Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winter Bloom

The garden has remained quite green throughout the dreary but mild winter here. We had a cool start to the winter, causing many dutch people to dream of skating on the canals, but that now seems unlikely. Except for plenty of rain and harsh winds it hasn't been a tough winter at all.

The hellebores in our garden show off with their rare winter blooms, a promise that spring will get here eventually. I managed to squeeze in a few shots before the winds started to howl (gale-force winds predicted over the next day or so).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Garden of Death: Where?Wednesday

Pompeii is an amazing sight -- so vast, with so many interesting things hidden within the excavated city.

One of the most poignant sights is the "Garden of the Fugitives." Here you can see plaster casts of some of the victims of the Mt. Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD. Experts say that the ash from the eruption fell so fast that some people were killed almost in their tracks, with barely enough time to try to cover their face to protect themselves. When excavating the site, workers found air pockets in the shape of humans, formed by the decomposition of the bodies after being covered in ash. These pockets were filled to make the casts, which show in amazing detail the agony of the last seconds of their lives.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Away again...

I am completely out of photos from our area (at least seasonal ones), so for a couple more days we'll feature vacation shots from our trip to the Amalfi coast of Italy.

This is the main harbor of the island of Capri. A beautiful place, the island is mainly in "recharge" mode during the off-season -- most of the shops, hotels and restaurants are closed for remodeling and restocking during this time of year. So, it was a bit sleepy, but the bright side of visiting now is that you don't have to fight hordes of sun-seeking tourists to wander around the island.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Netherlands? Nee!

You might have guessed that this photo wasn't taken in The Netherlands. What gave it away? The greek ruin, the mountain, or the weather? Anyway, this isn't Greece either. The ruins of Pæstum lie off the Italian coast south of Salerno. There are three temples still (partially) standing, and a nice museum showcasing some of the archaeological finds from the area. Being somewhat off the beaten track, the site (although much smaller and less complete) is practically deserted compared to nearby Pompeii.

It's estimated that Greeks colonized this area, known to them as Poseidonia, sometime around the 7th century BC. The structure in this photo is currently considered to be the temple of Apollo (previously attributed to Poseidon then Hera). The date estimate is 450 BC, nearly 2500 years old. Truly amazing, especially on a beautiful winter day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No Bull ... Where?Wednesday

In response to the recent financial news, let's hope we can return to a "bull" market soon!
(OK, horrible pun. It's early morning, you know).
From our recent trip to the Andalucia region of Spain, this bull stands in the town of Ronda. Probably the most famous of the region's "white towns," Ronda is among other things the home of modern bullfighting in Spain.
We'll be taking a couple of days off, hope to see you back here next Monday. Sorry for not replying to recent comments--we've hit a bit of a busy patch--but thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Princely Window

Detail from the Prinswillemraam (Prince William window) in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in nearby Delft. This is the same church that holds the memorial to Prince William and the crypt of the House of Oranje-Nassau. The windows are from the early 20th century, as the old windows were destroyed in previous fires and gunpowder explosions.

We've been awarded the You Made My Day award by "Blue Chic" from Chicago Daily Photo. Thanks, B.C.! We invite readers to take a look at other photo blogs from The Netherlands:
The Hague, Rotterdam, Texel, Zeeland, and Naarden. Also, visit the blogs from our previous homes from Chicago (Chicago, Chicago, Inverness, Nunda) and Detroit.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Memorial in the Dunes

In the Meijendel dunes I came across this small but nicely done statue honoring Dr. Victor Westhoff (1916-2001). After a bit of internet research, I found that he was a leading dutch botanist, ecologist, and conservationist. He first published in 1934 and remained active until his death. Apparently he was also a bit of a philosopher, and had a keen interest in psychology and religion. The statue honors his observation and writings about nature (if you look closely at the figure you can see that he's writing in a journal); the setting in the dunes seems very appropriate.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Blank Stare

One of the lions (leeuwen) that guard the De Paauw, a former royal mansion that now houses some Wassenaar city offices.

Floating Flowers

Flowers are a part of everyday life here in The Netherlands. Flower stands abound ... in Wassenaar there are several grower-owned stands that operate only on Friday and Saturday.

Pictured above is one of the permanent stalls in the Amsterdam Flower Market. The Bloemenmarkt stalls are actually houseboats that float on the canal. You can find everything "floral" here, from fresh cut flowers to bulbs.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Molen Morning

A rare break in the clouds ... this morning we had a very colorful sunrise. The view from our top floor made for a nice shot of the Wassenaar "Windlust" windmill ("molen") silhouetted against the sky. It's cloudy again already, with wind and rain forecasted for the weekend.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another "Your Guess Is As Good As Mine"

Spotted in Amsterdam. Significance? No idea whatsoever. Guesses: A work of art? Aftermath of a bad accident? A tornado? Too many biertjes? We'll never know...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Casting a Shadow: Where?Wednesday

The statue commemorating writer Franz Kafka in Prague casts an interesting shadow at night. Here's what it looks like during the day. We visited Prague in November and wrote about it on our travel blog.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blown in the Wind

Grey, blustery weather here again. The clouds parted on Saturday when we were in Rotterdam, but have gone back to their dull overcast winter norm, with rain and winds forecasted for today. I'm running out of pics, especially from this area!

In the meantime, here's a shot taken at the dunes. This is a windswept area, as you can tell by the direction of the branches on the trees and shrubs. Although the shrubs have red berries on them, I think it looks better in b/w for the "architectural" interest.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bridging The Gap

I'm no architecture critic, but I think that Unilever's "De Brug" is a pretty unique building. Home to the company's Netherlands offices (the corporate headquarters are located elsewhere in Rotterdam), it straddles other Unilever buildings, including a food plant. The name makes sense, since "De Brug" translates to "The Bridge." Not only does it "bridge" the other buildings, it is close to some of the other landmark bridges that span the Maas river in Rotterdam. If you are an architecture buff, you can read more about it here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Remembrance

More from the Canadian and British War Cemeteries in Bergen Op Zoom. In the Commonwealth cemetery are some graves of other nationalities that fought in the region's battles under British command, like these Czech soldiers.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


A few days ago, Abe Lincoln asked how the town of Bergen Op Zoom fared during WWII. Being so close to the border with Belgium and the port of Antwerp, this area was involved in the Battle of the Scheldt. That campaign involved taking the Scheldt river between Antwerp and the North Sea, and the territory north to the Maas river (which holds the port of Rotterdam). There are two good sites here and here that explain the campaign.

Just outside of the town of Bergen Op Zoom are two war cemeteries, a Canadian Cemetery and a War Cemetery where soldiers from various British Commonwealth nations are interred. We'll show two more shots tomorrow.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Skating on the Market

Although the weather has been quite mild, many towns have an ice rink this time of year (sometimes associated with Christmas fairs). Here in the town of Bergen op Zoom, in the southwest corner of The Netherlands, the ice rink is located in the main square, in front of the town hall (Stadhuis). This weekend we'll visit the WWII legacy from the region.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Your interpretation's as good as mine...

The view from the Kunsthal art museum in Rotterdam. We viewed a very nice Steinlen exhibit there last weekend.

By the way, Rotterdam is back on the City Daily Photo Blog roster. The "original" Rotterdam photo blogger, Ineke, has rejoined the group. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bergen op Zoom: Where?Wednesday

Bergen op Zoom is a town in the Southern Netherlands, just inside the border from Belgium. The town has played an important role during many conflicts, from Spanish to French to WWII.
The Markiezenhof was completed in the early 1500s and has served many functions since, including palace to the lordship, military headquarters, and hospital. Today it houses city archives, library, and restaurant.

We'll share some more photos from the town later this week.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


From the New Year's celebration in Rotterdam.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Rotterdam Skyline

Rotterdam is the "working city" of The Netherlands. In this skyline silhouette looking west, you can see the many cranes that load and offload cargo in the ports (havens) on the Maas river. Rotterdam lost the title of "world's largest port" a few years ago (Shanghai currently holds the title) but remains Europe's busiest port. The tower on the right is the Euromast, which houses a restaurant in the "ship's bridge" and is a great place to visit for a panoramic view of the city.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Best of '07: Best "Flora" Pic

Living in Holland, you might expect our favorite pick to have been a tulip. But in fact our fav from last year was this water lily, captured as we toured around the town of Giethoorn.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Best of '07: Favorite Animal Pic

Our favorite animal pic ... an American Red Tail Hawk in the southern Netherlands town of Valkenburg.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Best of '07: Another Favorite

Our favorite(s) from here in Wassenaar. The "maiden" normally wades in the water, but the fallen leaves give a different impression. We posted these two views of the scene.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Best of '07: Best "Dutch" Moment

Continuing on the "Best of '07" theme, our favorite "dutch" moment of the year was snapping Princess Maxima (and Queen Beatrix barely visible in the background) as they passed in the Golden Carriage on Prinsjesdag, the annual opening of Parliament. You can see the original posts here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Eve Celebration

These very poor photographs are here to give you an idea of what New Year's Eve celebration is like in our neighborhood.
Our neighbors spend hundreds of euros on fireworks ... everything from sparklers to firecrackers to real rockets. The kids light them off throughout the whole day, but at midnight it seems like the entire population of the country goes outside and light their fireworks for about 2 hours.
Note the amount of trash in the first picture ... it's all left out in the streets and over the next two days the city does a massive cleanup. The smoke is a combination of a light fog that rolled in but is mostly the smoke from all of the fireworks going off. To sum it up, it's frightening and friendly at the same time.

For the remainder of the week, we'll return to the "best of 07" theme and revisit some of our favs from last year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year Breakfast? Monthly Theme Day

Happy New Year from Wassenaar!

Thanks to all who visited and commented while we were on holiday.

Being the 1st of the month, today is Theme Day for the City Daily Photo Blogs. The question is, how to interpret the theme, "Best Photo of the Year?"

We chose to go with the photo that received the most comments. Of course it's from another Theme Day post, "Typical Breakfast," from last August. We showed the dutch tradition of eating sprinkles (hagelslag) on bread. You can see the original post here.

We'll continue the "best of" theme all week, but stop by tomorrow and we'll try to show how the New Year was celebrated here in Wassenaar.

Best wishes for 2008 ... Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar!
Due to the recovery time needed from our trip and last night's festivities, it will take us a few days to visit the other participating blogs ... nearly 120 of them:
Paris, France - London, England - Hyde, UK - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Grenoble, France - Stockholm, Sweden - Riga, Latvia - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Manila, Philippines - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Weston (FL), USA - Prague, Czech Republic - New Orleans (LA), USA - Wichita (KS), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - San Francisco (CA), USA - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Greenville (SC), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Mainz, Germany - Melbourne, Australia - Portland (OR), USA - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Toulouse, France - Naples (FL), USA - Jakarta, Indonesia - Brussels, Belgium - Stayton (OR), USA - Selma (AL), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Toruń, Poland - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Baziège, France - Nashville (TN), USA - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Chicago (IL), USA - Prescott (AZ), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Nottingham, UK - Moscow, Russia - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Evry, France - Trujillo, Peru - Arlington (VA), USA - Denpasar, Indonesia - American Fork (UT), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Coral Gables (FL), USA - Montpellier, France - Joplin (MO), USA - Pilisvörösvár, Hungary - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - Boston (MA), USA - Torun, Poland - New York City (NY), USA - Dunedin (FL), USA - Quincy (MA), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Chateaubriant, France - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Jackson (MS), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Budapest, Hungary - Austin (TX), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - Cypress (TX), USA - Bicheno, Australia - Wrocław, Poland - Brookville (OH), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - Cheltenham, UK - Wellington, New Zealand - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Mumbai (Maharashtra), India - London, UK - Haninge, Sweden - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Arradon, France - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Orlando (FL), USA - Mumbai, India - Terrell (TX), USA - Bogor, Indonesia - Delta (CO), USA - Radonvilliers, France - Saigon, Vietnam - San Diego (CA), USA - Adelaide (SA), Australia - Belgrade, Serbia - Auckland, New Zealand - Seguin (TX), USA - Inverness (IL), USA - Oslo, Norway - Singapore, Singapore - Las Vegas (NV), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Anderson (SC), USA - Torino, Italy - Susanville (CA), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Sharon (CT), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Memphis (Tennessee), USA