Saturday, April 28, 2007


After our experience driving to Brussels, we decided to take the train to Haarlem. It's one of the cities in the Netherlands that has most retained its 17th century character, so said our guide book.

The train station was old and really lovely.
We have no idea what this says,
but the Delft blue tile was beautiful.

We were heading for the Grote Markt, which is the main square.
We passed a cheese shop (of course) --
see the bicyclists, they're everywhere.

And we passed Corrie ten Boom's house. It touched me to see it, after having read The Hiding Place so many times. The ten Booms hid Jews when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, and when they were discovered, the ten Booms were sent to the camps. The Jews they sheltered got away, and all the ten Booms but Corrie died in the camps. This isn't an unusual story in the Netherlands.

Like the Dam square in Amsterdam, the Haarlem square was filled with carnival rides -- what's up with that? They're lovely, beautiful squares with amazing buildings that you can barely see around the ferris wheels and noisy rides. That's Marc and Anna, heading to the little cafe where we ate wonderful pancakes -- see them in the food post. The coffee was the best we'd had in Holland, which isn't saying all that much. They don't seem to like their coffee strong, even espresso drinks.

I thought this was funny, the Hangover umbrella next to the beer joint
(they probably don't call it a beer joint, it's probably called a sidewalk cafe).

We wandered around the streets, along the canals,
and passed this really beautiful corner:
A sweet canal

And then we happened upon this very strange little building at the end of a bridge over a canal. Foot sculpture on top, showers inside (we think -- the sign said "douche" which is French for shower). Strange.
This spiky chain fence caught my eye
And this clothing store -- "America Today".
And in the middle of town, a windmill. Charming.
Back to the train station, where we stopped for a little snack.
Have you seen a snack bar in a train station in the US that was this beautiful?

Haarlem really was beautiful, and so accessible. Easy to walk around, much of the characteristics we've come to associate with the Dutch, and many of the elements we now associate with Dutch towns.

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