Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Holidays!!

Andy wanted to show off our Christmas tree, which is much smaller than we're used to but is the typical size that we see here. About half of our ornament collection fit on the tree.

We'll be back on January 1 for Theme Day. In the meantime, best holiday wishes to all of our visitors. Prettige Feestdagen!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No Shopping Tonight

The Langstraat is a pedestrian street and Wassenaar's main shopping thoroughfare. The street begins at one end with this statue, and ends at the Dorpskerk.
Here you can find everything from small department stores to cheese, wine to electronics, clothes to cameras.
Although there are a few restaurants and pubs along the street, it is generally pretty quiet at night. Fridays are the exception, when some stores are open at night.
On this night a cold rain was falling, typical for this time of year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

In The Hague, the Binnenhof, home of the dutch parliament, has been one of my favorite subjects. The view across the pond shows off some of the city's more modern buildings in the background.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas in Cologne

Couldn't resist posting from the Cologne/Köln/Keulen market again.

Perhaps it's because this was the first gothic cathedral we ever saw on our first visit to Europe (many, many moons ago), but I still find the Kölner Dom (Cologne cathedral) to be one of the most awesome sights in Europe. Yes, I know there are churches that are bigger, or more delicate, or in a more picturesque location, but this one tops it for me.

Here are some more pics from the market, to make up for the fact that we won't publish this weekend. Hope to see you Monday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cologne on Ice: Where?Wednesday

Cologne (Köln/Keulen) has one of the most festive Christmas markets within easy reach of Wassenaar (about 3 hours drive).
More precisely, the city has about 6 separate markets. We visited the largest three outdoor markets. There's nothing like a little holiday cheer in the shadow of the magnificent cathedral (Dom).
My theory is that glühwein not only warms you up, but gives one the courage to navigate through the throngs of people mulling over the thousands of christmas wares on display. It may be crowded and commercial, but the combination of the scenery and the festivity of the season manage to prevail.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trailing Tram

Christmas lights in The Hague, as seen through a passing tram.
Enlarging the photo reveals more details, including tram sparks and a hidden observer.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Night Knights

The Ridderzaal (Knight's Hall) sits in the Binnenhof in The Hague, home of the dutch Parliament.

Dating from the 13th century, it's best known here as the place where the Queen gives her annual speech on Prinsjesdag.

The fountain was featured in this post by our neighbor at The Hague Daily Photo.

If you'd like to see the hall as it looks during the daytime, click here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Been to church today?

Last pics from the St. Janskerk in Gouda. The first is looking straight up at the magnificent organ. We got to hear the wonderful sound during our visit.

The second photo is a shot down the middle of the interior. Aside from the windows and the organ, the church is typical of the plain interiors of most dutch churches. A result of the reformation, during which most churches were whitewashed and stripped of decoration.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Devotional Dogs

In art with a religious theme, dogs are often used to signify devotion and loyalty ... obviously an important attribute for a church to promote.

There are many dogs featured in the windows of the St. Janskerk in Gouda. These peaceful canines are seen sleeping on the robes of their masters.

This concludes (for now, anyway) our tour of the stained glass windows. Tomorrow a final shot from the interior of this grand church.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Modern Glass, Old Theme

Continuing from the city of Gouda and the stained glass in the St. Janskerk.

Not all of the windows are over 300 years old. This one is the "Liberation" window by Charles Eyck from 1947.

While the window has obvious celebratory elements (the dutch flag takes center stage), there are dark elements too. If you click to enlarge the photo, look around the edges, particularly toward the bottom left where you'll see concentration camp victims huddling.

Unfortunately, since I was standing some distance away from the window, I can't isolate the detail without it becoming pixelated. I'd love to get in there with a tripod someday, but I don't think it will happen as officially I wasn't even supposed to be taking pictures during our visit.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Gift of Glass

*Photo needs to be enlarged to be appreciated*

We'll stay in the town of Gouda (about 40km from Wassenaar) to show you some of the beautiful stained glass windows in the Grote Sint Janskerk (St. John's church).

The windows are considered among the finest in Holland, and a great deal of them date from the 16th century. One of the most interesting aspects of the windows is that they were made during the battle for independence from Spain and change to protestantism. Many of the religious fables featured in the windows are parables for the battles of the time.

This window, while not one of the most colorful, is one of my favorites. Donated by the city of Haarlem, it depicts the of the battle of Egyptian city of Damietta during the crusades. If I remember correctly, the story goes that the dutch, led by William I and the Haarlemmers, conquered the port which was previously impenetrable. Nothing like a little bragging to one of your neighboring cities in the guise of a religious gift.

Click on the photo for a larger size, and check out the incredible detail (which is nearly impossible to see as you're straining your neck in the church). Take special note of the ship sailing over the supposed giant chain that protected the port.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Where?Wednesday: Gouda

Gouda is home to one of the most magnificent town halls in The Netherlands. Finished in 1450, it stands proud in it's gothic glory in the middle of the town square. Photographed on a recent Saturday, when a general market fills the marktplatz.

Outside of Holland, Gouda is probably most associated with cheese. We've never seen the summer cheese market, but we've definitely consumed our fair share of the stuff.

The town is also home to the Grote St. Janskerk, which has some of the best stained glass windows in the country. We'll save that for another post.

One final note. The town residents are all aware that most english speakers pronounce the name "goo-da." It must sound like nails on a chalkboard to natives. We learned quickly that the dutch pronounciation is like "how-da" except it sounds like you are clearing your throat when you say the "h." And that's your language lesson for the day. Graag gedaan (and don't even ask how to pronounce that).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sweet Treats

There are many confectionery/bakery shops in Wassenaar. This one, on the Langstraat (the main shopping street) is displaying treats for the season.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Autumn Bridge

This was runner-up to Saturday's theme day post. I featured a different shot of this statue last month. She's normally wading in the water, but the river of leaves makes it look like she's stuck.
Thanks to all who commented on theme day; we were traveling this weekend and haven't had a chance to see all of the bridges, so we'll be looking at the posts over the next couple of days.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pride of Rotterdam: Monthly Theme Day (Bridges)

Since Don is no longer publishing his Rotterdam blog, we thought we'd show you one of the most famous bridges in The Netherlands.

As much as symbol of Rotterdam as the Golden Gate is to San Francisco, the Erasmusbrug (Erasmus bridge) spans the river Maas in the heart of the city.

The bridge was completed in 1996. Evidently there were initial problems with swaying on the bridge which were quickly fixed. A portion of the bridge is a drawbridge, which is necessary to allow some of the large ships that enter the port to pass underneath.

It is named, of course, for Rotterdam's famous humanist Erasmus.

You can still see the Erasmusbrug posts from Don's blog, along with his excellent commentary on Rotterdam's architecture, here.

Each month, the Daily City Photo Blog theme day gets bigger! This month there are over 120 participating blogs:
Boston (MA), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Inverness (IL), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Stockholm, Sweden - Setúbal, Portugal - Brussels, Belgium - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Hyde, UK - Manila, Philippines - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - London, England - Austin (TX), USA - Toulouse, France - Weston (FL), USA - Sesimbra, Portugal - Selma (AL), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Saarbrücken, Germany - Cleveland (OH), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - North Bay (ON), Canada - Arradon, France - Paderborn, Germany - Durban, South Africa - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Prague, Czech Republic - Portland (OR), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Wichita (Ks), USA - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Grenoble, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Arlington (VA), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Miami (FL), USA - Cheltenham, UK - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Saratoga Spgs. (NY), USA - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Nashville (TN), USA - Toruń, Poland - New Orleans (LA), USA - Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Melbourne, Australia - Moscow, Russia - Trujillo, Peru - Château-Gontier, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Joplin (MO), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Brookville (OH), USA - Chateaubriant, France - Chandler (AZ), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Baziège, France - Auckland, New Zealand - Wellington, New Zealand - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Subang Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Detroit (MI), USA - Riga, Latvia - Nelson, New Zealand - Budapest, Hungary - Cape Town, South Africa - Sydney, Australia - Dunedin (FL), USA - Sofia, Bulgaria - Radonvilliers, France - Turin, Italy - Montpellier, France - Kansas City (MO), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Wailea (HI), USA - Lubbock (TX), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Terrell (TX), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Budapest, Hungary - Montréal (QC), Canada - Sharon (CT), USA - Le Guilvinec, France - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Saigon, Vietnam - London, UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Orlando (FL), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Paris, France - Mainz, Germany - Newcastle (NSW), Australia - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Darmstadt, Germany - Naples (FL), USA - Torino, Italy - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Bogor, Indonesia - The Hague, Netherlands - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Anderson (SC), USA - Melbourne (VIC), Australia - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand

Friday, November 30, 2007


Time for one more pic from the arrival of Sinterklaas. We're back in Wassenaar ... I certainly wouldn't want to offend any Amsterdam fans like I did yesterday (see comments).

These "Pieten" were helping Sinterklass by keeping the crowd entertained during the procession through town.

See you tomorrow for Theme Day.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not-So-Old St. Nick

Sticking with the "Sinterklass" theme in a more abstract way ... this is the view to the Sint Nicolaaskerk (St. Nicholas Church) in Amsterdam. Built in the late 1800s, when it was again considered "safe" to openly practice catholicism, it "replaced" the old St. Nick church which simply became the Oude Kerk (Old Church) after the protestant reformation.
The church looks imposing and somewhat gloomy from it's front face that you see when you leave Central Station. But I think it blends in nicely from other vantage points in the city.

It can be challenging to find "charm" in Amsterdam, but it's there. Every once in a while you can find a bit of tranquility, even on a busy weekend day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Amsterdam's Pieten: Where?Wednesday

Continuing on the Sinterklass theme, this time from Amsterdam where he arrived a day later than here in Wassenaar.

Sinterklass' helpers are the Zwarte Pieten (literally translated, Black Petes). The Wiki entry has an interesting history/theory on why the Petes are blackfaced, but the story I've heard since we've been here is that it's because of the soot in the chimneys.

Irregardless, the Petes are an integral part of the celebration: during Sint's arrival, they pass out licorice or pepernoten (spice cookies) to the children, and generally act boisterous and have a good time. Leading up to the eve of St. Nicholas, they help Sinterklaas leave sweets in the shoes of the children during the night.

I feel it necessary to say that, as someone who didn't grow up with this tradition, it can take a bit of getting used to. But I must report that the kids along the route really enjoyed the antics of the Pieten.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sinterklass' Carriage

A fuller view of Sinterklass making his way through Wassenaar on his carriage, with his friends the Zwarte Pieten. Yesterday's comments included a question on the Zwarte Pieten which I'll address tomorrow.

For now, a little more for those who aren't familiar with Sinterklass. He lives year-round in Spain, but visits The Netherlands in mid-November, prior to the St. Nicholas feast eve on Dec. 5. During these weeks he makes rounds on his white horse, Amerigo. The Zwarte Pieten go down the chimney and leave candy in the shoes of children, which are left by the chimney in anticipation of the sweets (or not, if they've been bad or forgot to put in some hay or carrots for Amerigo).

More on the Pieten tomorrow, but if you're interested in the whole story check out the wiki entry or this article.

Monday, November 26, 2007

We're back ... with friends!

Just before we left town, we were able to see the arrival of Sinterklaas in Wassenaar. The procession passed right in front of our house.
Here you see Sinterklass in the carriage, surrounded by the Zwarte Pieten.
We'll feature more from celebrations around the area this week. But if you want to learn more, there's a Wiki article.
Each year Sinterklaas arrives by boat from Spain. There's an official arrival city every year (this year he arrived first in Kampen).
But soon he appears in local towns across the country, like his arrival in Wassenaar.
Visit for more pics and tidbits about the legend throughout the week.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


This looks like a perfectly rideable city bike, but notice how the grass has grown through the tires ... it's been sitting here for a while. I'm surprised nobody has snatched it up.
We're not abandoning the blog, but we won't have internet access for about a week, so see you then.
And apologies for not being able to return many comments this past week due to a hectic schedule.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Curious but Cautious

A little poser from the herd of deer at the Kralingse Bos in Rotterdam.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The East in Rotterdam

Sticking with the Rotterdam theme, I understand this building on the Kralingse Plas to be in a traditional Indonesian style. Very appropriate, given that it is an Indonesian restaurant.
The restaurants on the lake are, quite understandably, very popular in the summer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rotterdam: Where?Wednesday

This is the view to Rotterdam from the Kralingse Bos, a forest & lake within the city limits. The path around the lake is a great place for a walk or a bike ride.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Killer Tomato?

A fitting symbol for a seed company, but this giant tomato just outside of Rotterdam is a very strange sight.

After all, who was responsible for taking the giant bite out of it?

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Reluctant Subject

I spotted this pheasant (fazant) near the Kralingse Bos in Rotterdam. He eluded me for quite some time before I got an (almost) clear shot.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wading Maiden

Normally, this maiden is wading in the pond. To me, with the leaves covering the surface, it looks like she's stuck in quicksand or something.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Autumn Leaves

I really don't like the song "Autumn Leaves," but it's hard not to think of the lyrics this time of year:

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold...

With apologies to the French and Johnny Mercer fans for my "dis" of the song.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Fall at De Paauw

The De Paauw estate sits on the main thoroughfare that connects Wassenaar to The Hague.

It was built around 1840 by Prince Frederik and now serves as the Wassenaar town hall.

This is the view to the back of the building from the surrounding forest, which is now a pleasant public area to walk & bike.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Naarden: Where?Wednesday

Last weekend we spent a pleasant day touring parts of the Utrecht and North Holland provinces, along the scenic river Vecht, and stopped in the small town of Naarden.

The town is surrounded by a unique star-shaped moat. Below are some pics from one area of the fortifications; for an aerial view click here.

Naarden is a pleasant little town that happens to have two of the nicest wine shops we've found here ... so we left with the wallet a little lighter.

So, who's the dude? Comenius (Jan Amos Komensky), a Czech-born educator/writer who is known as the father of modern education and after whom a prestigious United Nations education award is named. He spent his last years in The Netherlands escaping religious persecution.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Autumn Colors in The Netherlands

This week, a big weather system is scooping down from the north ... lots of wind and rain expected. So I have a feeling many of the autumn leaves will be on the ground by the time things calm down.
So I took a walk yesterday in a very nice area of Wassenaar and snapped a few pics, which I'll run this week.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Only in Amsterdam -- or so I thought!

Quickly snapped as they pedaled by, these guys looked to be having a great time on Het Fietscafe (The Bike Pub). You heard right, this is a pub on wheels ... you can rent this out and enjoy a refreshing beer while pedaling through the streets of Amsterdam.
I really thought this was an Amsterdam "thing" until I looked at the website. There are three other small towns in The Netherlands, along with Cologne (Germany) and Meer (Belgium) where you can rent a Fietscafe. The big surprise was that there's one in the U.S. too, and the even bigger surprise is that it's in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.
Don't get me wrong ... Minneapolis/St. Paul is a great area, and they know how to have a good time up there. But I really expected it to be in someplace, well, warmer!
Anyway, you can see this in Amsterdam in any season, any weather (a little rain never bothers the Dutch), so I guess why not in the upper midwest U.S. ;)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Canal by Night

Amsterdam rarely seems "serene," but once in a while it has a quiet side. This is from the "Jordaan" section.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


One of the drawbacks of life in Amsterdam ... despite having open-air urinals (and canals, for that matter), there's enough Heineken being consumed to cause party animals to relieve themselves wherever convenient.
(No, this isn't our house, Amsterdam is about 35km away from here)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Not Horsing Around

A close-up of a Norwegian Fjord horse, first featured in an earlier post. One of a group that was grazing near the Wassenaar beach.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blue Mill: November "Color Blue" Theme Day

It's a pleasure to be able to look out our front windows and see Wassenaar's 300 year old windmill (molen), the Windlust.

Here it is in the early morning, when the sky is just starting to turn blue.

Speaking of blue, two of my favorite CDPB's stopped publishing this week: Rotterdam and Mainz. Best of luck to you guys and we really enjoyed your photos and stories.

There are over 120 city daily photo blogs participating in the November theme of "The Colo(u)r Blue" ... visit them all!
Boston (MA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Portland (OR), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Selma (AL), USA - Arradon, France - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Stockholm, Sweden - Singapore, Singapore - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Toulouse, France - The Hague, Netherlands - Moscow, Russia - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Stayton (OR), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Detroit (MI), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - Bandung (West Java), Indonesia - Greenville (SC), USA - Hyde, UK - Radonvilliers, France - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Nashville (TN), USA - Manila, Philippines - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Saarbrücken, Germany - New Orleans (LA), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Forks (WA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Barton (VT), USA - St. Louis (MO), USA - Joplin (MO), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Quincy (MA), USA - Setúbal, Portugal - Inverness (IL), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - Toruń, Poland - North Bay (ON), Canada - Le Guilvinec, France - Chateaubriant, France - London, England - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Naples (FL), USA - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Sydney, Australia - Austin (TX), USA - Mumbai, India - Boston (MA), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Paderborn, Germany - Montréal (QC), Canada - Jackson (MS), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Orlando (FL), USA - Grenoble, France - Cheltenham, UK - Forks (WA), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Weston (FL), USA - London, UK - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Belgrade, Serbia - Paris, France - Shanghai, China - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Montpellier, France - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Auckland, New Zealand - Evry, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Oslo, Norway - Minneapolis (MN), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Trujillo, Peru - Trujillo, Peru - Melbourne (VIC), Australia - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Durban, South Africa - Brussels, Belgium - Anderson (SC), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Wellington, New Zealand - Prague, Czech Republic - Saigon, Vietnam - Ystad, Sweden - Miami (FL), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Hong Kong, China - Melbourne, Australia - Baziège, France - Greensboro (NC), USA - Sharon (CT), USA - Kajang (Selangor), Malaysia

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Halloween Tale from The Netherlands

For our last Halloween pic, we're in the eastern part of The Netherlands in the town of 's-Heerenberg. It's a sleepy little town, most famous for the Kasteel Huis Bergh which dates from the 13th century.

On the darker side, it's said that this little village in 1605 hosted one of the last witch burnings in The Netherlands. Poor old Mechteld ten Ham didn't pass the "water test" -- which means that she floated instead of sank after being thrown into a body of water. Conclusive proof of being a witch, in those days.

She's remembered by this statue ... to me it looks like she's forever cursing her accusers.

On that note, we wish you a Happy Halloween! We hope you've enjoyed the various spooky pics from our travels in Europe.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ghastly Battle

A monumental bronze work commemorating the 1288 Battle of Worringen stands in the old town area of Düsseldorf, Germany.

The battle, which is said to have claimed more than 1100 lives, led to the granting of Düsseldorf's town charter.

The sculpture (Stadterhebungs-Monument) was created in 1988 for the city's 700th year jubilee.

Spooky features abound, like the skeleton and this fellow, his face frozen in fear as the battle rages on around him.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sands of Time...

In the graveyard of the Church of the Holy Rude in Sterling, Scotland, there are many graves with the skull and crossbones motif. What caught our eye on this stone were the date (1696) and the hourglass (see it -- right in the middle of the date). I guess time was up for Mr. John Foreman!

Were it not in such a pretty setting, this would rank as a pretty spooky graveyard.