Sunday, September 30, 2007

Maybe Next Year...

As fall approaches, this catamaran seemed to be hunkering in for the winter, waiting for the spring winds to uncover it for next summer's fun.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wind Power

These guys were having a heck of a time trying to kitesurf on the North Sea. Like yesterday's meditator, they were taking advantage of last week's one nice weather day. Although sunny, it was very windy.

Here's a look at one of the guys as they entered the water ... but he didn't stay up for long. (click to enlarge)

Friday, September 28, 2007


Although I complained about our rainy weather in yesterday's post, mother nature decided to give us a glorious sunny day. So I headed out to the Wassenaar beach.
It was quite windy with heavy surf; perfect conditions to have the sounds of nature block out the rest of the world.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Olé, Pengüino

No, we're not in Chile or Peru, the native home for the Humboldt Penguin. This little guy was enjoying the good weather last weekend at the Avifauna bird zoo.

Or maybe he's enjoying the rainy week we've had here since. If it doesn't stop raining soon I'm really going to have to dig deep into the photo archives.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Castle Gardens: Where?Wednesday

This Wednesday we're in the Southern tip of The Netherlands. Pictured is the promenade in the Kasteeltuinen (castle gardens) in Arcen.

This 17th century estate is located near the Maas river in the province of Limburg, close to the border with Germany.

A nice place to visit; aside from the formal gardens, there is a tropical greenhouse and some animal exhibits.

Fall hadn't quite taken hold yet when we recently visited; as you can see from the bottom left, the roses were still going pretty strong.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

True Colors

This little guy is an Australische honig-papagaaien (Australian honey-parakeet, or Rainbow Lorikeet).

He's part of a fun exhibit at the Avifauna bird zoo where the staff members distribute a small cup of nectar to feed the birds.

The kids at the exhibit loved it (kids of all ages, that is).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Old Delft

This past weekend turned out pretty nice, weather wise. So on Saturday we popped over to Delft. You might know Delft for its famous blue-and-white pottery.

It's a pleasant town to walk around, take in the sights or the street market, have a drink in one of the many outdoor cafes.

This is a shot of the Oude Kerk (Old Church), dating from 1246. The tower (yes, it is leaning) was finished in 1350. Among the notables buried here is the painter Johannes Vermeer.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Golden Look

A final look at the Gouden Koets as it passes through The Hague. And you can still see Princess Maxima waving to the crowd.

There's a little bit about the coach, which has been in use for over a century, in english on Wiki.
And that's all for the Prinjesdag pics; next week we'll return to "normal" shots from the area.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Carry the Flag

Above: Flag bearers of the Gilden in the Prinsjesdag procession.
Below: more costumed marchers.

Tomorrow, the last photo from this year's Prinsjesdag.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Heavy Metal

Continuing with pics of the Prinsjesdag procession: these folks were colorfully decked out in costumes and medals.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what they mean. Watching as the procession left the staging field, there was no narration, and I'm no expert on historic dutch costumes.

I do know that they followed a group of people bearing flags of various "gilden" (see tomorrow's post). That could mean either religious/craftsman guilds (which make more sense), or community "gilden" which are organizations of 50+ citizens that work with tourism, business, and immigration. Maybe one of the dutch readers can shed some light.

Incidentally, americans might recognize the pilgrim-like hats on some of the marchers below. I bet most americans don't know that the pilgrims actually set sail from Holland (England was just a stopover), but I'll speak more to that someday when I get back to Leiden for some more pics.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Celebrating Prinsjesdag

Prior to the actual Prinsjesdag procession, the various parade participants gather in a field just outside of the city center (the malieveld). During this time, some of the bands perform and the military units do some exercises. Then they all march to the palace to form the official procession.

I know tubas and bass drums are heavy, but marching with a baritone sax has got to be just as tough.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hey, that's our neighbor in there...

Well, sort of. That's Princess Maxima waving to the crowd. She and her family (Prince Willem-Alexander and their three daughters) live in Wassenaar. Although we haven't spotted them, they've been known to shop on the Langstraat and most residents say you might even run into the princess at the Albert Heijn.
Yesterday was Prinsjesdag, the day of the Queen's annual speech to Parliament in The Hague. The Royal Family travel in the Gouden Koets (Golden Coach) on their way to the Ridderzaal in the Binnenhof. I managed to squeeze in the huge crowd that lines the parade route, sticking my camera in the air and wildly taking shots. I'll show more this week; apologies to The Hague Daily Photo for invading her territory (but hey, we're only 9 kms apart).
Oh, and with a little bit of cropping, zooming, and contrast adjustment, you can just barely see Queen Beatrix in the background.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Maas Morning

Just in case yesterday's post was a little too disturbing, here's something just a bit more tranquil. Morning over the Maas river, looking out from Kessel in the southern province of Limburg.

Monday, September 17, 2007


This bunny ("Miffy" or "Nijntje") is a familiar sight here in the Netherlands, as the city of Utrecht is home to its creator, Dick Bruna.
I snapped this shot through a store window here in Wassenaar, mainly because it reminded me of a funny post from Luxembourg DP.
Obviously a coat rack, I have to say that at the time I took the photo, I didn't notice the --umm-- strategic placement of the dowels. I'm not sure the maker really thought this through ... or maybe he did...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Great Grebes

Don't know what it is about grebes, but we really like them. Might be something about the spiked crest or their angularity. Or the RSPB listing says it well: "a delightfully graceful water bird."

Regardless, they are very shy and it's difficult to get a good shot of them. This one, taken near the Wassenaar marina, suffers from a bit of blurriness, probably from not focusing correctly. I'll keep trying.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Old City Hall

The old Wassenaar city hall is a handsome building that, in my opinion, gets lost in the hodgepodge that is the Langstraat (our main shopping street). It now houses some retail shops.

Apparently there were some storks nesting on top of the building earlier this year. I never spotted them, so I'll have to keep an eye out during next breeding season.

Near the bell tower you can barely see the Wassenaar coat of arms. Apparently, the crescents, or "wassende" in dutch, were taken from an Arabian banner captured by the family in a crusade (thanks, Wiki). I've noticed similar crescents in the
neighboring town of Voorschoten.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bat-er Up!

A huge, dark, imposing concrete structure was the last thing we expected to see during a walk in the forested area that borders Wassenaar and The Hague. And yet, here it was.

Turns out this is a "winter house" for bats (winterverblijf voor vleermuizen). Apparently, inside the structure the temperature remains constant and is perfect for bats to overwinter. Bat populations in The Netherlands were in a steep decline, due mainly to loss of habitat and insecticides, and this is one of the ways the country is trying to help these important creatures.

You're seeing recycling at its best. Originally constructed by the German army as part of the Atlantikwall defense fortifications, this bunker is part of a whole bat habitat system. Around the area there are several bunkers connected by tunnels that provide thousands of meters of winter protection for bats.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Where?Wednesday -- Edam

As Homer Simpson would say, "mmmmmm, cheeeese"

Edam is one of the famous Dutch "cheese cities" and although it's probably a stop on many tour buses, it has character without being too touristy (at least for us).

Including the name of the store, you can now say cheese in 6 languages. And the multilingualism (yes, that is a word, at least to blogger's spellcheck) didn't stop with the sign ... we heard at least 4 languages while we were there.

Don't worry, we didn't leave without buying some delicious aged and smoked cheeses.

This is the first in a series of Where?Wednesday. Since we tend to hop around a bit, we'll feature a shot from places around The Netherlands every Wednesday, at least until our stock of NL travel photos runs out.

And thanks to JoAnn for nominating this blog for an "inspiration award." We appreciate her frequent visits and comments!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wassenaar Swans

This swan (zwaan) looked striking in this very green Wassenaar canal. He (she?) was followed by a group of juvenile swans making an incredible racket as they sifted through the algae for food ... it sounded like a whole group of fountains bubbling at the same time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rainbow Revised

Last week a beautiful rainbow appeared right out of our front window. Grabbing my camera, I realized the battery was upstairs in the charger. So I ran up, grabbed the battery, ran downstairs, and when I was installing it I noticed there was no memory card inside. Can you guess where it was? Back upstairs to grab it out of the PC, back downstairs. By this time, not only was I out of breath but the rainbow was fading. The resulting pics were very disappointing.

So you get to see two versions ... a highly saturated version (where what's left of the rainbow really "pops"), and the very blah original. Better luck next time.

Friday, September 7, 2007

More Parading Flower Cars

OK, last pic from the parade (at least for now). I could go on for another week just publishing pics of the decorated autos. I picked the mini because they have so much personality, and the decoration on this one was color-coded to the car.

There were all types of autos decorated ... classic Mercedes & VW Beetle, a new Fiat 500, a number of Americans (including a classic Caddy, a Corvette & a new Chevy pickup which is really rare here).

I could identify all but two (the flowers were covering up the badging): a very small yellow "Berton" and a really old powder blue car (something like a Model A).

Anyway, for those of you who like cars covered in flowers, you can see them all at

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Flower Dragon

From a mystical/fairy-tale themed float. The smoke coming out of the dragon's nose was a nice touch.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Flower Parade Jellyfish

By far the best costume in the parade was this person dressed up as a jellyfish. We particularly liked the way it "consumed" viewers like this police officer. Below are some more pics and the sea-themed float it followed (click to enlarge).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Flower Parade

Aalsmeer is located just outside of Amsterdam and is home to the largest flower auction in the world. The Bloemencorso Aalsmeer (Flower Parade) celebrates the industry and we watched as it weaved its way from Aalsmeer to Amsterdam. Inbetween the floats were autos decorated with so many flowers it often looked as if the car would tip over. Watch for more bloemencorso pics throughout the week.

Monday, September 3, 2007

UitMarkt in Rotterdam

This week we'll "leave" the Wassenaar area for some posts from other areas of the Netherlands.
Rotterdam is not far away (about 40 minutes by train) and we spent some time in the centrum yesterday. The Uitmarkt is the celebration for the beginning of the cultural season. Held in cities across the country, it's a great way to learn about the many events, groups, and facilities for all types of cultural activities. The Rotterdam uitmarkt was held around De Doelen, the main concert hall (Don from Everyday Rotterdam has posted about it here).

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Theme Day Runner-Up

While this sign might be familiar to Nederlanders, and possibly to Europeans, it really confused us the first time we saw it. I mean, what is it trying to say ... it seems like everything just thrown onto one sign! But seeing it did make us do a little more reviewing of the road signs, and it turns out that it means that you are entering a mixed use "recreation" area. The rule is you are supposed to drive at walking pace (which does not seem to be the practice).

Saturday, September 1, 2007

100th Post AND September Theme Day!

First of all, thanks again to all who have visited and/or commented. It's been a blast participating in this great group of city daily photo bloggers!

Second, this being the 1st of the month, it's Theme Day: Street sign or light. We decided to show some of the long street names we have here in Wassenaar.

As new residents it took us quite some time to get used to the long names. When you don't know the language, you might as well be speaking mumbo-jumbo when you try to say, or hear, or spell, these names! Based on a very informal survey, the street in the top photo wins the prize for the longest street name in town, and the other four are runners-up.

Incidentally, here is some info on 3 of the signs. The top street was named for one of Wassenaar's mayors in the late 1800's. How do I know? The helpful city leaders put an explanation on the bottom of the sign!

In the bottom row, the "Schout" street is named for Admiral Doorman, who served in the Dutch navy during WWII and went down with his ship during the battle of the Java Sea. The "Storm" is named after another one of Wassenaar's mayors, previously mentioned here.

I'm not as familiar with the middle two, although a brief Wiki search in Dutch leads me to believe they were both members of parliament in the 1800s.

There are over 100 blogs participating in September's Theme Day ... it may take some time to visit them all!!!

Seattle (WA), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Singapore, Singapore - Boston (MA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Kajang (Selangor), Malaysia - Mainz, Germany - Evry, France - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Nottingham, UK - Toulouse, France - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Manila, Philippines - Mumbai, India - Montpellier, France - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - Moscow, Russia - Paris, France - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Austin (TX), USA - Lyon, France - Stockholm, Sweden - Hyde, UK - Hong Kong, China - Joplin (MO), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Chandler (AZ), USA - St. Louis (MO), USA - Arlington (VA), USA - Anderson (SC), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Villigen, Switzerland - Sydney, Australia - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - San Diego (CA), USA - Bandung (West Java), Indonesia - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Nelson, New Zealand - Quincy (MA), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Bend (OR), USA - Wellington, New Zealand - New Orleans (LA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Nashville (TN), USA - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - Detroit (MI), USA - Saigon, Vietnam - Selma (AL), USA - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Miami (FL), USA - Arradon, France - Sheki, Azerbaijan - New York City (NY), USA - Inverness (IL), usa - North Bay (ON), Canada - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Tenerife, Spain - Auckland, New Zealand - Forks (WA), USA - Rotterdam, Netherlands - Chateaubriant, France - Madison (WI), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Orlando (FL), USA - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Ajaccio, France - Baltimore (MD), USA - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Budapest, Hungary - Lyon, France - Saarbrücken, Germany - Adelaide (SA), Australia - Le Guilvinec, France - River Falls (WI), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Naples (FL), USA - London, UK - La Antigua, Guatemala - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - Paris, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Trujillo, Peru - Haninge, Sweden - Prague, Czech Republic - Oslo, Norway - Grenoble, France - Shanghai, China - Toronto (ON), Canada - Durban, South Africa - Zurich, Switzerland - Cape Town, South Africa - Singapore, Singapore - Torino, Italy - Flagstaff (AZ), USA