was a Sunday and with the sunny weather there were many visitors. There is also a sculpture garden

Monday 16 October

The third day I walked on my own in the region of Alphen, my birthplace. A polder walk of about 10 km. Green in the map below. Also indicated (in red) is one of the numerous Dutch polders . A polder is is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by dikes. This polder was created around 1785. Because they are low-lying, the rainwater must be pumped out by windmills into a river, in this case the river RIjn.

I took a bus to Aarlanderveen, where I started my walk. Nowadays Aarlanderveen has no shops and only one cafe. The cafe was officially closed, but the friendly owner was willing to serve coffee  with apple pie. A good start of the day.

The landscape can not be more Dutch…:-) Meadows, cattle, windmills.

You walk on narrow trails through the meadows, sometimes crossing fences

The polder marked in red needs 4 windmills, because in its deepest point it lies about 5 meter below sea level and one windmill can “lift” the water only about 1.5 meter. So they have to work together, like in the sketch¬†below. The Dutch word for it is a Molen-viergang and it is the only viergang in the world that is still operating.

Mill no 4 uses an Archimedes’ screw, the other three have scoop wheels.

Here is windmill no 4, the Putmolen, built in 1801. later than the other three, because one more mill was needed to drain the lowest part of the polder. That explains the odd numbering..:-)

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Here is Mill no 1, when you click on the image to enlarge it, you can see no 2 and 3 in the background. This windmill discharges the water in the Rijn river.

Some details of this windmill. The right picture shows part of the scoop wheel.

Windmill 2 and 3

On the GE map you see that there is an (older) polder between the “red one”and the Rijn river. The easiest way to remove ¬†the water from the new polder would be to discharge it in this old polder, which had its own windmills.But understandably the owners of the old polder refused this, so for¬† the new polder a separate¬†drainage channel had to be created to the Rijn. Such a drainage channel is called a “wetering” in Dutch.

The problem is that the wetering of the new polder has to cross the wetering of the old polder. The left picture shows the location where this happens. The yellow line marks the wetering of the old polder, the red line is the wetering of the “red” polder. It passes UNDER the old wetering via a siphon (a duiker in Dutch). The right image shows how it works. This siphon was built in 1786.¬† Amazing.¬† I have marked the location of this siphon on the GE map

Not many birds in this time of the year. I noticed a heron and a cormorant. And of course many swans..:-)

A few more pictures.

It was a very interesting hike. A very informative website about the Molen-viergang (in Dutch can be found here.

De Nollen

It has become a tradition that we organise a reunion with my siblings and their partners during my visits to the Netherlands. This time my sister was the host and she had planned a visit to a museum in Den Helder, about 20 km north of where she lives.

A museum?  In Den Helder? Some of us were slightly skeptical, but it turned out to be a fascinating visit of De Nollen , the life work of a Dutch artist, Ruud van de Wint (1942-2006).

A nol is the Dutch word for a sand hill, a dune. In this Google Earth image you can still see these sand dunes. Once this was an island! From 1980 until his untimely death, van de Wint has been transforming this wasteland into a Land Art park.

Here is a view of the Nollen. Van de Wint not only put his artworks here, he also did a lot of landscaping.

A monumental gate forms the entrance of the park, a good location for a family picture..:-)

After paying an entrance fee, you can walk around in the park on your own, but to enter the structures, you need a guide. We had an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, a friend of my sister.

She took us on a 2-hour walk through the park.¬†It was stormy autumn weather with an occasional shower, but we were lucky, during a rainy spell we were inside a structure…:-)

Visible from far away are three needle-like structures.

Notice the small “tunnel” in the foreground.

Created by the artist, so you could have a view of the needles, looking through this peeping hole.

 

 

Stormy weather, nice cloudscapes…:-)

The needles look solid, but on closer inspection it turns out that they have been made of wound copper wire!

Many of the artworks are made of corten steel

This structure which looks like an orange peel, was very suitable for a group picture, taken by our guide.

These green structures were slowly moving in the wind, but very sturdy.

The Nollen terrain contains many bunkers, some of them dating back to Napoleonic times, others to WWII. Some of them have been transformed in artworks, like this dome structure with an oculus at the top of the dome.

The interior of the dome has been painted and is lit by the light falling through the oculus. Fascinating

Here is another spectacular structure. On the Google Earth image a whitish lemniscate-like shape can be seen. This artwork is not based on a bunker but has been built by the artist. In the left picture we are walking to this construction.  A narrow passage leads to  the two entrances.We visited one of the halves

Here I am standing in one half of the lemniscate. No windows, the light enters  through a transparent roof. Beautiful, it made me think of Mark Rothko

Another structure. Two thatched domes, which can be entered through tunnels and spiral staircases

Here is the last structure we entered, constructed in corten steel and accessible through tunnels and again a spiral staircase.

 

The interior looks like a cathedral, with one single (tiny) painting behind a monumental grille.

The painting looks not accessible, but…

It can be opened ūüôā

 

The grille was of course another good location for a family picture “in prison”

The most impressive work of art was this structure in corten steel.

It can actually rotate on a pivot! Unbelievable..:-)

You need quite a few people to bring it in motion. Fascinating.

On our way back to the entrance we passed another artwork of the artist

Back in the entrance hall we had a look at scale versions of his artworks.¬†Van de Wint¬†has been a prolific¬†artist. An exhibition hall for his paintings is under construction. And we had coffee and cake, another family picture…:-)

It was a very rewarding excursion, advisable to anyone who is interested in art!

Here is an article about the Nollen project in English: Project De Nollen  And an article in Dutch (pdf file): De Nollen: grote kunst in een klein kustlandschap

Oysters and Mussels, October 2016

Originally Aric and I had planned to visit the Netherlands in August, to attend the Mussel day in Yerseke (August 20), but for various reasons we had to postpone our visit one month. Both of us love seafood and one of the first meals I prepared after our arrival in Amsterdam was a delicious mussel dinner.

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But Yerseke is also famous for its oysters and the oyster season starts in October!

At the end of Aric’s stay we rented a car and made a two-day trip to Zeeland, the most Western province of the Netherlands, where Yerseke is located.

It was a trip full of variety with historical towns, the Delta Works and of course oysters and mussels ūüôā

Our first stop was in Halsteren to visit the Moses bridge! The Moses bridge? I had never heard about it until Aric discovered an interesting website Atlas Obscura with unusual/unknown tourist attractions all over the world. When you search for the Netherlands, you will find the Moses Bridge as one of them. Here it is.

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The bridge spans the moat of a¬†17th century entrenchment Fort de Roovere¬†near Halsteren. It is partially submerged in the water of the moat, giving the impression that you “split” the waters when crossing, like when Moses crossed¬†the Red Sea ¬†ūüėČ ¬†Here are a few more pictures

After visiting this bridge we continued to Yerseke, where we arrived in time for lunch. Yerseke is a small village in Zeeland, heavily damaged during WWII, only interesrting because of the oysters and the mussels. We had our lunch in the Oesterij where the oysters, after being harvested are kept in oysterbeds for cleaning, before being marketed. You can buy them in the shop, or taste them in the tasting room.

We started with a combination platter of three different oyster species. With a glass of wine 9.50 Euro, they are even here not really cheap. ¬†It’s an acquired taste, for us it was heavenly bliss. Next we tasted the baked oysters, nice, but we prefer the real oyster taste, so we finished our lunch with more raw oysters.

I had booked a hotel in Middelburg, we  still had time to spend and decided to visit the historical town of Veere. In 1541 Veere became a staple town for Scottisch wool and prospered. Later it was a fishing town, now it is mostly tourism. A small town, easy to walk around. Peaceful atmosphere.

Veere has a beautiful 15th century town hall and an interesting church, also dating back to the 15th century, but never finished, so there is only part of a tower!

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Here are a few more pictures.

End of the afternoon we reached Middelburg.¬†In June 2015 I visited this beautiful capital of the Zeeland province and wrote a blog¬†about it. Our hotel was located in the historic¬†part of the town and consisted of only a few rooms, located above a cafe, that was actually closed on the day we arrived. But there was a note on the door, asking us to call a mobile number, so the owner expected us…:-) ¬†More Airbnb style, but it worked well. Here our hotel and room.

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It was a beautiful evening, we walked around a bit, also looking for a restaurant. That was not easy, Middelburg is quite a provincial town. Finally we found a Greek(!) restaurant, that was open. Very pleasant service, a glass of ouzo before we even ordered our food. A big starter and an even bigger main course. We had a nice conversation with Martha, the Greek owner of the restaurant. Resulting in a picture..:-)!

The next morning we took a few more pictures, of the Kloveniersdoelen (1607) and the Sijsmolen (1728

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On our way back to Amsterdam, I wanted to have a look at the Storm Surge Barrier.¬†In 1953 a high tide combined with severe storms caused breaking of dykes and flooding in Zeeland, resulting in almost¬†2000 casualties: the Watersnoodramp. I was eight years old at that time and still remember how frustrated I was that I could not go to Zeeland to¬†help closing the dykes…:-).

The Delta Plan was meant to protect the Zeeland province and one of the most ambitious parts was the storm surge barrier, which could be closed in case of emergency. The dam was completed in 1986, each sluice-gate is tested regularly, the whole barrier has been closed 25 times until now, when the water level was more than three meter above normal.

On our way to this barrier, we first visited the small village of West Kapelle, to see the unusual lighthouse: a former church tower. When we walked around, we noticed an unusual civilian war cemetery. A British(!) tourist explained to us what had happened. In 1944 the port of Antwerp had fallen into the hands of the Allied forces, but to gain access to this important port, the German defenses in Zeeland had to be destroyed. Therefore the dyke near West Kapelle was bombed, flooding the village. Hundreds of people had taken shelter in a mill and drowned. Note the many graves of young children.

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To build the storm surge barrier, an artificial island was constructed: Neeltje Jans Now it has become an (expensive) fun park, which we skipped. But on the island there is a well known restaurant, specialising in oysters and mussels. A delicious ending of an interesting 2D1N trip.