Today was devoted to Peggy’s family and a visit to Zutphen, the small town south of Amsterdam from which her relatives departed in the late 1600s to avoid various bloodbaths resulting from battles with the Spanish, the French and the English. Most of the time the residents of Zutphen were the victims of the battles rather than the aggressors or defenders. Hendrick Rycken came to New Amsterdam in 1663 and was the progenitor of a huge family (12 boys). As part of coming to the New World, Hendrick added “von Zuytdam” (south of the dam) to his name as a distinction and it became Zuytdam and then Suydam.
Back to the present, we took an early train from Amsterdam, changing at Arnhem for Zutphen. Walking into town was quick as the station was right on the upper edge of the town. Although the fortifications (huge thick walls and a moat around the entire town) are long gone, the structure of the town itself still shows the ancient focus. There are several areas where the water can still be found around the town and an entrance gate and battlements are still to be seen on the eastern side. The town is
incredibly well maintained, with broad streets of cobblestone and perfect stores and buildings. Clearly the residents are proud of their town and enjoy their Sundays with relaxing bike rides and eating at the various restaurants throughout the center. We arrived at Rijksmonument Walburgiskerk church as services were letting out. Bells were ringing and folks were biking home or going across the street to the Hampshire Hotel and Restaurants for brunch. The church was built in 1050 and updated many times but maintains the “congregational” Christian focus. There is no real altar but there is an immense organ that we would have loved to hear played.
We walked around the area, checking out the boats, the back streets and many of the houses, some of which were clearly dating from the 1500s. Quaint and beautiful. Lots of roses climbing up the side of buildings.
We stopped for lunch at an Italian restaurant, Vaticano Trattoria, and had a nice glass of wine with pasta and beef. Nothing incredibly special but most enjoyable. Then more walking around and checking out the details of the church before making our way back to the station and to Amsterdam. Very pleased with our visit
to Zutphen and the knowledge that Peggy’s family came from a town that has become such a wonderful place to visit … or live.
On our way back to Amsterdam we were pleased to see five working wooden windmills, a sight not to be found anywhere else in the world. Of course there are plenty of the modern energy-generating windmills, but they don’t hold a candle to the original. The day being over, John had a glass of beer at a local bar while Peggy had tea and then we made our way through the crowds to our hotel and bed.
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