Monday, 7 May 2018

Visiting family

Well, that was a busy few days. We did 3 days of bike riding to places like Zaans Schans and Marken, but started off with a day spent visiting my daughter and then her visiting us.

Step 1: Visit Groningen. Chesley is spending this term there (after spending her last term in Vilnius, Lithuania), studying for her Masters in International Communications. Groningen s a pretty but not large university town, hence our decision to spend our month in Amsterdam instead of up there. To get there for our daytrip, we opted for the FlixBus. In a land of good trains, why a bus? Well, it was €7 instead of €25 per person, per direction. It took 10 minutes longer. And it had a better schedule, which it actually kept on the way there. On the way back? Not so much.

It was an early departure, however.
The sun rises on Westerkirk as we await the tram
We were surprised along the way to see tulip fields; we thought those were centred on Lisse.

Our first stop on arrival was to explore a tiny bit of the town and see where Chesley was living.
An impossibly tall church 
A window on the canal/river 
Chesley's microscopic house
In the land of the "tiny house" movement, this kinda takes the cake. Yes, she's a university student, but going inside was a throwback to my (long forgotten) university days.

We then sauntered through town...
Fusion of new and old our first target: the Martini Tower.
We're gonna climb that...
A little, 100 m tall thing, of which the first 70m or so was built between 1469 & 1482, that you climb by a series of tiny circular staircases. Inside are 62 bells, some freaking huge. I'm glad the carillon did not play them during our climb.
Some old, some newer 
Big boys 
Some have names 
Martinus. About 4' across
The tower is climbed, of course, for the views. The lower platform is cool...
The church roof below 
In the distance is Chesley's university 
The main square. Trashed by WW2, uninspiringly rebuilt 
Old and newer towers
You don't get to climb all the way to the top, just to the 75 m level -- which is high enough.
Looking down on the church next door 
The clocks cheat. It's just an electric clock. Boring.
From the top, we spied a rooftop terrace we thought we should check out for lunch. Called La Place, it was on the top floor of an empty department store. The two lowest floors had been turned into market stalls. The next three were eerily empty. The roof was a beautifully re-done high end cafeteria. The food was great. Recommended.

We sauntered through town a bit...
Very pretty 1635 building 
Interesting art the next adventure Chesley had picked: a lap of the city's one canal in a canoe.
And so we paddle 
This dude passed us 3 times in the opposite direction. 
Streetscapes. Careful when parking the car, by the way. 
1600's buildings 
A nice houseboat 
An "eclectic" houseboat 
Houseboats line the canal 
An indignant duck 
Houseboats? Working ships? 
Waterfront property 
Happy paddler
On our paddle, we passed the scooper barge, pulling bikes (and shopping carts) out of the canal. There's a saying that the canals in Amsterdam are 3 m deep: 1 m of water, 1 m of mud and 1 m of bikes.
Already some treasure 
Quite the junkpile  
One more bike goes on the pile
Just as we finished our paddle, a boat came by so large as to need the bridge raising.
Up it goes 
Tall mast 
Just a tall boat generally
We wandered up to the larger university in town; Chesley had a Dutch lesson to go to. University = students, and students = bikes. The main university plaza was a bike circus.
Just some of them
The admin building dates from the 17th century and is as pretty inside as out.
One of the towers visible from the Martini Tower 
The grand entry staircase 
Senate chambers, I bet
While Chesley ditched us, we went for a walk in the local park.
Tranquility in a city 
The Groningen "G" 
Always flowers 
Stairs to the bandshell
A few days ago, I posted about a coot on a nest in Amsterdam. We found a coot here with 2 eggs and 4 newly hatched... things that didn't look like mom at all. The looked like turkeys. Or failed science experiments.
It's a... thing 
Three more things 
Cuddling up to mom 
The others coming in, too 
Nested together
Something only a mother could love
After recovering from wandering and learning Dutch, we went for dinner at a wonderful Greek restaurant called the Olympia in town. His saganaki was fabulous feta, dipped in egg and flour, and baked. When I was in Greece, I learned that there's no such thing as one kind of saganaki; just because I make it with kefalotiri and set it on fire doesn't mean anyone else will.

During dinner, I got a text. Our 7:40 PM bus was going to be 50 minutes late. On the bright side, this meant time for baklava and ouzo. On the downside, this meant getting home quite late.

We got to the bus stop ~8:20 PM, and couldn't resist a walk through Groningen's magnificent train station, built in 1896.
The full building 
The facade 
A circular staircase 
One of the loung areas 
Ceiling details 
The platform side
I wish we would have had more time to explore the station. As it was, the bus that was (now) to leave at 8:30 PM finally arrived at 8:40 PM. In addition to making a stop at Drachten along the way, and driving through a huge rainstorm, for some reason the driver took a 30 km "scenic" route (at night) through a section of Flevoland (Urk is lovely at night, really), skipping the freeway. This added at least 15 min to our journey. When I went to use the bathroom on the bus at 2200, I found it was not only full to overflowing (sloshing on the floor, actually), but broken so it couldn't flush. We pulled into Amsterdam Sloterdijk station not at 10:10 PM but at 11:15 PM -- with a 20 min tram ride still to get home.

It was a long day, but a really fun one to spend with my daughter. Turns out the next day (Thursday), she had a meeting in Amsterdam, too. She showed up at 12:15 PM, had lunch and went to her meeting. We visited the Albert Cuyptmarkt, which was full of fun things to eat and drink; I'm posting pics of this to my Instagram account.
Green tomatoes 
Self explanatory 
An octopie (plural of octopus) 
This is a purse 
So's this 
Sure, you can take it on the plane, but you'll be arrested at the other end
We also found a hotel (The Ibis Styles) that was proud of its creatively graffitied entranceways.
I feel like that sometimes 
Carport door 
Serious wall 
Not sure I agree with the sentiment about the banks 
Pool anyone?
Coming up next: three days of biking, one day at a time.

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