"" Writer's Wanderings: April 2023

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Haarlem and The Rijkmuseum

This day we were scheduled to go to the tulip gardens but because it would be King's Day on the 27th, our itinerary was changed so that we would not be in the middle of all the craziness that would be involved in King's Day celebrations. Amsterdam, we were told, would be crowded and difficult to keep a tour group together. Oh and it would be very orange. King's Day is the celebration of the king's birthday and since he is a descendent of William of Orange, the one who conquered the Spaniards, orange would be the color of the day.

Our boat was docked in Haarlem but we would be going into Amsterdam and the morning would be a visit to the RIjksmuseum followed by a canal boat ride. The museum is very large but we only had time to see the 17th century painters, namely Rembrandt and his contemporaries. That was okay by me as that is one of my favorite periods in art.

We saw the painting made famous by the Dutch Masters cigar boxes. Actually it is a painting of a meeting of a board of directors of a guild.

The center piece of this wing of the museum was The Night Watch by Rembrandt. Our guide was quite knowledgeable about all of the paintings but spent most of his time on the Night Watch telling us of how Rembrandt was a standout in his time due to his portrayal of people in his paintings. Most painters of the time painted their people in posed positions, some that were significant for their positions in life. Rembrandt painted people in action more or less. Their features and postures were not posed and they were usually somehow interacting with each other.

Rembrandt had a group of painters, students mostly, who worked with him. Some were good at painting muskets or clothing or other parts of the composition. Rembrandt was the designer of the composition and painted the expressions and hand movements. Kind of reminded me of James Patterson who doesn't write all his books but puts his name on them.

There was one sculpture that our guide showed us from the 1500s because it was an amazing work with fine detail.

Once we were led out of the museum it was a bit of a drive to where the canal boat was. We recognized the place immediately. It was in front of the Movenpick Hotel where we'd stayed on our last visit to Amsterdam. It was also the place where our river boat would dock the following day. The cruise terminal for Holland America Line was right next to it and this is where we will end our adventures at the end of May.

Somehow the canal boat did not seem as charming as it had been the first time we'd done it back in 2009. Maybe it was the graying day or the traffic in the canal. If you've never done it before it would be great but perhaps I was just tired.

We got back to the River Empress in Haarlem around one which was a little later than usual for lunch but everything was ready for us. The afternoon walking tour was to take place at 2:15 so lunch was a little hurried for most people. Bob decided that rather than watch me do the laundry, he would go on the tour. We had been to Haarlem before and not seen a lot of it but basically it too is a city just a smaller version of Amsterdam. The Corrie Ten Boom place is there but of course tickets were impossible to get and I'm sure they could never accommodate large tour groups. The apartment is quite small.

I did our laundry so we would be prepared for the next week to come travelilng from Amsterdam to Paris to Avignon and then Barcelona. After that, we could get laundry done on the cruise ship leaving Barcelona.

For some reason the dryer didn't get very hot or else I set it wrong but it took forever to get the clothes dry. Eventually I did and by that time Bob was back and it was time to get ready for dinner.  We would be sailing during dinner again and arriving in Amsterdam in time for one more excursion.

Our excursion after dinner was to take a ride on one of the free passenger ferries across the river to the A'dam Lookout a restaurant and bar at the top of a hotel that afforded a wonderful view of the city and surrounding area. For a little extra, you could buy a ticket to swing out over the edge of the building just for the thrill of it. There were a couple of takers in our group but it was so windy and cold that we opted to just wait for the stories to be told later.

We watched the sunset and then headed back on our own to the river boat. It had been a long day and we wanted to get a good night's rest for our big day at the Keukenhof Gardens.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Enkhuizen and the Zuiderzee Museum

Finally dry after our rainy cold morning in Hoorn, we sat in the lounge and waited expectantly for the Navi-Duct, the water bridge/lock over a freeway. Just a little before Enkhuizen we reached it. Slowly we pulled into the lock and sat above the traffic that passed beneath us. After we were lowered one meter the gates opened and we proceeded through to the town of Enkhuizen. It was an unusual experience.

Our tour for this port was not to be the town which was a little sad. Back in 2009, we had quickly visited when we explored the historic triangle and had to catch a train to get to Haarlem for the Corrie Ten Boom house. I had noted in my post that it would have been a quaint place to visit with the shops and restaurants. Our tour this time would be to the Zuiderzee Museum, an open air museum much like Greenfield Village in Michigan or Williamsburg. 

We had a very cold ferry ride from where our river boat was docked to the landing at the museum. Very few seats were available on the inside part so I sat against the side of the boat and tried as best I could to block the wind. At least the sun was shining although it was cold sunshine.

There were around 140 little buildings and houses dating back hundreds of years. The village has been reconstructed, literally brick by brick in some cases. There are craftsmen at various places like the one making nets. Nets were made of cotton and then coated with something in a kettle. My guess is it was tar but whatever, it turns the white cotton brown and helps it to last longer. Fishing was a big industry in the Zuiderzee.

Another little house had a video of how the eels the fishermen caught were gutted and and then skewered to be smoked before eating. I wasn't close enough to see the whole thing. It was okay with me.

Another spot had a blacksmith. Another a baker and close to him was an apothecary with a pharmacist. He told Bob he couldn't sell him anything. Have no idea what Bob asked him. One of the more unusual traditions was that an apothecary would have a bust over its door usually made of wood. The head would have its mouth open because that was what a doctor asked you, "say ahhhh." It was also the way you took the pills and one of the heads on display from someone's collection had pills on the tongue.

The butcher shop and the barber were of interest as well. The butcher shop thankfully just had mockups of sides of beef and sausages. The barber shop was rather neat and said to be a place for gossip and politics. 

A light rain started and we ducked into a school. The school was from the early 1900s. One room was for the older kids and the other for younger children. It was obvious from the size of the desks. I loved the way they had to line up their wooden clogs. They had to come off because they made too much noise in the school room.

There was no way we were going to be able to see the whole thing in an hour and with another light spritzing of rain, we were pretty cold. Our guide said she was finished with her tour and we could either take the ferry back or walk back to the boat--a 10 or 15 minute walk. Five minutes into the walk back, I looked at Bob and said, "You remember how fast she walked. This is going to take more than 15 minutes." 

It took us about 25 and we were back in a nice dry warm room.

Dinner was fantastic, again and a lovely rainbow hopefully was a promise that tomorrow's weather would be better. 

The entertainment for the evening was terrifice as well. Three fellows, a guitar, a bass and a box player sang and played everything from Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson. 

When my head nodded, we went to our room and called it a night. Warm covers, nice mattress, soft pillow...zzzzz

Friday, April 28, 2023

A Sunny Start to a Morning in Hoorn

 After the rainy, windy and cold day in Nijmegen, it was a welcome sight to wake to sunshine out our window. Eagerly we ate breakfast and then readied ourselves for a good tour. The weather was still a bit chilly but it felt so good to feel warm sunshine on our backs as we followed our local guide along the waterfront.

We stopped in the sunshine as she told us a bit of her background and how she came to live in Hoorn. Then she showed us maps that explained why the water we were on was now a lake and not part of the sea. The Dutch had built a dike that walled off the sea and the water behind the dike became fresh water rather than salt. A portion of the lake was then made into land for farming. It is amazing how much land has been made dry or raised to make more land in the Netherlands. Another map showed us that one third of the country would still be underwater if not for dikes and canals and windmills.

Hoorn is a lovely town. The modern has mixed well with the old. As we began, we passed a gate to the town that was round on one side and flat on the other. The guide said the round shape would help to bounce the cannonballs off. One side of the gate that faced the water was in limestone because it would wear better and the other side was in brick. Why? Well, as she chuckled, you know the Dutch, always looking for the cheaper way. Brick was cheaper than the limestone.

Three statues on the wall represented three boys who wanted to go to sea and stowed away on a ship. If I heard right, two of them jumped off before the ship left but one boy was still asleep and ended up working in the kitchen. As the story went, the ammunition was stored next to the kitchen and the boy was careless with lighting a match. There is a book and also a movie about the boys.

A little farther along in our tour, we happened upon a building that was leaning forward. The leaning was on purpose. At the top of the building, you could see the anchors for the pulleys that would bring goods up and in through the doors that were there on the second floor. The reason the building leaned forward was so that whatever was being pulled up would not hit the windows below. Windows were quite expensive back in the day.

Along the canal we saw house boats that looked just like small homes you would find on land. One of them even had a garage!

We walked to another city gate and looked down a park like setting along a canal. Ducks and geese played in the water. I noticed a bit of a darkening sky in the distance but thought nothing of it. It wasn't supposed to rain this day.

As we walked further on and stopped to hear the story of the Dutch resistance during the war, our guide pointed out a picture on the outside wall of a building where a communications center had been set up in the basement. It showed a woman manning a radio station, two grenades were on top of the rig so that if the Germans were to find it, she could quickly destroy it before they could do anything with it.

About this time a light rain began to fall. A little disappointing and it made it a bit chillier but still bearable. Our guide was in the middle of telling us about a house where some Dutch women had hidden Jews when all of a sudden the skies opened up and it began to hail. We hustled to a restaurant with an overhang to seek shelter. It only took a moment for our guide to continue her story. Hearty stock. 

The weather passed but Bob was looking a bit like a frozen wet puppy. He hadn't worn his jacket that was weather resistant and had a hood. I asked him if he wanted to just head back but he wanted to soldier on. We were near the end of the tour anyway.

Our last stop was at Red Square. In the front of the church there is a memorial stone that denotes the spot where bloody executions took place after judgements in the courts. The church is no longer a church as is the case with a lot of them we're finding. This church has apartments in the upper part of it. You can see the skylight windows.

On our way back to the boat, we passed once again the old jail which is now apartments as well. As our guide put it the doors are the same but now you can have a key to them. 

At lunch time we headed up the lake to Enkhuizen. Guess now you can call us a lake boat instead of a river boat.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Nijmegen, The Netherlands

 Nijmegen was a bit intriguing. The guide we had was full of history, so much so that he would keep us out in the cold wind going on and on. So I'm not sure how much I got out of it but I'll try to write some of what I remember. 

The best I could figure, in WWII a group of paratroopers were sent into the area of Nijmegen to make their way to a bridge in the town of Arnhem on the Rhine river. They were to take out bridges that were major supply lines and routes for troop movements of the German Nazis. They failed to take out the bridge that was most important at Arnhem and 48 of them lost their lives. It was a bridge too far and yes, there is a movie.

Our guide pointed to a bridge in the distance but with the wind blowing in my face I couldn't be sure which one he meant. He said there are 48 lights on the bridge and each evening a couple of veterans (not necessarily WWII) walk the bridge and as they pass each light, it is lit in memory of those paratroopers who lost their lives. We'll be putting the movie on our viewing list for home.

We also heard stories of the Jews who at one time lived in the town and were deported to concentration camps. In the area of where a Jewish school and synagogue were, was a memorial wall for them. 

The town itself was more modern than traditional old buildings but I could imagine that in nicer weather, it would be quite beautiful. We passed a garden that was nestled between some apartment buildings. It was a community garden with different flowers and fruit trees. Each person got a section to care for. 

The large church is not used as a church any more but rather more of a community center and "once in a while services". We entered to seek some shelter from the wind and the cold rain that had begun to fall. Inside it was all decorated with the colors of a local soccer team that was having a rally for its fans. 

When the weather let up a bit, were out and about again and passed a large building that had been a weigh house where goods coming in were weighed I suppose for taxes since it seems the Dutch taxed everything. Taxes are still important today to keep up with all the operations to, as the Dutch say, "keep their feet dry."

The main market square was full of stalls selling all sorts of things but many were packing up and leaving because the rain was not letting up and the wind was not helping. We stood in the middle and heard the story of the spot where the pillory was. According to our guide if a woman was in the pillars for some infraction and a man came along to propose marriage, she was released from her punishment. Obviously a version of women's liberation?

In the corner of a entrance to a building sat a man playing lovely music on an accordion. I can't imagine how he could play with cold and probably wet fingers even though he had gloves. 

We were cold and wet enough to decide to abandon the tour group for a McDonald's we saw. The coffee we ordered could have the addition of vanilla, caramel, or whipped cream. Bob got vanilla and I got caramel. It was a bit funky but warm and as soon as we finished we headed straight for the river and the warmth of the boat.

One of the things I've enjoyed about this river cruise is that we often have sailed during the day and we could enjoy the countryside and see some of the locks we need to go through. At dinner, we were able to watch the changing landscape as we ate. After dinner, sitting in the lounge, we watched as the boat entered one of the biggest locks we've seen on a river. 

The entertainment for the night was a silent disco. Headphones were handed out with three different channels of music and each person could dance or sing to their own choice of music. Supposedly you would not hear what the others were listening too but some headphones were turned up too loud and of course people talked loudly to be heard behind the headphones. So much for silent. We stuck around until it was dark and time to call it a night. It was so nice to climb into a warm bed. Didn't take long to fall asleep.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Old Town Delft and Kinderdijk Windmills

 After our tour through the Royal Delft Museum and workshop our bus took us into the historic area of Delft and our tour guide led  us into the old town. Like most towns in the Netherlands, Delft also had canals and lots of bicycles. We passed a church where the "parking lot" was full of bikes from those attending service.

Delft was once the seat of the royal house of Orange and the "new church" from the 15th century houses the tombs of past royal family. The "old church" is the burial place of the Dutch Master painter, Johannes Vermeer. You would recognize his most famous painting, the girl with the pearl earring. Our guide pointed out that some are not convinced it's a pearl. Upon closer examination it appears too large and shines a bit like metal. I say it's an artist's interpretation of a pearl. Argument settled? Interesting to note, none of Vermeer's paintings are in the town, only reproductions.

Old church spire

Across the square from the new church is the ornate town hall, beautiful architectural building. The town square was filled with market stalls mostly like a craft market would be back home and included some interesting food stalls as well. One which was making poffertjes, the little pancakes we'd had the day before in Veere. It was fascinating watching him make them, turning them quickly and then dishing them out. The grill must have been really hot. 

It was then free time, time for us to find a place to eat lunch on our own. We found a restaurant right on the square that had a sheltered outdoor space and ducked in there. Our waitress came to the table and rattled off something in her language and I responded with "please?" 

New church

"Oh," she said, "you guys speak English." It was perfectly spoken and I thought she was American living in Delft and going to school there. Nope. Turned out she learned all her English/American phrases from the students she hung out with including exclamations like, "Oh my god! It's so good!" I told her she would do quite well should she visit the States.

We both ordered tuna sandwiches and an an order of fries to split between us (their orders are fairly large). Our sandwiches came with some assembly necessary. They were open faced with small pieces of romaine lettuce cradling three scoops of tuna salad and dotted with cherry tomato halves. It was all very pretty but there was no way to put it together to make a sandwich and get it into our mouths to bite. The bread was tasty but quite thick. We knife and forked it and surprisingly managed to eat it all. 

When in Belgium or the Netherlands, there is more than likely a charge for the restroom facility or WC. It's usually a Euro or fifty cents unless you've eaten in the restaurant or cafe. We used the facility knowing there might not be another for a while.

Town hall

After a little walk around the craft markets we met our guide for the walk back to our bus and our trip to the Kinderdijk windmills. The weather was turning on us. It did not look promising. Were we going to have to use those umbrellas in Bob's backpack?

Our bus ride to the Kinderdijk was about 45 minutes. The skies grew grayer and putting those umbrellas in Bob's backpack were looking like a smart move.

Sure enough as we arrived and entered to see the windmills, a light rain began to fall. It was okay, said our guide as he checked his phone, it would pass while we were in the movie. A hearty Dutchman and an optimist or else he was checking the wrong city.

After a short video that was well done but probably easier to follow if you were a local, we came outside to the same rain. Our guide led us to the boat we were to ride for a boat tour. To our relief it was covered but with the rain falling, it made it difficult to see let alone take any pictures. The boat tour ended up being nothing more than a quick shuttle to the other side of the canal. 

We were given the choice to stay on the boat that would return to the starting point or get off to see the inside of the windmill nearby. We chose the windmill. There were more than a dozen windmills lining the canal and several were working. It seems you could only go into two of them to see the inner workings.

All of us quickly scurried into the windmill and found that the actual working parts of the windmill were up a steep flight of steps. I opted to stay below and have a look at the living quarters where the family who operated the windmill would live. Bob braved the climb up and down.

These windmills we discovered were much different than the others we had visited on our last trip to the Netherlands. Those were industrial, meaning they were used to grind grains. These were the kind of windmills used to pump water to keep it in the canals at a level that would not flood the land. They are still in working condition should the more modern electric run pumps fail. 

I waited anxiously as I watched Bob descend what was more like a ladder than actual steps. Everyone coming down came down backwards. We stood for a few minutes at the door and decided that the best course of action was to raise the umbrella and walk back to the entrance rather than wait on the shuttle. It was coming down a little harder now and the skies were even darker.

We hustled along the walkway and as we neared the entrance, we turned off to go inside a brick building that housed steam pumps or electric. I'm not sure I understood which. They were being renovated. At least it was dry inside and out of the breeze. 

Everyone met at the entrance area that had an overhang to keep us dry as we waited on the bus to return. Most places don't have parking for buses and they are only allowed to stop to load and unload. Sadly we didn't get to walk and see the other windmills and enjoy the landscape but when you travel you cannot always count on perfect weather and we were discovering that the weather in Belgium and the Netherlands could be just like home, unpredictable and changing all the time.

We were pretty wet and cold by the time we arrived at the boat since the bus could not park in front of it and it was raining pretty hard by then. Bless his heart, our cruise manager came out with umbrellas for those who needed them and met us as we got off the bus.

A warm shower, a little rest and we were ready to enjoy dinner and the evening's entertainment. Dinner was wonderful carrot/ginger soup followed by delicious tender rib eye that was cut thin and curled over the top of potatoes and other veggies. The entertainment was a trio, piano, guitar and percussion that performed songs that were very familiar from the 60s and 70s. We managed to stay for most of it but the thought of rest and sleep was too tempting. We retired.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Blue Delft


The weather looked promising upon waking to a morning in Rotterdam. Rotterdam is a large city and mostly modern. It suffered the greatest blow during the war when the German Nazis bombed it mercilessly and destroyed most of the city. They have been in the process of rebuilding and building anew. Some of it is good, some perhaps not so much unless you enjoy the unusual vision of the cube houses. They are a big box turned so that a corner of the box fits onto a base. They look precarious. If you google Rotterdam's cube houses you can see what I mean. I didn't get the phone ready in time to snap a shot as we went by. 

We had signed up for a full day tour to see the Delft factory and the Kinderdijk windmills. By nine o'clock we were on the road to Delft. As we passed through Rotterdam, I was glad we had signed for the Delft tour. I'm not fond of touring big cities and aside from shopping and restaurants, I didn't see much that would appeal to me. 

Royal dinnerware

Delft is a smaller town and looked to be a lot more interesting to explore after our factory tour. The tour of the Royal Delft Museum began with a lot of history that was too much too absorb all at once but Delft has been in the process of making pottery since 1653. At one time they even made fire proof bricks which helped to save them from financial disaster at that point in time. There was also a time when they made building ceramics, moldings and archways and decorative stairways. But their bread and butter now is the famous blue Delft pottery. 

Plaster molds

The pottery is made from a white clay that is poured into a plaster mold which extracts the moisture from the clay. If it is a vase, they let it set for about a half hour and then pour out the liquid clay that is still in the middle thus creating the inside space of the vase. The piece is then fired in the kiln, left to cool and passed on to the painters or those who do the transfer patterns.

Delft pieces are either decorated with transfers or painted by hand. The reason they do transfers is that it is much easier to create quantity and precision. For example the royal place settings for the palace need to be perfect so the transfer design is best. Then in one little spot on the plate and charger, almost imperceptible, is a tiny gold dot that is used to line up the plate with the charger so that each place setting at the table is exactly the same. 

We were led to the workshop area where one lady was painting a figurine. (It was Sunday and there was a skeleton crew probably just for the sake of the tour groups.) A piece of white fired pottery is wrapped in a stencil and black cobalt is used to lightly stencil the design onto the pottery piece. The tiny dotted design is then drawn, connecting the dots, so that there is a design to paint. 

After that the painter fills in the design and does the shading according to the sample before her. Each hand painted item still needs to be exactly the same for each item. Sometimes a small mistake can be covered over but if not, the piece is scrapped. Small mistakes often end up in the seconds room of the gift shop.

Stenciled lines

The woman painting before us said she had been there for many years. It would take her about two hours to complete the painting of the figurine she was working on. It amazed me that the black cobalt could be thinned with water to create the lighter shading and all of it, after being sprayed with a clear glaze coating, would turn blue upon firing in the kiln.

Our stroll through the gift shop made it very clear that we would not be taking much home with us. The hand painted pieces, even the smallest, were at least 100 Euros. We found a small bell that was not hand painted that we could use as a Christmas ornament on our tree and purchased that. 

Stenciled, painted, glazed and fired.

One other thing to mention--the hand painted items are signed on the back with a special notation to differentiate from the transfer designs. A word of warning though. I imagine that the signature could still be copied by counterfeiters. 

We enjoyed waiting in the sunshine for our bus to return as the others finished shopping. I'm glad we got a little vitamin D. It was not to last.

Monday, April 24, 2023

An Afternoon in Veere, The Netherlands

After an enjoyable cruise down the canal and a pass through a lock while eating lunch, we arrived at Veere in The Netherlands. Netherlands became the term during the Holy Roman Empire to denote the low-lying (nether) region (lands) that well describes the area claimed from the water through dikes and canals and windmills that pump water out of the land. Holland, which many think is another name for the Netherlands is actually a province of the Netherlands.

Veere is probably the smallest town we will visit. There are only about three or four streets that make up the retail/business district. Their primary industry is tourism. Our cruise manager (like a cruise director only he also handles other things like future cruise bookings) aboard the River Empress led our walking tour. It didn't take much longer that twenty minutes to explore the whole town with a walk-through.

Veere sits at the mouth of the canal that flows into the Veerse Meer, a larger body of water. It was obviously a strategic position at one time since there are bunkers and fortifications built on one side of the canal that is nearest the sea. 

From the 15th to the 18th century it was an important trading port for Scotland. Wool was the major commodity. 

Once our tour was over, we crossed the little harbor area where there were a couple dozen small boats moored and climbed the dike on the other side to check out the fortifications, including the old cannons. The damp haze made it a bit foggy which gave the area a mysterious look. 

As we explored we saw a windmill in the distance farther down the trail that followed the dike. There were also several concrete structures that at first we thought were a sort of dam but when Bob found an opening to one we discovered they were tunnels that led to a small bunker where we saw some people emerging. Bob went part way in but didn't follow it to the end. Instead we decided to take another trail that looked to lead to the windmill.

We had to pass through a gate and a few steps past the entrance, we suddenly caught the smell of barnyard animals. A few steps more and we were sure the trail was used by more than just tourists. We never saw any animals but after careful observation we determined it had to be from sheep. We stepped carefully.

When we found a plaque about the 80 Years War we realized we were in a park that also served as a pasture. It was the war for the Dutch Republic to oust the Spaniards.

Back in town we stopped in a little cafe and ordered the special little pancakes called poffertjes. They were a little doughy but had plenty of powdered sugar. I indulged in a little cup of hot chocolate as well and hoped I wouldn't be sorry for it (lactose and all). 

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful our food has been on the River Empress. Lunch had been all sorts of sausage with sauerkraut and noodles that were a bit like dumplings. I was in heaven. Dinner was duck l'orange. Thankfully the portions are manageable and hopefully I haven't overeaten. All the walking sure gives excuse to eat. I'm taking  advantage of it.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Middelburg, The Netherlands


Middelburg was the first stop in the Netherlands. It is not far from the Belgian border. Our guide this day was wonderful, full of humor even before her first cup of coffee. The first street she took us to was along a canal and she explained a lot of the different facades. Again it was mentioned that there was a window tax at one time, (Guess it wasn't just a Belgian thing.) This time though, we were told that if you shuttered your window instead of having glass, you didn't pay the tax on that one. Of course then you were open to the elements.

The facades were all quite different and she pointed out the horizontal headers that often replaced the old style tops of the buildings. It was a way of making them more modern. The headers often had the year the building was constructed or the name of the family or occupation. One translated into "the little plus the big house." The owners had bought two homes together and combined them. Often the reason in the old days of labeling the homes was because there were no addresses and that was how you found your way to the right place.

As we walked I couldn't help but notice the cleanliness of the town. We in America do not have nearly enough pride in the place we live to keep it as neat and clean as the people in the towns of Belgium and the Netherlands. 

As we stood in one of the back alleys that bordered some gardens Bob tapped me on the shoulder and pointed up through the trees to a roof. "There's a ham radio operator over there." Sure enough I could see an antenna similar to one he has in our "antenna garden" at home where Bob operates his radio. 

At one time Middelburg was a major trading city of the Dutch East India Company. It is now the capital of the area known as Zeeland.

We reached an area called Abbey Square and admired the buildings surrounding it. The Liebfrauen Abbey that dates back to 1100 is now a large museum. There is also a building housing the provincial government and another that is connected to the UCR, the University College Roosevelt. The Roosevelts are believed to have originated in Zeeland and because of their importance in making global connections and particularly the work of Eleanor Roosevelt with human rights, the university was founded under their name. It's adage is one of Eleanor Roosevelt's favorite sayings, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

Lange Jan or tall John Carillon

There are two carillons in the town one is called  "lange Jan" which translates into long John. Our guide laughed and said she had to stop calling it long john because that was winter underwear. Instead it should be tall John. Tall John managed to play its bells at the right time for us. A little while later, we heard another carillon. That, our guide explained, was Crazy Elizabeth. It was the carillon at the old town hall that earned its nickname because it was always a little off in time keeping. 

Our guided tour ended in the market area where this morning there was a flea market taking place along with several stands of fruits, nuts and vegetables. One stand had every kind of nut you could imagine and combinations with dried fruit to make a dozen different trail mixes. 

The guide had given us general directions to get back to our boat but they were a little too general. When she left us on our own, Bob opened up his FInd My app and clicked on the luggage tags. It showed us exactly where our luggage was and the directions for getting to it. When we ran into another couple from our boat, they asked us how we knew where the boat was. We showed them. They laughed. They too had air tags in their luggage and never thought of using them to find their way back. We felt so clever. 

Crazy Elizabeth has two figures on the top 
row that come together to ring the bell.

Middelburg was only our first stop of the day. We were to leave at noon and sail up the river to Veere for an afternoon stop there. The question was would it rain when we got there?

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