Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday. The beginning of the second week.

Edit to add: This post was written BEFORE the Belgium trip. I'm just catching up!

We're still in Bakkeveen. The morning started with a trip to the town of Roden to take our friend's car into the shop for maintenance. Nothing serious-- just an oil change! So we had time to visit the market. That's always fun! Lots of cheese, baked goods, cooked meat, deli meats, olives,flowers, even clothes and jewelry! It is interesting to see how similiar it is to our farmer's market-- yet so very different, too.

After that, we went into Groningen to see what we could find. We ended up going to the Noordland Scheepivart Museum. It gave a history of Groningen from medieval times and a look into Netherlands shipping history. The museum also had several rooms dedicated to tobacco in the Netherlands. Don't really see how the two are related, but it was interesting nonetheless.

As I said in an earlier post, lunch was on the run so we ate at Subway. *eyeroll*

Then it was back to Bakkeveen and a nature walk through the dune heather. I don't know how else to describe the very barren landscape. It looked like sand dunes covered in low-lying purplish juniper-type "heather". We also climbed their "viewing tower" to see the lay of the land. It was like climbing a fire tower on the Parkway. You were in the trees and could see nothing but tree tops and nature. It is fairly common for this area, but outside my realm of experience in Holland.

Saturday, we leave here and head to Oosterwolde and Assen, in Friesland. I have enjoyed being with Henk but I can't say that I will be sorry to leave North Holland. It feels so open and flat-- people live in real houses surrounded by land. Even though the area is older than Amsterdam, they don't feel old-- they seem to lack the charm of places that are a few hundred years younger. Everyone here drives a car, there seems to be very little public transportation. Doing anything involves driving. Living here would feel like living in America. I suppose this proves that places aren't that different, really.

Amazing. It's what's for dinner.

Chandelier. De Drie Provinciën.
De Drie Provinciën

Just had an amazing meal at De Drie Provincien! Fresh, hot bread with herbed shallot butter. Italian dry white wine. Halibut with shrimp in lemon sauce. It was served with small dishes of brussel sprouts, Belgian endive, roasted potatoes.

Angelo Grillo Italie. De Drie Provinciën

Halibut in Citroenboter with. Gamba.De Drie Provinciën


Ton had Cranberry Chicken. Chicken filet stuffed with brie and ham, topped with a plum, cranberry sauce. It was good but my fish was better!

Cranberrykip. De Drie Provinciën

Still life. De Drie Provinciën

Dessert was caramel ice cream coated in toffee-coated nuts, topped with whipped cream. OMG. SO GOOD. So good. I forgot to take a picture until it was too late.

The end of the Berends Smikkelbom. De Drie Provinciën

These two hour dinners really agree with me. But I think I need bigger pants.

Oh, my other dining experience today? Subway. They are EXACTLY the same as in America. And the Dutch apparently love them. WTF.

More later-- probably Sunday evening. I'm uploading photos now but don't know when they'll be available.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Quick from Bakkeveen!!

We've left Leiden and headed north, to Groningen with Ton's friend, Henk. He has bought a new house in Bakkeven. Things up here are more spacious-- very small towns with lots of open land. It's free-standing homes, rather American actually. We had a nice lunch on the way in and I had my first "farmer's omelet" which is a fairly typical lunch around these parts. It's really just an omelet with lots of veggies in it.

We spent the afternoon at Kasteel Nienoord. ( It's very tiny but they make the most of what they have. We had a personal guided tour (no one else was there!). The house itself is beautiful inside but needs restoration. There's just a lack of funding to do it.




They have an amazing collection of carriages, coaches and sleighs. They store them and have restoration facilities as well.


For the more macabre people on my list...I included the funeral coach and requisite coffin!



After that, we went to see Henk's niece who owns her own farm. 11 horses, a goat, a pig, some chickens, a new kitten and a dog so sweet I wanted to bring her home! We followed that with dinner in Norg, a very small town with an amazing Italian restaurant, Monte Giove. ( I had Lasagna ai peperoni met gorgonzola-- lasagna with red and green bell peppers, tomato sauce and gorgonzola cheese. For dessert, Dame Blanche-- homemade gelato with whipped cream that you pour warm dark chocolate sauce over and devour while the chocolate forms into pieces of fudgy goodness. *sigh* I think I gained ten pounds today.

Tomorrow we're going into Groningen, probably to a museum or two, or maybe just to walk around the town. We'll see what happens. Saturday we are meeting Ton's parents in Oosterwolde to stay at Hotel Zon and go to the Eise Eisgina museum ( Then, back home Sunday evening (possibly traveling over the Afsluitdijk! EEP!)to wash clothes and pack for three nights in Brussels and one night in Antwerp. Whew. The time is flying by!

PS THere are more pictures but I don't have time to get them posted tonight. I'm tired and I want to go to bed! :-P

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Leiden, Katwijk and Panbos

Hoi! Arrived in Leiden yesterday. We're with Ton's oldest sister and her family. We spent the day wandering around Leiden and planning our next adventure. Monday I leave for Brussels! We tried to book something for Paris but it wasn't in the cards. It was possible to get a hotel but not possible to get a ticket for the Thalys (high speed train). Oh, well. Maybe next year. We tried London, but had the same train issues. We settled for Belgium. I'm going to the Magritte museum! Whee! I'm happy with the outcome.

Today, we went to the Panbos and had a little walk about. It's a lovely wooded park, with lots of trails that lead to a "tank wall" that was built by the Germans to stop the Allies from coming in from the North Sea. Ton and the boys kicked around a soccer ball. It was a gorgeous day and a leisurely walk. Nice!




After that, we went to Katwijk an Zee ( to the beach! I love going to Katwijk-- it feels so different from our beaches. There was a lot of activity even though it was very cool with a lot of wind. A bit of cold doesn't keep the Dutch down for very long! There was even a man and his son who were shrimping with small box nets. They caught enough shrimp for their lunch and were proud to show off their catch.


IMG_1373 crop


I'm sipping tea now, waiting for Marianne and Peter to finish dinner. I'm being treated so well, I may not ever come home. It's a cozy and comfortable house and a wonderful family.

Tomorrow, it's off to the Hague and the Gemeente Museum ( Then back to Amstelveen tomorrow night. Thursday, it's off to Groningen.

As usual, you can see the rest of my photos from today on my Flickr page.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Had a family day with Ton's parents and his sister Marianne's family. We spent time walking in the Amsterdamse Bos--- a man-made forest built around the same time as the Blue Ridge Parkway. ( It also has a huge pond for rowing which was built, according to Ton's Mother for the Olympics in Summer of 1928. Walked something like 4km around the damned thing.




We did stop for pancakes at a little house in the park. We were greeted by a very thin cow holding a menu. The pancakes took forever to arrive!! But it was good, if a little too thin, eggy and Dutch for me. I have to apologize-- I forgot to take a picture of it!! Have a cow photo instead.


At the pancake house there was a rather weird "decoration" if you will. It was a girl doll that was dressed in prison stripes with a ball and chain hanging from her ankle. She was suspended from the gutter of the building! WTF. I still don't know. But everyone in Ton's family thought it amusing. I still don't get it.


Later, we went to see Ton's other sister, Evelien, to meet the latest and greatest family members, her twin boys-- one of which is Ton's namesake! Cute babies who didn't cry once and let me hold them without a whimper. In fact they grinned at me foolishly most of the time. I liked them. They don't speak Dutch. Yet.