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Rotterdam2020

Our current status (Narda and me) @ home – we arrived in Adelaide after 10 weeks in the Netherlands and flights back via Amsterdam and Singapore where we spent 17 hours – we have been given amazing help with a home in Swan Reach along the Murray River where we did our quarantine of two weeks in Adelaide until the 8th of April. Thanks to family, friends, strangers… for so many good thoughts, offers of help and keeping us positive. After fourteen days in quarantine plus sixty-six days in isolation, then semi-isolation then carefully following South Australia’s strict guidelines for wandering among the locals, with our daily walks, bike rides, protective shopping, and of course starting this week – 09 June, aqua Zumba and the gym. As of 14 June 2020, we feel good. Cheers. Updated Sunday 14/June/2020 8.47

#TieChallenge

WHAT ONE DOES @ HOME IN ISOLATION – Tie Challenge Day 66 updated updated 14/June/2020

The ties are due to needing to wear a tie when I was teaching in New York & China (2002 – 2014) – I started collecting ties from thrift shops etc. around the world for the next decade. Instead of tossing them out I am doing this dumb challenge as I am @ home and cannot visit you. I think there are over 100. Perseverance Road, Vista, South Australia
 https://neuage.org/ties/

February 20, 2020

This is our story of our stay in Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel which is between Gouda and Rotterdam. We took the train from Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel on 29th of February two days after the first coronavirus case in the Netherlands. In those days, when we thought of it being primarily in China with a few cases in the States we did not take any extra precautions. How different the world would be a month later. Our trip was cut short by three weeks with us returning to Australia’s quarantine toward the end of March. Narda’s writing is in italics and mine whatever else. Starting with arriving at the train station in Arnhem. Our neighbour drove us to the train station as it was rainy that morning. It was a fifteen-minute walk with an already increased luggage amount six weeks which with we arrived in The Netherlands six weeks ago.

We have included a few of the photos we took (we took a couple of thousand to be exact, 30 – 40 I have used in my series ‘Thoughts in Travel 2020‘)

They wanted to build an e-hub, offering e-bikes and e-cars for rent. Two fresh faced young Dutchmen offered us free coffee in exchange for an interview.

“Your main concern?” (in impeccable English)

“The price”.

“Other concerns?”

“We have ‘being wobbly’ issues if you offer e-scooters”          

“No e-scooters”

We were reassured and took the train to Arnhem Centraal. Today was a train carnival. We started, getting a lift from Eef, our kindly neighbour. A day pass from Actievandedag.nl, so plenty of time, between spits (my new Dutch word, meaning rush-hour). The next train (we did not plan ahead) took us straight back in the direction we had just come, heading for Breda via Nijmegen. A bit out of the way, but with little wait time. After an hour of lovely scenery came an announcement that this train would stop in Den Bosch. What the hell? I could not find it on the map. Turns out that this is the ‘local’ name for ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Not sure about the ‘s, but we knew it from Hans Albers, and our host, Fred as it has Jan de Groot’s Bakkerij selling ‘Bossche Bollen’. We have yet to try this. If it involves chocolate I will be there. Apparently long lines are the order of the day on weekends, it is THAT good!!!!

train Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel

train Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel

train Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel

train Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel

A couple of friendly girls helped me with my smartphone challenges and mapped out a good route to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel. So back again, this time headed for Woerden (near Utrecht) on the local train, stopping every 5-7 minutes. One more leg and we’re there. No Uber. Tried 3 times. Raining. We considered the bus but could not find our bus passes. A MAJOR CATASTROPHE. No not really. We hoofed it, took about ½ hour for a 17-minute walk. Not awful, though Terrell was a shining star insisting on taking the bulk of the weight. When will we learn to travel with less!!!! We woke up the next morning feeling rather sore.

Now we are settled, feeding our funny bunnies, who have residence here, once a day.

Fred settled our TV/cable/remote woes remotely from Dubai. He actually turned things off and on from Dubai! The guy’s a miracle worker. Blimey. And patient and kind.

The coffee machine makes great coffee….I select ‘mild taste’ and add ½ cup of hot water. Dutchies are into spoon-standing-up-straight strong. We have ridden our very large Dutch bikes to Jumbo. I can sit completely upright; for me the mark of an excellent bike. We also drove to a hardware exactly the same as Home Depot (USA) or Bunnings (Australia) in search of face masks, which are sold out, as they are all over the world.

Covid-19 End of February

About 84,000 people in at least 56 countries have been infected, and about 2,900 have died. A new element to our trip.

so it begins - Covid-19 cases 26th February 2020We cancelled our China Southern and Guangszhou o/night stay for the next trip in June; luckily a full refund. We bought a new non-stop flight from Perth-London. Less variables, I guess. The virus seems to be spreading pretty fast.

(bought ticket Perth to London on 27th February. Our flight is for the end of June 2020, not sure if that will happen.)

It rained the first four or five days at our new home so we only did short bike rides around our neighbourhood which consisted of two-three story attached houses with canals all over the place and dedicated bike paths giving us the illusion we could ride in safety as, like everyone else here, we don’t have helmets.

our neighbourhood ride

In Australia we get a $200 fine for not wearing one. Perhaps the bike riders here are deemed safer drivers or the fact that the bike rider is always right if there is an accident – the vehicle running you over, takes the blame no matter what the situation. The local shopping centre is Reigerhof (https://winkelcentrumreigerhof.nl/) with our favourite grocery store, Jumbo, and favourite bakery because they have fresh low-carb bread baked every day, Bakker Klootwijk, and Hema – a Dutch variety store-chain that we like; we even found one in Berlin a couple of years ago. There is a large Albert Heijn supermarket with more in it than Jumbo but generally more expensive and taking only cash or a European credit card which we don’t have. Jumbo and Hema were the only two stores taking our credit card, by mid-March no one was taking cash due to the virus, so our shopping became limited. The shops were quite early in the social distancing dance with tape on the floor six feet apart to wait in line in. Several shops had either glass or plastic in front of the checkout person, not for protection like in a New York City liquor shop where shop keepers are paranoid of robbers but to keep out sneezes and coughs. Though Narda, the ever-perseverer managed to get one shop keeper to take cash. This was in those days when the shop keepers did not only want the customer at quite the distance but only a European card could be swiped for a purchase. Narda wanted tape to wrap around something she was packing. The shop keeper said absolutely no cash only a European credit card. Needless to say, once Narda wants something, consider it hers. She left the change on the counter a good distance from the shop keeper and she cautiously scooped it into the cash register using a glove. Of course, I wanted to purchase a fridge magnet, offering cash…no deal. If only I were Narda.

We did go for a car drive to find a hardware store to get a tool to raise my bike seat. Fred and Chantel have the most wonderous car, with graffiti on the side. We get interesting looks from others. These two elderly people, obviously infected with something, driving this car. If they hear me talk, they quickly realize with my New York accent (which Narda says I have but I believe my accent is clearly Australian) we are being typical New Yorkers, and they no longer look quizzingly at us.

To Utrecht March 3rd                                    

After 3 angry flashes from cars coming toward us, I decided to pull over and figure out how to turn off my high beam. I can’t blame the Dutch for everything! Terrell discovered the solution quickly and we headed off again, slowly as I go. Terrell keeps reminding me that I can drive up to 80 km/hr and am currently ‘only driving 55’. Thing is, we have this competition going. It’s called ‘String of Pearls’. It started in our big-beast-caravanning days, when we would see who could accumulate the most cars following very close behind us in a ‘string of pearls’. On this trip I made it to 12, which I think is my record. Then I pull over, they drive past angrily, and we start again.

Well on this trip, returning from Utrecht, choosing ‘no freeways’, and ‘no tolls’ we were hit with a short but very intense hailstorm. I pulled over again, and we had tomato soup with balletjes (me), without for him; a nice little pub. The last part of the trip was dark and hairy, roads had narrowed to single width with significant waters on either side. When a car came toward us, they would move to the side a bit, and I would pass them with a pounding heart.

Oom Piet and Oom Rienk helped us devour a significant amount of cake, apple pie, some sort of nut tart and a sugary mix of cream and custard. Licking our chops (it was a good stop to the bakery on the way) we chatted over coffee about Oom Piet’s war experiences; Terrell missing most of it as it was conducted in Dutch. Rienk smartly reminded his brother-in-law that ‘Terrell cannot understand you’. Piet lifted his game and continued in pretty good English. He’s a trooper.

View from Pete's window

View from Pete’s window

The day was lovely. We had lunch with Hans and Jose and then together saw an art exhibition in the Central Museum, a local well-known surrealist painter named Moesman. Interesting is a mild way to describe it. Coffee afterward at the museum. 

Deze thema’s fascineerden de Utrechtse surrealist Moesman. Surrealisme staat bekend als een beweging van mannelijke kunstenaars. Als grote namen kennen we vooral Dali, Magritte en Ernst. Nu zijn ook de vrouwen aan de beurt.

Deze thema’s fascineerden de Utrechtse surrealist Moesman. Surrealisme staat bekend als een beweging van mannelijke kunstenaars. Als grote namen kennen we vooral Dali, Magritte en Ernst. Nu zijn ook de vrouwen aan de beurt.

I took photos at the Moesman exhibit, but I am not posting them here as this would then have to be classified as adult only. See for yourself…https://moesmania2020.art/

with Hans and Jose in Utrecht

with Hans and Jose in Utrecht

Now we are watching Biden take the lead. Hmm. Perhaps this will be a good thing. Folks just want Obama back and that’s the closest they can get to their beloved former president. We’ll see. All we have on TV is Super Tuesday and Covid-19. Even hand sanitiser is impossible to buy. Apparently, the Aussies have done a panic buy on toilet paper. Shelves empty! Pretty funny. Just wonder where they heard that they might need so much? Reminds me of one of my images from Jinshitan  when we taught at Dalian American International School over there in China. I called it toilet paper bride – 2011.

grocery store in Jinshitan, Dalian, China with their display of toilet paper made into a bride – 2013 – just saying…

Rotterdam March 4th

Yesterday I gorged myself on cake and apple pie with slagroom. So today I’m trying to make up for it and increased my fast to 18 hours. It was OK, not too hard, you just have to keep up the coffee intake.

Hitland Parkland - Capelle aan den Ijssell

Hitland Parkland – Capelle aan den Ijssell

A beautiful sunny cold day, not too windy, we headed off on the bikes in the direction of Rotterdam. We found a park called Hitland…not quite sure of the origins of that name! But despite our concerns it was lovely,lots of great bike paths and scenery.

I think we stopped in Capelle aan den Ijssell and walked up and down the shopping street in an unsuccessful quest for croquettes. A little bonus, we found another giant Kringloop (second-hand store) and bought a sugar spoon for Frasier.

Yes, we did find a good second-hand store; I had a couple of records in hand for Sacha, as I always get him some strange (to us) records when we travel; he has a large collection back in Melbourne. As we were riding bikes we only left with a coffee cup for me, choosing to come back later with the car to get another suitcase (all ours are full and we already have so much more crap to drag back) and the records. Unfortunately, when we did come back a couple of weeks later the second-hand store as well as most others were closed due to the virus, so we bought a new suitcase for way too much money at an empty shopping centre near us. We had a two-hour bike ride which I find extremely helpful in controlling diabetes, my sugars go from an unhealthy 9 to ten to a normal 5.5 or so. I found I can get the result from riding for less than an hour, sometimes even half an hour if riding into the wind. I never get such good results from walking, weightlifting, though back in Adelaide I was getting that kind of result from doing aqua Zumba. I spend a good part of the day in retirement mode.

me in my daily attire until afternoon - is it retirement or is it isolation or is it quarantine or is it just me

me in my daily attire until afternoon – is it retirement or is it isolation or is it quarantine or is it just me

Terrell’s new tour plan. We ride into the wind for as long as we can manage, then come back with ‘the wind in our sails’. A very nice plan. He has an impeccable sense of direction, and when we got back to our town, rode straight home. I would have taken many different turns, so luckily, he was in front! 😊

or my interpretation of me on a bike using Moesman’s painting…

Rotterdam March 6th

Next day the same criteria, heading north-west this time. Through some dodgy cow country, in the rain, along narrow roads which we had to share with cars, then following A20 to the turn off to Moordrecht. BONUS. A gorgeous ancient town, best of. I complemented a few random citizens on the beauty of their town, and they responded enthusiastically with anecdotes. Then the next bonus, was the River Ijssell, which we had not yet been able to locate, up to this point in time. We rode over the hill; these are extremely rare, and I suspect this one was merely a dyke, though there’s nothing ‘merely’ about a dyke, and found another Pont. For 1.25 EU each, we took our bikes to the other side of this very serious river.

And the third bonus, we finally found our croquettes! A day late, but good. Terrell had the bami-filled version, also good. The trip home was simple, follow the Ijssell River back to Nieuwerkerk aan den IJSSELL. Duh!

As one who doesn’t shy away from compliments, I am constantly lost, I just don’t tell Narda and power forward; she thinks I know where I am headed but I never do. We took more than an hour to get to Moordrecht, on the bike trail following the highway. I just made a lucky, ‘let’s go right here’ direction and we stumbled upon Moordrecht. I could easily live here; the old town is about three- or four-square blocks. It seems like a simple easy to live place with clean air and not far from Gouda, another half hour or couple of hours if you get lost like us, ride up the path. Another day we were off doing one of our random bike rides only to discover if we stay on a particular path from near our house, Moordrecht is exactly fifteen minutes away from our door riding a dyke, and what true-blue fellow doesn’t want to do that?

Rotterdam March 10th

Back to ‘against the wind’, we rode along the dyke with a 35km wind blowing at us. It was gorgeous, long stretches along the Ijssell River, fast flowing river on one side, and lowlands (below the river) with green waterlogged fields and many canals on the other. Then we would come across small towns, with the obligatory old church, and some lovely old houses. Some modern blocks of flats, three stories high with a room or two on each level looked attractive as a living option. There was always the view of the river and the community which is a nice combination.

 ‘Ik ben 6 jaar oud en de grootste en de oudste in mijn klas’, (I am six years old and the biggest and oldest in my class) said the girl in the yellow jacket to me, the handy nearest Oma.

 ‘Ik ben 6 jaar oud en de grootste en de oudste in mijn klas’,

‘Ik ben 6 jaar oud en de grootste en de oudste in mijn klas’,

I was getting pretty hungry. The plan was to stop at a café (like a fish and chip shop but with croquettes). Nothing open until 4pm. So we kept going and found the Zalm (Salmon) restaurant. Classy, no room except at the bar, which we took. An hour later, we were served some expensive stuff, which satisfied the hunger. Flashy place, nice to go to in the evening for a function I think, but not really our kind of place.

A halfway stop for apple pie and coffee and then we sailed home, fast and easy.

This was one of my favourite bike rides. We took a couple of hours to get to the restaurant though that was not our goal. We had no end game. The wind slowed us down so going home was ‘a breeze’; no, I didn’t say that. We rode around through some small village, probably a burb of Rotterdam, there was no place to eat open, so finding a place to eat by 2 in the afternoon was becoming the thing to do. Narda has been maintaining her fasting thingy of sixteen hours and that had passed by a couple of hours when we found this one place open. We spent fifty euros for a ten-dollar meal to sit amongst the trendy folks of Rotterdam who were not concerned with social distancing. We came close to walking out after an hour and fifteen minutes when we it was past three; my bloody sugars were upset, Narda’s fasting was no longer fun, but then our food came. We were unable to get a table, the place was booked full, so we languished at the bar. We had a glass of orange juice while we waited and were contemplating where such expensive and prized oranges would be from that they could charge ten euros when the food arrived.

The ride was great, aside of a strong wind shoving itself at us, the view along the river was specky. We came across a large lift bridge, the Hollandsche Ijsselkering, that had a lock beneath for barges and signs with stories about the area and the great floods of 1953 when thousands died (1800+ in The Netherlands). Because the dykes broke from a large storm from the North Sea, a Delta committee was appointed to repair the dykes, this bridge was the first result. Narda reads some of this in the video above. This bridge protects the lowest-lying part of the Netherlands and was the first of 13 to be completed.

 ‘Ik ben 6 jaar oud en de grootste en de oudste in mijn klas’,

Rotterdam Harbour

We found the largest land based modern windmill in the world. Its wing tips can reach a speed of 350 Km per hour, it can fully support 16,000 households and its whooshing noise does not bother anyone.

(And does not cause cancer as trump claims)

The world’s largest wind turbine, Haliade-X, on Maasvlakte 2.  107-metre-long blades. 248 metres high and has a 12-megawatt capacity, sufficient to generate energy to supply electricity to some 16,000 households.

The world’s largest wind turbine, Haliade-X, on Maasvlakte 2. 107-metre-long blades. 248 metres high and has a 12-megawatt capacity, sufficient to generate energy to supply electricity to some 16,000 households.

https://www.futureland.nl/en/visit

FutureLand Rotterdam Harbour https://www.futureland.nl/en/visit

FutureLand, Rotterdam Harbour with the world’s largest wind turbine, Haliade-X

This turned out to be a car day and we found Futureland quite easily. An interesting presentation of the latest extension to the Rotterdam Port.  The new port, Maasvlakte 2 will be covering 20 square kms, and offering a port of 20 metres deep to accommodate the largest ships. The land is being reclaimed from the sea. We watched these purpose-built ships drawing sand from the seabed further out and pouring into place to build the new port.

Nice drive out there, no traffic and interesting industrial scenery.

FutureLand is the port at Maasvlakte 2 built out of reclaimed land. Watch our video. This is an amazing place. At the visitor’s centre not only are there many displays explaining it all but there are interaction virtual spaces; for example, to find what you are suitable at. Of course, I figured I should be a captain of a major ship but after going through the exercise I came off as best to work in the engine room doing what I am told – like being married.

Regardless of the less than anticipated results of employment opportunity I learned a lot about this area and how Holland reclaims land. In this ever-expanding port, huge ships pump out water and sand forming new land; the depth of the water is 30 – 40 metres, deep enough for the largest ships in the world to bob about in. As with everything in our life lately, we were lucky to have seen this as it was closed soon after our visit due to the virus.

On the next day, March 09, Narda’s lifelong friend from Hamburg, Mäu, came to visit. She stayed for a week and at that time there were not so many Germans with the virus. A couple of weeks later they were one of the most infected. We did two trips with Mäu; Rotterdam Centrum and Gouda.

Chipcards are complicated. You have to swipe in and remember to swipe out or you lose all your credit. So, armed with 2 of them, I went to collect Mäu from Rotterdam Centraal. Punctuality is paramount! The train arrived at platform 14, as promised at 5.25pm and we dashed off to platform 15 to take the Sprinter back to Nieuwerkerk.

Mau from Hamburg - Narda's friend since meeting at a music conference in Budapest 40 years ago

Mau from Hamburg – Narda’s friend since meeting at a music conference in Budapest 40 years ago

Last night a walk through the bike paths of our area, Mäu style!  Not another soul in site. It’s rainy, so we’ll just have to talk. 😊

Lock down! There is nothing else on the news except Corona virus. And nothing else in my head. Every day, more crazy updates. I’m am obsessed. I cleaned the floor twice yesterday and felt better.

when there were 5,833 deaths world wide from coronavirus

when there were 5,833 deaths world wide from coronavirus

We are not panic buying, but we wash our hands and sing ‘Happy birthday’ twice, as instructed. The online chemist has sold out of medical alcohol (there’s a joke there somewhere but I can’t make it) and so I have ordered 12 little 100ml bottles of the stuff. The predictions are that it will get much worse; the USA has only just begun. They are woefully under-prepared. We saw huge crowds (on TV) at airports where folks dashed back to the USA ahead of being banned from landing there. No sanitizers in sight, and people are crowded together.

on bus to Gouda

on bus to Gouda

We have decided to hunker down, only shop when the store is pretty empty and as little as possible. Bike rides are good but we will avoid visiting our relatives for now. Chris and Stu are looking at virtual church, and Bren in Pakistan cancelled his trip to Egypt, and could be teaching from home until the end of the school year. We have decided together with our exchange partners to stay put, and perhaps postpone going home. So we may be here a bit longer if the bloody Schengen zone lets us. I like the idea actually.

on bus to Gouda

on bus to Gouda

It was a nice few days; a trip to Gouda by bus 190, along the dykes. We wandered though the old town, checked out the beautiful town hall and tasted some stroop wafels from a place that claimed to make them from scratch. The bus ride back was hairy; a very competent driver with her pedal to the metal on a road designed for single rows of cars, and steep drops to water (River Ijssell) on one side and low country (lower than the water) on the other. Then another bus, driving the same way coming from the other direction. We thought we were in Cambodia!!! Better to keep your eyes closed, though I did not make that suggestion to the driver.

Mau enjoyed the Kunst Museum in Rotterdam. We were too tight and uncultured to go with her and ate apple pie instead. But together exploring the back blocks of downtown Rotterdam was fun. Nasi Goreng and Satay Chicken was yummy at a great little café overlooking the yacht harbour. You can see I don’t step out much, food wise. Mau got back to Germany just int time before the borders closed!!!!

Mau heading back to Germany on Friday only had her ticket to Rotterdam Centraal, so I went with her for the ride there, and then back. Nice coffee (Koffie verkeert, my new fav…lots of milk).

Then there was bike riding to Seven Houses, or Zevenhuizen as it is locally known. Following Terrell’s impeccable travel plan of always riding into the wind on the way up, we managed a 45 minutes ride over the wetlands, and a 20 minute ride home. The thing was we were riding INTO the wind the whole time. Not sure how that is even possible…unless the wind conspired and changed direction midway!!!

Sunday, March 15 was a strange day as we reviewed our situation. Discussing the possibility of extending our stay here until things improve. Fred and Chantal are also keen to lay low at our place. No one is going anywhere. The numbers are skyrocketing in Italy, the new epi-centre. On Monday March 16, Europe closed its borders. Today March 10 Spain is catching up to Italy in numbers and France has locked everything down. Folks have to fill out a form to go anywhere.

To Amsterdam

Schiphol, Amsterdam airport rush hour during covid-19

Schiphol, Amsterdam airport rush hour during covid-19

We did our Last shopping at Hema and Jumbo at Reigerhof Nieuwerkerk aan de Ijssel, taking the five pm train to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. We booked an airport hotel – forget which one at the moment – took the shuttle to it only to discover that there were three with the same name and we were at the wrong one. We were already tense and stressed from the train ride and a bit grumpy. To make matters worse I put our luggage which had grown in size from since we left Australia to another suitcase and another bag onto a baggage cart which I got stuck in the revolving door. The girl at the desk was annoyed and had to get someone else to help move the door inch by inch to finally get it to move. I tried to be sorry and polite, but she was not impressed and chose to comment about why I couldn’t have figured out my crap would not fit into the revolving door. I am sure it had something to do with her thoughts about an elderly person on the loose. I noticed she had a run in her stockings which made me feel equal in inside thoughts we both harboured.  And of course, she was a millennial which is one of my constant pet peeves. We did get another shuttle to the proper version of our hotel which was a crappy version of what we had seen online.

Next morning, we wandered through the empty airport and got our flight to Singapore. The flight was quite full, and the dozen hours went by OK. We did have one turn of fortune on the flight…my vegetarian meal – the alleged vegetarian meat balls were meat – I had my food taster tester sample it because it looked too much like meat to me and Narda gave the roadkill verdict. I called the flight attendants and pointed out their grievous error. It wasn’t their fault as the meals are made outside and they just warm it up and throw it at us the hapless passenger. I had at least four flight attendants apologize included some in charge type of person. I pointed out that I had been a vegetarian for about 55 years, and this was not vegetarian. As compensation along with a proper vegan type meal I was given a 75$ (Singaporean) coupon – about $50 USD – to purchase something from their inflight catalogue. I immediately found a watch I liked – one of the Citizen brands that cost about $1500USD. Realizing it was best to find something under $75 we found about two items in the whole catalogue. We needed a portable charger cube for phones and too many devices we cart around so we got one with interchangeable plugs we can use in travel for $50 bucks and that is our good news story.

To Singapore

We got to Singapore worried as usual. We had read that Singapore was closing the airport for all transit passengers at midnight, Sunday. Our flight is due to leave at 11:55.

We booked an airport hotel day room at the Aerotel Transit Hotel, Terminal 1. We are not allowed outside the airport unless we go into 14 days quarantine have visas and sing their national anthem. The airport itself was empty – we were there at 7 am and were to leave at 11.55 pm so finding our way to the Aerotel was easy. We had paid (too much, like $213 USD) for 12 hours; with that we got two meals and three-hours to use in the premium lounge after the 12 hours so all in all it was fine. The room didn’t have a window which was fine as we slept right away for hours after our overnight flight from Amsterdam and suspect meal. We were the only ones in the dining area, and we could look out at the many airplanes parked for who knows how long sitting on the runways. Which we find quite sad – this whole virus thing makes us sad. The Aerotel has a rooftop swimming pool but our swimming gear was in storage somewhere for the flight to Adelaide. The lounge was good too and we just ate our selves sick until our flight to Adelaide. We were concerned that the flight was about 75% full as it was one of the last flights to Australia at the time.

so it begins - Covid-19 cases 26 February 2020

so it begins – Covid-19 cases 26 February 2020

To Adelaide (Swan Reach)

Like they say on those dating sites (not that I know – read about them on some newsthingy) ‘it’s complicated’. We arrived at the Adelaide airport, got through all the checks. The checks are what has kept us tense: Amsterdam, Singapore, Adelaide – everyone taking temperatures all over the place. Singapore was particularly annoying as they had set up stations every 50 meters or so with testing and things being pointed at us. We were nervous we would get separated and sent off to some quarantine space for 14 days. We had read enough horror stories to keep us in a hyper psychotic state of mind, more than our usual hyper psychotic state of mind. Luckily, we survived it all. We got a taxi to Narda’s sister, where Narda’s ex-husband had left a ute for us and several family members had packed it with food. (We made a list and my list was different apparently to what people are used to; one sister said she would never ever go grocery shopping for me again and what is tempeh, spirulina, chia and about 30 other items anyway?) Apparently, she spent hours at a few places trying to get what was on my list…sorry.

Our house exchange people from our home in Rotterdam have our house and car as they are having issues getting to their next destination. We had hoped to stay in Holland, but the government would not renew our 90-day visa and we had the fear that if one of us became sick and hospitalized in Holland the other would be sent home which is quite nightmarish. So, we came home three weeks early. Meanwhile, Fred and Chantel were unable to get to their next house exchange. Narda’s son, Stu, put up on Facebook that we needed a place for a couple of weeks and a family member had a holiday house in Swan Reach they were not using and Narda’s ex, Peter, had an extra ute for us to take. It all worked out wonderfully and we had a great two weeks just chilling out in the Riverland.

ferry to Swan Reach

ferry to Swan Reach

packed up with our baggage and two weeks food supply from Narda's sisters for 14 days quarantine

packed up with our baggage and two weeks food supply from Narda’s sisters for 14 days quarantine

Narda's special Isolation wine

Narda’s special Isolation wine

We have ended our quarantine and are happy back in our home. Fred and Chantel are in northern Queensland – getting the last flight out of Adelaide. They will stay until the Dutch government flies them back.

In the future we will look back and see these guys in their apartment and in our house. We will remember them as a very special young (40ish) couple, dealing with a hell of a lot more than the average person, virus or no virus. She is permanently confined to her wheelchair, a victim of the horrible permanent disease, Muscular Dystrophy, and he is her full time, and I mean FULL time loving caregiver. They are full of courage and the spirit of adventure, and despite these setbacks, travel the world with enthusiasm and gusto. We feel privileged to have met them and to make our home exchanges with them. From both ends, our exchanges had to be cut short in this strange new world but we both plan to resume and complete them when all the drama is over. They have become our friends. Hey Fred and Chantal, we will see you again. If you have guests, we’ll just have croquettes with you and maybe some tomato soup.

Fred and Chantal

Fred and Chantal

We have no idea when we will travel again. We can’t even take the caravan out. We have a trip booked for July – September: UK,  then Queen Mary II from Hamburg to NYC, DC and a house exchange for a month in Chicago. Looks like that will be postponed for a year as we won’t travel until we can have a vaccine. I update my homepage every day – https://neuage.org/

in the meantime

Daily writing https://neuage.org/2020/

Behance Project – Thoughts in Travel 2020 March – The Netherlands

Behance project for February 2020
Behance project for January 2020
Thoughts in Travel 2019 Kindle Edition $3 (USD) PRINT EDITION (01/01/2020) $27 USD
Daily picture poem collection updated 06 March/2020 #Rotterdam The Netherlands @Twitter ~ Tumblr ~ Pinterest ~ Flickr (2019) / Flickr (pre-2019)
Daily Thoughts for 2020 updated DAILY #Rotterdam The Netherlands (updated every day during 2020)

homepage @ https://neuage.org

Daily writing https://neuage.org/2019/

e-books https://neuage.org/e-books/  

Books on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Terrell-Neuage/e/B017ZRK55U

2018 – 2019 Thoughts in Patterns

2018 – 2019 Thoughts in PatternsLeaving Book 1

Leaving Book 1

2018 - 2019 Thoughts in Patterns

(https://tinyurl.com/y29ygazd) published 05/July/2019 in eBook & Print Edition (664 pages) As with all Amazon books read the first ten % free.

Thoughts in Patterns 7  (https://tinyurl.com/y3p5lggf) published 05/July/2019 in eBook & Print Edition (170 pages). As with all Amazon books read the first ten % free.

Thoughts in Patterns 7

Thoughts in Patterns 7

Arnhem 2020

This is our blog – our notes, photos, scribbles during our stay in Arnhem for six weeks.

OUR BLOG FOR ROTTERDAM WILL BE POSTED ON 9TH APRIL WHEN WE ARE BACK HOME AFTER OUR QUARANTINE…

Our current status (Narda and me) @ – we have arrived in Adelaide after 10 weeks in the Netherlands and flights back via Amsterdam and Singapore where we spent 17 hours – we have been given amazing help with a home in Swan Reach along the Murray River for us to do our quarantine of two weeks in Adelaide until the 8th of April then we will move back into our own home. Our flight Amsterdam to Singapore was good. About 75% full, we stayed covered and washed. The airport in Amsterdam was quite empty. The same for Singapore where we stayed in our hotel within immigration for 12 hours then in a premiere lounge. Thanks to family, friends, strangers… for so many good thoughts, offers of help and keeping us positive. As of our first thirteen days in quarantine we feel good. Cheers. Updated Monday 06 April/2020 10 AM

Daily Thoughts for 2020 updated Friday 06 April/2020

Narda’s writing is in italics and mine are not.

There are some overlaps as we tell the same story differently. How is that? We come home and write about our day; one would think they would match – two memories of the same experience. It is best we write them as we go – if we wait weeks, months, years, then our memories get really different, though quite interesting. Or I just ramble on randomly about something, which is normal.

We slept a few hours on the flight from Singapore to Amsterdam. Narda with her command of Dutch tackled the train milieu. I sat sipping pumpkin soup. We had a good start to the process as the Duchies who we are trading houses with gave us two OV-chipkaarts, which is the chipcard used throughout the Netherlands. Eventually, Narda came back triumphantly waving our enhanced chipkaarts and we managed to find the platform to Arnhem. After standing around awhile we realized we had not validated our tickets, ran up a flight of stairs with suitcases and backpacks, cameras, dreams of an easier method, wishes of having slept longer on the plane, and managed to get back down the stairs and into a packed train as the doors were closing. As we were only an hour from Arnhem, we were able to squeeze on and most of the people got off at the next stop giving us proper seats to watch the cold Dutch countryside pass by.As is so often the case we exchanged houses (and cars). This is the first time we met our people in Adelaide. We collected them at the airport, drove them to our house, showed them around and left them tomato soup made by Narda and an egg thingy from me. We took the bus back to Adelaide central and stayed at the So Ho Hotel before staying the next night at the airport hotel then on to Singapore.

From the train station in Arnhem we took a bus to a few blocks from our new home making the journey from our home in Adelaide via Singapore to the suburbs of Arnhem reasonably doable. We immediately took an hour nap – went to bed at six pm and were wide awake at three am.

January 24th 5am Arnhem, Holland

Now it’s 8.30am and still pitch dark outside. The house is nice, lots of room and a very high-end coffee machine. Yesterday we walked our bicycles (flat tyres) for 3 Km to the bike shop and they sorted it for free. We rode the rest of the day; nice bike paths through woods. We were looking for the downtown of Arnhem but then had to make a quick ride home as the sun was already setting. This was 4.30 pm. It’s a whole new world, this northern European winter experience.

Jumbo, our Dutch Shop on steroids (did I say that before?) is conveniently close, and I have eaten ready made gehakt ballen, stroop waffels, beschuit, Amsterdam Vintage cheese (old gouda), and rookvlees, thinly sliced as Mother would have liked it.

Our first day was a bit cold as I tried to turn up the heater which shut down the system. We had the neighbours over trying to help us, called the people who installed the heater, and eventually rang the owners in Adelaide. By the end of the day we had the heater working. During the day we made use of the fresh cold air outside by walking two bikes with flat tyres for 45 minutes to a bike shop where they pumped up and we were sent on our way after being told we should get new tyres as all of them were close to their ends. We ignored the friendly advice and rode home, safely.  We even went for an extended bike ride and got home, frozen, as darkness of 5 pm greeted us we made some dinner and managed to stay awake until 6.30 pm when we surrendered, went to bed, wide awake at four am. I think we are gaining.

January 27 Arnhem

Normally I think of myself as not-such-a-timid-driver, but blimey, driving home last night was a challenge. Firstly, it was 8pm, and in these jetlag days, that is about 2 hours past our bedtime. Secondly, the Dutch are bloody crazy friggin’ drivers. This guy who judged my driving too slow (80km in an 80km zone) decided to join my lane and pass me on the wrong side…sharing my lane. Come on!!!! Thirdly, the night lights on the freeways are not strong, so I’m using the high beam occasionally and getting flashed at. OK …now that I have that out of my system………..

On Sunday we planned a BIG DAY OUT. So I had to practice. Took a short spurt on the freeway to get some confidence. We found Kronenburg Mall. Everything was there. We bought an egg timer, a bike chain, a groovy cork covered notebook for me, and some food. They even have Aldi. Sorry that was too much information. Next week Terrell will be DD.

January 24th 5am Arnhem, Holland

Yes, it really was 5am and we had already been up a while. We fiddled with the central heating and this morning it is not running, temperature around freezing outside and not that much warmer inside.

We left at 7.45am in total darkness to meet Ian and Kees for brekkie at their hotel in Zutphen, a lovely old town, ¾ hr north of here. So great to catch up with these guys. After they left to take a train back to the airport, we stayed for a second round of breakfast. (better than putting stuff in a plastic bag and smuggling it out).

Our third night, Saturday, we did really well; staying awake until 7.30 pm and up at 6 am on Sunday and driving out, in the dark at 7.30 am to Zutphen, an hour away where we had breakfast at the Hampshire Hotel with Cass and Ian.

Our two minute clip of our foggy early morning ride Arnhem to Zutphen https://youtu.be/R605AtvNSoc

 

We’ll come back to our breakfast in a moment. Narda worked with Ian years ago in the music department of their school. We attended Cass and Ian’s wedding at a chateau in Belgium ten years ago. They now live in Spain and were in Zutphen for a friend’s birthday the same time we were not far away, so in our wonderful world of synchronicity we all were together for a wonderful morning.

Zutphen is a nice-looking town, though Sunday morning the shops were closed so we took a long cold walk through town.

Zutphen

Zutphen

Zutphen

Zutphen

So many complain about Facebook, but because of Facebook we are always seeing people we have known from the past in various world spots, friends from childhood, friends from working in China, the USA, Australia and folks we meet along the way. Thanks Facebook. We just ignore stuff we don’t like and keep track of our community.

Then the longish drive to Utrecht where we met cousins, Hans and Mirjam at Ineke’s old age home. The home is pretty nice, divided into small cells of folks who live, cook and hang out together like families. It’s very nicely set up. Hans and Mirjam where singing for the residents in a concert/sing along. They are great. They have a really professional set up and do this regularly. Enjoyed by all….Ineke seems happy in her life there. We joined Hans and Mirjam for some great conversation (with the girls, Linda and Suzanne) over beer and Chinese takeaway.

All in all, a great day!

We continued our day with a visit to Narda’s aunt in a nursing home. The nursing home was quite pleasant as nursing homes go, the Dutch know how to look after their own. Narda’s cousins did a musical gig for everyone, singing karaoke style songs that had lyrics beyond my understanding (they were in Dutch) and all the oldies seemed quite happy singing and swaying along. After the nursing home we went to the cousin’s home and had dinner with their family. Driving home on freeways for an hour after dark in The Netherlands is a challenge. Unlike our drive in the morning with very little Sunday morning traffic, going home in the evening with everyone else was less than fun but here we are.

Feeling the desire to be tourists we discovered that a nearby town may be the oldest in The Netherlands, Nijmegen. They have a great park and ride service nearby and we parked and went hooning down the road. All for 3.50 Euros which included parking for the day and free bus for the day for up to four people. The village of Nijmegen is only five-ten minutes away, but we stayed on the bus (line 300) and did a circuit of the town as well as another town and on the way back stopped in the centre of town.

Nijmegan

Nijmegen is a city in the Netherlands’ province of Gelderland, on the Waal river close to the German border. Nijmegen is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, the second to be recognized as such in Roman times, and in 2005 celebrated 2,000 years of existence. (quoted from Google)

My strange, perhaps funny, interaction came when Narda was entering or leaving a shop. In Asia and most of the rest of the world Narda is easy to keep track of being tall. Here she can even be short as many Dutch women are more than six foot tall. In Holland shops still use cash, unlike most of the world where credit cards are the only thing. We had some cash on us and I wanted a fridge magnet I had recently spotted. Narda was standing next to me, but moved, and I thought it was her I was standing next to as out of the corner of my eye there was a tall chick with the same colour coat as Narda and I put my hand on her, lucky she said ‘what’ or something in some foreign language that I did not understand and then I quickly realized it was not Narda. Lucky in the sense that I was just about to say, ‘could I have your money?’ I thought about that for days, vacillating between being horrified that she may have kung fu’d me and laughing as it did see funny (to me). What I did learn was not to assume the person next to me is Narda. A good life lesson. Especially if they are a millennial me-2er and realized I just called a female ‘chick’. (seksuele intimidatie door een oudere man).

Nijmegen

Nijmegen

Speaking of chicks; on the way to our local Jumbo there is a small farm, probably a pettying zoo for children, here is our video of the chucks. Narda loves chickens (but I don’t eat them). She has been saying for the past twenty years when we settle down we will get a few chucks. She is somewhat of an expert on them having raised them sometime in her pasat. I grew up on a farm (made an attempt of growing up) in Clifton Park, New York (Saratoga county) and my parents had lots of them – like a hundred or so. My parents ate the poor things and one of the many mean things I did to my brother was put a head of a chicken in his bed just to hear him scream.

Here is our clip of that chicken farm on the way to Jumbo…

January 28, 2020 off to visit our Rotterdam hosts

We passed the same turn off 3 times, each time we backtracked and repeated it.  Crazy. The GPS (I’m firmly blaming it, despite being the navigator) took us on turn offs, then made us back track and repeat. Like Ground Hog Day. It was exhausting. Terrell kept his cool and drove with confidence following my confusion. Anyway, we swapped phones and things started to improve. Who knows why? It took 2 hours instead of 1 ½ hours to get to the home of our next hosts, in Neiuwerkerk aan de Ijssel.

Three dogs and two young ones greeted us in what will be our new house next week. The young ones, Chantal and Fred often take in dogs as an income stream; helps pay for their amazing extensive travel, which includes South Africa, The Caribbean, and the USA. We spent an enjoyable afternoon with them, lots to talk about and we enjoyed some nice Dutch fast food at the local shopping centre.

They are a friendly couple aged around 40, with the girl confined to a wheelchair and the guy a full-time career. They have incredible courage, travelling all over the world, despite this handicap. Inspiring.

Fred and Chantal

Fred and Chantal

The small roads we took on the way there, had us passing many more historic towns, and accidently crossing the river on a ferry. An unexpected bonus!

The trip home was easier, all the way on A15, which it bloody well should have been on the way up. Not my fault after all.

Drive to Rotterdam https://youtu.be/vpGyQSvqM84

Fancy Arnhem coffee

We love our coffee machine – it is next to the fridge, larger than a medium sized microwave oven – makes mild coffee for Narda, super strong coffee for me from espresso to anything you want. It grinds the beans first of course so we get the strong beans and go through a kilo in a week. Not sure how we will go back to the customary instant coffee folks serve up back in Australia.

The Dutch love their croquettes and to be up to speed with those people I too am eating them, finding that there were vegetarian ones, of course, being carbohydrate intense I am limiting them to only when I eat them:

January 31, Arnhem

This is the day when I really want to be home for my Stu’s birthday! Hoping to ring soon. Thank goodness for social media and easy international calls.

We have a cold rating system. 3 brrs means we have to don snowpants for our bikeride; with 2 brrs, jeans will suffice. The top part is a given; gloves, scarves, warm jackets and a warm beanie. Yesterday I was on 2 Terrell on 3. Brrs that is.

We made our way south to Elst, heading south on nice farmland bike paths.

[Elst is a village in the municipality of Overbetuwe in the Dutch province of Gelderland. It is situated in the Betuwe, between the cities of Nijmegen and Arnhem. Elst has 21,447 inhabitants. Elst is known for its Roman temples, which are situated under the Saint Werenfried church.]

Our plan was to find a bike shop who would adjust my set for free. We found a friendly bloke, he did a great job on the dodgy connection, and then we proceeded to the Thursday market filling main street. I had no intention of spending any money, but I made an exception and bought a 15 Euro cute backpack handbag. Nice find. Oh and then we both made an exception and stocked up on cheese, advocaat (3 Euros) and good cheese and prosciutto.  Terrell bought some bird seed and almond milk. Everyone happy.

My ‘bird seeds’, actually my breakfast is pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp, and a several other seeds…

 

Elst Thursday Market

Elst Thursday Market

Our clip of the Elst Fish Market with lots of Dutch going on https://youtu.be/40XHJ6Gna-Q

Try ordering a type of fish in age-four-Dutch. The guys in the fish caravan were very generous and pretended to understand.

These caravans pop up at different locations. It’s a ‘thing’; at carnivals, on Saturdays, at shopping centres and markets. We had pedalled to Elst for this purchase and enjoyed garlic prawns and deep-fried fish (lekker bek) in the following days, despite what I ordered 

The second marvellous discovery was a giant secondhand store (kingloop) where we went to town and spent 16 Euros on mugs, some cool old tins, some classical CDs (old school) and other stuff I’ve forgotten

We drove the car to a P&R. I thought this was a store, but it turned out to be Park and Ride. We paid EU3.50 for the day and took the free bus into Nijmegen. It’s about 20 Km down the road, but this was easy. I think we got a complete tour, stopping all through the town, and finally getting off at the beginning of a walking mall as the bus headed back to the car park.
Today we rode to Arnhem. Being about 6 degrees centigrade we bunded up and found those great bike trails that are scattered all over the place. Once lead to another and soon (1.5 hours later, though our mean GPS laughingly we only had a 25-minute bike ride ahead) we were in centrum Arnhem. See our video, Arnhem Bike Ride https://youtu.be/lrvZppg8Kp4   According to the internet; ‘There is proof of early settlements in the city dating back as far as 1500 BC. However, many consider the origins of city to have begun in 1233, when city rights were bestowed by Count Otto II.

Sunday, we went to Vianen a suburb of Utrecht, to visit Els in her home filled with her beautiful collection of world antiques, our story is from our visit to her house; we got on the wrong road going out of town, over a large bridge; we drove across on the bike lane and had to drive on the bike lane for quite some time on the other side before finding a road that was for cars. We have a minute clip over at https://youtu.be/WX0Ks36jn3s  and hope there was no camera on the bridge as we have been told that there is a large fine for driving on a bike lane.

What do we do for six weeks in a place? The same as we would back home; I do Adobe stuff in the morning and post what I do on Twitter and six or seven other sites (not Instagram or Facebook… no particular reason, I just don’t). I have been doing text on images since the mid-1960s, a long time. Narda catches up friends, checks news, works on house exchanges which keeps us living for free in homes around the world, draws, mediates, reads. As we tend to be asleep by 9.30 pm, we tend to be up between five and six in the morning. Around ten am we are off exploring, usually on our bikes. We explored going to the gym for swimming and weight stuff, but the nearby gym won’t go less than a three-month membership and the swimming did not do our Zumba fitness classes we like back in Adelaide. But an hour or two of bike riding, in the cold keeps us somewhat fit and brings my blood sugars to normal and we get to see our environment. Evenings are little different than back in Adelaide; we watch our Netflix series and life goes on. The only difference is the environment, language too. Most people have enough English in The Netherlands and Narda does well with Dutch if they don’t. As most humans we like routines. I even continue with my low-carb vegetarian diet no matter where in the world we are. I think I could do this the rest of my life; just change houses every month, in a different part of the world. Thanks to Google translate or whatever app I have on my phone I can figure out foods I need and if we get lost, which we do at least once a day, our GPS, sometimes gets us home.

Arnhem February 6, 2020

Last year, and in the last years, the Netherlands has been in the grip of a drought. While perhaps more commonly known for floods than droughts, The Netherlands is allocating seven million euros to combat excessively dry seasons in the country. The money will be used to build larger water reservoirs in sandy areas, to monitor levels of evaporation, and to reduce the impact of salinization on drinking water production. “As a low lying country with large rivers, we are always working on preventing wetness. That explains why we are now so surprised by the drought”, someone said.

Me and Marianne, our new neighbour, shooting the breeze.

Video of morning walk https://youtu.be/GW7VWDt8dTw

So the lakes near where we live are now full, but have lost their reeds, as they “died in the drought”, explained our neighbour as we took a long walk yesterday around these wetlands (still very wet!). Our new neighbours are very friendly, and helpful. We had coffee at their place yesterday; he speaks no English, but we got by.

This path leads south to Elst, where on Thursdays you can enjoy a street market. (I bought my groovy new handbag there)

Our home is right at the edge of the suburban parts of Arnhem. They told us that this was the cut-off point, no more building, just farmland. It certainly makes this a nice area, with the option of “country” rides. When we go to Elst (where the market was) it takes about 20 minutes of pedalling through farmland. Nice!

This is on the other side of the road to Elst. Bike paths galore!

So then the next day I spilt my coffee over my pants and sox in a nice bakery in Huissen. It took us 40 minutes of pedalling though farmland and nature to visit this nice little old city. Still on my 16/8 intermittent fast diet, so I’m very ready for this coffee/cake. Wearing crocs (even fancy ones) is not a great choice for bike riding when it is 1 degree outside. My feet were frozen; well at least numb. So in my eagerness to get at the coffee and to wrap my feet in Terrell’s scarf (he did first take it off) I knocked over the whole thing. The Dutch bakery lady was very nice replacing it and mopping up without any untoward comment. We tried to pay for the extra coffee but she wasn’t havin’ it.

Where the heck are we? Somewhere in Huissen I presume.

Main street Huissem

Huissen

Huissen

I bought some new sox at Hema, two pairs of “thermals”. Too thin to really be thermal, but nice enough. The trip back was long and mixed. I’m not going to say we got lost, because that’s getting boring, but the way back did take a bit longer. We stopped for a bit more food halfway home….you guessed it

….Jumbo….bought some pieces of goats cheese, a roll to share and some freshly squeezed O/J. Not too shabby, just a bit cold.

In our getting to know our local hood trip we took a bike ride to Huissen which is about half an hour by bike from home. We made a short clip and threw it up onto YouTube over here, https://youtu.be/A9JyOPGwHm0 .

Narda’s feet were cold as she was wearing crocs with holes, even though wearing socks, one degree centigrade is cold for feet. We found a bakery as we entered Huissen and went in for coffee. Stadsbakkerij Huissen, on Vierakkerstraat 3, right as you enter town, if you go in the direction we did. A lady set down our coffee, and Narda, picture this…who had cold feet, took off her shoes, wrapped her feet in my scarf to warm them up, knocked over her cup of coffee getting her pants and socks wet. Our coffee was quickly replaced, and a kind person cleaned up the mess. Luckily, (we live on luck) Narda had on ski pants, so the coffee didn’t penetrate. We found a Hema (Hema is a general store in Holland, like Woolworths) a few blocks away where Narda got two pairs of thermal socks and put them on. Life is good. While at Stadsbakkerij I came up with an idea for a name if I had a bakery with two girls: ‘two girls and a loaf’, OK that doesn’t gel with Millennials – no calling them girls, so maybe two women and a loaf, oh wait, feminists don’t like that word with men or man in it, maybe ‘a bun and a loaf’ Narda and I will start a bakery. Or not.

Arnhem, February 9 2020

Instead of “Operation Destination Jumbo”, we have decided to lift our game and become more cultural. Now, at least for a few days, we look for castles, or Kasteels as they are locally known.

Me here…I have always loved castles. Back in the 1960s when I lived in communes in California, believed in reincarnation, I thought I had lived during the era of King Arthur. There was even a psychic who told me so…how could it not be true? I read the Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy a couple of times and followed this mindset until at least the late 1970s – it took me awhile to get connected to reality. Nevertheless, I still love castles; though I can’t remember living in any or even imagine wanting to. They didn’t have Wi-Fi, how could they live?

Castle #1

Kasteel de Kingkelenburg See our groovy video here https://youtu.be/oixbZUYFEQQ

We are doing a Dutch castle crawl with our first castle being in the town of Bemmel.

De Kinkelenburg Castle

De Kinkelenburg Castle

De Kinkelenburg Castle first appeared in 1403 and more stuff was built around the original place in the 1700s and during WW 2 it became a headquarters for some folks and then the whole place got a restore a few decades ago.  I really couldn’t say it better than the signage out front of the place…even if I could read Dutch;

I continue to have a distrust of smart phones, and my Google map is not recognising bike paths, despite offering this option SO I have drawn the map to this castle in pencil. It really makes a difference. Just the act of drawing it has boosted my memory and given me a mental picture of where we are in relation to north/south, the nearby freeway etc.

So we toddled off on our bikes. Mine is a man’s bike requiring a huge high leg swing to mount. This does not always end well.

OK so I get the girl’s bike (lovingly referred to as a ‘step-thru’ bike) because being elderly and not quite as agile as Narda I can’t get a leg over, so to speak.

Still the bike paths are stunning and so much fun. We followed the freeway for a bit, then headed inland over farm country, wearing our snow pants, which quickly got too hot. Half an hour later we arrived in the town of Bemmel and found our first castle.

It was basically a large tower built between 1200 and 1400. Impressive. Renovated in the 1700’s. Much of this town was bombed and flattened in World War 2, so the centre has more modern buildings. We did not get lost on the way home; more support for my pencil map

We have a named storm, Storm Ciara, currently ravaging Europe, which is why we are home writing blogs. We heard that the flight yesterday from NYC to London took just over 4 hours, at 800mph (or is it kph?) breaking records.

Pretty cool huh. We cancelled our planned trip to Utrecht to visit family and hunkered down for an exciting storm day. Waiting, waiting……nothing…..so we made a bike ride to Jumbo (back to our default). I bought 2 nice apple tarts (one to Terrell and one for me, I ate both), and some anijs blokjes (new packaging; suffered a small culture shock).

Back home, more waiting. Eventually Terrell made the proposal that we go for a drive, so off we went to Arnhem Central, and discovered the storm, flooding on the Rhein! We also got caught in a short but very windy rain shower. We got our storm fix!

Arnhem Centum

Old gates of Arnhem; Sabelspoort, built in 1357.

Castle Next…

Narda tells us about her almost trip to Hoekelum Castle 35 years ago and finally there today. https://youtu.be/2-l_KfOBS0Y  Castle Hoekelum goes back to the fourteenth century, 1325 to be precise. It is between Ede and Bennekom, right in the heart of the Veluwe nature. Oh, the other thing is that our video is only a minute long. Cheers!

February 13, Arnhem

We got 7 packets of small cards to glue into our special book. This is a book given out by the Jumbos of Arnhem (could that be a movie title?). All in Dutch, it traces the history of the area, starting with the first residents (de eerste bewoners)

The archaeologists have found two firestones dating back more than 70,000 years. They are believed to be from an era when Neanderthals would have inhabited this side of Europe. (They have since moved to Trumpistan). In another part of the city, remains from 5000 B.C. of a hunter’s camp were found. In yet another area of Arnhem, signs of Neolithic revolution (an era which saw the rise of farmers) dating back to 2400 B.C. were discovered. Here 12 grave mounds were found.

Until 1530 settlements were not situated on the banks of River Rhine as they are today. The course of the river changed in 1530 and the settlers come down and made a city on the banks.

And there’s more. Every time we shop there and spend 10 Euros we get a packet of pictures which we dutifully stick into our new book, each picture in a numbered spot. So that’s what you do when you go and stay in one place for 6 weeks. We did a lot of shopping, a lot of collecting; there were too many duplicates – I even complained which fell on deaf ears or ears that didn’t understand my English. Now we have a book with missing stamps so if anyone is still collecting… we are still in The Netherlands with our book in hand.

Some 35 years ago my grandmother, Oma Albers turned 80. My sisters, one of their husbands and mum and dad, together with the Albers family in Holland went to celebrate her birthday as her guests in a lovely castle called Hoekelum. I didn’t go. Not sure exactly why, I think I had a small baby, maybe feeding him, who knows. Anyway, we found our way there on one of the rainy days. A bunch of teachers were doing some PD there. We were actually welcomed and offered coffee (do we still look like teachers??) until they realised, we were gate crashers. It’s a beautiful building and a beautiful setting. So that’s one more off my list.

Then on to Ede, where we headed for the nearest apple pie.

It is a game changer! 38 Euros for about 2 ½ hour return trip. Not India cheap, but now doable. My previous quote was double that.

Off to Oostebeek, one station away, but an adventure, nonetheless. The trains are so clean, this one even had a loo; handy. We walked into this beautiful town. It was quite a surprise. Stately houses, and then a lovely old section nearer the Rhine, where we discovered the oldest church (so the claim goes) in The Netherlands. Coffee and apple tart with slagroom (meaning ‘çream’ does not sound quite as good in English) and Terrell had pecan pie, or as he insists, pecan cake….’too thick to be a pie’. (also with slagroom

Fact check, this was the Oosterbeek apple pie, not the Ede one. I’m sure you picked it!

Oosterbeck video https://youtu.be/drkuVXX4uMA

 

Oosterbeek is a town that mum and dad talked about; not sure in what context. We took the #2 bus, the local of locals, winding its way through Arnhem suburbia on its way to Arnhem Centraal, the railway station. This little kid in a seat opposite us was singing all the way, very cute. The next day in Kronenbug, our local mall, I met his mother again, by pure chance, in one of the shops. I asked her if the little guy was still singing and she told me that he had just survived an operation removing a brain tumour. Wow. We have no idea.

The very friendly woman in Arnhem Centraal whom Terrell insists was a man, also helped us find this new website.. We had a nice conversation with him/her, very helpful person. I wish we had some more gender-neutral pronouns.

He was clearly a he, just because he had long hair doesn’t mean he was a girl. The grandchildren back in Adelaide say I look like a girl because I have long hair, but wait, I have a beard, moustache and I am the most macho one in the family (between Narda and me). They always make fun of me. Maggie wanted to know why I wear a cowboy hat because I am not a cowboy. Wrong Maggie. I am.

Train travel in this fair country is expensive, more so for foreigners. They have all sort of discounts on their site, but you need a bloody Dutch bank account to pay for them online. Until today! A very helpful operator at the rail site and in the Arnhem station gave me a website which offers some of the deals; return tickets on weekends, some tourist trips including a ferry ride…this kind of stuff, and you can pay using your own credit card. We have some tickets for Haarlem for Sunday to visit Jolien. Nice not to have to drive; with stormy weather threatening again. www.actievandedag.nland the special link they kindly sent https://www.actievandedag.nl/categorie/goedkope-treinkaartjes

Oosterbeek

Oosterbeek

Oosterbeek

Oosterbeek

there is an earlier period to the below from the 1100s but this is enough to keep us entertained for now Of course, who can not love a good winkle – I have heard about winkles for the past twenty years and yes it just means store but the word is really cool… to me

February 15, 2020 Arnhem

He reminded us of Michael. The dog however was much more formidable. A big blackish German Shepherd. But he, the guy, not the dog, warmed to us as we chatted. By then we had moved from my age-four-Dutch, to English, and Terrell was making rude jokes about his girlfriend. The dog was ignoring us. 

We had made a practice bike ride to Arnhem Zuid, the train station we will use on Stormy Sunday (no relation to Daniels). We saw the guy putting his dog and his bag into his car and decided he may be able to tell us if this spot is good to leave our car when we travel in Storm Dennis to Haarlem by train on Sunday. He said “there are no signs, just park near the street lights if you can”. He parks illegally all the time. OK. So that’s Sunday’s parking taken care of. 

Castle # 3 

Kasteel Doorwerth

Our video – Bilderberg castle https://youtu.be/DWkqQ9BJPkQ

The horse had the best deal in the photo above, she could get away. A bumper sticker I have always liked, though Narda doesn’t, is ‘stable horses are for horses’. Don’t read anything into that – I am happy with Narda – I just like the bumper sticker. We spent the day at this castle – had a great bike ride to there after a ride across the river on the local ferry. It is all in the clip above. There was a wedding going on while we were there so I took lots of photos to use in my writing where I tend to poke a bit of fun at such events sometimes.

After our Parking Information Stop, we pedalled on to Kasteel Doorwerth, a nice ride, following the trainline north and then west as we headed for the bicycle Pont (ferry). Two Euros later we were sailing the high waters of the Rhine towards the road to the castle. Our ferry driver informed us that this branch of the Rhine is known as the bike path, whereas further south the real Rhine, named The Waal, is the main Rhine. So are we confused? 

We decided to suspend, temporarily, our tight arsed ways, and pay the admission and it was worth it. Occupied almost continuously from 1350; first as a refuge for local villagers, then later as a private home, and now a museum. Incredibly it remained almost intact until it was bombed by our allies in 1944. It was apparently full of Germans, in those days, a worthy target.

Kasteel Doorwerth - Bilderberg castle

Kasteel Doorwerth – Bilderberg castle after the Yanks bombed it thinking there were Germans inside

Kasteel Doorwerth - Bilderberg castle

Kasteel Doorwerth – Bilderberg castle

Kasteel Doorwerth – Bilderberg castle

Kasteel Doorwerth - Bilderberg castle

Kasteel Doorwerth – Bilderberg castle

February 17, 2020 Arnhem Storm Dennis, the second on a Sunday. Becoming a weekly event. This one was fairly fierce but did not start until later in the day. We arrived in Haarlem on time after a short connecting ride on bus #300. My cousin (she’s actually my mother’s cousin) was waiting for us at the stop, in the rain! She lives with her husband in a very interesting neighbourhood of architecturally designed modern homes, full of light and style. 

It’s a reclaimed area, 12 metres under sea level; not that you’d notice. She a lively one, full of energy and opinions! They relayed some really interesting travel experiences, including being stuck with altitude sickness in Tibet, and following the Silk Road through the back blocks of China and Asia. He built a lot of the inside of their house; it’s an interesting place. We enjoyed wine, a delicious savoury tart, a stunning lemon cheesecake dessert along with some great conversation. 

She has a great doll house – apparently from her family – it is more than a hundred years old with upgrading over the years. I made a clip of it here…

Doll house https://youtu.be/4VW8IFaUojY

 

This is a miniature room in the doll’s house at Joilien’s place. She inherited it from her grandmother Oma Hauer, my great grandmother. She has spent years lovingly restoring it.

Supporters of Ajax joined us in the return train just south of Amsterdam. They had won their match, and some of them were loudly proclaiming that to a crowded train. Most of them got off in Utrecht. Our little red Citroen was still safely parked at the Park and Ride in Arnhem Zuid. We decided against the good advice of our guy-who-looks-like-Michael, which was to park where the residents of the neighbouring flats park. All in all, a nice outing. 

Germany as a sidey

The girls at the cash register were speaking German. We had stopped at a petrol station for the loo and had to ask for a key. It was then we realised we had crossed the border. So coffee in Germany on a very rainy day. Our destination, Emmerich am Rhein was another 10 minutes down the road. 

The GPS had strict instructions to stay OFF freeways, hence or long winding trip, where we basically wove around the freeway. But a pretty trip. The Lidl was noticeably cheaper in Germany. We later heard from Dutch young ones that when they have a party, they make a border run for snacks and alcohol. There you go.

To Germany https://youtu.be/IxGy5EDwN6I

February 20, 2020 Arnhem “There will be a wedding here later this week”, said the gardener sweeping the ancient cobbled pathway to the church. Another Michael clone. Blimey, the second person to be the spitting imagine of my brother-in-law, including voice and mannerisms. (Side note to Michael How big is your bloody family over here???) We had a really great day wandering around the Open Lucht Museum in Arnhem. Windmills, old villages, farmhouses, a church, and also a lovely indoor area where they do interactive presentations of the history of the Netherlands. It’s huge, and you really need several days to do it justice.
Open Air Museum https://youtu.be/Qrq4Hwg3DVA

We rode our bikes into Arnhem with the sole purpose of finding where Narda lived as a child before migrating to Australia at four years old.

Cycling down the street where I had lived for a couple of years did not really raise any memories, except perhaps memories of photos. Oom Piet gave me the street name and off we pedalled to find it. According to the lady in the fast food shop on the corner, who lived there back then, these flats were built in the mid 50’s which does fit.

My typical brekkie, usually consumed at 11.30am or so.

Not complaining!

Outside of Narda’s random photo of her breakfast we had an interesting stop on the way home from her childhood homestead search. Spotting a windmill on a street we were passing we side-tracked to it. Well worth the stop. It was not open to the pubic, but we went in anyway (because we are Australians and that is what Australians do). They said the stairs to the top were closed to the public but if I was careful, I could go up which I was and I did. When up there three dudes were preparing to start the windmill and lucky for me being there at that moment, I got to take this really groovy clip.

Windmill Arnhem https://youtu.be/yhoZvuPZDVI

 

Goodbye Arnhem Saying goodbye, going away Seems like goodbye’s such a hard thing to say Touching your hand, wondering why It’s time for saying goodbye. To be sung with the Muppet’s “Saying Goodbye” song 

The glass in the bathroom gleams, the floor can be eaten upon, the car…is covered in snow! 

last day in Arnhem

last day in Arnhem

Our next writing will be after we get back to Australia in the middle of April (it will appear here on 25 April 2020 – put it on your calendar now… of course we have to get back to Australia (via Singapore)

in the meantime

Daily writing https://neuage.org/2020/

Behance project for February 2020
Behance project for January 2020
Thoughts in Travel 2019 Kindle Edition $3 (USD) PRINT EDITION (01/01/2020) $27 USD
Daily picture poem collection updated 06 March/2020 #Rotterdam The Netherlands @Twitter ~ Tumblr ~ Pinterest ~ Flickr (2019) / Flickr (pre-2019)
Daily Thoughts for 2020 updated DAILY #Rotterdam The Netherlands (updated every day during 2020)

homepage @ https://neuage.org

Daily writing https://neuage.org/2019/

e-books https://neuage.org/e-books/  

Books on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Terrell-Neuage/e/B017ZRK55U

2018 – 2019 Thoughts in Patterns

2018 – 2019 Thoughts in Patterns

Leaving Book 1

Leaving Book 1

2018 - 2019 Thoughts in Patterns

(https://tinyurl.com/y29ygazd) published 05/July/2019 in eBook & Print Edition (664 pages) As with all Amazon books read the first ten % free.

Thoughts in Patterns 7  (https://tinyurl.com/y3p5lggf) published 05/July/2019 in eBook & Print Edition (170 pages). As with all Amazon books read the first ten % free.

Thoughts in Patterns 7

Thoughts in Patterns 7

 

got to tell ya about this

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yesterday perhaps before