Some of this Terrell wrote – some Narda wrote – some are photos of Narda’s notebook-scrapbook. Sometimes we say the same thing only differently. Cheers! Oh! There are several slideshows – they have arrows on the image so be sure to see what is next.
After three weeks in Pakistan and three weeks in Washington DC we got ourselves to the Netherlands. The first step was testing negative to covid before leaving the States. It took me fifteen days to test negative – Narda seven. I had virtually no symptoms. We changed our flights daily for the last week. When finally, I tested negative we almost got stuck in DC because of a winter storm – our plane got de-iced then to Newark to change to our international flight only to be stuck for another few hours until that plane was de-iced too. See our short clip @ https://youtu.be/49Sl-ApmKAk
Arriving in Amsterdam seven hours later than scheduled with little sleep for 36 hours we were hoping to sit down at a lovely Schiphol Airport café. Amsterdam was in a sort of lock-down due to covid and there was no café/restaurant offering table and chair. We found a takeaway shop, grabbed coffee and sandwich, and found a bench to perch on. Exhausted we manoeuvred onto a train heading toward our destination. I think we probably did not quite get it right and got off in Rotterdam with the hopes of finding a train to our destination, Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel. Basically, the town of Nieuwerkerk alongside the Hollandse Ijssel River, being a branch of the Rhine. By the time we got to Rotterdam I could barely stand up, being so tired. Needing to go to the loo I found one on the other side of the turnstile to leave the station. Having left Narda behind on a bench I worried that if I went out, I would not get back in. Seeing a station type of person, I asked if I could go out and come back to use the loo. Realizing that in Holland as with most EU countries one needs to pay to use the loo and I had no euros or any money for that matter I asked a non-English speaking person if I could go in and use the toilet. Someone managed to translate enough for me to lessen my distress.
Back in the station, Narda had figured out what train to take to get to our Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel station, from which we would have to walk twenty-minutes to our home sit. Barely being able to stand from exhaustion we grabbed a taxi to our doorstep. Adding twenty bucks to a $17,000+ four-month trip seemed reasonable. We are staying at Fred and Chantelle’s house. [back then at the beginning of Covid-19 there were no masks available in shops, we waited a bit too late so we wore these]…
We did a house exchange with them two-years ago. [there is a short blog over @ https://neuage.me/2020/04/10/rotterdam2020/ for this previous stay] February to March 2020. Half-way through March we took the last flight through Singapore to Adelaide due to covid. We had planned to stay for six-weeks but only got in four weeks. We had to isolate in Adelaide for two weeks, we were given a riverside home from a family member for our quarantine which worked out for Chantelle and Fred to stay at our home for another two weeks. Sometime during 2021 Fred and Chantelle wrote that they were going to Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa for a month and would we be interested in looking after their chickens (six) and two rabbits. Of course, we said yes, with two years of lock-down in Australia we were on our way. It worked out to fit in with Brendan’s marriage (our previous blog) in Pakistan (December) and a visit to see Narda’s new grandson in DC. So here we are. Their car was waiting for us in the driveway.
Then yesterday, Fred said they wanted to stay longer in Cape Verde, two more weeks and yes, we will. Instead of going back to Adelaide in mid-March we will go back April 4th. We left Adelaide 4th of December. Four months of our covid-world-tour.
Now, there is a war in Europe (March first – writing this) with no way to know what happens next. Will our travel end early, or will we leave later – much later? Same house, same situation of not knowing what will happen next – even the same time March 2020. Today, March 01 – with five weeks to go Narda asked whether we should consider going home now. Today there were reports that Russian may have hit a nuclear reactor in Ukraine which could spread to where we are living.
We introduced ourselves to the chickens (chooks in Australia)
Getting settled takes a few days wherever we go. Though we have been here before getting sorted takes time. After a nap – falling into a coma – for a couple of hours, we unpacked and rode bikes that were left for us to Jumbo – our favourite supermarket. Back to bed, slept more than twelve hours.
Narda’s writing is in italics – however she did not type her stuff rather she has a book she writes and adds photos into. Instead of copying all her notes out (I do some) I snapped shots of her book – being a bit on the lazy side + her book looks better than my digital tossups.
Here is a sampler – first few pages – she will eventually add a lot to the sides as she has in other scrapbooks.
one of several bridges we cross to go to town
We do a lot of bike riding. Here is a short clip of one such ride, https://youtu.be/rUNATeRe794
24 January Started gym. We found monthly passes ($9 Euro) on actievandedag. We checked it out and decided to go three times a week. Terrell does the equipment and I listen to podcasts on the bike or tread walker. We then have a free coffee from the machine and head home, usually on our bikes. Side note: we used the same site to do it again in March, so we had full gym membership for two-months producing the chiselled bodies all ‘other’ old people crave. (haha).
27th January Drove to Capelle (Capelle aan den Ijssel), went to a thrift shop, Rataplan – https://rataplan.nl/ bought an outdoor broom – lamp – tins etc. The car won’t start, and we had no idea how to get help so we called Fred, in Cape Verde to tell him of our dire situation. He said that we needed to lock and unlock the car again. We had left it too long on unlocked. In our defense, every car is so different. Once, recently, like a month ago, when we were in DC, we had to ring Chris and say we could not turn off the motor. Of course, he has an electric start/stop button that does not need a key. Why not make cars simple like our twenty-year old Pajero in Australia? Put the key in, it starts, take it out, it stops. No alarms – like in Fred’s car that goes off at random times and causes people to look at us. Two old people in a car with ‘urban art’ on the side. I complained to my son, Sacha, that people looked at as if we were a couple of old stoners. I won’t pass on what he said. Bike to Jumbo when we got home.
Later in the week…found a nearby shopping centre, Binnenhof where we went to the grocery store, Lidl, a store we shopped at a lot in earlier stays. It is much like Aldi cheaper than the larger Jumbo type of grocery stores. This is the only Lidl we found in our ten-weeks in Holland this time. You know when your blog is getting boring when all there is to talk about is a discount grocery shop. Boring is good for us. Feeding chooks, rabbits, bike riding, going to the gym, watching TV in the evening. BTW here is our list of what we watched while here (these are my opinions – Narda seems to favour some differently than me):
|Movies – Documentaries||Series|
|‘Rocket man’ a 2019 biographical musical drama film based on the life and music of British musician Elton John. [loved it]|
‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ In 1946, a London-based writer begins exchanging letters with residents on the island of Guernsey, which was German-occupied during WWII. Feeling compelled to visit the island, she starts to get a picture of what it was like during the occupation. [loved it]
‘Six minutes to Midnight’ 28/03 British intelligence agent Thomas Miller must stop the repatriation of a few students to Germany after he is framed for murder and embroiled in an espionage scheme. [forgot it already]
The Trader A man sells second-hand clothing and household items out of his minibus in rural Georgia in exchange for potatoes, the only currency available in the region. [short about half an hour – interesting]
The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story (doco) [loved it]
Enrico Piaggio ‘Vespa’ Italian – Netflix [an engrossing biopic about the noted Italian entrepreneur and scooter pioneer] [loved it]
‘Against the Ice’ [Exploring Greenland’s vast landscape for a lost map, two men must fight to survive. Based on the true story of Denmark’s 1909 polar expedition.] [Narda liked it more than me]
The Yukon Assignment (doco) [A British father and son undertake a 500-mile canoe journey through the Canadian wilderness.] [Narda liked it more than me]
Diecisiete (Seventeen) [To find his therapy dog, a 17-year-old escapes from juvie and embarks on a journey with his brother and grandmother through Cantabria.] [loved it]
Three songs for Benazir (doco Afghan) [The story of Shaista, a young man who — newly married to Benazir and living in a camp for displaced persons in Kabul — struggles to balance his dreams of joining the Afghan National Army with the responsibilities of starting a family.] [interesting]
Steve Martin/Martin Short – special [OK for a no-brainer to relax with]
Lead me home (doco about homelessness in USA) [sad]
‘The Lost Daughter’ [A college professor confronts her unsettling past after meeting a woman and her young daughter while on vacation in Italy. Her obsession with the woman and her daughter prompts memories of her early motherhood.]
‘Two Popes’ [OK, Narda liked it]]
‘The Power of the Dog’ [A domineering rancher responds with mocking cruelty when his brother brings home a new wife and her son, until the unexpected comes to pass.] [quite good]
Enola Holmes [While searching for her missing mother, intrepid teen Enola Holmes uses her sleuthing skills to outsmart big brother Sherlock and help a runaway lord.] [OK]
Don’t look up [Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.] [liked it]
Respect – Aretha Franklin [liked it]
|Borderliner – Norwegian – Season 1 – Steven King mentioned on Twitter that he liked this so of course we do too. [we sort of liked it]|
Reinventing Anna – Season 1 – [A journalist investigates the case of Anna Delvey, the Instagram-legendary heiress who stole the hearts and money of New York elites] [OK for a no-brainer to relax with]
Pieces of Her – Season 1 [A woman pieces together her mother’s dark past after a violent attack in their small town brings hidden threats and deadly secrets to light. Toni Collette] [good]
Station 11 Season 1(ep. 6)– didn’t finish [Survivors of a devastating flu attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.] [should have given this a miss]
Alta Mar 3 Seasons [Mysterious deaths on a luxurious ship travelling from Spain to Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s uncover secrets surrounding two sisters who are travelling together.] [could have given this a miss, a bit lame]
season 4 part one Ozark [always good]
Dark Tourist – [series-fascinating]
Succession Season three [loved it]
Emily in Paris Season two [OK for a no-brainer to relax with]
Family Business [comedy series, a Paris family decides to turn its declining kosher butcher shop into the first French marijuana coffee shop.] [loved it]
‘Manifest’ three seasons – January [about an airplane – people returned after five years] [could have given this a miss, a bit lame]
Narda reads more books than me as I am often busy making video clips, primping, staring at the future… the books I read so far here are: ‘A Freewheelin’ Time’, by Suze Rotolo – Bob Dylan’s girlfriend in the 1960s. She is the girl with him on the cover of his Freewheelin’ Album. The book is about Greenwich Village in the 1960s. As one who lived there at that time in an earlier, hipper than I am now time, I really liked the book. I started reading Henry Miller’s ‘Tropic of Cancer’ but quit after a few days – I thought it was just a stupid book. Then I read ‘The End of the Affair’ by Graham Greene, liked that and now I am reading ‘The Power and the Glory’ by Graham Greene. This follows reading other classics I read at the end of 2021 by John Steinbeck (‘East of Eden’ & ‘Travels with Charlie’) which I enjoyed, being one who lived in California and a lot of the other places in the books.
We found some online vouchers for coffee and strawberry waffles at an ice cream store in our local old town, “Ijstartje” [Genieten bij Het ijstaartje Kerklaan 65 A, 2912CJ Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel] https://www.hetijstaartje.com/. We rode our bikes there and loved the food. The waffles were the very best. We took some photos of us enjoying the snack, then added our compliments and pics on their Facebook page, tagging them. A few days later we bought some chicken feed at a special shop, in another area of Nieuwerkerk. The lady behind the counter said she knew us….did we enjoy the waffles?? Ha!! It happened a couple of times, also in the shopping centre. Instant celebrities.
This was a nice day out taking us several hours to get there and about two to get home as we found wandering country roads to there. A quaint fishing village we ate at Visrestaurant De Meerplaats. [https://www.meerplaats.nl] The place is filled of antiques from past fishing days. We ordered the ‘seafood platter with 6 types of fish’ expensive but a good variety. The dock is worth the wander with the fleet coming in early in the day.
We stopped at a pancake place on the way home. As we so often discovered, many places wouldn’t take our US credit card (Visa). They want some Dutch card linked with a Dutch bank. Not having much cash on us at the time we put everything out on the table and managed to get one pancake and a coffee between us.
February 11 Mau’s visit. Great to see her again (Narda has known Mau for several decades having done music study with her in Hungary in the 1980s. She lives in Hamburg and we have visited often). We have many enjoyable talks, she has an interesting perspective on things and on my life. I picked her up at the Nieuwerkerk train station. I parked the car and went to sit next the track. Watching folks getting off I did no see her. Then I phoned and heard her answer. She had walked straight past me. With all the winter gear as well as masks we did not recognize each other! That evening we went for a walk, and in true fashion – got lost. Which caused a bit of merriment.
13th February – Another day out, this time train both ways. The Escher Museum was a highlight, and we watched a protest march (antivaxxers protesting that they lost their freedom) I walked alongside a woman who was shouting “freedom” I told her we want freedom from the pandemic. The woman behind pushed me away…..quite hard, I nearly fell. 😊.
15th February Capella – another long bike ride through forests in Hitland. We found a lovely cafe- Schollebos Pannenkoek https://www.schollebos.nl/ for lunch then to the the thrift store where I bought some nice ‘different’ jeans. Wesley and Chantal from next door had kindly lent us an extra bike for Mau to ride.( I had regular beers with Wesley! It’s quite the social area. As soon as the sun shines, they are all out, talking and drinking beer.Good practice for my Dutch!) Our ride home was a challenge – the storm beginning – riding in the rain and wind. Mau left next morning back to Hamburg by train. Pannenkoek- Petit Restaurant Schollebos biedt haar talrijke bezoekers een heerlijke keuze aan van meer dan 40 verschillende smaken pannenkoeken! Binnen de regio zijn wij al jarenlang bekend als een zeer gastvrij Pannenkoekenhuis!
February 24 – A down day (meaning not going out and doing stuff – not down psychologically – just staying home) Russia in the Ukraine unfolding. (on our TV we found the English-speaking channels after a few weeks; CNN, EuroNews, BBC, Al Jazeera – for the next two months the only thing on those stations was about the war – 24/7) Sunny day, weather seems to be getting better. We rode to the gym, got a few groceries on the way home. A fairly typical day.
26 February It was nice to catch up with Narda’s cousins on Saturday. They drove out to our place, which I guess was about an hours drive from Utrecht. After the breakfast we went for a walk in the neighbourhood. There are some lovely walks here and we made it, without actually doing it on purpose, to the old town. Hans was the one who studiously kept us up to date on all the changing border regulations.
March 1 – Tuesday. Drive to Kinderdijk. We followed the small roads, often becoming very small with water on both sides and me getting nervous about oncoming traffic. On the way back we dropped into a kringloopwinkel, bought some “Delft” bowls (and other things we didn’t need).
We went to find Jeff Bezos’ yacht in lblasserdam (Rotterdam vicinity). We got through the gate (‘WARNING NO TRESPASSING”) And got quickly escorted out of the yard. The De Hef bridge in Rotterdam will be dismantled for a day this summer, so that Jeff Bezos’ boat can be sailed to sea. Otherwise, the ship cannot pass the National Monument. Read about it here, A Bridge Too Far? Thousands of Rotterdammers Are Lining Up to Pelt Jeff Bezos’s Gigayacht With Rotten Eggs.
My photos of Bezo’s bit of a boat in the slideshow above – could not get any closer. I actually thought I could sneak onto the boat. Reminds me of one time in Dalian, China, I heard there was an aircraft carrier being built, and no one had posted photos of it so we went onto the dock and got escorted quite quickly out of there. I had said I had just wanted to take a few photos for my blog, 300 mm zoom on my camera ready for it. This was in 2010.
Sunday 27th a sunny day but freezing, literally. We cycled along the Ijssel dijk towards Rotterdam. Our theory was to ride into the wind and then sail home with it on our backs. It seems the wind changed direction on us! Still, we had nice morning tea at Brasserie L’Oeuf (https://www.loeuf.nl/), a tennis club with a great coffee shop. We crossed the Algerabrug (Capelle Aan Den Ijssel) at the beginning of Rotterdam. We had planned to continue on to Kinderdijk but were exhausted.
March 02 After the gym we drove to Delft Ikea to get some new rollers which broke on one of the curtains. The Ikea folk were very good and search awhile finding the parts we needed – no charge – all fixed. We then parked in the municipal car park in Delft and walked around the lovely old city.
March 5 Took a drive to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, locally known as Den Bosch, for obvious reasons! We loved the huge cathedral, St Josephs. One of the best I have ever seen.
We took the train-tram to Den Hague to visit the International Court of Justice – which was closed. However, there was a ringing of bells for International Women’s Day and that can be heard in our video clip for here. After a bit of a wander around the court we hopped a tram to Scheveningen Beach. Being still winter, most things were closed. We tried to get into the local casino – to use the toilet, but they were hoping we were there to gamble our life away. Narda did not have any photo ID on her, so we were banned. The boardwalk along the beach was great. We walked out on a pier. We are now watching a TV Series (SBS on Demand), “Penoza” – in Dutch with English subtitles (up there with Breaking Bad) that is using this very same pier in Season 3 – 5. You can see the pier in our clip of this place, above.
Some snapshots (do they still say that?) of the International Court of Justice, World Court, in The Hague, The Netherlands – slideshow below. BTW, the first image is not the court building, it is the 5* Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus https://www.amrathkurhaus.com/, but you knew that didn’t you? The following photo is the court.
We were in The Hague in 2008 with Brendan. Here is a photo of then and now –
March 10 took the freeway there, quite difficult as they go very fast and the A20 becomes the A15 then the A13 all at high speed. Our drive back was quicker using more local roads. And much more relaxing. The Euromast was worth it. Speccie views. Rotterdam is a very big city, huge rivers, bridges etc. we had a Turkish pizza (rolled up) for lunch very tasty. Also met a German couple who had the day there from a cruise on the Aida ship which we saw from the Euromast. This was a seven-day cruise for 700 Euros as an intro offer. You can track this ship @ https://www.cruisemapper.com/?imo=9781877 – built in 2021 – 6600 passengers.
Below slideshow – mostly images from atop Euromast – others from the same day in Rotterdam.
We have often gone to Narda’s hometown of Utrecht.
These were the streetlights giving us a quiet area.
This area reminds me of living in Greenwich Village in the 1960s – early 1970s with a lot of funky shops and people’s windows with various objects making it an interesting area to stroll through. Bit of a slideshow below – take your time – not automated…difficult to choose only a handful of images when we have hundreds but these will paint the picture so to speak.
And of course, all those canals…(animated gif below change every three-seconds)
Narda’s cousin, Hans Biemond, visited and took us on a day’s walking tour through Utrecht. What a great personal guide to this wonderful place. He brought us wonderful chocolates with an image of the Dom centred from the Theo Blom Bakery. https://banketbakkerijtheoblom.nl/ (Since 1882, our building on the Zadelstraat has housed a confectionery. First under the name Patisserie La Haye, until Theo Blom took over the shop in 1922 and started manufacturing the famous Domtorentjes.)
On our walk we went past this wolf statue, “Symbol of Justice”. [“The wolf is not always a feared and hated creature. In the medieval village of Utrecht, Netherlands the symbol of justice is the wolf.
The courtyard of the criminal justice centre displays a magnificent statue of a blindfolded white wolf. Why the blindfold? Because as the saying goes “justice is blind”. This is done in order to indicate that justice is (or should be) meted out objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness.”]
Along the way there are plaques on the paths indicating someone was taken from the house by Nazis in WW 2.
The flat that we had was very good – full of vegetarian ~ health food stuff, just like being at home (wherever we are).
We tend not to go out for meals; I am too fussy with my low-carb, vegetarian diet, but we did go to dinner at the underground restaurant t Oude Pothuyshttps://www.pothuys.nl/ underground restaurant Oudegracht 279, 3511 PA Utrecht – Lovely fondue cheese dipping.
t Oude Pothuys is set in an underground cave like atmosphere by the Old Canal (Oude Gracht). One of the few pubs that feature live music. We stuffed ourselves with a cheese fondue (the first thing we did when back in Adelaide was to order a fondue set. We had one when we lived in Brooklyn about 2006 but have no idea where it ended up; maybe China, maybe in our shed – don’t remember). It was so good. The Dutch & cheese – wow! We had a dessert too, though I do not recall what it was – I just remember the cheese fondue. We left before the band started but we have heard that a lot of lively groups play there.
We looked at some old churches
and did lots of walking. Utrecht is so much easier to hang out in than Amsterdam. The Dom is being worked on for the next few years so we will come back for its re-opening in a few years. It was built between 1321 and 1382 so a few more years should keep it going.
We came back for a day visit to Utrecht a few weeks later – walking and walking, with Narda’s cousin, Hans and family. Hans is doing up an old van that he calls ‘Blue Note’ to travel around the UK and Europe.
We went to this historic Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht built in 1924 by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld for Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder and her three children. She commissioned the house to be designed preferably without walls. It is a UNESCO World Heritage. Not being a particular house person, I looked up why folks were so ga ga about this place;
Why is the Schroder House important? “The house is globally recognized as the most influential domestic building of the early modern period due to its radical approach to design and the use of space. Its lasting influence can still be felt in architecture to this day.” (the internet). Excuse the image – my camera was going nuts and had some strange filter that I do not have the knowledge or time or care factor to fix.
Further along on our day’s walk we passed one of those community gardens scattered around Holland, usually outside of cities. [if you want to read more about it Esther J. Community gardens in urban areas: A critical reflection on the extent to which they strengthen social cohesion and provide alternative food” over @ https://edepot.wur.nl/345279 It is in English – 260 pages or so and has such groovy chapters such as ‘Conflicts at the garden’, and other stuff. If you like PhD thesis’ mine “Conversational Analysis of Chat Room Talk” is at https://neuage.org/ODAM.htm Anyway, these gardens are really Kool. Apparently, one cannot sleep in their little shacks, though we saw some with nice furniture, TV, little kitchen…when we were there, Spring, almost, late March, there were a lot of folks out puttering around, digging holes, and generally looking happy in their little organic world.
On our way back we walked through a tunnel that had a canal in it, and a canal above us. The Dutch love putting canals everywhere.
It seemed that we now were in rather pleasant weather being late March and the temperature being a blistering 12 degrees centigrade with less wind than most previous days the time to go for a full day pedal was at hand. We spent hours getting to what ended up being our destination, the village of Bleiswijk, a faraway distance of 11.4 kilometres, OK that does not sound very far, especially on a flat surface, little wind, and Google does yak on about it is 35 minutes away from Nieuwerkerk /d/Ijssel.
We did stop lots (to take photos/video/drink coffee/eat stuff, rest) and managed to do it in a record speed of four-hours. We had really yummy cake & coffee at Jumbos then headed home which only took a bit over an hour in time for our afternoon nap.
The local church is 500-hundred years older than me.
We have had lots of visits with Narda’s family. Cousins and friends. One cousin, Bea Biemond, remembers seeing Narda sail away when she was four years old, on their ship to Australia. Bea was five or six at the time. Her brother, Len, lives next door. He has a real man’s house with two motorcycles in his lounge. He has choppers too. Narda has stories of riding on the back of one of his choppers decades ago, at high speed, on a visit in the 1980s to Holland. She was a bit terrified – no helmets either.
A day in Vianen, visiting cousin Els. Vianen is another cool Dutch village.
To quote wikipedia “Vianen received city rights in 1337. Vianen thrived under the counts of Brederode, who acquired its lordship through marriage early in the 15th century. It formed a self-proclaimed sovereign seignory till 1795, including Vianen, Lexmond, Hei- en Boeicop and Meerkerk. During the Middle Ages, as a “free city,” Vianen could be a haven for felons and escaped serfs. Of the three castles built during the town’s history, Castle Batestein was said to be one of the most beautiful in the Netherlands. Its only remnants are a 17th-century brick gate and water-pump. Remnants of the old city wall are visible girdling parts of the old downtown.
Vianen celebrates its city rights every year in October with a horse-market. Besides the horses there are also other activities on this day, such as a fair and market and traditional Dutch games.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vianen (April 2022).
The house and its contents are like a museum. For lunch we had yummy pea soup with rhubarb (mine was not so traditional as they left out the meat) and wonderful cream tarts for dessert.
Winding up. We are leaving our ten-week home in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel and going home. We have a place to stay in the city of Leiden. We are struggling, as always, with too much weight for our baggage. The limit is 30 kilos for checked in bags – giving us 60 kilos (132 pounds) to whittle four-months travel down to. Narda’s dresses from Brendan’s Lahore wedding is a bit much. We bought few souvenirs or foreign crap, where does all this stuff come from? Nevertheless, we spent days taking stuff out put more in. We even have an oil painting that Narda’s grandfather gave to his wife on their wedding day. Cool painting. Els had it and passed it on to family, which is Narda. Maybe someone famous painted it, couldn’t find a name. If it is worth a million bucks (USD please) we would probably part with it.
Our last night at home in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel we went to the local windmill restaurant, Molen Windlust windmill. I think it is the only the second time we had eaten out in our ten-weeks there (not counting when we went to other cities) as place were closed until mid-March due to Covid-19.
We drove Fred and Chantelle’s car to Leiden (population 119,713 now, 4000 people in 1389 – not counting us, perhaps either time). There was too much to take on a train. Maybe we are getting older, 60 kilos plus lots of carry on is heavy. Carry on is a trip of its own. The say seven kilos each. However, camera and a handbag is not counted. I bought a very large camera bag at the kringloop (thrift-shop) that not only has my camera, zoom lens, wide-angle lens, but several other items, Kindle, book, plugs, other stuff. Then my coat pockets were full of things, I had on a jumper plus a coat and another bag sort of hidden beneath my coat and if Narda can take a pocketbook/purse (wow! It was so heavy) then I can too, which I did. We probably had another fifteen kilos not weighed at check-in. Each. Back to that soon.
The apartment we had in Leiden was ultramodern. Old factories were being renovated for living spaces. We had great views of the city. And to add to our wonderful stay in the Netherlands we had a bit of snow overnight. This first image is a chair, not comfortable, piece of art I suppose.
We went for a wander at night.
We went for a long night walk, even through a few dark parks. We were more concerned that we would stumble over a rock than we were of someone knocking us over the head and stealing our umbrella. We never think of those things. I remember once when we were in Mexico City and returning to our guesthouse we were saying where we were (I was taking photos of graffiti for my son, Sacha) and people said ‘you walked where?’ Apparently, it was like a gangland hood. Of course, we have wandered about in many a third world country with little thought than ‘how the hell do we get home, now that we are lost’. Of course, I usually have an expensive camera that I am happily photographing everything in sight with.
Watch our little video clip at the beginning of this section on Leiden. In the video the waiter gives a good explanation about the canals in Leiden, how they came about…well worth the listen. We went out for eggs Benedict breakfast to a nifty little restaurant along a canal – lounge-deel-van-het-restaurant – http://lotendewalvis.nl/
On one of our many walks I saw this bike. We thought our e-bikes in Adelaide were good but I think this should be our next one.
01 April Car at Albert Hein’s garage – – flat tyre – Fred came to get RAA to fix – took screw out of tyre – drove to Fred’s 4 – 6.30 there Narda had sauerkraut meal I got left out so had McDonald’s veggie burger on way home.
Should explain…we parked Fred/Chantel’s car at a public garage near our flat as we could not figure out the parking situation where we were staying. In the morning, after our wonderful eggs Benedict we went to collect said automobile only to discover to our dismay that we had a flat tyre. We looked around in search of a way to unflatten it or change tyres which we could not find. In desperation we rang Fred – couple of hours away – and proclaimed our neediness. He rang whatever their equivalent to RAA is. They could not assist as they only help the driver of their insurance. Short story longer, Fred drove to us – some dude found a screw in the tyre – got it out – put on a spare and we drove back to Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel. We spent the afternoon with Fred and neighbour Wesley, and Chantelle and Wesley’s son.
Fred made a sauerkraut meal (this is Holland they add lots of meat) for Narda. I seemed to have gotten left out of the dinner plan and on the way back to Leiden we stopped at McDonald’s. Why wouldn’t someone eat at a Dutch McDonald’s?
I had the amazing Veggie Spicy McChicken. No animal was tortured for my meal. Sidenote, we brought back Fred/Chantel’s car the next day to leave it with them and Fred made me the most amazing meal with a portobello mushroom filled with cheese. Also, Burger King has amazing veggie burgers too. Better than McDonald’s.
Before returning Fred/ Chantelle’s car we drove to the hotel we would stay at before flying out – near the airport to leave our stuff. The Ramada @ Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was good for us. They let us fill their luggage closet with our things even though we were not staying there that night but the following night.
Fred had spent the whole day (after returning from their long trip) preparing an amazing BBQ of smoked spareribs, having a feast also with our neighbours Wesley and Chantal and their gorgeous Dutch kids. I have never tasted anything so wonderful. Thanks mate. We will likely return.
😊Wesley helped us many times. The time when the storm almost brought down the chicken coop, the time when we could not figure out the TV, the time when the hood over the stove shorted out, the time when we needed an extra bike, and many more. THANK YOU!!
As we were leaving in a few days back to Australia we needed to get our proof of being virus free. We had hoped to take a train to Amsterdam to a testing place. We walked the half hour to the Leiden Train Station only to discover that there were no trains due to some electronic glitch. ALL services cancelled. This was at 10 AM and they said it would be up and running in a couple of hours. Of course, it was still down until the next day. Meaning, that everyone was now taking the bus. We waited at the bus stop for half an hour with many behind us. If you know the Dutch, take it from me, they do not know how to wait in lines. When the bus stopped everyone pushed forward with the hope that hundreds could fit through the bus door all at once. Somehow, being more pushy than even the Dutch (we lived in China for three years and became good at getting into overcrowded areas) we not only got onto the bus, with my large camera bag included, but we got a seat. Not just any seat but the front seat.
We had a good day in Amsterdam, found the clinic, got tested, proved to be negative, yippee, we were on our way. To celebrate we stopped for pancakes filled with fruit.
We took the wrong bus, opposite direction of the airport. When we realized it we got off and waited for the bus the other direction. This time the bus was empty as we managed to get ourselve to the middle of nowhere/somewhere.
We got ourselves back to the airport and a shuttle to the hotel. Because we had stayed at a Ramada last year for three weeks in Darwin, we had a bunch of points. See our blog about Darwin @ https://neuage.me/2021/03/03/darwin/ We blew them all on a luxury room with a balcony looking out at the airport.
We bought this bottle of booze to have when folks come here in July. Folks being lots of family: Chris and Jessica and children from DC, Sacha and Georgia from Melbourne, Stu and family are here in Adelaide all for Brendan and Sofie, coming from Pakistan to have an Australian wedding. (See their Lahore wedding @ https://neuage.me/2022/02/03/covid-world-tour-2021/
Long story short – we got back home early April. It is now mid-May. Somehow, we got busy the past few weeks, gardening, shopping, family stuff, staring out the window…. See ya next trip which is New Zealand October and November. 2023 early, February – May (again) working on UK, Lahore, Wales, DC, New York, Chicago… Narda just planed our trip to Thailand, Lahore, Malaya for that period and the Chicago/UK/DC/New York for September – November next year. Lots to do on that, but perhaps we will see you along the way. Cheers!
Thanks for coming along on our trip with us.
May 11, 2022 we celebrated 20 years married. Went to Glenelg for a couple of days. We met in 2020 on the internet, of course. Physically a few days later (what they say not to do; meet in a dark place). We met in an unlit car park at the University of South Australia where I was completing my PhD and Narda her Masters (at different campuses) and have been always together ever since. Nine years in New York, three years in China and heaps of travel in between.
Narda is at http://narda.us/
Terrell is at https://neuage.org/
together we are at https://neuage.me/
See part one toward the end of our last blog @ https://neuage.me/2017/01/24/washington-dc-to-amsterdam-and-life-in-between/
I was thinking most of 2016 that we would be in Holland for a month. However, the reality is five-weeks. Six-weeks in the States, Six here, and four in Southeast Asia. I think what I am concluding from what is going on in the States these past months is that most folks are concerned about fact-checking. It is all the rage and so it should be. We say that politicians are liars with almost everything they say. Alternative narratives are either accepted or lambasted. The narrative of life on earth is filled with alternative narratives, some seen as allegories some seen as stories for children some seen as creative twists of truth; religious stories, myths, fairy tales, what we tell our parents, children, partners – ‘changing water to wine’, ‘I was doing homework at Johnnies house all last night’, ‘feeding five-thousand mates with a couple of fish’, ‘Santa coming down the chimney’, ‘gingerbread houses’, Cinderella, ‘a million and a half people at an inauguration’, not to mention all the Greek, Roman, Aboriginal, etc. stories. We were at the Women’s March in Amsterdam yesterday, previous blog; http://goo.gl/WQPBuE so there may be a lingering trace of an outside thought about fact-checking.
Nevertheless, here we are, a new blog. When we started this trip, and from ones we have done over the past 15 years, see http://neuage.us/BLOGS/index.html for a selection of our past one-hundred+, each one was per day. Now we are putting together groups of days. The last one covered ten-days. Bottom line is that this current blog is a blank slate.
What is exciting about today, Sunday, is that we have a whole month here, another thirty-days.
The first time in my life in Utrecht was in 2005. Narda’s first time was the day she was born, which of course, was not very long ago.
Saturday, June 18, 2005 Utrecht - The luxury of holiday. I got up at 10 AM and the others soon followed. A day without plans is so different. After the past six-months of getting up every day at six AM for work and of stressing because of all the work on our house it is good to have few concerns other than where should we bike ride Today? The only thing I ‘need’ to do today is find a charger for our video camera. I found an adapter yesterday so I could plug the one we had in but as soon as I plugged it in (US 120 voltage into European 240 voltage) smoke came out and the thing became fried. We are driving to Belgium tomorrow for a few days and at this point I think we are just pointing the car we are borrowing in that direction and as long as we do not end up in the English Channel we should be fine.
As synchronicity would have it, not only where we in Utrecht a year later but we went to see the same people as we saw today (22nd January, 2017) as we did on Monday, June 19, 2006 Utrecht, The Netherlands – see http://neuage.org/trip06/June19.htm to read about our bike riding adventures eleven years earlier.
We drove into Utrecht as we have not sorted out our bikes yet. The ones left for us are not the right size; the man’s bike is way too large for me, and the woman’s bike is too small for Narda.
We visited Narda’s Uncles Pete and Rinke and cousin Hans. Pete, at age 90, has recently had his second knee reconstruction. A good indication of what health insurance is capable of when it is set out for the people. Rinke in his mid-80s is doing well. We used to ride around on his boat through the canals in past trips but this is our first winter visit and the boat is not an ice-breaker so no cruising this time. And Hans, in our age bracket, well Narda’s, I am in a bracket of my own; my sister has banned me from saying I am old so I fit somewhere between Narda and Rinke, interacts with us on Facebook so we are always a bit up-to-date with one another. We will explore more of Utrecht with him this time as he is retired now, the same as us.
Narda had a cold for four weeks in DC and now I have that cold. I managed to be up until one in the morning trying to breathe but we are troopers and colds will not thwart our explorations.
23 January Monday DAY 59 of trip
Narda rang Rinke this morning and asked if we could borrow a bike. In the past, we have often borrowed bikes from him and several times we have stayed with him. Rinke helped us get it into our rather small car so we could enjoy a month yet to go.
We spent a few hours riding around our local hood and in downtown Woerden. See https://youtu.be/TjTXv_y7zU0 = skating on thin ice in Woerden.
Left this morning on our bikes, the weather was very foggy; you couldn’t see too far.
Our plan was to visit Tom and Ineke in Harmelen, and cycle there. The GPS said 17 minutes, we took an hour. A nice effort. Had a coffee and a chat, told them about my bike which was a bit small for me. They promptly offered me Ineke’s bike which she never uses anymore. Of course I accepted their offer with glee. So now I am all set, bike wise!! After our visit we explored Harmelen, a lovely little town, never than some of the others, but certainly very liveable.
A part of the Rhine goes through Harmelen, news to us. We stopped at the local grocery store and bought some assorted goodies for lunch, cheese, a bread roll, yogurt drink, and assorted veggies for his vegetarian-lowcarb lordship!!
We a pleasant picnic table, covered in bright green moss and had a lovely picnic. It was freezing and rained a little, but we are not people to be deterred by something so insignificant as rain. The food made up for it! Got home at 4, saw lots of school kids cycling home on our way back…dangerous drivers, but so are most of the Dutch.
We left the bike Narda was riding and went off with Tom’s bike. It continues to fascinate me the biking in the Netherlands. Being a rather flat place it helps. There are roads just for bikes, even with lanes, traffic lights, and often there is also a walking path. Travel is unique here; train track, walking path, bicycle path, road of cars, canal with boats (not so much in winter) all side-by-side, going forward.
Still freezing we sought refuge at the only place we could find that did coffee, de kloosterhoeve, and to prove it is a real place here is their website, http://www.kloosterhoeve.nl the coffee was strong and it was good, we thawed out and headed down the road.
Narda needed some adjustments and the first bike shop we came to gladly got her into a royal position of comfort, free of charge.
We planned to bike to Monfoort, a mere twenty minutes away per our Google Maps. Forty-five minutes later we had gotten to the small village of Linschoten. By now we were cold, I was in pain (agony) with extremely cold toes. I thought I had frost bite (OK it was one degree above freezing, but my toes registered -20 both in Fahrenheit and in Centigrade). We went into the first restaurant we found, Café Van Eijk, http://www.cafevaneijk.nl/ which if you read Dutch there are probably some good deals. I had mustard soup which was so yummy that I looked up a recipe for it while eating. We asked the waitress if theirs was the same recipe as we found online which had leeks as a base but she said they did not use leeks so now I need to find a Dutch mustard soup recipe without leeks that is as good. Narda had some meat thingy but admitted mine was better.
We read on some sign that the Linschoten church was burnt by residents of Woerden in the 1500s. There were a lot of people cooked at the stake, mainly women that didn’t fit into the Christian ethos of what a woman should be like. Listen to our Linschoten video clip where Narda tells us about the good citizens of Woerden; which by the way is where we are living for five weeks, and their incursions into Linschoten just a fifteen-minute bike ride away, or an hour’s when slow like us.
In the evening we continued to watch our Netflix series, ‘The Blacklist’. We have now seen episodes in Adelaide, Hawaii, DC and now here. Even though it unrealistic, though in the ‘alternative’ world of facts we now live in, who knows? We like it, even more so now after living in DC for the past six-weeks. The thing is mostly filmed, or supposed to be, in DC.
Linschoten video https://youtu.be/5iJE6ErACAo
Up at 6:30 this morning. Narda stayed in bed until 10 with the cold I had, now gone (back) to her. I worked on Photoshop and writing projects for a few hours.
Spent our first day home since arriving eight days ago, not that I am counting. A down-day that we used to incorporate with our travels so we could gather our beans to go off exploring the next day but since here, and even more since we have had bikes we have been gone all day, each day.
We baked today. Always a good thing to do when traveling with a fussy-boots (oops that would be me). Narda made her wonderful low-carb bread and I made my low-carb cookies. Our food budget is doing well in Holland with the prices here much lower than Australia and overall lower than the States. In the States we made a budget of $350 a week for food which included a couple of times a week at a restaurant but here we have been closer to the $200 mark which is great and will pay for six-nights in hotels we did in the States that we had not budgeted for. I suppose this is part of being retired, having a budget, enough to go again and again without having to go back to work.
Another great thing about being here is how close everywhere is. I just looked up Paris. It is five-hours away. “Hey Narda I want to go to Paris for a couple of days”. Hamburg where Narda’s friend lives is five-hours away. I think we will go there sometime soon. Wow! In Australia it is like ten-hours to go to Melbourne from Adelaide. In the States we went to lots of places, thanks Chris for your car.
Went to lunch with Els. Els invited us to have coffee at her place and then go to lunch in a little French restaurant in Vianen. Which we did. She lives just outside the old city, her apartment is the end of a row, and the benefit is amazing views all over the countryside with the freeway wizzing along in the distance. She has a lovely back room surrounded by glass; a great place to sit and chat. It turns out we are related. She is the daughter of Tante Nels’ brother. Who knew. So I have a second cousin. We walked to the French restaurant, Suzettes, yummy food, Terrell had a quiche with salad and I had the soup.
Vianen video is at https://youtu.be/Wpo7zFbzgrY
28 January Saturday DAY 64 of trip
Another lovely visit with my cousin Karin and her husband Frank. Poor guy had just got off the plane from the USA a few hours earlier, so he did really well keeping himself awake and us entertained with lots of interesting stories. They have recently moved into this lovely house in Niewegein, just south of Utrecht. A very pleasant afternoon.
After a lazy morning at home writing, photoshopping, video- stuff we went to IJsselstein
IJsselstein is in the province of Utrecht. IJsselstein received city rights in 1331. IJsselstein owes its name to the river Hollandse IJssel which flows through the city.
We spent a lovely afternoon and evening with my cousin Hans and his wife, Mirjam, and daughters Linda and Suzanne (see our video below). They took us for a very interesting walk through the village (town) of Ijsselstein, entertaining us with interesting stories of the history of building and events. The video below gives some snaps of this. For dinner we had the traditional gourmet, using a large heating plate, and leaving folks to cook meals for themselves, table top, to their heart’s content. Lots of fun and very gezellig. An interesting and hospitable family; a highlight for us.