A famous Philadelphian, the patron saint of the
University of Pennsylvania, the guy without whom the Internet
wouldnít work because he was the one who discovered electricity,
Benjamin Franklin, once said, "Fish and visitors stink after three
days." That may generally be true but we had a visitor recently who
was the exception to this rule. The visitor was our son Bruce who
stayed for 11 days and he still didnít stink. Lynn and I were
thrilled to have him for that long.
Bruceís visit got off to an inauspicious start.
His plane was three hours late getting in. The train ride to
Schiphol Airport to get him is about 40 minutes from Delft. Itís
usually 40 minutes back, too, but this day it was two and a half
hours. Weíre having bad train karma recently. There was no
particular reason that was evident but trains just kept being
annulled. Somehow we made it home. His body clock was way out of
whack having left Los Angeles four days before, spending three days
or so in the east with his girlfriend Corey for a wedding, and then
coming here. Adrenalin kept him awake for a bit but when he finally
sunk, he sunk like a rock.
During his first few days here, we took a few day
trips. The three of us went to Amsterdam for a day. He liked the
Gogh museum very much and was blown away by the
Anne Frank House.
Iíve been to the Anne Frank House three times now, and itís always
very moving. When reading the history of the time, one might try to
imagine what it was like being in those rooms, looking out that
window and seeing the streets below. When there, that IS the window.
Those ARE rooms. Thereís nothing to imagine. This place is called a
museum but itís not; itís the real thing. Otto Frank had a business
in the front. The "annex" was in the back. What separated the main
house from the annex was a bookcase that was secretly hinged to the
wall. Seeing that bookcase is breathtaking to me. Perhaps youíve
seen a picture of it. If not you can go
here where there is a picture
of that bookcase and the whole story of the Anne Frank House. This
was the first thing we visited in Amsterdam when we initially got
here and itís a "must see." It costs Ä7.50 to get in and itís well
worth it. The lines can be monstrously long, so go early. It can
take almost an hour to walk through.
We went to Den Haag and also the Scheveningen
beach for a day. Who remembers how to pronounce that? In case you
missed it, there was a piece a while back about
doing just that. We
have since learned that during WWII, that name was used as a
password to get into some places because the Dutch could thereby
identify Germans who somehow are incapable of making that sound. My
experience has been that there are a whole lot of sounds here that a
whole lot of people are incapable of making, for instance "Hugo
Grotius." Hugo was a judge here in the 17th century and
heís the guy who used natural law as a premise for international
law. I use the Anglo form of his name because thatís whatís on his
statue. My fellow Americans (and other readers of this piece),
please believe me when I tell you that the chances are virtually nil
that you can pronounce "Hugo Grotius" correctly.
Bruce and I went for a day to Brussels without
Lynn who expected to take the day off but had an emergency at work
she had to attend to. We took the car to Brussels and drove through a
town called Asse. Bruce wanted a picture of the sign saying we were
entering Asse. Across the street there was a sign saying people in
that direction were leaving Asse. The signs indicating "leaving" are
the town name with a line through it. One could interpret that as No
Asse. Be that as it may, we continued on to Brussels.
Our day in Brussels wasnít going to be very long
so we went to the area of the Hotel de Ville in the GrandíPlace.
This name, GrandíPlace is an accurate description; the place is
spectacular to look at in its ornateness. Is that a word? The name
Hotel de Ville is not unique. There are several in Europe that I
know of and Lynn and I have even been to two, one in Brussels, and
one in Paris. They are not hotels but rather are, or were, municipal
buildings. The one in Brussels is a rectangle like a middle-age
mansion with detailed carvings on every surface. Itís an amazing
sight. Each side of the GrandíPlace is spectacular in its own way.
This website has a nice picture of
Hotel De Ville at night
This one has a less wonderful picture of the same thing but it
has a slideshow where you can see other sides of the GrandíPlace,
the nearby Manneken Pis (look closely and youíll see why heís called
that Ė youíre not imagining what you think you see), and the Palais
Royal where the famous Albert II, King of Belgium lives.
This last one has a lot of the same pictures I took. Start from
"Pictures Ė Brussels" and go down. He has a great picture of Rue des
Bouchers which is an area of at least a zillion outdoor restaurants.
They work like the hookers in Amsterdam in that thereís someone
standing in front of each one trying to get you to come in to
separate you from your money. Two pictures below that one, there is
a picture of the Hotel de Ville from a distance. Third from the
bottom is another shot of Manneken Pis.
On the fifth day of Bruceís visit, he and I took
off for a few days collecting countries. More about that in the next
installment arriving soon.
See my pictures of