An American Couple in Delft
Home Up Initial Dispatch Letter from Holland Christmas in the Netherlands Thanksgiving Driving Initimate Experiences Intimate Experiences - followup Two Wheelers Big Night Out in Delft So This Was Christmas Word Play Space Domiciles Bringing a Car up to European Standards St. Who? Weekend in Maastricht Dutch Health Care The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars Queen's Day Liberation Day et al Power Cycling I Love It in the Springtime Independence Day Far Away We Moved! A Real Home Train Ride from Hell Berlin On the Road Again - Part 1 On the Road Again - Part 2 Striking It Rich Christmas Bazaars Istanbul Turkish Rug Dealers You Are Invited to Take Advantage of the Chambermaid Barcelona It's All Greek to Me Singapore Sydney Adelaide Perth Prague Copenhagen Getting What You Ask For European Dogs Ye'll Take the High Road and I'll Take the Low Road Normandy Roman Holiday London at 60 Tijuana Jail Tijuana Jail - Part 2 Winter of Our Hibernation Blizzard of 07 Milan Schiphol Men's Room Sweden Dordrecht Grand Tour Neuschwanstein Russian Consulate Stockholm Munich Dachau Moscow St Petersburg Switzerland Vienna The End

Big Night Out in Delft

Someone at Lynnís office told her that there would be lots going on in town the other night. We were unaware of this because we canít read any of the signs, or maybe there werenít any signs but the locals all knew about it because theyíre locals. Central Delft is pretty compact and although people are crammed in here, there are only so many people that can live in a given area. They were all out and each one brought ten friends. I canít imagine where they all came from.

We first went to the Beestenmarkt.  This is a small square that is lined with lots of shops and restaurants. By my own personal estimate, there are more restaurants per person in Delft than anywhere else in the world. Last summer while visiting, we had dinner in the Beestenmarkt and many of the restaurants had outdoor tables. It was just such a pleasant atmosphere with people and bikes around, not a car in sight, hardly any extraneous noise, and nobody in any big hurry. In winter, itís a bit different. Nobody was sitting outside with a glass of wine. Even if someone wanted to, the area in the middle of the market was taken up with an ice skating rink. In the summer, the tables in the square are set among some tall, old trees. When the rink was laid down, they didnít move the trees, of course, but they built small fences around each tree. Hanging from the branches of each tree was a lantern with a reddish orange light surrounded by some kind of crepe paper and a fan giving the effect of a fire in an oil lamp. It was something out of Hans Brinker. One man told me that the Dutch love to skate but because of things like global warming that some presidents of the U.S. donít acknowledge as real, there are few opportunities to skate on the canals anymore because they only freeze about once in ten years.

We left the Beestenmarkt and wandered over to the Brabantse Turfmarkt  where each Saturday vendor in carts sell produce, antiques, bric-a-brac, and assorted junk. There are crafts people there doing what they do best. Except for restaurants, Delft shuts down at about 6PM on weekdays, but this night all the artisans and fruit and vegetable guys were out in bulk. It was packed. There was even a man making wooden shoes right there on the spot, and what a kind, old gent he was. He loved talking about his craft as he went about doing what he does. Of course, I didnít understand much of what he said but this was about atmosphere, not a technical instruction on how to make wooden shoes in ten easy lessons.

When we got to the end of the market near our house, there was someone selling Christmas trees. Lynn wants to make our rather sparse temporary apartment a bit brighter so thought we would get a tree. All our usual Christmas decorations are somewhere between Lansdale and Rotterdam, and this includes the big tree stand we have. We opted for a small tree in a bucket of dirt so we wouldnít have to get a new stand. Instead of the six to six and a half foot tree of American days, we picked out one thatís about five feet including the bucket which itself is about a foot. (Notice I still use feet. If I had said "Instead of the 183cm to 198cm tree of American days, we picked out one thatís about 152cm including the bucket which itself is about 30cm" you wouldnít have known what the hell I was talking about. The numbers are accurate but rounded off to the nearest centimeter.)

So now we are the proud owners of our first Dutch Christmas tree. Letís take it home. What does an American do when he buys a Christmas tree? He puts it in the car, right? Where is our car? Same as the other stuff, somewhere between Lansdale and Utrecht. Besides, we couldnít have gotten the car to this spot anyway, and the car is too small to hold a tree any larger than a poinsettia plant. But the tree was small, so we thought Iíd carry it the three blocks home. What a bad idea. I lifted this thing and fortunately my back is still intact. I think itís the load of dirt at the bottom. So what to do. Every Dutch household has something you hardly ever see in the U.S., at least in the Ďburbs. We got a dual purpose grocery cart. I used to see these when I lived in center city and people walked to the supermarket. This one is a bit different because the place where the groceries go is a detachable thing that resembles a backpack. By removing the backpack and extending the gizmo at the bottom, it turns into something like a dolly or handcart. Lynn babysat the tree and was entertained by the police subduing the town drunk, while I went home to get this contraption. Ten minutes later I returned, the police were still subduing the drunk, and we walked home with our new tree. Tonight we put the lights on and we are in business!


© 2008 Rick Wexler   last updated February 21, 2008