Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekend Round-up

What a glorious weekend! The weather (for the most part) remained beautiful, and we made the most of it!

Aware of our impending move, we tried to think up something different to do while still comfortable and enjoyable for the kiddos. With that in mind, on Saturday morning I finally caved to Markus's repeated suggestion of cycling to Delft. Delft is 9 km or so from The Hague (more from our house to our destination), which I know isn't much for you happy fit people out there but has always somehow seemed daunting to me. We decided that Markus would cycle the bakfiets with the kiddos and I would ride the Porsche. About 10 minutes into our trip, the weather turned ugly. The wind kicked up a bit and the sky started spitting (you know that nasty light drizzle that just smears around on your windshield because it's too light to really wipe properly). I had my doubts about proceeding, but this being Holland, we knew it could get worse, last all day or simply stop in another we pressed on. Thankfully, the drizzle did let up for most of the ride, and also thankfully the wind didn't. It turns out the winning formula for me keeping up with Markus on long cycle rides is him on the fully-loaded bakfiets and me on the Porsche with a headwind. The wind and weight slow his pace so much that I can ride comfortably. The cycle ride was no problem! Before we knew it, we were in Delft.

And just in time for the skies to open up more. Yuck. As Markus poetically noted, "For hundreds of years, people have sought refuge in the church. So shall we too today...from the weather." Into the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) we went. We've been in there before, but it's always pleasant to wander and look. The "New" Church was started in 1396 and took one hundred years to build. It's been through several devastations, but it stands proud and lovely today. The Nieuwe Kerk is the final resting place for the members of the House of Orange (Dutch royals).

The entry fee into the Nieuwe Kerk also gains you access to the Oude Kerk (Old Church), which we hadn't previously visited. Ellie is usually too church-ed out after one cathedral for us to risk another, but the weather was still gross so we decided to pay the Oude Kerk a visit. The Oude Kerk was started in 1246, though a wooden church had been on that site as early as 1050. The most notable feature of the Oude Kerk is its leaning tower (you can see it in the distance as Markus cycles towards town in the picture above). Unfortunately, little original remains inside. There have been too many fires and devastations, so inside looks fairly fresh and new with its white-washed stucco and awful '70s chandeliers.

After the churches, we had lunch at our favorite tearoom, Leonidas, where they are genuinely family-friendly. Toys, coloring materials, fun bendy straws, AND A CHANGING TABLE! Of course, we also like the food and the friendly staff. Did we warp to the States or what?!
The skies were clear again after lunch, but Ellie was pooped so home we went. I always enjoy Delft. If we were to stay here longer, I would want to buy a house and move there. It's a small town with a lot of personality and charm, and I never get tired of visiting it. Saturday was no exception. I was happy we made the cycle trip, and even happier I made it on the Porsche.
Saturday was Veteran's Day in The Netherlands, and The Hague (being the capital) put on a huge event on the Malieveld (the big field near our house). There was a military parade through town, acknowledged by a member of the royal family, and several hundred soldiers were decorated for peacekeeping efforts. There were military aircraft flyovers of the Malieveld for a long while, which Ellie really would have enjoyed if she hadn't been passed out cold by the time we got home.

After naptime, Markus and Ellie headed off to the grocery store to resolve our plastic water bottle issue (must recycle!) and Stephanie and I took a gallery stroll along the Noordeinde.

Sunday morning we kept our regular zoo appointment. Markus and Ellie looked at animals and braved tiny goats in the petting zoo, and Stephanie contently chewed on her baby carrier. Everyone was happy.

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