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 http://www.holland.nl/uk/holland/sights/tulips-history.html.

Update 2015:  a video on mechanized tulip bulb harvesting in The Netherlands, see http://www.youtube.com/embed/wZ5MAr7d-5Y?rel=0

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 http://www.keukenhof.nl/. 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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hectare,  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/europeforvisitors.com/europe/articles/keukenhof_gardens.

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  http://www.keukenhof.nl/images/fck/File/KKH,%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 //english.nijmegen.nl/historical, dating from Roman times, and Charlemagne.

Operation Market Garden had tragic results, see www.thehistorychannel.co.za/site/features/operation_market_garden.php, 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 www.wingsofliberation.nl/mg-chrono-uk. 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 www.strikehold504th.com/holland.php.

Nijmegen is in Gelderland, central and west in the Netherlands. See a Nijmegen guide at www.nijmegen.nl/ontdeknijmegen/english/index.asp.

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

For more complete website, see www.world66.com/europe/netherlands/nijmegen.

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 www.chronique.com/Library/MedHistory/charlemagne. 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 www.heroicage.org/issues/6/forsman. This is in connection with Charlemagne and dispute resolutions. Romans also were here. See www.livius.org/no-nz/nijmegen/noviomagus-civil. 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 www.kinderdijk.org/tour.

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 www.nai.nl/polders/e/hoe_e.  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 ://www.kinderdijk.org/

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: www-pnp.physics.ox.ac.uk/~miyagawa/photo/travel/madurodam/

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 www.denhaag.com/default.asp?id=DOORWAYNEWS-uk.

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 www.rozylowicz.com/retirement/holland2005/holland4. 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 ://www.gjenvick.com/PassengerLists/Holland-AmericaLine/Westbound/1920-10-19-PassengerList-Rotterdam.html

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