Friday, December 15, 2006

Bye Sinterklaas, Hello Santa Claus

"Thank you Sinterklaas for all these presents."- We got all these things under our X'mas tree and including the vest I'm wearing from the sack of Sinterklaas. :-)

Sinterklaas or Sint Nikolaas in Dutch or Saint Nicolas in French, is a holiday tradition in the Netherlands and Belgium
(both Dutch and French speaking parts), celebrated every year on Saint Nicholas' eve December 5 or, in Belgium, the morning of December 6. The feast celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children.

Saint Nicholas who had a reputation for secret gift-giving, who is now commonly identified with Santa Claus or in the Netherlands and northern Belgium as Sint-Nicolaas or Sinterklaas who came from Spain (according to the Dutch story/belief). Naturally, it is fictitious but with its joy brought to children, remains an undefeated profit-gainer for traders.

In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas' eve, is the occasion for gift-giving without any relation from Christmas. Traditionally, he brings his gifts during the evening of December 5 is called pakjesavond ("evening of packages"). Presents are ingeniously wrapped, and are therefore called surprises. He has an helper name Piet or Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). There will be a loud knock on the door, and a sack full of presents is found on the doorstep. Alternatively - some improvisation is often called for - the parents 'hear a sound coming from the attic' and then the bag with presents is "found" there. Presents are often accompanied by a simple poem, saying something about the child or with a hint to the nature of the present. This night is considered to be extra-long awaited time for the children.

I was not even exempted from the list of Sinterklaas :-) We received gifts from "him" with accompanying poems :-) The way of giving is quite new for me. Different from how it is done in the Philippines during parties. The whole month of December in the Philippines is all about exchange gift, drinks and food feasts. The thing that most likely similar in any ways of celebration is that, the heavy traffic and panic-buying syndrome during rush hours. Some shops are even open and with extended time opening to serve last-minute gift givers :-)

After the night of Sinterklaas, The Netherlands shifts to Christmas spirit atmosphere.

This historical character was the inspiration for a mythical figure known as Sankt Nikolaus in Germany and Sinterklaas in the Netherlands and Flanders of Belgium, which in turn was the inspiration for Santa Claus. This occassion is also celebrated in some other countries in Europe: France, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Italy has their own style too, Palestine, Portugal and in the United States which in turn resulted influence to the Philippines. Sinterklaas is the basis for the North American legend of Santa Claus. The American version of the Santa Claus figure received its inspiration and its name from the Dutch legend of Sinter Klaas, brought by settlers to New York in the 17th century.

Whatever his name be: Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santy, Jolly Old Elf, Santa Klaus or simply Santa, is a Mythical gift-bringer icon who distributes presents to sleeping children and adults who have been "good" all year; traditionally during the night of December 24, Christmas Eve. The celebration may vary in any areas according to beliefs and traditions.

Since I have Americanized cultural influence, then we will be welcoming Santa Claus on the 24th of December prior to Christmas day, that marks the traditional birthdate of Jesus of Nazareth. Christmas combines the celebration of Jesus' birth with various other traditions and customs of Christianity. Christmas traditions include the display of nativity scenes and Christmas trees (which we have), the exchange of gifts and cards, and the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

We will have our so called "noche buena" (midnight dinner) on the Christmas Eve. It will be a nice evening celebrating the night we used to and we missed since when we're young. It is not Sinterklaas who will knock at our door but couple of friends will join and each of us in any way be a Santa Claus for the night :-) ....

Tip: ( Send your wishlist earlier to your gift-giver for good preference, to avoid confusion, panic-buying, duplication, and give enough time-frame for fund-raising if in any case, gifts-worth of million euro cents :-), in which I already did).

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Why I am silent?

Hey! Now I am back here again... I was just out of the circulation here it is because I had rushed weeks but with plentiful sleeps at least :-) Can you imagine? Well, I don't have specific topic to blog today. I had lot of weekend trips but I'm little tired to make details of it. I would just like to share anything that would come to my mind now :-)

So....I had busy weeks with my ever Dutch language course. I can already communicate in Dutch to my teacher at least. Hahaha! Naturally, I am always running out of breath. My everyday life runs throughout my study and my marriage-relationship. My learning of the language, culture, people, weather, etc. combining with my marriage really need a multiple extra effort to live with them harmoniously. So good.

Actually, I'm just wondering how time ticks so fast. Just few weeks from now, it's Christmas time again. I am a really a hyper-active day person. I don't like to sleep even lay my back until not my sleeping time. No matter how tired I am, a nap has no single room in my internal system. I remembered my working habit before, I never sleep until there's still more coffie :-) When I'm already tired to make myself a cup of coffie, then it's now my bed time.

Well, I did many things these days...that keep my days rolling and no time to blog. These are simple things I do but I enjoy them :

1. Monday-friday (except tuesday) going to school. Reaching my goal to speak Dutch :-)

2. Going to the city centrum with my bike after muse around and do shopping at the most good price option...

3. Non-ending experiment in the kitchen.

4. Hunting jobs and sending my resume via online...I know that there are only less opportunities for me but who knows... opportunities seldom come because they arrived unnoticeable...(So, I should be wide-awake though!)

5. Watching James Bond movies...a monthly movie marathon on tv, only for OO7.

6. Going to cinemas...I think we watched movie 4 times this month...and the fifth will be this weekend :-) I think it's high time to get an abonnement (subscription to cinemas) Hmmmn.....

7. I'm experimenting my new sewing machine. A gift from my loving mother-in-law. (Thanks mom). Wow, I never sew before...I mean not in a machine but I do few manual stitches. I always escape from my Home Economics class before, where cooking and sewing were best subjects during elementary grade.

But why I'm sewing now? Blame my size...I am just small for clothing size here in the country of big and tall people. I do buy stuff from kids section for best fit. If I shop in ladies guaranteed that I need my sewing kit just in due time. I may change either the clothings' width and length or both. So, when I shop for clothes, I always check the cut and stitches if I can manage to change it myself....Hummmn. I never did 'till I live here.

8. I did advance X'mas shopping because I sent my christmas gifts to my family in the Philippines.

9. I did finished organizing our photoalbum which was also included in the Philpackage. That was really tiring...weighs about 2 kg album showcasing hundreds of our faces upside-down :-)

10. I am engaging myself for a volunteer work (application stage)...whenever I'll start, definitely will slash my free time.

11. I am still doing my wedding photoalbum via online service. It will be finished hopefully and finally send our order this week.

12. Just last night, I finished accessorizing our christmas 8 feet real pine tree. You think X'mas tree is just 'onli' in the Philippines?

My dear unwrapping the tree last friday night :-)

Yeah, I'm just missing the yuletide season mood which I am used to. I was the first one who bought a pine tree in the garden shop, according to the shophelper . :-) I might be on their history list, the earliest x'mas tree buyer. Hehehe.

A real pine tree will only survived in a room temperature of at least 21 days...I hope the tree will still be at its best 'till January...(hehehehe joke). Christmas in the Philippines normally starts with the "-ber month " from September and extends 'till January the following new year....

Here in the Netherlands is about to celebrate Sinterklaas Dag (St. Nicholas day) on December 5, a day of giving gifts. After the celebration, the shops and streets will shift then to Christmas festive atmosphere.

13. I am busy making and completing my Christmas wishlist ..and also for the Sinterklaas.

14. Doing again all those things mentioned above excluding the last two deeds.

It's just a cycle way of life...In everyday, you might do something little or extravagant, but then at the end of the'll sleep on it. The next day is just another day to do the same thing in the past which you do like but forget those that makes you feel horrible.

At this point, I would still like to do all those things I mentioned...Naturally it might change in the long run depending to priorities I would settle with and decisions I would lay down beforehand....'s time to cook...See yuh! :-)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Runaway to Luxembourg

We runaway to Luxembourg, drove through Esch Sur Sure, stayed in Bourscheid and ended in Luxembourg Ville.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was actually ruled by the House of Orange-Nassau up to 1890, the year William III died. Since females were not allowed to succeed in Luxemburg because of the Salic law, the Grand Duchy passed to the House of Nassau-Weilburg, a collateral line; this was in accordance with the Nassau Family Treaty of 1783.

Means, this tiny country was historically part of the Netherlands. In my readings, Luxembourg was included in the newly formed United Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with Belgium, in 1814. It fragmented 16 years later, when Belgium broke off from the Netherlands, taking half of Luxembourg along the tug.

1. The Netherlands flag(left) 2. Luxembourg flag (right)

Just a subtle diffrerence huh!

UUUmmm...let's check if we will see traces of Dutch-'ness' there :-).

So, what's in there? Known to be the most expensive country which possesses the highest GDP per capita in the world (US$72,945 as of 2005), then let's see.

We had a long time driving going to Ecsh Sur Sure where we drove in the northern region of the country. This tiny village is in the west of the region of criss-crossed rocky loop in the Sure River (Sauer in German) with hiking trails and dotted with picturesque villages and is off the Wiltz-Ettelbruck road. Curved out of the mountainside mostly gently rolling uplands with broad, shallow valleys; uplands to slightly mountainous in the north; steep slope down to other small plains in the southeast. This was our first destination. However, out of good familiarity of the road, we had passed the stopping point and we we're estimately 20 kms away. So, we decided to directly drive tru our second destination, to our hotel in Bourscheid.

We arrived in Hotel Du Moulin, a modern family-run hotel with privately owned fly-fishery. New indoor swimming-pool available, sauna, solarium and fitness-room.

Hotel Du Moulin in our background.

Only 2 km from the medieval castle of Bourscheid. The next day, we went to the castle and walked around.

Right photo is view from the castle down the hotel.

A 1,000 years old castle situated on the rocky bluff overlooking farmland and the Sure River. The castle's romantic ruins loom 500 feet above the River Sûre, commanding many valleys. The central portion is the castle's oldest sector; surrounding it is a 14th-century wall dotted with circular towers.

The remaining tower of the castle.

This is not as complete as the castle in Vianden ( as many said) but is ultimately more attractive due to its outstanding location. It offers wonderful walking paths in the surrounding woods.

The beautiful hotel is in a magnificent setting with splendid views over the Chateau of Bourscheid. We had a relaxed time staying there with ample of fresh air surrounded by plateaus.

Right photo is the view of the castle down from the hotel.

Nestling behind the barrier of the towering Ardennes mountains, the country is protected from the cold North sea winds that gives a temperate type of climate.

Side view from the castle.

The cold was just pleasant enough to have a good walk but windy enough not to stay long at the peak of the valleys like in the castle.

On the right is an old church in the Bourscheid village. Can you see the flag beside it? (Not in the Philippines..).

The village is also a jumping-off point for hikers wishing to explore the area with fascinating landscape of curious sandstone rock formations, waterfalls, creeks, springs and forests.

Situated on the bank of the River Sûre, in a romantic wood land setting, the hôtel is like a haven of peace. Alter a day's hike in the surrounding forests, you can relax on its riverside terrace or unwind in health & beauty centre of the hotel.

River Sure, good for fishing and hungry campers :-)

Then, we had a long day in the capital city of Luxemburg. Since this little country is, however, located at the crossroads of several major highways, the Grand Duchy is dwarfed between its neighbours France, Germany and Belgium.

Me at the boulevard overlooking the Grund.

It's easy to overlook it when travelling. Our day steps in the city was long, wide and more...more.

At the Petrusee promenade. Does he looks tired? :-)

The entire country is only 51 miles (85km) long and 32 miles (52km) wide, Luxembourg was once called the Gibraltar of the North, and by exploring these fortifications beneath the city, you begin to see why. Most of the immense citadel was destroyed as a prerequisite for Luxembourgois independence in 1815. But what's remaining is still certainly formidable and romantic to explore. ( tugged along with your dovey :-))

With underlying tensions, regardless of the size of the country, it has a distinct local language. Surrounded by other big countries, languages of French, and German live together harmoniously with the Letzebuergesch, the national tongue.

Do I look lost ( or loose) in the jungle? Hehehe.

Uuuumh... I was completely lost here. No one speaks my ever Visayan dialect. I seldom hear English either. Thanks that I understand Dutch as I heard them (tourists) complaining :-) Hehehe! Anyways, some speaks Dutch especially the hotel receptionist or cashier. Why? Belgium is just in the border that speaks Flemish, a form of Dutch. And to think, that Dutch tourists are just anywhere. Prachtig! (Wonderful! ).

The Cathedral of Notre Dame.

As we walked through the city, I don't hesitate to stop awhile and probe behind the glass office blocks and official buildings to find a land of fascinating medieval fortresses, rolling woodlands, sun-drenched castles, and quaint villages. Ja, I observed that buildings around are crafted with modern-glassy architecture mixing with old textural styles. In the city, you can see a lot of banks. Almost every second building in the city is a bank, that dubbed Luxembourg as a banking central of Europe.

We walked through the old cobble stone paths along the boulevard Roosevelt to Plateau Du St. Esprit where superb panoramas of the valleys and over the Grund. We walked down to the Montee du Grund (Ground) known also as Old Towns'Bock which is an ancestral lower village and rock galleries. Housed the Casemates down-under the Grund and was a bomb shelter of thousand locals during WWI and WWII.

Right is at the Old Town close to the Scott's pub.

We had drinks at the Scott's Pub located at the border of the river Petrusse and has a lovely terrace at the waterfront.

British Scott's Pub.

It is calm and tranquil country with no hurry, no stressing crowds of people (except the Place d'Armes and tourists) just a nice stuff for your eyes and silence. The street and aura is medieval.

There at the square of Place d'Armes, the old town's pedestrianized core stands the equestrian monument of William III of Netherlands ( Grand Duc Guillaume in French).

We even passed and walked in by the Musee National d'Histoire et d'Art. A multilevel state-of-the-art glass atrium showcasing Roman and Middle Ages artifacts collection.

In the middle of town, with no warning, we suddenly found ourselves in front of the palace of the Archduke of Luxembourg. Almost like a 'normal' grand house, only bigger.

The Palais Grand-Ducal is about more than 400 years old.

The soldier keeping watch is the solely and patiently marching back in forth in front of the gate. (Now, I remembered the dedicated officer standing beside Jose Rizal's monument, Philippine national hero, that even to slaap a fly atop of his nose is forbidden). The building was started in 1572 but it has been added on, redecorated and even restored after an explosion during the time that it served as a town hall in the 17th century. The palace is just within the heart of the center..and you may just right at its gate and bump the guard while you are shopping.

My dear standing in front of the palace. It is not busy during Sunday.

We also try to beat the busy-shopping streets but for any reason...
I can't find anything which I like. It was Sunday, and just any other European country, most shops are closed on sundays. Well it's ok...I don't like my bodyguard to wait long for me outside the store. Hehehe! I married a shopping-allergic person...prefers to sit and read newspaper or walk all the way-round rather than scrutinizing shops and customizing items. Hmmmh...

Luxembourg is not even big enough on most maps of Europe to contain the letters of its name just like Netherlands, but makes up in snazz what it lacks in size.

Photo was shot from the Petrusse valley. A garden overlooking from the Place de la Constitution.

As Netherlands have abundance of canals, windmills and proud of its flatness, then Luxmbourg is the pride of the hinterlands. It has a wealth of verdant landscapes mounted in by winding valleys with fast-flowing rivers and dotted with the sort of rural hamlets that most people associate with fairy tales.

Our stay was associated with ancient memories. And for that...the place is worth another chance to re-visit. We will be there again for the next a sporty-trailing mood backpacking :-) A bientôt dans Luxembourg!

Monday, October 16, 2006

September Sunshine

I am too busy to say how busy I am :-)Hehehe ! In other means, I'm too lazy to blog...but then, once in a while, I tried to remember my last escapades translating them into words. I would still like to lock up my memories here and retrieve them as way back of musing my own path.

Left photo was on our way in Zeeland at the north sea coast.

Actually, I would like to remember the time, the last day of September. It was a very beautiful Saturday. The last full appearance of the sun, I think.

As we know, that weather in Holland is comparable with women's brattinela'ness'. The day was special. We went to the province of Zeeland.

Right photo is the Oosterscheldekering.

(Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier), between the islands Schouwen-Duiveland and Noord-Beveland, is the largest of 13 ambitious Delta works series of dams, designed to protect a large part of the Netherlands from flooding. The construction of the Delta Works was a response to the North Sea Flood of 1953.

The Oosterscheldekering was the biggest, most difficult to build and the most expensive part of the Delta works. Sometimes referred to as the eighth Wonder of the World, and has been declared one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Photo is courtesy from Wikipedia. The Oosterscheldekering.

We had crossed this dam and viewed the Neeltje Jans, a piece of artificial island, which is also now a tourist spot to look forward in the province.

We visited Ian's tante(Aunt) in Middelburg . She is on her 70's and cared of by in a bijaardenhuis (home for the elderly). She is nice, an ensemble of loving person. She still have the energy to walk around and showed us the place and its surrounding. She is now forgetful, but I was pleased to meet her. Our meeting was not as easy though, coz of language barrier. Nevertheless, the feeling was special. She is well-cared by a private nursing house. Once in a while, family members visit her.

Middelburg is also my mother in-law's birthplace, her grown--up place I should say. Zeelandic or Zeeuws is a regional language spoken in the province of Zeeland. Commonly considered a Dutch dialect but I still don't hear it and it's more use by the older people but not very common with young generation. Many said that there's difference with pronounciation, grammar and vocabulary from the proper Dutch...Ummmh...Maybe I already heard it...but I was just 'NR' (no reaction) coz I'm still struggling with my Dutch.

(According to my research in Wikipedia) Middelburg is at a key location on the western edge of Europe's industrial complex. On the Walcheren peninsula in the south of the Netherlands it is ideally located for the business and living of Europe. The city has water on three sides with the Veerse Meer lake close to the city centre. The local landscape is attractive, with extensive fields, characteristic hedging, elegant woodland areas, navigable waters, and many cycle and footpaths.

We were pleased to stop by along the sea coast where many people took the last summer spree. It was less expected that there's summer after september. As usual, the scene is completely piled by caravans and water-sport enthusiasts. Water skiing and wind surfing received the greatest performance.

The beach and the dunes are among the most beautiful and peaceful place to visit. Colorful kites were tagged by the wind that give picture of a splendid summer (after the time of wet August).

We went too to Vlissingen or Flushing to visit Ian's cousin since it is just 15 minutes drive from Middelburg. We had a nice time with them and shared dinner in a restaurant in the boulevard. We leisurely watched the ships passing just close by in our window while enjoying our food.
Vlissingen is part of SW Netherlands, on the southern coast of the former island of Walcheren. Its manufactures include shipbuilding, chemicals, and gears. Dairying, cattle, sugar beets, vegetables, grain, and fishing are also important.

Our photo while walking along the boulevard of Vlissingen.

We had a walk while the sun was just preparing to play hide and seek with us. The wind was just gentle letting us to ramp graciously along the passage.

The coast is really special here because the ships pass at the closest point from the shore. Nowhere in the world ships pass this closely to the shore. Big cargo and luxury freights navigate from the harbor of Rotterdam to the port of Antwerp in Belgium.

Hotels and restaurants stand with famous names upon surviving the tests of winds but breathtaking view to the sea.

The city has developed into a successful resort as well. Chartered in 1247, Vlissingen was one of the first Dutch towns to rebel (1572) against Spain. Because it dominates the approach (via the Western Scheldt) to Antwerp, Vlissingen has been the scene of several battles. During World War II the Allies captured (1944) the city from the Germans after bitter fighting ( Read more in the Wikipedia ).

Uuummh! I actually don't know some of these facts...not until I had read the Wikipedia. I just found it interesting, knowing my new country. I know where my roots came's also good to get close where my branch and my future fruits lies. :-)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Prinsjes' (Princes) Moments

I am absent from my Dutch lesson today. I am not feeling well, and I think I'm catching a flu. This time of transition, for sure this flu welcomes me to the Fall season. I have observed that as season changed, there's an accompanying bag of body pains and flu. Well, I'm just finding reason why I feel sick today :-)
Since I stayed home, I have sometime to blog...thanks that I am...:-) I actually like to write about my first enlightening trip during Prinsjesdag last September 19.

The parade of uniformed officers.

Literally, prinsjesdag means: day of the little princes...Ooh! oh! Sounds like enchanting. What is it? I went to Den Haag with my friend Lyn to see it by myself or by ourselves...We took the train which was very full and started musing around. Even inside the train, we're quite sure that those passengers are like us, expectants of the event. I had a hint, most people were older...uuhmm, my mind playing like ping-pong (table tennis)...probably these elders were of the age group of the Queen, maybe the playmates or schoolmates, or the fanatics.

Me and Lyn while waiting...

Actually, I already know what is it :-)Thanks to my teacher of Maatschappij Orientatie (Society Orientation). I also knew some trivia from my partner. But then I would like to see the majesty Queen Beatrix personally...there I went with Netherlands' flag.(HeHeHe! Just for fun, accesorized ourselves and complete the integration :-).

In the Netherlands every third Tuesday in September is known as Prinsjesdag. The day where the Queen rides in a golden carriage (Gouden Koats) from Palace Noordeinde (her working place) to the Knights Hall in the Binnenhof and reads the plans for the coming year to the States-general (Prime Minister) from the throne in the Ridderzaal and the minister of finance proposes the next year's budget to parliament. The government presents its annual budget. Parliament officially starts a new year on Prinsjesdag.

The carriage which was built in Dutch Renaissance style and partly gilded and is decorated with symbolic motifs. The coach is drawn by eight horses.

The Queen sits inside the golden carriage.

And so, at 1pm the parade had started. We stood in a very ideallyc spot at Lange Voorhout just close to the palace where we can see the royal family up-close and straightly without string attached. The streets of The Hague (Den Haag) are lined with loyal crowds, kids, elderlies and tourists, we joined in the throng and warned about the congestion.

We took pictures of course without any batting of eyelash :-)We did waved the Queen. Princes Maxima (wife of Prince Alexander, the succesor son of the queen) is really splendid. The golden coach that worth million euro was right in my nose. It was really delighting. The day was like a victory feast inside the kingdom.( I feel like one of the seven dwarfs...hehehe!).

This is our miniature photo of the Binnenhof. This was taken at the Maduro Dam exposition. This is how it looks during prinsjesdag inside the Binnenhof.

We can't get in inside the Binnenhof. The Binnenhof (inner court), is a collection of buildings in The Hague. It has been the location of meetings of the Staten-Generaal (the Dutch parliament) since 1446, and has been the centre of Dutch politics for centuries. More buildings were constructed around the court, several of which are well known in their own right, such as the Ridderzaal ( Knight Hall), where the queen holds her annual speech. Of course it was only for invited guests and dignitaries.
This day is one of the most traditional events in Dutch politics, involving the royal family, a meeting with all members of both houses of the Staten General, and cabinet in the Ridderzaal. On this occasion males wear their most formal dress, while females try to out do each other with extravagant hats ( Next time we will wear our gorgeous ones :-).

They said that during the end of the parade, the royal family rides back to Noordeinde then waves to the gathered monarchists at the balcony of the palace. We no longer wait for it 'çoz we had a lot to-do's in our list for the day. We can't stand too to smell the free cologne along the street. It was paraded with horses' expensive waste.

Inside are members of the Royal family.

Our stomachs were already complaining that we went to the all-time foreigners' favorite KFC. We found nice sits beside the glass window overlooking the views outside. Stylish lounge and the cosy lobby bar to unwind after a long wait during the parade, were our side dish for a pleasant lunch. Our meal was extra yummy that gives us more energy for our next steps.

Right photo is the approaching golden coach.

Since Binnenhof and parliament buildings are just a stroll away, we can't leave the city without a trip to its shopping arcade. Located in Den Haag at your feet with haut-couture, antiques, culture and numerous fine restaurants in our direct vicinity.
Many boutiques and shopping malls aligning along old streets. In addition, Den Haag offers majestic shopping opportunities in the historic Passage and the 'Haagsche Bluf' shopping center, Bij en Korf while all main department stores are a mere walk away. Uuuhh! We had a long time walking, thanks we had good walking shoes.

Of course, girls's fave again. Shoes, bags, accessories and scents's shops were deliberately scrutinized and visited. We can't finished the whole centrum. Well, we always go to this city actually but we just enjoying it while no man's dragging in our sides :-) (Hi ian, hi wietse:-)

"It was like treating ourselves in the fairyland and as time ticks...then put on our silver shoes to climb back to our castles' towers".

What a prinsjesdag! It was late afternoon then...we just walked to the train station. It was time to go home. We had a good time again. Hahaha! We better left our silver shoes down there in the city, 'çoz we have golds waiting at home :-)... Thanks Lyn for the day.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lage Vuursche: Revisited

We revisited Lage Vuursche yesterday on a very bright shining day. Our first visit here was last December for our first honeymoon. That was winter...and this time, it really pays a difference.

Yesterday was blessed with a sweaty 25C and even the rest of this week will have warmer days. As the sun shines and spreads its rays...people here in the Netherlands don't like to miss catching its blessings to radiate themselves and be willing to be sun's slave. Normally, people start to stand their tents and the hi-ways are throng with cars dragging their carts/vans for camping or any outdoor breaks. Last month, was a wet tempo in the flatland, and this month's is far from usual but close to the Dutch weather unpredictable mood.

Lage Vuursche is a town in the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is a part of the municipality of Baarn, and lies about 5 km west of Soest, in the middle of the forest. The village has been famous where Drakestein, the former residence castle of Queen Beatrix of the royal family, is situated just east of the village. The Queen of the Netherlands, sometimes stays to enjoy the beautiful scenery here.
Until 1857, the village was a separate municipality, under the name De Vuursche, together with the small hamlet "Hoge Vuursche". It then merged with the municipality of Baarn.

Lage Vuursche is centrally located between Amsterdam and Utrecht, that made it easily accessible. The village has only few inhabitants and vastly forested where you can walk or go for bicycle- or horseback riding. There are arrays of restaurants, hotel , souvenir shop and pan cake houses in the village center where also swarm of tourists, and locals winding around.

Our pictures are not very sharp. Photos are courtesy from my mobile fone 'coz we forgot our photocam...

We took an afternoon walk inside the woods for like an hour. My first walk here was only lasted for about a few steps since it snowed that time. I felt terribly cold since I was just a week old of my stay here in the lowland. Our walk lately was full of sightseeings. How green the surounding is. Pine and sturdy oak trees are standing aligned. How organized the Dutch people are :-) I can see it to the trees, uniformedly groomed and well-grown. The color of the leaves of some trees started to turn redish orange as Fall season is nearly awaiting. Schrub of black berries are along sides that I picked and ate some :-)

Colorful mushrooms named vliegenzwam or fly agaric ( fly mushroom) or toadstool in english (Amanita muscaria, scientific name) are also sprouting in the debris. And the last but not the least, are cows in the private ranch. What a nice place to live for these dairy four-footed beasts blessed with this bountiful nature. No wonder that they produced fresh....ffreshhhhhhhh milk :-)

We had passed Hotel "De Kastanjehof" (The Chestnut Yard) which is located on a idyllic spot in the beautiful woods of Lage Vuursche. The hotel is situated across the street from the small castle "Drakestein". This is where we stayed before.

Photo of one of the suites of the hotel (foto from www. de

The place has been able to preserve the atmosphere of old inns and stage-coaches as I remembered. This adds to the authenticity of the village Lage Vuursche that reminds of days long gone. It was so nice to have a glimpse of the woods and the place we stayed during the brighter days which was totally different last gloomy days. This charming hotel, decorated in English country style, gave us before the feeling of peace and comfort in a wonderful ambiance and I'm quite sure that's their remarkable service till now. De Kastanjehof's restaurant is well-known for its excellent kitchen too.

Right picture was our shot last December in the same suite as above.

Next to that hotel is the De Lage Vuursche Cafe-Restaurant. This is already 140 years old-place handed down to the present generation owners.

Our dinner was setted here last winter.

I already forgot what was our meal then but pretty sure it was heerlijk (delicious). We found a nice place to sit here closed to the fireplace. This is also a popular hang-out of some Dutch tv and radio celebrities since this village is nearby Hilversum, the Netherlands' tv entertainment hub.

The Pancake House.

As the sun slowly sets, we dropped by at the De Pannenkoekenhuis De Vuursche Boer for our take home pancakes. The shop was very busy but very well-setted place. Here you can choose assortment of pancakes that will suit your taste that satisfy your gastronomic wants.

After our order was handed we went back directly to my hubby's brother's home in Maartensdijk to share a family dinner. Maartensdijk is a lovely town just closed by the village. This is where our first destination actually for little David's 3rd birthday, hubby's white-haired nephew. After had our first stop here, that we headed to the forest to enjoy the rest of the sunny day...:-) Wat een gezellige dag te hebben! (What a pleasant day to have ! ).

P.S :
On our way-drive at A4 hi-way, we stopped at gas station to tank, and I found this cute stuff. I can't wait not to bring it with us...:-) His name now is MaCoy :-) I like to own a real one but not for now.