Oude Kerk (Or: Walking amongst the dead)

Before I get into the subject of Oude Kerk in Delft, I would just like to take a moment to say that I hate colds. I am in day 7 of mine. I don’t get sick very often (last memorable time was October 2009), but I knew something was up when a student overheard me talking to someone else; he joined the conversation and was able to describe my symptoms down to a T. Ugh. Lots of hot tea for me. Why did I agree to an 11 hour shift tomorrow again?

As you might have realized from my previous posts about Delft, I like Vermeer. I didn’t really know anything about him until I met Marco of course. When I started to fall in love with the Netherlands, I visited my public library and tried to find all the material I could about the country. Even though this is New York, there is not a lot. There is some material I could get from other libraries in the system, I just prefer to have it right at my fingertips without sending for it and waiting a week.

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Watching (Or: A man and his dog guard Delft)

The last remaining gate of Delft, Oostpoort (Eastern Gate) was built in the 1400s. The other seven gates have long since disappeared. The official Delft website has a nice drawing of what the city looked like when it was surrounded by walls.

The view from entering the city through the eastern gate

Note especially the dog at the feet of the watchman. This is what you would see if you entered Delft from this city gate — two very imposing figures watching your every move, judging you.

View of the Eastern gate from the inside

Here is the gate from the inside looking out. This shot is actually close to the lake where I took the picture of the ducks. Interestingly, the structure also seems to partly be a private residence — and there is also an art gallery inside. The two shots don’t do justice to how big it is – more like a castle.

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Canals (Or: Just how many bikes fall in, anyway?)

A journey to the canals of Delft begins here.

Houses along a Delft canal... too close for comfort!

Look at how close the houses are to the edge of the canal. It’s amazing to realize that some (unpictured) houses have doors which face out into the canal. Open up and jump in!

And it makes me cringe a bit. In my hometown, Hurricane Irene decimated a local bar/eatery when it came through in August. The barely four foot wide stream overflowed 7 foot high retention walls, leaving the surrounding area under a foot of water, and their basement completely flooded. It took until Christmas for restaurant to reopen.

Delft canal, with obligatory bikes

I was also amused to see that there really are not any guard rails to prevent the cars from driving in, either. And I found this blog post about bikes being thrown in to be an interesting read, with cool pictures of “bike rescues”.

Father and his sons, feet dangling into the canal

Ignoring the port-o-potty behind them, I focused this picture on the family, curious to see if the father’s feet would ever touch the water — they did not. Just a simple moment, captured forever.

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Music (Or: A scene carefully sketched out)

Near the train station in Delft, you might find yourself near this mural, on the side of a random building, in a random place.

A musical mural found in Delft

Although most of the mural is done in black and white, accentuated by the shadowy tree limbs, one can also find rare glimpses of yellow. The most predominant encircles the lamp on the left side, but the glow of night can be seen from most of the windows on the left side of the mural. A figure (Charlie Chaplin-esque) hangs from the middle street lamp. Three lions in the lower right – one with a paraplu* (umbrella), one coming from the garbage can, and another on top of the garbage can lid.

Note also the rider on their fiets (bike) talking to someone else.

* = I love the Dutch word paraplu. I have heard about the Paraplu restaurant in the Hague, but have not yet visited it. Soon…

Categories: Culture, Delft | Tags: | 3 Comments

Graffiti (Or: Everyone has a story to tell)

Within the Hague, there’s a small alleyway called Raamstraat which contains many different types of graffiti. The street serves as a lesser used connector between Spuistraat and Grote Marktstraat (near de Bijenkorf department store). It can be especially useful when trying to get away from the cramped areas of Spuistraat, as it seems less traveled than most areas.

December 2010 - of course, with the iconic bicycle, as if deliberately posed.

The header for this blog is also from Raamstraat. The other place that I found beautiful graffiti was Delft, while waiting for a bus.

Graffiti at the bus station - and more bikes

And just around the corner, I found this:

The girl is from Vermeer's "The Girl with a Pearl Earring" painting

The message reads: Something that disappears is not gone, it only hides. Although the addition of the girl from Vermeer’s painting is unrelated to the quote, here’s a good fictional novel to read about the creation of the painting: The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.

I think one of the first things I will do when I get my feet firmly back on Dutch soil is go back to this little alleyway and take more pictures. There are lots of little hidden gems to be found.

Categories: Delft, The Hague | Tags: | 1 Comment

Bikes (Or: Controlled chaos on wheels)

One thing that struck me was how many fietsen (bikes) there are in the Netherlands. The Dutch boast almost one bike per person. In the Hague, bike paths seem to take precedence over even the roads themselves. Generally the transportation is as follows: roads (for cars, buses, and the occasional tram), bike paths, and pedestrian paths. Bikes also have their own traffic lights at most stops. Interestingly, mopeds also seem to ride on the bike paths, which can make crossing them a bit dangerous at times…

Picturesque Delft canal bordered by homes, and a few bikes to complete the scene

The Netherlands is, as a whole, very flat. I found one “hill” in the Hague — which turned out to be a man-made bridge that was only a few feet high. In the country itself, the highest hill (the Vaalserberg) is just over 1000 feet tall.

A parking lot for bikes in Amsterdam

Categories: Amsterdam, Delft, Transportation | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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