Tag Archives: photographer

Out of Time

Our Route

I’ve gotten a lot of inquire about where we’ve been. This map may help. I think I’ve got it right. The Red Line is for cars and the Blue Line is for trains. Most were round trips, at least.

There were quite a few narrative threads I had hoped to follow but I have quite literally run out of time. I decided the best way to finish this voyage was to just show you some of my favorites and hope for the best.

Amsterdam, NL

Cologne Cathedral                                                        Cologne, Germany

Aachen Christmas Market                                                                                                                               Aachen, Germany

Aachen Cathedral                                                                                                                Aachen, Germany

Cologne Christmas Market                                                                                              Cologne, Germany

Amsterdam, NL

Monchau, Germany

Our good buddy Sabine at Museum Ludwig                                                                                              Cologne, Germany

Monchau, Germany

Rotterdam, NL

Monchau Christmas Market                                                                                            Monchau, Germany

Liege Christmas Market,                                                                                                                                        Liege, Belgium

Amsterdam,NL

Maastricht Central Station                                                                                                                       Maastricht, NL

The Afsluitdijk is a remarkable structure that has been protecting Holland from the sea for over 80 years. Built between 1927 and 1932 with over 5,000 workers, it is now an icon of the Netherlands’ constant struggle against water. In typical Dutch style solving all problems requires a creative approach. The 23 km long road that stretches across the dyke requires lighting, but not wanting to add to “light pollution” highly reflective surfaces that are activated by car lights and go dark after you pass have been added to the vertical structures.

Afsluitdijk

Maastricht Christmas Market                                                                                                   Maastricht, NL

Maastricht Christmas Market                                                                                                                                 Maastricht, NL

Maastricht, NL

Helpoort ca.1229                                                                                      Maastricht, NL

Maastricht, NL

Maastricht Christmas Market                                                                                                  Maastricht, NL

Valkenburg Caves Christmas Market                                                                                      Valkenburg, NL

Maastricht Christmas Market                                                                                                   Maastricht, NL

The Grand Hall – The Hermitage                                                                                                                           Amsterdam, NL

Asian Tourists at the Cologne Cathedral                                                                         Cologne, Germany

The Nights Watch at the Rijksmuseum                                                                                Amsterdam, NL

Have fun out there.

The Wendi Files – Pet Peeves and Favorite Things

There are certain experiences in life that no matter how much we desire and long for them they still invariably come up a little short. There is one such experience for Wendi that happens much too infrequently and when it does it’s so small that it leaves her craving more. If you haven’t guessed yet, it’s Ice Cubes. For some reason Europeans seem to have a bad attitude about these frozen little wonders that add so much joy to Wendi’s beverage experiences. If the given establishment even has them at all, which they frequently do not, they are parsed out as if they were recently unearthed hidden treasures. She is yet to see someone actually fill a glass with ice cubes. Wendi finds this particularly unnerving in that they still advertise the drink as “iced tea”. You see “iced” is the operative word here, it brings to mind a frosty glass filled to the brim with a “cold” thirst quenching beverage, not a warm glass half full with weak, cloudy and tepid green tea. Now I know you’re thinking that in a larger context this is a very minor annoyance, just a small bump in the road of life, but then you don’t travel with Wendi.

None at all.

Just three little ones.

See, it makes her crazy.

She also hates excessively long stairs.

Getting the phone to work can be somewhat troubling.

But it’s not all bad. She frequently points out her favorite things.

Her favorite sweater.

Her favorite tree.

Her favorite shoe.

Her favorite stuffed bear.

Her favorite statue.

Her favorite mulled wine.

Pointing out her favorite experience, shopping.

Telling Sabine her favorite story.

Showing me her favorite painting.

And standing in her favorite country, Holland.

 

 

Places of Honor

We find ourselves in a region our Dutch friends referred to as the Three Points where Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands all touch. While touring the area we have seen two American Cemeteries. These sites are just 11.5 miles apart and almost all of the over 16,000 soldiers buried here lost their lives on or near this very ground. Ground that is blood soaked indeed. These cemeteries lie close to the old Roman Cologne-Boulogne highway over which Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Charles V, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Hitler all marched their troops in the conquest of the  strategic Low Countries.

The Henri Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial

Located in Welkenraedt, Belgium, the Henri Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial is where the remains of 7,992 US soldiers are interred.

“Angel of Peace” by Donal Hord

554 unknown soldiers are buried in this cemetery.

Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial

The Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands is where 8,301 American dead were laid to rest.

The Court of Honor and reflecting pool.

This is Europe’s third largest war cemetery for unidentified soldiers who died in WWII. The walls flanking the sides of the Court of Honor contain the Tablets of the Missing  which display the names of 1,722 Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country and now rest in unknown graves.

“The Mourning Woman” by New Yorker Joseph Kiselewski

This sad but beautiful statue represents all the women who endured the war not knowing if their loved ones would ever return home. The three doves represent peace and the new shoot growing from the war-destroyed tree supports the following quote.

The Memorial Tower

The Memorial Tower

The “Tree of Life” chapel doors.

These are just two of the fourteen cemeteries for American World War II dead on this foreign soil. We have been told that, given the enormity of the horror, these two memorial sites represent but a partial view of the pain endured. It may seem small when viewed in that larger context, but it was most certainly not small for these thousands of soldiers that sacrificed all in the service of others. Each and every one of these somber white markers represents a life cut down in it’s prime and a future never realized. In this age of saber-rattling, these awe inspiring and sobering places should forever remind us that we must strife, above all else, to never sow fields of blood and marble again.

These sites are operated and maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission who’s first chairman, General of the Armies John J. Pershing promised,

“Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”

Veenhuizen – The Dutch Prison Village

Veenhuizen is the site of the second institution set up by the Society of Humanitarianism, a Dutch private organization established in 1818 by General Johannes van den Bosch to help desperately poor families, mostly from the big cities.

General Johannes van den Bosch

The society considered labor to be the only means to combat poverty and that the path to a better life was one of sobriety, hard work, sacrifice and Christian values. In Bosch’s view, the poor and needy were a natural part of society so that the rich and wealthy could and should show their mercy as a token of Christian charity. Relying on the generosity of the well-to-do to finance the lives of poor vagrants proved to be an unreliable funding strategy and eventually the facility became state run.

The General

Veenhuizen was a very remote and scary place at the time, it being close to at least three asylums. Forced relocation here was generally a punishment for alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, waste, brutality or desertion and was designed to help alleviate the abject poverty in Dutch cities during the early 19th century. In 1859 the colony was taken over by the Dutch state and is now a museum describing the penal colony where vagrants and beggars were locked up and put to work. This forced labor was supposed to cure them of their “work shy behavior”.

One of the schemes incorporated by the Society was the use of short moral and inspirational slogans to help keep “inmates” focused and motivated. These expressions are affixed to every building and were a part of everyday life.

 

  • Orde en Tucht – Order and Discipline
  • Arbeid is Zegen – Labor is Blessing
  • Een van Zin – One of Meaning
  • Voted en Recht – Straight and Right
  • Werk en Bid – Work and Pray
  • Bitter en Zoet – Bitter and Sweet
  • Rust Roest – Peaceful Sleep
  • Zorg en Vlijt – Care and Diligence
  • Flink en Vlug – Smart and Fast
  • Eendracht – Unity
  • Verdraagzaamheid – Tolerance
  • Vooruit – Forward
  • Kennis is Macht – Knowledge is Power
  • Helpt Elkander – Help Each Other
  • Plichtgevoel – Feel of Duty
  • Leerlust – Apprenticeship
  • Humaniteit – Humanity
  • Wijsbeleid – Wise Policy
  • Controle – Control Your Behavior

Please excuse some of my translations. I did my best.

Duplex for prison officials.

Nogerhaven

Nogerhaven

Besides the Museum, the prison village of Veehuizen is also the location of the Nogerhaven jail. This Dutch jail is rented by Norwegian prison authorities and is so popular there is a waiting list as all 241 places are occupied. Prisoners here get more outside time, work less and have extra time to stay in contact with families via Skype.

 

This would appear to be a win-win for everyone involved as the the Norwegians have a shortage of prison cells and the Netherlands has a surplus. The Dutch prison personnel also describe the Norwegian prisoners as well behaved with much better manners then their Dutch counterparts. Seems odd, a prison with no “Machine Gun Kelly” but an “Olav the Polite” and an “Ivar the Courteous”.

In 2016 it was reported that the Netherlands will close five prisons in the next few years as a cost cutting scheme, given that there are thousands of empty jail cells here due to a steadily declining crime rate, where as Norway is seeing an opposite trend.

Yes, there is a gift shop.

Jittery at Jaarbeurs

Jaarbeurs

For 2 days each November, completely over the top, massively obsessed collectors of every conceivable stripe converge on Utrecht in the Netherlands to buy, sell, barter and bullshit at Verzamelaars Jaarbeurs, The International Collectors Fair and Europe’s biggest Vintage Event.

We thought it would be a perfect fit for us, but as we approached the building the sky darkened, the clouds began to roil and it all started to feel, you know, funny. A peculiar vibe emanated from the doors and we soon discovered that the hall was filled to capacity with very strange creatures indeed.  I can’t prove it, but I just know, they’re watching us.

“The odds are you’ll find what you’re looking for, but there are even better odds that you’ll find something else, because this happens to be The Twilight Zone…..”

“Marsha White, in her normal and natural state, a wooden lady with a painted face who, one month out of the year, takes on the characteristics of someone as normal and as flesh and blood as you and I. But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it, just how normal are we? Just who are the people we nod our hellos to as we pass on the street? A rather good question to ask . . . particularly in the Twilight Zone……” The After Hours – Season 1 – Episode 34

Collection of Curiosities

To lighten the mood we thought a quick stop at the University Museum might just hit the spot. This small museum has a lovely botanical garden which only serves to hide many curiosities.


The Skeleton Collection

Prepare to quiver with horror as we approach the Bleuland Cabinet.

All these artifacts come from the private collection of professor of medicine Jan Bleuland.

Jan Bleuland (1756-1838)

Jan Bleuland (1756-1838)

I think I may be permanently scarred. There’s also babies in bottles but my partner says they’re just too much.

The Wendi Files – The Dutch Edition

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My Tour Guide

Our trip has drawn to a close but, as usual, I can’t end without a final nod to my intrepid companion and chief motivator, the person who forces me off the couch and into the world.

With Anne Frank in North Amsterdam

With Anne Frank in North Amsterdam

Gemeente Museum in Den Haag

Gemeente Museum in Den Haag

With Banksy at the Moco in Amsterdam

With Banksy at the Moco in Amsterdam

On the beach in Bloemendaal ann Zee

On the beach in Bloemendaal ann Zee

At the Bazaar in Beverwijk.

At the Bazaar in Beverwijk.

Russian Tough at the Drents in Assen

Russian Tough at the Drents in Assen

Don't touch the art at the Drents

Don’t touch the art at the Drents

With George in Bloemendaal

With George in Bloemendaal

Art supplies in Haarlem

Art supplies in Haarlem

Wanders In De Broeren - Zwolle

At Waanders In De Broeren in Zwolle

Museum De Fundatie - Zwolle

At the Museum De Fundatie in Zwolle

Posing for Vermeer in Den Haag

Posing for Vermeer in Den Haag

Selfie at the Kuntshal in Rotterdam

Selfie at the Kuntshal in Rotterdam

Stay well my friends.

A Fast Train Through the Netherlands

This year’s adventure flew by faster then a bullet train. I didn’t get even close to pointing out all the remarkable things we’ve seen in this outstanding country. Let’s finish with an assortment of the wacky, weird and wonderful.

The Bloemendaal Train Station

The Bloemendaal Train Station

Rommelmarkts

I’d characterize almost every flea market and bazaar we’ve been to here as a Jumble Sale. I’ve never seen such an odd collection of used clothes, broken toys, rusty tools and assorted junky stuff.

Rommelmarkt in Haarlem

Rommelmarkt in Haarlem

Rommelmarkt at Wijk Ann Zee

Rommelmarkt at Wijk Ann Zee

The Rommelmarkt at Appelscha takes place in what appears to be an abandoned amusement park for kiddies. The only thing left are the creepy forlorn creatures that have been abandoned and left to  fester like captives in an old Twilight Zone episode.

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IJHallen, in North Amsterdam, is probably the longest running Rommelmarkt in Holland.

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The Bazaar in Beverwijk is a whole other animal. It was billed as a long established mixed use affair. There are huge warehouse type buildings filled with most everything you can imagine. No collectibles or antiques but tons of cheap underwear, toys, tools, jewelry and Middle Eastern food. Kind of a free trip to Turkey.

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Waanders In De Broeren

The Broerenkerk, Church of Brothers,  was part of the Dominican monastery from 1465 until the monks were expelled in 1589 and the Protestants took over.

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Now it houses Waanders in de Broeren, one of the coolest bookstores I’ve ever seen. A joy to wander around or just have a snack.

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A Few Loose Ends

Art Supplies in Haarlem

Art Supplies in Haarlem

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Leeuwarden

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The St Bernards of Leeuwarden

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Den Haag

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Den Haag Central Station

The Passages in Den Haag

The Passages in Den Haag

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Bloemendaal Ann Zee

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Bloemendaal Ann Zee

Druggist in Zwolle

Druggist in Zwolle

Lunch in Zwolle

Lunch in Zwolle

The Dutch Appetizer of Choice - Bitterballen and Mustard (They're pretty good)

The Dutch Appetizer of Choice – Bitterballen and Mustard (They’re pretty good)

 

Museum Crawl – Dutch Art 101

We’ve been on a Museum Binge. We happened to buy a couple Museumkarts and have been drunk on art ever since. The Museumkart gives you access to most of the best museums in the Netherlands and is the deal of a lifetime. You don’t even have to wait in the ticket line. In an attempt to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of the card we have attacked this part of Holland with a vengeance and been to 14 museums so far. Here’s just a couple.

The Mauritshuis - Den Haag

The Mauritshuis – Den Haag

The Mauritshuis - Den Haag

The Mauritshuis – Den Haag

The Fotomuseum - Rotterdam

The Fotomuseum – Rotterdam

The Fotomuseum - Rotterdam

The Fotomuseum – Rotterdam

The Fries Museum - Leeuwarden

The Fries Museum – Leeuwarden

Dutch Art 101

In this neck of the woods you are going to see lots of paintings from  the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history generally spanning the 17th century that rang in the new Dutch Republic and helped make it the most prosperous nation in Europe. As you can imagine we have managed to see a whole lot of great paintings, but I won’t bore you with all that. Describing images to people is like telling them about your dreams, you really had to be there. I think most people are somewhat familiar with Dutch paintings anyway. If you’ve seen a cigar box, you can probably imagine a Rembrandt. I’ll just talk about two of the big dogs and try to keep it short.

“The Night Watch”  is a 1642 oil painting by Rembrandt that hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

"The Night Watch" by Rembrandt 1642

“The Night Watch” by Rembrandt 1642

To better understand the significance of this Dutch Masterpiece in contemporary terms lets first discuss that iconic TV show “Law & Order”, the longest-running hour-long primetime TV series in history. Created by Dick Wolf, this show ran for 20 seasons and spawned an entire Law & Order franchise. One of the chief successes of the show was it’s distinctive look. This was, in part, achieved by a technique brand new for TV, the “Walk & Talk”. This is done by using a steady cam and backing through the set as the main characters walk down hallways and go room to room discussing their next move. This gets the actors out from behind those boring old desks, propels the story forward by making it look like talking is actually doing something and it keeps the viewer actively engaged. This is so much a part of the show that it’s even in the intro.  I thought it was so original until I finally realized this is exactly what Rembrandt did in 1642. Until then these group portraits of prominent citizens and military leaders were pretty staid affairs with everyone lined up like bowling pins or sitting around a table trying to figure out what to do with their hands. In this enormous painting, 142.9″ × 172″ , Rembrandt got them up off their considerable duffs and turned them into giant men of action who just might step right out the painting and do what needs to be done.

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt van Rijn

In the process Rembrandt cemented his place in art and is generally considered the greatest painter in Dutch history.

 

 

 

The Young Bull “  is a 1647 oil painting by Paulus Potter that hangs in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.

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The Mauritshuis- Den Haag

At 92.7” x 133”, this huge painting approaches life-size, allowing space for very detailed realism, including flies, frogs and cow pies, a fact that was much criticized originally. But fortunes changed and by the 18th and 19th centuries the painting had gained much traction and was highly admired. Today it is considered one the Dutch Golden Age’s greatest paintings. Potter was only 22 when he completed this work and died of tuberculosis at the age of 28 having succeeded in producing about 100 paintings by working continuously.

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“The Young Bull” by Paulus Potter 1647

Besides the staggering craftsmanship, what makes this painting so unusual is the sheer scale. Up until then extremely large paintings were reserved for the rich, the royal and the Gods. This is the first time that a farm animal has been afforded such reverence. The life size image forces us to look into the Bull’s penetrating gaze and it becomes almost difficult to perceive it as anything but a sentient being. This painting  with its almost heroic treatment of an animal alters our perception of the Bull’s place in the universe and, by extension, our own. Whether he meant to or not Potter moved the art world in fundamental ways and by the 19th century this monumental treatment of virtually the entire animal kingdom would become somewhat commonplace.

Paulus Potter

Paulus Potter

Still I find the whole notion that a mere 22 year old, with some paint and a few brushes, has that kind of power utterly remarkable.

 

 

 

Interesting But Useless Facts #289 & #290:

As large as “the Nightwatch” is, 20% was cut off the left hand side in 1715 to make the painting fit its new position at the Amsterdam town hall.

“The Young Bull” was at least 20% smaller when first painted. Potter added extra strips of canvas on both sides and at the top of his original composition, which just included the bull itself.

The Great Bicycle Coup d’état

bike22The Dutch don’t just love their bikes, they have embraced them on a level that borders on obsession. Don’t get me wrong I love bikes and think it’s amazing that they have incorporated bicycles into the fabric of their lives and created an incredibly healthy lifestyle.

There are some interesting stats about Dutch bike riders. A higher percentage of Dutch ride bikes then any other country. As of 2012 there were estimated to be 18 million bicycles or 1.3 per citizen old enough to ride. In the 4 years since, bike popularity has continued to grow tremendously. Some say that now there are as many as  2.9 bikes per Dutch citizen. With the exception of competitive riders, nobody seems to wear a helmet and yet they have less head injuries then anyone else. By 12 years old most children have been trained in the rules of the road and must pass a traffic exam to receive their Verkeersdiploma (traffic certificate).

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In cities 85% of all students commute to school on bikes and, for adults, over half of all journeys are made by bicycle. Now some towns have fietsstraats (bike streets) which are roads where bicycles are considered to be the primary and preferred form of transport and cars and other motorised vehicles are allowed “as guests”. There is even a growing trend towards a complete separation of bicycle routes from motor vehicle routes called the unravelling of modes. In 2012 the Hovenring, the first suspended bicycle roundabout in the world, was built over a large and busy road intersection, where before its construction cyclists had to cross busy roads.

By John Tarantino - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22228858

Hovenring By John Tarantino

So what have we learned? Well, they clearly love their bikes, are pretty good at operating them and are willing to invest in the infrastructure. But no, I’m afraid it goes way beyond that. This is a transportation revolution and in all revolutions there are winners and losers. The Dutch love of these two wheeled little devils coupled with their proficiency at using them has conspired to turn the Netherlands into a nation of Bike Hoarders. I know that sounds harsh, but the evidence is all around you. With 3 bikes per person and no storage, it’s like all that crap grandma has been hoarding for decades has moved out onto the sidewalk.

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Bikes are everywhere. In the cities they lean against most walls and are attached to every available vertical structure. All the train stations have bike parks designed, I’m assuming, for commuters. They have become impromptu bike storage yards filled with hundreds, if not thousands of bikes that never move. These mounds are starting to distort into strange shapes and juxtapositions as the once treasured objects, now discarded, become as intertwined and impenetrable as a bramble bush.

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This bike has been lying on it’s side for two weeks now. I want to pick it up but I’m curious how long it stay there.

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Bicycles have seized control of both the sideways and the bike lanes.

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This Bloemendall resident told me that most of these bikes haven't moved in a yearend that she has to hunt for a spot everyday. She owns three bikes!

This Bloemendaal resident told me that most of these bikes haven’t moved in a year and that she has to hunt for a spot everyday. She owns three bikes!

Not only do they dominate the landscape, these low-tech transporters have managed to move up the food chain and have eclipsed both cars and pedestrians for supremacy of the roadways. Motorists are far more concerned about hitting a bicyclist then the rider is about being hit. This has a lot to do with the insurance laws. Unless the bicyclist intentionally runs into you the motorist is always at fault. Pedestrians are just left to fend for themselves while trying to dodge everything that moves. My wife is certain they’re trying to kill us slow moving, old school walkers. Accidentally stepping off the sideway into the bike lane is tantamount to suicide.

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Sure they look innocent enough with their shiny wheels and cute little saddle bags, but don’t be fooled. As this dominance has taken root the size, speed and diversity of the enemy has increased logarithmically. Now there are regular bikes, tantrum bikes, electric bikes, mopeds, motor scooters, bikes with load carrying trailers, large box delivery bikes, recumbents, velomobiles (enclosed bike cars), large tricycles, bikes with multiple panniers , bikes with two baby holders and, remarkably, bikes with three baby holders and room for a dog and all are vying for control of the asphalt.

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Remember expressions like ” the pedestrian always has the right of way” or when crosswalks were safe passages through a busy hostile world? Not anymore, oh no!  There was a war and the pedestrians lost. If these madcap pedal powered warriors just didn’t hate us mere walkers so badly. Surely there’s room for all of us? So be careful out there and look in every direction. They really might be out to get you.bike7

 

Haarlem – Bulb City

haarlem26Haarlem is a great city in the Province of North Holland. Being the center of the tulip bulb growing district for centuries, it is nicknamed ‘Bloemenstad’, or “flower city”. With a population around 160,000 and a compact inner city, it’s small enough to explore and enjoy. Granted city status in 1245, it has a long and rich history.

Traditionally one of the the most powerful trading cities in Holland, during the 18th century trade shifted to Amsterdam and Haarlem turned into a bedroom community and summer resort with many workers commuting to the larger capital. In the long run this shift has allowed the historic old city center to remain relatively in tact.

Haarlem Central Station

Haarlem Central Station

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Haarlem Central Station

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

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Gravestenenbrug

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Hofje van Oorschot – An old folks home

Grote Markt

The Grote Markt is the center of town and abounds with cafes and shops of all kinds.

Stadhuis

Stadhuis

Grote Markt Cafe

Grote Markt Cafe

Grote Market - Grote Kerk

Grote Market – Grote Kerk

The Grote Markt - 1696

The Grote Markt – 1696

Frans Hals Museum

Frans Hals is probably the most celebrated Haarlem artist to emerge during the Dutch Golden Age and has his own museum to prove it.

Frans Hals Museum

Frans Hals Museum

Coorie Ten Boom Museum

The Ten Booms, a highly devote Christian family, were watchmakers during the second war world. They felt it their duty to help protect those in trouble and used their small house as a hiding place for Jews and Resistance fighters. These actions led to the death of the entire family, with the exception of the young Coorie, at the hands of the Nazi’s.

Coorie Ten Boom Museum

Coorie Ten Boom Museum

Up to six adults at a time had to squeeze into this hiding place.

Up to six adults at a time had to squeeze into this hiding place.

The roof of Coorie Ten Boom house provided the only fresh air for victims.

The roof of the Coorie Ten Boom house provided the only fresh air for victims.

The Teyers Museum

This was my favorite museum in town. The Teyers is a fascinating mix of early technology, fossils, astronomical equipment,16th & 17th century prints and drawings and great Dutch Golden Age paintings.

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

The Women

The Dutch love their women and well they should. Most are statuesque, self assured and highly educated. Maternity and family leave are hugely important issues here. The country is very close to pay equality and although there still isn’t complete sexual parity in top executive positions, they are rapidly getting there. It seems that strong female role models have always been revered here. Among them is:

Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer

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On December 11, 1572 the Spanish army began the siege of Haarlem. During the first two months of the siege, the situation was stable. The Spanish army was digging tunnels to reach the city walls while the defenders dug under them to destroy the Spaniards’ tunnels. By March 29, 1573 the situation worsened when the Spanish and Amsterdam Armies effectively cut off Haarlem from the outside world and began to starve them out. By July 13, 1573, after seven months of siege, the city reached an agreement with the Spaniards to open the city gates in exchange for amnesty and a ban on looting. After surrendering the Spanish reneged on the deal and began looting and slaughtered over 2000 of the city defenders.

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Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer leads the charge.

Following the siege, the name of Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer began to emerge. Diarists reported that the powerful widow helped defend the city and rebuild the defenses that had been destroyed by enemy cannon. One account mentions that Kenau and other women stood on the earthworks and threw burning tar wreaths onto the enemy who would leap into the river to douse the flames only to drown from the weight of their armor. Over time the legend of Kenau’s role has expanded to full-fledged soldier and commander of a small female army. She has been honored during every celebration of independence from Spain. But, separating fact from fiction in these matters is always difficult and her role in the siege has been the subject of much debate. Regardless, her personality must have been a fearsome thing. We do know for certain that after the war she resumed her trade as a wood  merchant importing lumber from Norway. When her captain was taken hostage by pirates she travelled north to negotiate his release and died at the hands of the same pirates.

Definitely the stuff of legend.