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Published: July 18th 2014
What kind of sign is it when my bag weighs 49 pounds before we ever leave San Diego? I'm sure I'll use 25 pounds of hair products before I leave - right? Other than the impending doom of too much weight for the way home, the flight to Atlanta and then Amsterdam go without a hitch. The train to Delft was clean and on time and the country side was green and pastoral. Everything in sight is well kept and clean, cows, sheep and goats are grazing everywhere, and boats float on the zillions of canals. We pass lot after parking lot filled with bikes - I can't wait to get on one myself! Or eat all that delicious cow, sheep, and goat cheese.
Once we are in Delft, we find the Hotel Leeuwensbrug to be charming and very well located on yet another gorgeous canal. Leeuwensbrug means lion's bridge, and the bridge across the canal actually does have a lions's head in the middle. It's also the only 2 arch bridge in Delft. The weather is good - unusually nice, we are told time and time again. I'll take it! The buildings are composed of quaint row houses, each
different than the one before and they all boast giant windows that look onto canals. Everything looks like a photograph - flowers everywhere and the Dutch are quite a pretty people. Whatever I expected of Delft - it is all perfectly true. Quintessentially old European town.
Off to the city center plaza - on one end is the "Nieuwe Kerk" or New Church, which houses the tomb of William of Orange who died in 1584, so I'm not so sure how "new" it is, and the other side is the city hall. We dodge grandmas on bikes and decide to climb to the top of the New Church tower. 298 narrow spiral steps later, we find ourselves looking out for miles across some gorgeous green land. As we climbed up, we paused to watch the inner workings of the clock, and read about the bells. The town below was being set up for the big Thursday market and it was fun to watch all the little people scurry around like ants to prepare - from about 108 meters up. We didn't get to the "old Church" but we have a lot of time. 289 steps up means
289 steps down, and I need to watch a little bit of the Tour de France, so we head back to rest and let me get my fix. I love the Tour in real time - being in Europe means no getting up at 6am!
Dinner in the Beestenmarkt - a lovely little park we had spied from the tower and discovered it to be a giant outdoor tree lined plaza boasting dozens of restaurants and cafes. Since we are in the Netherlands, we decide we better try traditional Dutch food and settle on Spijshuis de Dis or Spice House of This (like a horn of plenty- lots of food). We tried braambol - free range veal, which sounds like an oxymoron - how can veal be free range? Made into a stew with walnuts and raisins covered with a crunchy filo crust- delicious! Also devoured was a yummy meat stew (the Dutch seem to be big on stews) called stoverij. I was so full, I opted not to try the chocolate pudding dessert that was served in a chocolate wooden shoe. Shame on me.
The Beestenmarkt is a great place to people watch and the very friendly
wait staff filled us in on a few Dutch ways - leaving a tip, for example. Everyone here speaks nearly perfect English and seem to enjoy chatting, especially to Californians. We don't even say we are American - always Californian. The Thursday market called our name the next morning and we headed out early to check the goods. Too bad the market is a late starter - not much was set up by 9, so we wandered around and ended up at the Vermeer Center. Incredibly, there is not a single Vermeer in Delft, and he was born and lived here his entire life! The Center is devoted to the many reproductions of his work and I actually learned quite a bit listening to the audio tour and studying the reproductions. There is a place on the 2nd floor where you can "be a Vermeer" and we had a lot of fun posing as "the Lady Writing a Letter". The entire 3rd floor is devoted to symbolism in art from the 17th century - lost, false, romantic and seductive love. So interesting and now I want to teach art history (not to first graders). After the art history lesson, we
found ourselves in the market for a quick refreshment and a half hour of people watching to get us off our feet. Back into Delft to find some pottery (very expensive, so I settled on a little kitty) and off to meet our hosts, Wouter, Roelinde and their daughter, Gina. We toured their ...now our, 3 story home in Den Haag. Spiral staircase - again, but not as many steps, loads of light, and a cow kitty named Charlie, too. We were treated to dinner at a restaurant in a windmill near the hose and back to The Leeuwenbrug. Wouter's father will chauffeur us to the house tomorrow morning after breakfast. I can't wait to ride bikes and discover the neighborhood!
Next...Den Haag and Gouda!
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