London and Holland

November 01, 2000

Business and Pleasure

Microsoft sent me to London this year. That part was all business; so much so that I saw only the hotel and the airport. In fact, and for the record, you could see one from the other. The view out of my room:

Really, that's about as exciting as it got. Well, perhaps a little more exciting than that...the morning I was to leave, you couldn't see out of the window, due to heavy heavy fog. A very long story that boils down to a 6 or 7 hour wait at Heathrow for the 45 minute flight to Amsterdam.

That's really enough about London. It was a successful business trip, and that's about it.

My trip to Holland was less of a tourist trip and more of a trip to visit family. For those that don't know, with the exception of my parents, all of my blood-relatives are in Holland, and this was a great chance to catch with a few after not having been there for 27 years. Most of the photo's below are about places and things that have some meaning to my family.

If you are family, click here for some of the family photos taken.

I stayed in Soest, more or less due north of Utrecht, and south and east of Amsterdam. For such a crowded country they do a great job of preserving open spaces. One example, the dunes near Soest:

The picture doesn't do it justice, because there are many rolling hills and brush as well. Excellent for long walks...with the dog of course:

That's my cousin Marieke (who took GREAT care of me) and her dog Tzu-Li. Tzu-Li loves the dunes, and they're just a great place to walk through. We encountered several people taking their dogs for off-leash walks:

Marieke's husband Simon (drafted into being "chauffer" for the visit J) was there too....

I actually stayed at a small hotel not far from Marieke &'s a picture looking towards a row of about five units, including mine:

I include this, because it really reminded me of home. Very woodsy, and definitely fall weather. It really seemed like I could have been somewhere in Washington state. They also have stand-alone cabins that reminded a lot of Kalaloch, without the ocean view.

Architecture is one of the things that differentiates Holland. The most noticeable difference from my corner of the world is that you won't see a single house made of wood; brick is the norm. Another is the frequent use of rush (a reedy type of marsh plant) for the roof:

I'm told that this is getting harder to do, though, due to a lack of skilled craftsmen at this ancient art.

This photo has double meaning:

It's a fine example of  housing along a river, "De Vecht", in Holland. More importantly, though, is that the house (actually a cafe) that my mother grew up in used to sit on the site where the large building now stands. Fortunately, I was able to see the cafe years ago, albeit shortly after a fire that was the beginning of it's demise.

Here's a look down the other direction of the same river:

A few yards down the river is another, much smaller, with it's own set of locks:

The house on the right, is where my mother was actually born:

And finally, here's a video of the Vecht (11Megabytes).

This is actually all part of the small town of Breukelen (where Brooklyn gets it's name from), which is roughly halfway  between Amsterdam and Utrecht, on what used to be the main road between the two. Here's a shot of the only bridge across the canal in town and the road leading up to it.

Needless to say, they've built a freeway between Amsterdam and Utrecht.

We just happened (or so my cousin tells me) to be there when "Sinterklaas" arrived. He's the "original" Santa Claus, and arrives by boat (from Spain, according to the myth). You can see the crowd around the boat here:

There's a parade into town and he gives a short speech:

Of course, all good things must come to an end. Here's Simon & myself at breakfast, on the day I left:

Headed out the door:

And a quick wave before I disappeared: