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Published: June 14th 2016
After leaving the marina in Amsterdam the area is quite industrial and you travel the river mainly with large freighters and barges with an occasional pleasure boat. The 2ndbridge of the day opened at 10:30AM and we made it in plenty of time. Fortunately they have places to tie up as do most of the bridges which is very helpful. A lock was next which we entered into without a problem with 2 other boats. Fortunately people from another boat informed us that we had to walk over to the office to pay our 3.50 euro. Everyone was laid back so didn’t seem to mind waiting at all for me to walk across the bridge to pay. These same people gave us some information about the bridges ahead going through Haarlem. They told us where we needed to stop to pay for the evenings we would be staying in Haarlem. We could have saved a few dollars by buying a week’s stay, but we need to keep plugging and can’t afford that much time. We decided to stay for 4 nights which worked out perfect for us. The canals through Haarlem have many twist and turns
as well as 8 bridges to go through. It seemed that as soon as we got through a bridge we would look for a place to stop, but there would be a sign indicating “no parking”. Eventually we found a space that actually worked out well as it wasn’t too far of a walk to the center of town. We had made it quite a ways through the town as our stop was just before bridge #7. We soon realized why there were so many places that you couldn’t stop – we saw many large barges coming through and they had quite a job making the turns even without the obstruction of boats docked along the canal. When we had paid for the nights’ stay we were given quite a bit of tourist information in English – that was quite a treat as most of the travel information from the visitor centers must be purchased. It gave us a heads up of where to walk when we got off the boat and saved us from going to the Visitor Center right away.
We arrived in Haarlem about 12:45PM therefore we had a good part of the day to start
our explorations. First on our list was the main square called the Grote Markt. It is a magnificent open space outlined with a number of historic buildings. One of them was the St. Bavokerk (Church of St. Bavo) built between 1370 and 1520. The Muller organ stands 30 meters high (98 ft) and has 5,068 pipes. One claim to fame is that Mozart (at the age of 10) and Handel played this organ. Naturally we had to see inside. Unfortunately they did not have a guide, but they did have a small brochure we were able to glean some information from. We were surprised to see a few carvings of dogs in the church so asked when we went out why this would have been the case. We were told that dogs were allowed in the church in the past and as a result they were highly regarded. There was a whole chapel dedicated to the dog whipper whose job in the Middle Ages was to discipline unruly dogs and to maintain order in the church. An interesting dichotomy. We will have to keep researching this as it is the first time we have seen any reference to dogs in
a church. Hanging in the Church are 3 ship models which were a gift from the Shipbuilders Guild. The ships date from the 16th
Century and these were modeled after them.
As with most churches this was built as a Catholic Church, but with the Reformation of 1572 they were converted to Protestantism – this happened with this church in 1578. The organ was not installed until 1735 and took two years to complete.
Four of the main pillars in the church are covered in tapestry painting done in the 15th
century. What definitely hits you as you enter the Church is how light and open it was. It did have quite a few stained glass windows, but the height and light colored stone used definitely made it feel uplifting. The choir area is closed off with a magnificent brass screen made in 1517. We could not enter the Choir but were able to view the beautiful seats with numerous wood carvings. We found out that even though this Church may look like a Cathedral and have a central location in the town; it in fact is a Church with the Cathedral of St. Bavo located
a little ways out of the main part of town. This occurred when the Catholic Church needed a place of worship and built a Cathedral for themselves. Unfortunately we did not have time to get to the Cathedral as it looks impressive from a photo we saw of it.
One of the things I had found in my research before coming to Haarlem was a walking trail to visit “hidden green oases” – the Haarlem Almshouse Walk. Fortunately this was one of the brochures we received when we signed up for our evenings in the harbor. The first day we only got to 2 of them as some take time to actually find as they are tucked away down alleys or through small doorways. There were three types of almshouses; those for beguines (lay religious women) which date back to the 12th
century. Church councils started them as they felt it was their duty to help the poor and many received religious instruction in these. In the 17th
century wealthy citizens of the community established them as sheltered accommodation for the aged and elderly women in need. Most of them were small homes arranged around an inner
courtyard garden. The last type were those run for guilds providing for those in need that had been associated in some way with the guild (i.e. – brewers guild provided for those that worked at the breweries and needed a place to live after they finished their years of service).
These were typically for widows and destitute unmarried women over the age of 60. They realized early on that men were unable to cope with running a house-hold so they were housed in “old men’s homes” instead (not my words, but the brochure). Interesting many of the almshouses are still being used for this purpose.
An almshouse community is called a hofjes and Haarlem has quite a few. We only had time to visit a couple of them, but we able to see what the concept was. The first one we saw was the Prinsenhof which is actually an old herb garden of a former monastery. A huge weeping beech stands as the center piece of this garden – it is big enough to hold a party in there if you’d want! It took a little to find it, but it was tucked away behind the City Hall
and near a grammar school, providing a small green space. The next one we saw was actually much nicer in that it was very well maintained. You entered it through a narrow gateway which opened up to a square garden bordered on two sides by a row of houses (more like a row of apartments to us in the US). One row was actually attached to the Lutheran Church which built the almshouses in 1648. It definitely gives one the feeling of privacy and having a spot of greenery away from the city streets. We walked by a few more of the almshouses, but didn’t take time to walk back into the gardens as we could get a glimpse at them through the gates. The most formal almshouses we viewed was the Van Oorschot almshouses. This was built in 1769 by this family. The founder stipulated that the place was to provide comfort to the poor and set an example to the rich. We would have liked to take in more of these and especially the one that was built in 2007 in order to see what a modern view of an almshouse would be. Guess we will have to
save that for another time!!
One of the reasons we didn’t have more time was that we found out in the morning that there was going to be a free organ concert in St. Bavo’s Church at 4PM and we didn’t want to miss it. They give many free concerts there as there are numerous organists that want to play this magnificent instrument. We were fortunate to be here on the right day. Seven pieces were played which demonstrated the full range that this organ can reach. This was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time.
day we decided to take a train to Den Haag (The Hague) as it we didn’t get there on our way up the coast of the Netherlands in 2013. I’ll tell you about that day trip in the next blog entry otherwise it will take me much longer to get this one posted.
On the last day in Haarlem we needed to do a few things for the boat – the main one was to get a new tank of propane (butane here) for cooking. We were not entirely out, but knew we
The Market Had a Wide Variety of Offerings
from flowers, to fabric, to olives and many other items
were getting low. We had been using a Dutch bottle and wanted to change it before we left the country. Yes, here in Europe each country has their own type of gas bottle which means that each country has their own fitting giving us quite a collection now. Fortunately we found out that there was a barge up the canal from us (we had already passed him into town) so we dug out our luggage cart and wheeled our old bottle up and got a new bottle. Across the canal was the windmill we saw on the way in. It was somewhat unusual in that it was sitting atop a brick building. It was opening for visitors, but as we had toured a windmill previously we decided not to this time (also we were dragging around a gas tank!) Mission accomplished so we walked back a different way to the boat just to see a few more sections of town. We happened to see a steeple of a church that we hadn’t seen before so figured we’d walk over toward it. We found that the church had boarded up windows, but that right next door seemed to be the heart
Hadn't Seen Door Knockers for Quite Some Time
but now we see more as well as beautiful plantings
of the Red Light District with a few ladies sitting in their windows with the red light on!
After completely a few things on the boat and having lunch we decided that we had to visit one more place that we had heard about from other cruisers – the Jopenkerk. Kerk in Dutch is Church and it actually had been a Church but was now a microbrewery, Jopen. In the 14th
C. Haarlem was known for its 110 breweries that shipped beer all over the world in 112 litre barrels called “Jopen”. The last of these breweries closed in 1916 due to the rise of lager breweries. In 1994 a few of the Haarlem locals decided to do some research and they found in the city archives two of the original recipes from 1407 and 1501. By 1994 the brewery, Jopen was started. It took a few years for it to take off but by 2010 it had become popular and the historic Jacob’s Church was restored and turned into the brewery. They also offer lunch, dinner and appetizer menu and other types of beverages. We figured we had to try their brew. Fortunately we found out that they
have tasting glass sizes – you can try 2 types but with the same quantity as only 1 glass. That sounded good to us. Bob tried 2 types of IPA and I tried a wheat beer and one made with hibiscus. In talking to the waiter he gave us more information on the brewery and the various types that they brew which changes regularly. Next thing we knew, he gave us a sampling of 3 other types (much smaller quantities in each). One was made with seaweed, one with oysters and the other had a “smoky” taste and smell. All were quite different and unique. The seaweed one was a pleasant light tasting beer, the smoky was “smoky” and the oyster beer was much darker and quite smooth. We also tried 2 types of bitten balls - ones that were similar to others we have tried and the other was made with beer as an ingredient making the exterior ‘crunchy”. It was a fun experience and we still learned while there – not a bad combination! We know there were numerous other places of interest in Haarlem to visit, but we had to limit ourselves and continue our journey toward
the sea and points west.
The next day our plan is to move to Gouda – yes, the same place that the cheese of the same name comes from.
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