Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Little Downtime

Oh my goodness- the house feels so empty! The Nosers JUST left, about 5 minutes ago, and the silence is deafening. Well, save for the skittering of the neighbors on the other side of the wall behind me. That Michael- he is busy doing something fun, it sounds like.

The Visit: A Breif Essay, By Kari Noser (Grade 9)

To deliver a taste of Heemstede, nevermind the Netherlands in it's entirety, is a fairly complex undertaking. There were so many things we did not see that were on the agenda, but as the visit drew to an end we realized that we are all only human and cannot consume and digest everything in the area in just a few days. With Kip's family the guinea-pigs for our tour guide services, I hope that we accomplished our main objective- to instill the want to come back and visit, the sooner the better.

Of course, we dragged them to the woods- Heemstede would basically be another dot on the map if it weren't for the Wandelbos Groenendaal. It's current state, with leaves changing and falling, locals and their four-legged companions fogging the paths with warm breath in the crisp air, and the gentle smell of the earth, the ponds, and the decomposition of wood and leaves- the wandelbos IS autumn. We walked the woods twice- once with no real aim, just to see; the other with the pancake house as our layover until we could meander home with bulging stomachs in a pancake daze. Even if you were to fight, I think you still would not keep from becoming enchanted by these woods. I cannot wait to see how they transform in the next three seasons.


With only one bicycle to our name, we lead our guests about by foot a great deal, and the weather was very forgiving. There was only one day of rain, and that was this past Tuesday, and vacation-weary, we all decided to take a day of rest. What we deemed to far to walk we achieved by bus and rail, which expanded the visit outside the boundaries of Heemstede and into Haarlem and Amsterdam.

In Haarlem we took them to one of the grandest market days in the area and gorged ourselves on the fried deliciousness of oliebollen- a sphere of fried dough with something delicious in the middle, possibly rolled in sugar, and dusted with powdered sugar if you desire. Certainly messy. Absolutely lekker.

Ik ben een Berliner.


After oliebollen, we moved on to the marketplace and wandered for awhile amidst the vendors- marveling at the baker's variety, admiring the fashions available from the clothing vendors, gaping at the low price of lobster, shrugging our shoulders at the identity of several produce items, breaking down and getting some fresh and hot stroopwaffle to share, nibbling a wedge of cheese, and finally ordering a cone of fritijes (french fries, but better) to hold us over until dinner.



We hit a cute little tourist shop in search of Delft and souveniers, and then meandered back to the bus as the sun set at 4:30 pm.


In Amsterdam we meandered through the city and took in Anne Frank's house one afternoon, NEMO (a hands-on science museum aimed at the kid in all of us) the other. Anne Frank was heart-wrenchingly powerful and exquisitely presented, and I was able to take it in with two eyes- no photography allowed. I can't wait to go again and again with future visitors, to take in the subtle details and spend more time in the interactive computer-lab part of the museum.


NEMO was such a hit with all of us that we lamented only haivng 2 hours to play there, and not going there sooner- Megan's favorite was the bubble area, where you can put yourself in a bubble tube (with help from a friend) or blow a giant bubble from a window-pane of soap. So hard to describe, better with photos:




The jewel of the visit had to be Paris, in my opinion. I love Paris- understatement of the year, and cliche to boot- many people have a place where they walk taller, breathe easier, as if they had a belt about their ribcage that was released the moment they arrive. For me, that place is Paris. This being my fourth trip to the City of Lights, it was like the embrace of an old friend stepping out of the train station and into the night in Paris. Maybe because it was the first trip I ever made overseas, as myself on a class trip rather than with parents, or perhaps that I actually SPEAK THE LANGUAGE, that I hold the city with such fondness- I told Megan (one of the many times she was working through her excitement and anxiety of going to Paris the week of our trip) that because of who she is, when she is in Paris she will feel her heart open wide and the city will sneak in and take root; after she visits Paris, there will always be a part of her heart that belongs to the city, and she will feel whole when she goes back again and again. I hate to brag, but I was 100% right.

Seeing La Tour Eiffel For The First Time

In a whirlwind we saw the Pyramids of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower (of course), the Arc de Triumph, meals at cafes, the fountains at Georges Pompidou, and Sacre Coeur. All too quickly and too breifly, like a meal of appetizers. Kip and I celebrated our 11th anniversary in the city we honeymooned in, walking through Paris for hours and hours until fatigue and abused feet forced us to return to the hotel. Megan was angry, disappointed and broken-hearted to leave just 43 hours after arriving, and declared that she wants to move to Paris and leave the Netherlands. Me too, kid.


As long as two weeks sounds, they were over far too soon. (Granted, part of their time was spent in France, so it didn't really seem like we saw them for two weeks.) Now off to start the renewal process- laundry, dusting, folding and putting things in place for the next round of visitors next month. Three weeks until the next arrivals- our dear friends the Yoburns and Auntie Kathryn (who's absence was felt so many times over the last 2 weeks- we would board a train or gather for a meal and someone would say, "Who's missing?" and we would realize it was Kathryn). Wait- only three weeks? I may never get my office clean in time!


Anne said...

The woods there are incredible and I don't think there is any possible way one can decribe them, you just have to walk through them to truly appreciate. :)

And yes, 2 weeks was not nearly enough time. I was torn between wanting to stay forever and wanting to get home to my sister and my puppies. But I was happy to get back to a country where English is the primary language. :)

Miss you guys and really wish I could stow away in Kathryn's bag. But no worries, we will be back.

Jesse said...

I don't know how I missed that Eiffel Tower picture the first time through. MY GOD I can't wait to go. You pretty much got the ideal tower picture I've wanted for years and years and years.

Kari said...

Bring your tripod. Pain to lug around, but definitely worth it!