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 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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.
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 top part can rotate
Two mill stones
Machinery inside the mill
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.
Gate of the fort (1651)
Stairs to the ramparts
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.
De Waag (1657)
Nieuwe Beestenmarkt (?)
Zeevaart Kweekschool (1855)
Lido theatre (1936)
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.
Marebrug nd Marekerk
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!
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
Pots and pans
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.
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…:-)
Please give a donation for the coffee
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
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
In the train
Meeting in Deventer
A nice cafe
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.
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 theaarselmaand (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.
Former school building
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..:-)
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.
Millers often build miniature mills, just for fun
Crossing a drain. Cattle can not pass.
Back in Aarlanderveen
It was a very interesting hike. A very informative website about the Molen-viergang (in Dutch can be found here.
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!
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 🙂
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!
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.
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 🙂
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.
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 😉 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.
Kept for cleaning
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.
Two of each kind
We prefer the raw ones
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!
Here are a few more pictures.
Campveerse toren (~1500)
Now one if the oldest inns in the country
The town hall
One of the “Scottish Houses”
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.
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..:-)!
Near the Abbey
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)
The “Lange Jan” (Tall John)
Martha and me…:-)
The next morning we took a few more pictures, of the Kloveniersdoelen (1607) and the Sijsmolen (1728
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.
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.
When I am back in the Netherlands, my friend Inez and I always try to organise an outing. Last year for example, we visited Rotterdam and Dordrecht.This time we decided to stay in Amsterdam, and visit some new and/or interesting architecture. It was a beautiful sunny spring day.
Our first destination was the new Westermoskee, the largest mosque of the Netherlands, with a floor surface of 800 m² and a capacity of 1700 people. The plan to build this mosque dates back to 1997, there have been numerous problems, now it is almost complete, the unofficial opening took place on 1-4-2016.
I was impressed by the architecture, based on the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, but in a very “Dutch”, brick-based style. It blends very well in the surrounding residential area.
Personally I am really proud of my multicultural hometown, that it has been possible to build this Islamic icon in a “Western/Christian” environment. The opposite might not be easy these days..:-(. Here is a report by Al Jazeera about the mosque.
From the mosque it was not far to a former tram depot, built in 1902, and recently transformed in a cultural center with a cinema, library etc. Also many food outlets. It has been renamed De Hallen .
Left the mosque, right the tram depot
Now a cultural center
Many food outlets
After lunch we went to the Western harbours. where we had a look at the REM island . In 1964 commercial radio and TV was not yet allowed in the Netherlands. A group of businessmen found a solution: broadcast from an artificial island, just outside the Dutch territorial waters!
Unfortunately for them, the experiment lasted only a few months, because the Dutch parliament quickly passed a law, extending the territorial waters…:-). The navy raided the place and confiscated the equipment.
The platform remained for many years where it was, off the coast at Noordwijk, but a few years ago it has been moved to the Western harbour where it now has a second life as a restaurant!
The harbour view from the upper deck is of course impressive. Windy too..:-)
Our next stop was the Spaarndammerbuurt. Here one of the jewels of the Amsterdam School of architecture can be found. This expressionist style of architecture peaked in the first quarter of the 20st century.
Het Schip (the Ship) is a creation of architect Michel de Klerk, built between 1914 and 1921.
Google Earth has a 3D option and in the left picture you see the Ship in 3D. In the right picture the iconic (although useless) tower of this housing estate for workers!
The rounded forms are characteristic for the Amsterdamse School. The former postoffice now houses a small museum.
decorations in brick
Another de Klerk building
Last destination for the day was the new development of the IJdock. At the west side of the Central Station, an artificial island has been constructed, as can be seen in the two images below. Left the situation in 2006 , right an image from 2015.
Post-modern architecture in optima forma…:-)
Palace of Justice
How to live here?
That was enough for a day trip. The next day I visited another highlight of the Amsterdam School, the social housing complex De Dageraad, built by Michel de Klerk and Piet Kramer in 1920. Here an aerial view.
Here are a few pictures of the Berlage Scholengemeenschap, built in 1924 by Arend Jan Westerman.
And here a collection of pictures of the Dageraad complex.
The Amsterdam School style is easy to recognise, many buildings can be found in Amsterdam, maybe something for another blog…:-)
This year I was back in the Netherlands about one month earlier than usual. Here is a view from the train on my way to my sister in North-Holland, a few weeks later there will be plenty of flower fields here.
Now only an occasional field with crocuses (left) and daffodils (right). No tulips yet
I spent the Easter weekend in Valkkoog, where my sister and her husband are living. A small village with a vibrant social life. There was a traditional egg hunt for the kids and in the church a brunch was served. A few of their neighbours are rearing sheep as a hobby, and this was the time that the ewes were yeaning (hm, I had to look up “ewe” and “yean” in a dictionary)
Church of Valkkoog
Rearing sheep as a hobby
About our visit of the Kranenburgh Museum in Bergen I have already reported in my post Museums, museums, museums. We also visited a very different kind of museum, Tulpenland , about the history of the tulip. A quaint collection of items related to the tulip. A path through a forest brings you to the various exhibits.
Different tulip varieties
The history of the tulip
Starting in the Himalayas
Ever heard about the Tulip Mania ? It was a short period in the Dutch Golden Age (17th century) during which prices for tulip bulbs exploded dramatically and then suddenly collapsed. In the Tulpenland garden some Amsterdam merchant houses have been rebuilt on a miniature scale, with information about this “tulpengekte” (tulip madness) where the price of one bulb could be equal to a house…:-)
A price list
A bulb and a house in balancde
The Netherlands is one of the largest exporters of tulips in the world. Look at the numbers in the picture below (year is not given). Two billion tulip bulbs and a slightly smaller number of tulip flowers, with Germany as the largest buyer.
It happened to be the opening day of Tulpenland for the 2016 season, we received a complimentary pot with tulips! Pity I could not take them back to Malaysia..:-(
A free door gift!
There is a saying: God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands and that seems particularly true for the province of North-Holland! Compare the two maps below. Left a map from 1740, right a recent Google Earth screenshot.
The polders that already existed in 1740 are colored green, with the dykes in red. They are outlined in green in the GE image. Later land reclamation projects are outlined in brown. The first big reclamation project was the Zijpe (1597), the Wieringermeer was only reclaimed in 1930, at the same time as the Afsluitdijk was built, basically transforming a “dangerous” sea (Zuiderzee) into a “quiet” lake (IJsselmeer)
As you can see in the map to the left, there was a sea both east and west of North-Holland! The east side was protected by the Westtfriese Zeedijk, the west side by sand dunes. Nevertheless numerous floods occurred, and one of them, the St. Elizabeth’s flood (1421) breached the dunes near Petten, destroying the village and killing many people. Attempts to create new dunes there were only partly successful, in the following centuries the sea was slowly advancing and the land receding. In the image to the right this weak spot is indicated in red.
Here is a map published in 1600, showing the Zijpe polder, just drained in 1597. The letters mark the land parcels in the new polder, to be distributed to the various stakeholders. Notice that the map has been oriented almost east-west
A detail of this map shows the (rebuilt) village of Petten and part of the weak spot in the coastal defense. There is still a small forest there , the Honsbosch. The lower part shows the present situation, with the old coastline indicated. The coastline has receded a lot, the old Petten has been swallowed by the sea, a new Petten has been built.
One more comparison, with a later map, dated ~ 1730. In the meantime more floods had occurred, for example the 1717 Christmas flood. Comparing with the 1600 map, the Lay polder has been drained. The coast line has receded again. The forest is no more.
In the Google Earth image you see basically the Hondsbosche Sea Dyk, made of basalt and concrete, built around 1880. A final solution? In a way, yes, recent floods,like the disastrous 1953 flood, have not affected this sea dyke near Petten. But of course the Netherlands have to prepare for global warming and a resulting rise of seawater levels!
So, what to do? One solution would be to increase the height of this sea dyke again, as has been done in the past a few rimes already. Here is an (Internet) image of the sea dykes, couple of years ago. At the back is the actual Hondsbosch sea dyke, in front the Pettemer one. Forget about the details, just notice that the Pettemer one (different authorities!) has been raised a bit higher than the Hondsbosch one..:-) And notice how much the low-lying farms to the left depend on the strength of these dykes!
A few years ago it has been decided to try a more audacious solution, instead of raising the dykes, fight back against the sea and create new dunes in front of the existing dyke!
In the last two years about 35 million (!) cubic meters of sand have been dredged from the sea and deposited in front of the existing sea dykes, creating a new “dune-scape”. The result is clearly visible from Google Earth…:-)
The Netherlands at its best..:-) There is an interesting visitor center in Petten: Informatiecentrum Kust, Zand tegen Zee (in Dutch). From there you can climb the newly created Lookout Dune.
Outside the Visitor Center
View from the new Lookout Dune
Nice view of Petten
The old dyke is still there
It was cold and windy during our visit. PLenty of kite surfers and horse riders.
North-Holland is a fascinating province. Must spend more time there during my next visit..:-)