Day 12: Haarlem – Saturday, March 30, 2013



Another light-ish day. I think we’re both feeling the pace a little bit. Not that I’m complaining! We come home a week from today and the rest of the trip should be pretty relaxing.

We left about 10am and took a 20-minute train ride to Haarlem. Because we still had time on the 24 hour pass from yesterday, we took a bus the mile to the station. Normally we would have walked, and did walk back when we returned.
Haarlem. If that sounds familiar it should. Remember from your junior high American History class that New York City at one time was a Dutch colony called New Amsterdam. The burrough called Harlem has the same roots.
Only this little town is much more charming than the burrough. Population about 150k, we decided it may be the most livable city we’ve seen yet.

 

Note in the picture above it’s still definitely The Netherlands. But not as crazy as Amsterdam for sure. We didn’t see one pot shop!
We walked towards the city center and saw this at the end of a curved, narrow street. This look, I’m discovering, is quintessential European.
Grote Kerk, or Great Church. More on that later. We took a right at the end of this street and walked straight into the reason we came here on a Saturday: an outdoor market that took up the town square. Not exactly a farmer’s market although there was fresh fruit and vegetables for sure. But also baked goods, meats, fish, fresh deli items, and other miscellaneous things. Dan finally bought a pair of gloves here.

 

We left the market and wound our way through another pedestrian mall (with another The Body Shop!) to our first stop: the Frans Hals Museum. He was a local artist whose contemporaries were Rubens and Rembrandt, and he was arguably as good or better. There was a special exhibit of his work going on in addition to the permanent collection, and I have to admit it was pretty interesting. Two things he excelled at that even the best painters struggled with made him a master:
  1. Painting laughter
  2. Completing a portrait in one sitting, directly on the canvas without preliminary sketches, and without waiting for paint to dry
We weren’t supposed to take pictures but Dan managed to sneak a few, including this tulip vase, a concept we were introduced to at the museum in The Hague, and which I really like.
There was a huge (like 7×7), amazing dollhouse with incredibly minute detail. This picture doesn’t begin to do it justice. The one below it is of the gardens in the museum courtyard.

 

For lunch we went back to the outdoor market and had what Dan declared to be the best fried fish he had ever had. For dessert we went to the booth next door and got this very tasty item whose name we didn’t catch: like a sandwich, where the bread was two crispy, wafer thin warm waffles, held together by a thin film of honey in between. Yum.
The Grote Kerk at that point was right behind us so we checked it out. About 600 years old, it houses the largest organ in Holland, which was played by Mozart (when he was 10) and Handel. The organ has over 5000 pipes.

 

The large floor tiles are actually tomb covers, and Frans Hals is buried there.

Next we stopped into Teyler’s museum, the oldest in the country. It had a varied collection of fossils, science instruments, paintings, and an exhibition of an artist – Retoude – whose specialty was botany, especially flowers, which Dan really liked.
After was coffee and round two of dessert at a cafeteria on the 6th floor of a department store. Dan got this picture of Grote Church from our table.

 

We did one final trip to the outdoor market to pick up some things for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow, then back to the train station to come home. Well, our home for 7 days anyway.

Curiosity Item:
I can’t say for sure that I could have told you what country Amsterdam was in before we started planning this trip. I probably would have said Holland. And even folks from Netherlands will refer to it Holland. But I learned that Holland is not a country, but provinces – two of them in fact: North Holland and South Holland. And they make up a majority of the country Netherlands, but not all of it.

  • So my question became: where did Dutch come from? Germans come from Germany, Italians from Italy, but you’re Dutch if you’re from Netherlands or Holland. We asked a volunteer at the church who we had a fun conversation with. Her response? “You’re right, I never thought about it. But I do believe it comes from Deutch.” We even looked up the entomology of it and got a long, unsatisfying answer. I was hoping for something “ah-ha” like but no such luck.

And under the “You’re on Candid Camera” category:
Dan has this habit of taking rapid successive pictures on his iPhone so he’ll have plenty to pick from. He took about 20 of me on the train this morning in about 10 seconds. These are the only ones I didn’t make him delete.

 

Pretty sure I’m pointing out an Ikea.

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