"" Writer's Wanderings: Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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.

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