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!
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