On Heaven's Doorstep

Discussion in 'The Village Square' started by Sjoerd, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Well then, the wintertime is always a more restful time for us, in terms physical of garden work. However, as I have posted before, it is also time to take off for a day or two now and then to do some hiking, take in a picturesque city walk, have a bite to eat at a decent restaurant and spend the night in a hotel. These trips are necessarily short, but we enjoy them like mini-vacations.

    This latest one took us to the city of Amersvoort. It is a nice and lovely city that is nice to see. I have been there a couple of times, but never when it was sunny. Sadly, once again, it was not sunny. It just does not seem to be possible. Ach wel.

    The plan was to drive down to Amersvoort and spend that first day taking a city tour, do some window-shopping and choose a restaurant. That was the plan, and that is exactly what we did.

    We got there and nestled ourselves in a parking garage that was wildly expensive. That sounds funny....we parked the auto in a garage, then. We went on sunday because the parking was supposed to be gratis on sunday (except on a koopzondag). This is a sunday when the stores are open. These special shopping days are few and do not often occur. Little did we know that the law had changed asndf now EVERY sunday is a shopping sunday....sooooo, the parking was NOT gratis. 15 euro's to park the whole day. Ouch!

    Oké, oké...I mustn't dwell on the negatives. Right then...off we went with our trusty GPS device in hand. I marked a waypoint once outside the parking garage and we began navigating the city. There was going to be a guided city tour, and we had to find the building where the guides were waiting. We found the location relatively quickly...in fact; we were too early by forty minutes. What to do. Well, that isn't really a question, is it. It would be unfair here to say something like--"My bride knew exactly what to do...shop". However...(rubbing the skillet lump on my scalp from that last indiscretion), I decide (in no uncertain terms NOT so say that). We decided to simply walk up and down the shopping streets and check out the windows.

    As the hour approached, we ducked into the alley and saw a chap standing outside the door puffing on a cigarette. We greeted and he told us that we were the only ones for the city tour. Well, the weather was cloudy and so we thought that it was no wonder. However, as the last minutes ticked the folks began to stream in from under every wee pebble in the cobbled street. Of course, there were a few folks that arrived later than the appointed time and naturally that elicited comments.
    Cigarettes out, the chatting stopped and after a few words of welcome, we were off.

    I shan't describe it all. For one thing, I have very few foto's because of the poor lighting and secondly because it would make this account way too long. Suffice to say, in a city centre that dated from the middle ages and had circular remnants of two city walls --there was quite a bit of interesting historical things to see and hear about from the guide.

    When the walls became obsolete, they were removed and houses were built on the fundaments. The houses were not deep (they could not be deeper than the wall had been wide), but they were wide (from right to left).

    The trip went by the symbol of the city--the Koppelpoort. Here it is from outside the city looking in:
    [​IMG]

    We first went out and had a peek and then went through the arch and looked at the back of this structure (from inside the walls).
    [​IMG]

    The guide told all about this and mentioned early stones from the Roman time. It was interesting to me to hear the Hx of the poort (gate), but by far the most surprising and interesting thing was...that our little group was allowed in. Yes, we could actually go inside this structure. This is not something that is generally allowed because of the ancient nature of the structure. There are still some original wooden bits present.

    What you see when you enter the small red and white striped door is wood work. There are two wheels left and tight of an enormously thick and heavy wooden slab. The wheels on either side turn and the heavy slab goes up or down.

    The purpose of the slab was to close the incoming water so that enemies could not enter the city, or if there were flood conditions...to keep excess water outside the city.

    Here you see one of the giant wheels that looks quite like a water mill.
    [​IMG]

    What happened was that every time the large slab needed to be raised or lowered, criminals were taken out of the jail and put on these great wheels and they would walk, like hamsters, until the slab was lowered or raised.

    When the chap had finished his explanation, six women were asked to volunteer to turn the wheels. They climbed into the two wheels and began to walk. As they walked, the slab began to rise.
    [​IMG]

    The wheels were very simply made and so was the "path". Here you can see the inside of the wheel a little bit. The horizontal "ribs" are for traction, of course.
    [​IMG]

    There was a little surprise when the dames were finished with their "work" (which was performed with not a little bit of laughter. They were so weak from the laughter that when they turned around to walk on that wheel in the other direction to raise the slab again, it was a struggle.
    Oh well, they were rewarded. They got a certificate stating that they were Raddraaiers and had performed the appointed task. My bride was one of those six comediennes, and so received a certificate.

    Well, I can tell you there was no joking about that--it was a treasured prize, and that was that. chuckle.

    We eased away when the guide returned us to the beginning of the walk. We breezed by more windows and went into some stores. It became dark early and when 17.00 hours rolled-around, we began to check out menues posted outside various restaurants.

    It came down to three: A Mediterranean restaurant, an Indian one and a Mexican one. My bride could not make up her mind, so I did it for her. It was to be the Mexican. Why Mexican, you ask? Because they advertised a plate with mole poblano. Here in Europe you do not see that sauce offered often, in fact until now I have not encountered a waitress that had any idea what it was.

    The mole poblano was oké, but a bit too sweet for me. Having said that, I did enjoy it and the meal thoroughly. Why, they even had black beans. I was on heaven's doorstep.
    --A random statement that sort of summed-up the entire 'vacation".

    The hotel room was great, very comfortable with all the amenities. The brekkie was buffet and I could stuff myself to the ears--I would need that, for the upcoming hike that day was an arduous one. We enjoyed it so much. It was a tract that was downloaded from the internet and put into the GPS.

    The hike took us over bike paths, foot paths, wild animal paths and no paths at all.
    [​IMG]

    It went through all sorts of terrain and there was wildlife to see, and more mushrooms:
    [​IMG]

    ...and these:
    [​IMG]

    Then from a distance to get an idea of the setting:
    [​IMG]

    Here a typical section of the hike:
    [​IMG]

    It was an interesting couple of days and when the hike was over and we were back at the auto, it was time to prop the feet up and have some hot tea before driving back across the Bird Dike to home, sweet home.
     
    Frank, waretrop, gardenelf and 14 others like this.
  2. Netty

    Netty Chaotic Gardener Plants Contributor

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    What a wonderful mini vacation! I can just imagine the laughter on that wheel! Tell me, what are those piles?
     
  3. Droopy

    Droopy Slug Slaughterer Plants Contributor

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    Amersvoort looks like a very interesting place to visit, and I would love to test the hamster wheel. :D

    Your hike scenery is lovely. And that's a BIG ant hill.
     
  4. marlingardener

    marlingardener Mighty Oak

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    I love the Stew! I can visit places I have no hope of seeing in person, and you, Sjoerd, have taken us on a vacation with you!
    I love the trail, and the historic building with the gigantic wheel (woman-powered, of course) and the view of Amersvoort.
    Is that a pile of pine needles and branches? Or as Droopy suggested, an ant hill (and I thought we had big ant hills here in Texas :rolleyes: !).
     



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  5. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Sjoerd thanks so much for the mini-vacation I enjoyed while reading your post and studying the photos. I love it when you travel and take us with you.
     
  6. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    What a lovely set of photographs Sjoerd!! I think I'd have fallen off the wheel if I'd tried it out. :oops: I hope your wife is going to frame that certificate and put it in pride of place for everyone to see.

    Ian and I have seen a few ant hills like those in London. When spring comes around and the weather gets warmer out come the ants. The Green Woodpeckers seem to time the emergence well as they are always hanging around waiting to their first ant feast of the year.
     
  7. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Hiya NETTY-- Those mounds are ant hills. They are primarily made of spar needles. There was indeed a lot of giggling and laughter on those wheels.

    Hahaha DROOPY--I can just picture on the wheel, running your little legs off. Gad!--I'd have to get that on film, wouldn't I...and once posted on YouTube, you'd become a star overnight. The anthill was large, to be sure, but I have seen them almost twice as tall in other places.

    Glad that you enjoyed the posting, MG--Yes, the pile is an anthill. I enjoy reading about your country and others on here as well.

    You are so welcome, TONI--I am so happy that you enjoyed the posting. It was fun to recall and record the trip on here.

    EILEEN--I do not think that you would have fallen off that wheel. When the ladies were treading on it it never turned very fast at all...and not for very long. The slab just had go up and down a few centimetres.
    Interesting that you have seen those anthills in London. I would have never expected that. The green woodpeckers were certainly a bonus too...or at least they would be for me.
     
    Philip Nulty likes this.
  8. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    What a great way to spent those couple of days, very interesting.
     
  9. Philip Nulty

    Philip Nulty Strong Ash

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    Great pictures of your trip Sjoerd,..and a very good explanation of what we see,..i love those old buildings,..very nice post and enjoyable.
     
  10. Danjensen

    Danjensen In Flower

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    Thx for posting S, hope the lump on your head clears up soon :D

    Sounds like a great weekend, reckon the gps came in handy on some of those paths...

    Out of interest is there a specific hotel chain you use for city breaks in the netherlands?

    Thx for a great morning read buddy.
     
  11. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    Glad you took us along on your mini-vacation. Very enjoyable.
    Now... when will we be going on another one and to where? :-D
     
  12. V for short

    V for short Seedling

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    Thank you for sharing, Sjoerd. Loved reading about your adventure and seeing the pictures.
     
  13. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    Sjoerd, are any portions of the city defensive walls erected in 1300 and 1450 still standing?

    If so do you know how thick they were?

    Jerry
     
  14. bunkie

    bunkie Young Pine

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    Wonderful post and trip Sjoerd! Love the pics!
     
  15. Kay

    Kay Girl with Green Thumbs

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    Hi Sjoerd! I loved your story. So nice that you two get to go on adventures! This looked like a wonderful place. I find it interesting that you found a Mexican restaurant to eat at!
     

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