"" Writer's Wanderings: Middelburg, The Netherlands

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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