Sunday, 15 May 2016

When life takes over!

I don't know what has happened to my rather well organised life lately. All of a sudden life events have taken over and I don't seem to be able to catch up with what I normally do. We set out to have a long, relaxing weekend from 5 - 8 May in the Netherlands. I had managed to get tickets for the very last day of the Hieronymus Bosch exhibition in 's Hertogenbosch, with entry between 6-7 a.m. on Sunday 8 May! Due to the pressure on the tickets they opened the museum for night visits during the last two weeks, and it was opened from Saturday morning to Sunday evening at 1 in the night during the last weekend!

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Canal life in Alkmaar. Here you take the boat for a day in the town!
We thought it a good idea to go already on Thursday and visit a couple of other places in the Netherlands. We started with Alkmaar and Hoorn, north of Amsterdam and the province of Holland. Arriving mid-day we tried to get a hotel room. We very quickly discovered that there was not a
one available room in the whole area, maybe not even in the whole of the country! May 5 turns out to be "Liberation day" in the Netherlands, and being in connection with the Ascension day,  it seems that all Dutch people were somewhere else but home!

However, we enjoyed strolling around both cities. Alkmaar is famous for being under siege by the Spanish forces in 1573. The siege and the following victory was a turning point for the Dutch in the Eighty Years War and still today the event is celebrated in Alkmaar on 8 October. It has also generated the expression Bij Akmaar begint de victorie (Victory begins at Alkmaar). The canals were full of boats this day, and people were anchored by the piers and had parties on board. Looked very tempting indeed.

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Like Venice some of the houses are situated on the water!
Cape Horn was named after this town by Willem Schouten. He was a Dutch navigator for the Dutch East India Company, and was the first to sail the Cape Horn route to the Pacific Ocean. The Horn Islands of the Oceanian nation of Wallis and Futuna are also named after this city. It has a real distinct feeling of being a seafarers' city even today.

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One of the many beautiful houses in Hoorn
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The harbour
Not being too far away from home, around 2,5 hours by car, we decided to go back in the evening. In the meantime our son called and told us he had won a bid for a flat we wanted to buy in Sweden. Great news and on the spot we decided to check out if there were still tickets available to go there. It was, so we booked and headed home. Back around 11 p.m. and just a few hours sleep before it was time to get up at 3 a.m. to be in time for the early flight. A lovely, sunny day in Sweden, doing a little bit of administrative preparations for the purchase, and of course, seeing our son. We had a lovely afternoon with him, eating very well at a Thai restaurant, sitting out in the sun, and then taking the train to Copenhagen airport for the flight back. We fell asleep as soon as we sat down on the plane and woke up when we landed!

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The Thai restaurant and its hidden garden
Another rather late night, but at least we could take it easy on Saturday morning. It was time to head back to the Netherlands and the exhibition. Before taking off to Sweden I wisely checked the hotel situation. Luckily so, since there were no rooms available in 's Hertogenbosch itself, but we found a very nice hotel 14 km from there. Luckily, they also had a lovely restaurant, and after a small walk we settled down on the terrace with a glass of wine and a good book to prepare for dinner! It is asparagus season here, so it was not difficult to choose the main course.

Sunday morning we had to get up at 5 a.m. Maybe, I will get used to these early mornings? Took the car and drove in to 's Hertogenbosch, found a parking and walked over to the museum. There had been activities during the whole night and they were still going on when we arrived. Music and performances of different kinds. The exhibition was fantastic. I did not know about Bosch before I had word of the exhibition, so it was a very positive surprise. Amazing paintings and drawings, some of them rather weird, but so well done. You wonder how he was allowed to paint like that in those days. But most of it is what happens to you in the afterworld, paradise or hell! To make people afraid the scenes from hell were rather scary! Even today, when we have a different attitude to religion, I thought it was scary and I can imagine what it did to people in those days!

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The fantastic cathedral in 's Hertogenbosch in which shadow
we had our Egg Benedictine breakfast with a wonderful Cappucino!
Afterwords we strolled around the city, had a nice breakfast next to the imposing cathedral. Rather tired we left in the early afternoon. Once home we sat down to relax in the garden, being a nice, sunny day.  It was comforting to think that the next day, which was May 9 and the Europe day, was also a holiday for us, and we could finally have a very relaxing day. However, it took me a couple of more days before the tiredness somewhat disappeared.

No rest for the wicked! I went to Liège with a friend, a couple of days later, to check out an exhibition of the works of Salvador Dali. Another very good and interesting exhibition. I did not know so much about him, but am full of admiration for his multi talented art, which seems to cover almost all areas; painting, drawing, books, films, theatres, design of furniture and clothes etc.

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One of Salvador Dali's famous clocks

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Our new chest of drawers
This weekend is also prolonged since it is Whit Sun Monday tomorrow. It seems we cannot stay away from the Netherlands though. While in 's Hertogenbosch we found a lovely chest of drawers from Toms Company. We have seen these very particular kind of furniture and objects before, and I just love them. Now it was on sale with 50% of the price. Unfortunately, the shop was not open on the Sunday, but I called him on Monday. Said we are coming next Saturday and we would like to buy the chest. So, yesterday, up early again and driving north. It is only 1,5 hours so not that bad. We bought it, put it into the trunk of the car and headed home again! As far as I am concerned, I don't feel like going with the car for some time soon! But who knows when life is calling!

1 comment:

  1. I miss Amsterdam, haven't been in a while! And the Toms Company chest is lovely!