Monday, May 12, 2014

Friday, May 9 – Delft

When we went on a Christmas cruise with Emily in 2010, we shared a dinner table with a Dutch family.  Marcel and Jeanet had married late and were in their late 40s or early 50s; they were sailing with her mother, Jerry, who spoke almost no English but was entertaining anyway.  The highlight of our dinners came the night Jerry goosed our waiter.  Marcel did most of the talking for the group because Jeanet’s English was limited, too.  In this, they were like Peter and Manu whom we met 2 years later.

We have kept in touch over the past 3 years and have met them in Miami when they have come through on the way to or from a Caribbean cruise.  This past winter, David met them and drove them to Sawgrass Mills so they could shop [They took a taxi back to Miami].  Of course, they have kept up with Emily and Harper and we have sent them baby pictures by email during the last year.

On Friday, Jeanet picked us up at our hotel and drove with speed and dexterity, and a non-stop conversation, from Amsterdam to Delft.  Because of work commitments, they still maintain separate living spaces 90 minutes apart.  When he retires, Marcel says, he will move out of the apartment he has maintained for 25 years and move into Jeanet’s house.  They will finally have more than weekends and holidays together.
Interior of the Old Church

Stained glass closeup
Marcel had taken the day off from work so he could join us; Jeanet apparently had a school holiday and did not have to report to work.  She drove us to Marcel’s apartment where we had the obligatory coffee or tea and, this time, wonderful almond cookies, followed by more coffee and conversation.  Marcel’s apartment was a combination of traditionally-Dutch wooden furniture mixed with modern sofas and chairs.  He has three aquariums [aquaria?] in the living area and souvenirs from their yearly safaris to Africa.  The most striking is a breath-taking photo of elephants that he took in Kenya.  There were masks and wooden animals throughout.

Organ at the Old Church
Once we headed out to see Delft, we had to contend with the weather.  Ever since we got to Amsterdam, we have battled overcast skies, cool temperatures and wind.  Today we finally got real rain.  David and MA had brought rain jackets which helped keep us dry but offered no protection from the cold or wind.  In a concession to the conditions, Marcel dropped us off near the center of Delft’s old section while he parked the car “nearby.”

Town Hall in Delft
We walked with Jeanet through the drizzle and wound to the Old Church [so-called to distinguish it from the New Church].  While we were looking around, Marcel joined us and they both tried to explain both the building and the appropriate Dutch history.  History was not their strong suit, as they readily admitted later in the day.  Regardless, we marveled at the architecture and decorations of the old Gothic structure.
We had to wait a bit for the rain to ease before leaving the Old Church and heading for the New Church.  Our path took us through the town square, the market square on certain days, and past the Town Hall.  We arrived just after the conclusion of a wedding and were surrounded by children whose teacher had just been married.  They must have all been invited.  We even saw a group on bicycles and wearing matching yellow slickers preparing, we assumed, to return to school.
The Old Square in Delft
The New Church
The square was much like all of the others we have seen in Europe, meaning many of the buildings on the perimeter had become cafes aimed at the tourist trade.  Whether it is Brugge, Prague or Delft, one will find tables, tents and umbrellas outside of the cafes, all the better to capture the tourists and their On this particular day, there were no visitors sipping beer or cappuccinos, but the tents were filled with people escaping the rain.  It was not raining as hard, though, as we traversed the square, the Town Hall behind us and the New Church ahead.

William of Orange's sarcophagus
The interior of the New Church did not approach the majesty of the Old Church, but its place in Dutch history is assured because is the final resting place for members of the royal family.  There were displays throughout of the sequence of Dutch kings starting with William of Orange as well as showcases with relics from the various periods of history.  The burial vault is below the chancel of the sanctuary.  Because it is sort-of sacred, it is not open to the public but there is a three-dimensional model of the burial chamber as well as televisions showing continuous loops of the past four royal funerals.
Typical Delft scene
Piet Hein, namesake of our
 favorite HAL bars

The sun was shining through the clouds when we left and began walking through more of Delft.  We were able to see parts of town that tourists usually don’t get to see.  Like a miniature Amsterdam, it has numerous small canals and bridges and lots of ducks.  Narrow houses with assorted gables fill the narrow cobbled streets.  It was a relaxing and lovely walk.  And long.  Marcel may have parked close to downtown, but our circuitous route made it seem that he had parked in Brugge.

The burial chamber
cover in the New
William and Mary
in the New Church
Marcel had parked the car in front of his father’s house, so we just had to meet him.  He was a sprightly old man [although he may not be much older than we – Marcel just turned 50] and smiled and laughed with us even when he wasn’t completely sure of what we were saying.  Of course, we had coffee and cookies; we were still in the Netherlands, after all.  It was finally time to leave and Marcel’s father looked genuinely pleased that we had visited.

The next part of the “tour” was really a peek at small villages near Delft.  They were as enchanting as the ones around Cadzand.  Again, there were more canals and ducks, but we also saw the ubiquitous cattle and sheep as well.  On the way back to Marcel’s apartment, Jeanet jumped out of the car and walked home to prepare the table for dinner.  The rest of us drove to a nearby Chinese carry-out and Marcel bought dinner for the four of us.  As they explained, they are not cooks, but they asked if Chinese okay with us; it was.  The sauces did not equate with what we were used to [for example, a tomato sauce on egg foo young], but it was all good and we ate more than we should have.

After dinner, they drove us back to the hotel, a journey of about an hour.  We drove in and out of light rain and followed a rainbow for much of the time.  Traffic was horrible in the opposing direction, so Marcel said they would take a different route home.  Once at the hotel, there were hugs all around and promises to stay in touch.  We are hoping they will visit us, and perhaps stay with us, before this year’s winter cruise.

There was good news and bad news.  On one hand, we finally escaped the hotel dining room tonight, but on the other, we had to pack for tomorrow’s flight home.

Tomorrow – The longest day returns


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