Monday, March 03, 2014

Arnhem - Operation Market Garden - A Bridge Too Far

Update 2014. Operation Market Garden, that large and ill-fated military effort, see, is commemorated each year in The Netherlands.  A recent mass email I received notes a burial ground some 6 miles from Maastricht, where 8,301 American soldiers are buried who died in Operation Market Garden.  The email says that each of the dead, including Canadian and British, are "adopted" by a family in the Netherlands who tend the grave, and keep alive the memory of the sacrifice.  Some display a portrait of "their" soldier.  On Liberation Day, services conclude with a concert, with the final musical selection always the same:  "Il Silenzio" commissioned by the Dutch, created by Italian composer Nino Rossi, and performed first in 1965.  It is built upon the original version of taps. 

The Silence... as performed in 2013 by thirteen-year old Melissa Venema, with Andre Rieu and the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands. See and hear at


A Bridge Too Far, Bridge at Arnhem, Operation Market Garden, the Netherlands (John Frost Bridge)

A fine time to see this bridge, the primary Bridge Too Far, at Arnhem, is at sunset.  This is the bridge featured in the Allied operation, Market Garden, that failed at such cost, an airborne disaster.  See the 1977 film at and video clips at :// and at ://

There is a good restaurant here on the river, giving a contemplative view of the bridge.

The bridge is named The John Frost Bridge in honor of the commanding officer who held the bridge for such a long time in September 1944, waiting for the reinforcements that never came. See a memorial history at

There is a memorial with pictures, outdoor, nearby. Also see the Airborne Museum in nearby residential Oosterbeek, in the hotel that was a center of the fighting in that area. Another history:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Danger of Tulips - Istanbul origins; and whither the natural habitat?

Keukenhof Gardens, tulips at markets everywhere, but there is a dark side.  See Istanbul's tulip festival. The tulip originated in the Ottoman Empire, and Turkey continues its long tradition with some 14,000,000 in bloom at its festival time -- all at a high cost to other interests, see Tulipmania.  The issue is of competing values:  open space and natural habitats, or industrial behemoths of uniformity. 

Green spaces, or development -- not limited to the bulbs.  Bridges, parks, fall to the conformists' plantings. Is that so?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Amsterdam area. Long Track Speed Skating. Waterland-North Ice Tour. Speed Skate It.

Marathons of the Netherlands
Strap on the speed skates and watch for the officially approved skating tours that crop up north of Amsterdam (a 16 mile route, the Waterland-North)  in 2012).  On the day of the Waterland-North, there were 32 other officially approved tours, including near The Hague.  There is a Royal Dutch Skater's Union, the KNSB.  Apparently a single such tour near The Hague drew some 70,000 skaters, see article by Matt Steinglass, Why the Dutch Love to Get Their Skates On, in the Financial Times at

Along the way, find food stands, blade sharpeners, through the polders, and get your card stamped at the end for proof of Feat.
Its other, perhaps more important than fitness and fun purpose:  civil coordination to get the volunteers out to lay mats for walking around too-low bridges with skates on, sweep the ice, set signs, and cooperate with the Icemaster on safety.
Many years, the ice remains too fragile. Consider the 125-mile "Elfstedentocht" -- last Skate? 1997. See it at

Peterson's Magazine 1865 also featured the sport in sporting mode in the US.

Devotees in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada also sweep its Rideau Canal for a skateway for some 6 miles, see
Inline skaters also have their tours, see international destinations as

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Haarlem - Grote Kerk, Dog Whippers, Ship Saws, and the Great Church of St. Bavo

St. Bavokerk
St. Bavo

Enter St. Bavokeri through the side Oude Groenmarkt, the old vegetable market, up at the altar area.  Churches are not just for the devout: churches are history.  Fine which churches are named for which saints, what did that saint do to deserve sainthood; and research for quirks in architecture found in those older church settings.

1.  Saint Bavo.  589-654 AD, Ghent, mostly, Belgium. 

Rubens painted him.  See  Bavo converted to Christianity and gave his goods to the poor.  Is that enough to be a saint? The criteria are surprisingly mild. This 6th-7th Centuries period is before the Roman Catholic branch severance from the Orthodox Christian branch, in about 1054 or so. Why is this St. Bavo in Haarlem.

There are references to St. Bavo, saving people from the "Kennemers." See  The Kennemers were apparently a local tribe, but their appearance seems to come after St. Bavo.   The "Damiate" also refers to courage of Haarlem forebears, but so far we do not see Bavo. 

2.  Other cultural interest

In Haarlem's Great Church of Saint Bavo, there is a dog-whipper's chapel, behind an iron grill.  That chapel is for those who kept prayers safe by removing troublesome dogs from the church, thus saith the parish program at point VII.

There is the Brewers' Chapel, at point XiII. It belonged to the Brewers' Guild, fine, but its records on the walls there include two black marks.  These measure the height of the Giant Daniel Cajanus, whose height was 2.64 meters, or 8'8".  Daniel Cajanus lived 1703-1749 . He died in Haarlem 

Then it measures the Dwarf Simon Jane Paap at 84 cm, or 33".  He lived 1791-1829, and was buried in Zandvoort. 

So why is he here in Haarlem?

Of additional interest is the ships' models hanging from the rafters, opposite the Brewers' Chapel. There was once a mariners' altar there.
  • Three-master 12th Century frigate (what?)
  • Armed "pinace" also from the 12th Century (we have to go back!)
  • Shallow-draft armed yacht, 16th Century
History buffs:  As to the 12th Century ships, there apparently is a new weapon commemorated here, that we might have missed:

" *** an iron saw on the prow ... as written by John Evelyn in 1641: 'In memory of that invention of saws under their keeles with which they cutt the chayne before the Port of  Darniate', in order to conquer the city in 1219 under the lead of William I , earl of Holland. "

Haarlem.  Keep vetting.  Saint Bavo, why are you in Haarlem.  Bavo?  Bavo?  Are you there?  Why are you a saint,  Bavo?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Zandvoort - Long flight - head for the beach

Zandvoort sounded like sand fort so we went.

Yes, it was.  We saw no fort but it is a beach area and a perfect first stop after long flight and getting the car. Take off the shoes, enjoy.

First things noticed on the way: don't bother spending money and time mowing along the roads if grass and flowers do not interfere with visibility. Yards, roadsides, natural and woolly. And raised pedestrian walkways, and peninsulas of trees and whatnot going right into the road so you have to creep, even one lane, through towns. Very smart. Just design the road so noone can go faster than you want them to. Compliance by design.

There is a nudist beach down the way, but we didn't know that at the time. The unseen nudist beach! Anyway, too early in the year, jackets weather, rain coming, say we, sour grapes ha. See ://  Go between pole 68 and pole 71, no dogs allowed, so we hear.

Go look up your own Images.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Keukenhof, Lisse. Tulips - Keukenhof Gardens

 Keukenhof:  Kitchen Gardens

Tulips arrived in the Netherlands in the 1600's, courtesy of the Ottoman Empire. The flower had been wild, cultivated by the Turks as early as 1000 AD.  The name recalls the shape of a turban, see

Update 2015:  a video on mechanized tulip bulb harvesting in The Netherlands, see

If possible, time your visit to the Netherlands for tulip time, in May.  These fabulous and vast gardens close in July for maintenance and tidying up.  Most everything is tulips there, and tulips have a limited bloomsday.  See slide show at Keukenhof is a public garden -- there since 1949, and now nurtures some 6 million bulbs, says our guidebook. Another book says that some 7 million bulbs bloom each year. Area:  32 hectares.  What is that? A hectare is about 2.47 acres, see,  So:  somewhat less in area than 92 acres?

Keukenhof Gardens, tulips, Lisse, the Netherlands

Even in the rain, the colors are spectacular. Winding, wide walkways, and varieties unimagined.

Arrival in the mist or light rain is fine.  A downfall of rain, however, would probably cause the petals to drop. We came almost directly from the airport, in case of heavier rains to come.

Keukenhof. Tulip fields, Lisse, the Netherlands

The choice is to head in another direction, and hope for better weather when you return.  Seize the day.

Some tulips are past knee-high, and even reach hip-height. Some were up to Dan's waist in some areas.  Long, long stems. See http://www/

There are well-spaced and spacious rest areas in the gardens, with food, facilities, but note where you came in. It is easy to get lost. This is a really big place.  It was once the hunting grounds of the Teylingen Estate, see 15th Century Countess Jacqueline of Wittelsbach at,%20sixty%20years%20as%20the%20paragon%20of%20beauty.pdf

Friday, December 26, 2008

Nijmegen - Operation Market Garden - Bridge; VE Day

Nijmegen, Bridge, Operation Market Garden, the Netherlands

 WWII battle areas: Operation Market Garden, commemorated in the film story, "A Bridge Too Far" (that was the bridge at Arnhem, the focus of the British assault as part of the overall operation, to the north). Here is the bridge at Nijmegen, where the Americans fought.

The city is the oldest town in the Netherlands, see //, dating from Roman times, and Charlemagne.

Operation Market Garden had tragic results, see, but much heroism.

Hotel:  Skip the Casino area, skip the big ones, go right to the bridge bulkhead and look around.  There, at the river Waal,  by the Bridge itself, is The Hotel Courage. Small, excellent location - and not far from the casino, if that is your interest. The hotel is the houselike building in the foreground below.

Bridge at Nijmegen, view with The Hotel Courage  right there

Find the chronology of the battle at The Netherlands retains its gratitude for the effort, despite heavy civilian losses. This has become a lasting bond - maybe that does require an overall war cause that is agreed at the time as necessary. Enduring memorials for valor. If there were not an agreed cause, would that have lasted.

Active river traffic.

See the barge going under the bridge in the picture - many barges on the riverways are also the family's home, and the family car may well be at the prow or stern, for use when docked. There is a great deal of that on the Rhine, in Germany. Also the family dog is often visible. And the car on the prow.

Veterans, and those just remembering, or tribute -- so many there, even after all these years. Several men were camped out under the bridge - not homeless-looking - more like veterans. Some slept all night there. We could see from our hotel.

US Troops.  I believe it was the US 82nd Airborne that focused at Nijmegen at Market Garden. There are annual marches by veterans. See picture and account of Operation Market Garden at

Nijmegen is in Gelderland, central and west in the Netherlands. See a Nijmegen guide at

VE Day, 60th Anniversary Parade, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

For more complete website, see

VE Day Commemoration.

This parade suddenly went by the window of little place where we were eating, at dusk.

The marchers were also in wheelchairs, and it looked like most of the town was participating. It looked like all surviving relatives were invited to join.

Nijmegen is also the site of an old Charlemagne castle ruin, see Charlemagne's biography and search for Nijmegen at It is on the headland overlooking the river, part later rebuilt in 1030. The connections between places come as a surprise. The royal villa is referred to at This is in connection with Charlemagne and dispute resolutions. Romans also were here. See There is a handy map there.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Grosbeek, near Nijmegen. Canadian War Cemetery, VE Day

Canadians in the Netherlands. VE Day Commemoration at Grosbeek, near Nijmegen, 60th Anniversary.

There were large numbers of Canadian forces at Nijmegen, and the Netherlands still sends hundreds of bulbs to Ottawa. On VE Day, Canadian veterans and representatives are there for memorial services at nearby Grosbeek.
Canadian War Cemetery, Military Piper and Dan Widing, Grosbeek, the Netherlands

A national reputation is still honored. See the piper for the Canadian memorial service. That reminded us of another relative, a Royal Scots Fusilier, who died in WWI and is buried near Ypres, Belgium, at Arras, France.

Dan's grandfather was Canadian. We follow them.

The Canadians were doing the dirty work in the big dirty wars years before we, the Yanks, decided to get out of our isolationism and get our feet wet in the great moral issues. What's in it for us, we ask.  What can we do, asked the Canadians.  Is that so?  Prove us wrong.

Canadian Guardsman, Grosbeek Canadian Military Cemetery, NL

Friday, December 05, 2008

Kinderdijk - Windmills

Kinderdijk, windmill, the Netherlands

Windmills. Whoomp. Whoomp. Most seriously working windmills are the new tall skinny blingy kind that are white, look metallic, and three-armed and in great groups on windfarms.

But the old are still there, and many in use.  There are sails that attach to the arms to increase the whirl as needed; and a big log of a brake that jabs in to stop it and keep it stopped when that is needed.

These are huge. Whoomp. Watch your head.

Kinderdijk has a large set of windmills in one place.  In some, you can go right in, and climb all around and see where the family stayed and how they arranged their household and sleeping and living areas inside. Read about "Living In A Windmill" at

Watch the arms accelerate or slow when yanked on the anchor to stop it, and then adjust the canvas sails that are attached and rolled. More whoomp. Whoomp. Then see what it is doing for all that work:   there is a big screw that dips into the canal, and takes the water and pushes it up to the next level. You soon get used to the thumpiness. If you got careless and walked into one mid-whomp, there you go.

Windmill row, Kinderdijk, the Netherlands

Windmills are the workers that make the polders, the drained land now used for agriculture and settlements, even cities.  See how to drain farmland at  From someone's bright idea, to a concept that supports the farmland that wasn't there before, that produces the food that feeds all the people. Go to that site for a film on how to reclaim underwater areas for farmland.

The windmills also powered mills.  You can see how it works, like water wheels making power. See ://

Here is the farmland. The polder itself. Flat flat. Look closely, over our steering wheel for the masts moving along.  Looks like they are sailing right through the field.

Polder, or drained farm land. See mast of boat at eye level, canal across the field, near Kinderdijk NL

The canals network around at field level. If the draining failed, so goes the land.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Hague - Madurodam Miniature Village, Scheveningen

We were interested in recreation and walking, so went first to Madurodam in the town of Scheveningen, that wonder-filled miniature Netherlands world that opened in 1952, a tiny Holland. Full photo tour here:

Madurodam Miniature Village, Scheveningen, near the Hague, NL

The village shows scenes from all over the Netherlands.

Scale of miniature village, Madurodam, NL

Then on to the Hague - arts, politics, courts, diplomacy. See

Our first picture - a sample scene that looks ordinary. Second picture - same town, but with giants.

Details:  Little boats glide around, trains and buses go, all of historically significant Holland (looks like) represented in some way here. It is outside The Hague. The towns are recognizable - Schiphol Airport, flat polder land reclaimed from the sea. All to scale.

History:  This site is a memorial.  JML Maduro built it in memory of his son who died in the concentration camp at Dachau in 1945. It is a large website, so look for The Hague and then Madurodam. See Profits to children's charities. Opened in 1952 by Queen Juliana.  For some cultural reference, see the 1920 passenger list of the T.S.S. Rotterdam to New York.  There are the Maduros.  See ://

Amazing humans. Out of Dachau, a dream at Madurodam.