Friday, May 15, 2015

Good day to fly home

Temperature has dropped a bit, back into 'zip up' range.

Forecast is for rain showers and wind today.

Think I'll head to the airport and fly home to California this morning...

Back in Alphen

Left Haarlem this morning.  Enjoyed the ride to the train station, took the train (via Leiden) to Alphen.

Had a 30 minute stop in Leiden, popped out of the station to look around.  Had a great conversation with a guy who really wanted details about my bike.  Like many things, "fellowship of the bike" is kind of a universal introduction.

Want to take a moment to thank two silent participants in my little odyssey around the Netherlands:  the train service, and my bike.  Both made it possible.

The Dutch train service is frequent, punctual, and user friendly.  By the way, if you are thinking about a trip and just want to check out how easy it is to figure out train schedules and make your plans, click here.  Enter your departure station, destination, and desired time of day.

My bike has been a gem.  Rides great, folds up, packs in a suitcase, carbon fiber belt instead of a chain so you don't get greasy every time you fold it.  Thumbs up to Bike Friday "Silk"!

Back in Alphen, took a slow and quiet ride through the countryside.  Beautiful area.

Now packing up.  Have my bike in the suitcase, so the "jeez, I have to think about this" part of packing is done.  From here on, mainly just stuffing one thing into another.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A nice day

A nice day today.  Gave my bike another day off, and relied on my feet again.

Took the train into Amsterdam, got together with friends and that was great.  But spent most of the day here in Haarlem, a place that is less known yet very nice.  Has much in common with Amsterdam, but without the big city vibe.

Though nearly "museum-ed out" I visited Teylers Museum.  Glad I did, just my kind of place.  Pieter Teyler was a weatlthy manufacturer of linens and a banker here in Haarlem.  But his passion was as "... an exponent of the Enlightenment... deeply interested in science and the arts.He left his dough to a foundation, who launched this museum based largely on his collection.  It's the oldest public museum in the Netherlands.

Naturally the museum has beautiful paintings etc, but it also has really nifty stuff -- lots of old bones, plus tools and machines from an age of scientific discovery when much was done with simple physical experimentation and measurement.

I got some nice photos of the "old bones" -- fossils actually.  Most interesting to me is that there was (and still is in some circles) debate about what these suggest.  Does the presence of extinct species in the geologic record suggest evolution may be taking place?  Or were those fossils placed in situ a few thousand years ago during a creation event?  Take your choice of theories.

The resemblance of  
to modern birds leans me towards the first point of view, but there are different opinions.

The scientific apparatus was mainly behind glass and didn't photograph as well, but here is a link to the catalog.  Worth paging through just to see the mechanical ingenuity and precision of the experimenters.

And finally, a shot at dusk of the main church here in Haarlem... with a guy on a bike who was quick enough to wave "hi folks!" as I took the picture.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Vermeer's "Gw/tPE"

Vermeer was a great artist.

His work is pretty incredible, and gets a lot of well deserved respect.

"Girl with the Pearl Earring" has become a cultural phenomenon, known to millions who have no idea who did the original painting.

His reputation is probably big
enough to take a little ribbing.
My hosts at the Rechtuis van Zouteveeen had a gallery of "Gw/tPE" variations, done (I think) by Rene Jacobs of Galerie de Kunstkop in Delft.
The images speak for themselves...  a reproduction of the original with a touch of lipstick, and some variations on the theme.  Appealed to the little kid in me!


My memory of the frites from small shop near big church in Haarlem was that they were pretty exceptionally good (confirmed by independent opinion from Katie on visit a couple years back).

But on this trip, the frites from a little local shop in Alphen really stood out.  We found ourselves building them into our dinner plans more than once.  ("What do you think about smoked salmon and salad for dinner?  You bet!  Should we have anything else?  How about frites?  Even better!")

Back in Haarlem, I thought it was a good opportunity to compare.  So after walking much of the day and building up a good appetite, I went back to that shop.  They were doing a steady business, usually a good sign.  Ordered a portion...

Maybe they are under new management, maybe having an off day, maybe -- who knows.  No question, the frites were good.  But the blue ribbon on this trip goes to the frites in Alphen!
I'll be back in Alphen one last time on Friday night to pack up my bike and pick up some luggage, so may have a chance to re-affirm my findings and enjoy a (small) portion.

Hat is still off to frittuers Lucien & Eric in Belgium near Maastricht.