Take the A-train

In July 2008, my friend E. visited from far away for 5 days and you know what that means…

Tourism!

We went to Haarlem (one of the nicest little cities round these parts) and walked around the Hofjes (almshouses) from the last 7 centuries and enjoyed the best frites in Haarlem before going into the St. Bavo Kerk.

We finished up the day with amazing gelato from Gelateria Bartoli and dragged ourselves home.  What a lovely day.

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A Day in Naarden

 

 

June 2007: the final day of the Foto Tentoonstelling in Naarden. The whole city (actually, a glorified village) turns itself into a month-long photo exhibition. The town itself is a medieval fortified city shaped like a star with a moat around the wall. There are small venues all around the town, with even a few displays on (and in!) the town walls themselves. Some displays were quite successful, others were a little self-aware and modern-art-I’m-trying-to-make-a-statement-here. But it’s a lovely place and we had a terrific afternoon wandering around.

Stadhuis Naarden

Stadhuis Naarden

Painted ceiling of the Grote Kerk

Painted ceiling of the Grote Kerk

One of my favorite displays

One of my favorite displays

The town walls

The town walls

The town

The town

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"Geitjes!" exclaimed the little girl

“Geitjes!” (baby goats) exclaimed the little girl

A real geitje

A real geitje

Look at me!  I'm here!  Look at me!

Look at me! I’m here! Look at me!

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Biking through Holland

Actually, biking to Ikea. But *someone* read the website wrong so after biking 75 minutes we discovered that the Temple of Scandinavian Capitalism was closed. But it was a glorious day and instead of crying in our boots (or hopping on a train to get back to A’dam) we decided to bike around some more.

The bike trip through Spaarnwoude and Halfweg to Haarlem is lovely anyway, through a nature reserve and along little bike paths in the fields. We decided to go up to Spaarndam but got on the wrong bike path which took us along the Mooie Nel, a big lake.

This was also the first 3-D bike path I’ve ever been on here in the Flat Lands.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t see any way to cross the Spaarne so turned back and rode through Penningsveer (“penny ferry”). The high point of this village is its windmill — which was open!

The very scary inside steps

I learned more about Dutch windmills than I could have dreamed. Like the Archimedes screw mechanism used for draining the polder (flatlands below sea level). Or the huge winch used to turn the sail mechanism to catch the wind. This one burned down in 1998 (and no wonder, the walls are only made of thatch!) and was rebuilt. Most impressive engineering.

From there we biked to Spaarndam where we had a drink alongside the dike — such a charming village. Along the way we saw all sorts of baby animals.

It almost made up for the spitting of rain which turned into a downpour for the last 45 minutes of the ride. And when did it stop? 37 seconds after we walked inside our front door.