Day Thirteen

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Tigres de Voyage

May 23, 2002
Thursday

By Car to Antwerp - No Firm Plans

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Breakfast in Arnhem

The Kröller-Müller Art Gallery

The Kröller-Müller Sculpture Garden

Holland Castle Misadventure

Interesting Signs in Dutch

Antwerp, Hotel, and Dinner

Day 12 Return to Main Page Day 14

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Breakfast in Arnhem

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Dave: The Mercure in Arnhem was a step up in quality from the places where we had been staying on this trip. We stayed to have the breakfast (a little overpriced by our standards) but then skipped our morning ritual of finding a "bakerij". Jesse was particularly fond of the little boxes of chocolate shavings. He could not decide what they were for, but decided that it did not matter.

Good Morning from the Mercure Arnhem

Breakfast at the Mercure Arnhem

"Good Morning" greeted us at our table
The modern breakfast area at the Mercure Arnhem

Breakfast at the Mercure Arnhem Breakfast at the Mercure Arnhem.

Our room at the Mercure Arnhem

We enjoyed a marvelous breakfast
Our room was modern, clean and functional

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The Kröller-Müller Museum Art Gallery

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Dave: The famous Kröller-Müller museum was located just a couple miles from our hotel, so we made a brief stop that ended up lasting all morning. The brochures mentioned a "collection of Van Gogh's", but nothing prepared us to step into the gallery and encounter one after another after another of the artists famous works.

Flash photography was not allowed, so some of these pictures are a little blurry. If you are ever in the area, make sure to schedule a visit. I can't wait to see the actual "Van Gogh Museum" in Amsterdam on our next trip.

Seurat's "Le Chahut": Kröller-Müller Museum Art Gallery

Van Gogh's "Olive Grove": Kröller-Müller Museum Art Gallery

Van Gogh's "Langlois Bridge": Kröller-Müller Museum Art Gallery

Seurat's "Le Chahut"
Van Gogh's "Olive Grove"
Van Gogh's "Langlois Bridge"

This was a Wednesday, so the place was crawling with school groups, one group each from an elementary, middle, and high school; and all of them walking around carrying worksheets to fill out.

The middle school kids were rambunctious. We watched as a couple high schoolers snuck off into the nearby woods unnoticed. Also, a museum proctor angrily walked a couple kids to the front door cursing and muttering at them.

What was most interesting to us, of course, was that all of this was being done in Dutch, but was exactly what might occur with USA schoolkids in a USA museum.

Vast collection of Van Gogh oils: Kröller-Müller Museum Art Gallery

Van Gogh oil paintings, one after another

Jesse at the Kröller-Müller Museum Art Gallery

Kröller-Müller Museum Art Gallery

Kröller-Müller Museum Art Gallery

Elementary School Kids with their worksheets
High-school kids with their worksheets

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The Kröller-Müller Museum Sculpture Gardens

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Dave: The grounds around the Kröller-Müller museum also has a famous sculpture collection. We couldn't resist having some fun.

They also have hundreds of the famous "white bicycles" which you can jump on and ride about to enjoy the surrounding parkland. I noticed, however, that most of the "locals" rode in on their own bikes.

The famous white bicycles at the Kröller-Müller Museum Sculpture Gardens

The famous white bicycles; free, to tour the grounds

Kröller-Müller Museum Sculpture Gardens

Kröller-Müller Museum Sculpture Gardens Kröller-Müller Museum Sculpture Gardens

Dave poking some fun at tourists everywhere
Jesse enjoying our day at Kröller-Müller

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Holland Castle Misadventure

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Dave: We found a  brochure for some local castles presented by the area historical society ("Kastelen in Gelderland"). It was in our hotel lobby and clearly written in English. We had enjoyed similar castle visits during our trip to England, so we called upon two of them today on our drive from Arnhem to Antwerp. WE WERE VERY FRUSTRATED and WANT TO WARN anybody reading this page to AVOID OUR FATE.

At the first castle, Castle Hernon (Kasteel Hernon), we found the door locked and this DUTCH-only note taped there. No English translation and no universal Euro-symbols. We guessed that the castle was closed except for tours and that a guide would be available at 10, 11, 2, 3, and 4. It was 2:10 and we were in no mood to wait an hour to see if our guess was correct. So we took some exterior pictures of the castle and moat (our real goal) and headed on our way. While walking around, we heard the squeal of schoolkids screeching from the windows and clanging metal items inside, so we were glad to be going!

Sign in Dutch -- Who needs English?

At the second castle (Kasteel Ammersoyen) we encountered another Dutch sign hand-taped to the front entrance. Guessing that it meant "go away, we are closed", we proceeded in anyway and encountered an abandoned, "ghost town" scene. We walked about and let ourselves into various rooms by simply trying random doors and finding several unlocked. Finally, a woman appeared, hurriedly leaving work for the day, and explained that the "castle was closed". Of course, we had already guessed that fact, it being a Thursday in the off-season. But she added that we might meet another woman in the basement reception area through the door that she was just leaving from.

We followed her direction, and met a polite woman that patiently confirmed our suspicion, that it was off-season, that another group happened to be using the castle interior today for a meeting, and that we were free to walk about the outer grounds and take pictures of the castle exterior (our actual goal anyway).

I mentioned our frustration at encountering Dutch-only signage at the front entrance to both of the two castles we visited today. How were we expected to know what was going on, what we should do? With a sarcasm usually reserved for the French, she mentioned that she had recently visited the USA and "not one sign I encountered was in Dutch". We smiled and nodded and kindly agreed with her, then gave each other the secret signal that means "kiss my American ass".

She failed to admit that had the hotel brochures been written only in Dutch, or had they stressed such blatant "Yankee Go Home" Dutch ethno-centrism, we would not have wasted our precious vacation time on these sites. But then, we did not mention that we previously joined both the English Heritage and Welsh Historic Trust historical preservation societies, providing them in excess of $120 for their important work (and gave exactly SQUAT to the self-centered Dutch).

We also failed to mention that we would eventually be posting the story of our trip on our "English Language" web site (This Page) and registering that page in Google, where we would advise all English-only speakers (from any country in the world) to AVOID ANY VISIT to the "Castles of Gelderland" until they enter the 20th century. First, international symbols are required everywhere in Europe and second, it is not just "Ugly Americans" that do not speak Dutch. English is the second language the world over for people whose native tongues range from  Portuguese to Japanese among hundreds of others. This is only common sense.

So, if by chance you visit central Holland, do yourself a favor and stop for a long lunch instead of visiting these castles. You see, I actually speak two languages: English and Euros, and they go hand-in-hand. By the way, how delightful for me to research and find that both the web site for "Castles in Gelderland" and for the "Friends of Gelderland Castles" are written only in Dutch! If these groups are looking for patrons and benefactors to help with their preservation work, they must only be looking only in their own small neighborhood. For Shame!

Jesse at Castle Hernon

We walked the grounds and took this panorama at Castle Hernon 

Kasteel Ammersoyen

Jesse at Castle Hernon

Jesse at Castle Hernon

We met a docent at Kasteel Ammersoyen who explained why
international symbols and English text were unnecessary!

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Interesting Sights in Holland

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Interesting Signs in Holland

Dave: Here are two interesting signs we encountered on the grounds near Kröller-Müller.  Since we weren't sure, we just assumed they meant "be more careful than normal". Seemed like a safe bet. "Snelheidscontrole" probably meant " police radar" but the woman scientist in the labcoat with the clipboard is still a mystery.

Helpful E-Mail friends have since explained what should have been obvious, she is dressed as a nurse and the warnings are that if you speed you will either get a ticket, a wreck, or end up in the hospital! And the signs roughly translate as "you will regret it when you drive too fast". (And we were right about the radar).

"Let Op!" (slow down) was delightful, and we would exclaim it loudly from time to time whenever conversation lagged while driving in Holland. Along with "Watch out for 'Dremples' " (that translate for both the English terms "speed bumps" and "door jambs").

Interesting Signs in Holland

Interesting Signs in Holland: Let Op! Drempels

Commercial Signs: Both of us got a chuckle out of the happy dough-boy and these over-sized milk bottles.

Interesting Signs in Holland

Interesting Sights in Holland

Windmills: On our way to Antwerp, these windmills caught our eye in the city of Heusden, just off the freeway.

Windmills in Heusden, Holland

Windmills in Heusden, Holland

Heusden: Nummer I  
Heusden: Wielmolen Nummer III

Shopping in Antwerp: In Antwerp, we ran into this Belgian rip-off of America's Home Depot (the Doe-Het-Zelf warehouse), and the "best sports store in Belgium" (we loved saying "winkle").

Interesting Signs in Belgium

Interesting Signs in Belgium

24 Hr Brood-Mart

"24 Hour Shopping:" Instead of having 24 hour stores and gas stations, Belgium had 24 hr "access" instead. Here the gas station and bakery are both closed, yet allow customers to purchase items after hours using unattended credit card and vending machine technology. Better than no access at all, like many places in Europe but a far cry from the 24/7 availability we are24 Hour Gas Station in Belgium accustomed to in the USA. Whenever these are tried in the US, they go unused because of either vandals or thieves.

 

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Antwerp, Hotel, and Dinner

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Dave: We arrived in Antwerp around 5pm, and were surprised to find that the Novotel was in an industrial area, between the freeway and the busy industrial port area. Oh well, no need to worry about unsavory characters hanging around the hotel, since nobody lived within three miles of the place.

We drove into Antwerp stopping to take pictures. We found the riverfront area unappealing and traffic was backed up due to a traveling carnival passing through town. We circled about, got lost, and generally, did not enjoy ourselves at all. We finally drove out from Centrum and ate Chinese Food (Chinees) for dinner.

Construction project in Antwerp

Construction in downtown Antwerp

Antwerp riverfront parking and apartments

Antwerp Art Museum

Antwerp riverfront parking and apartment blocks
Antwerp's stately Museum of Art 

Chinese dinner in Antwerp

Chinese dinner in Antwerp

Canard l'Orange was delicious
Jesse enjoying our "Chinees" dinner

We were intrigued by the warming trays brought to the table to keep the food warm. This permitted a Euro-style two hour dinner without letting the food get cold. What a great idea, and the canard d'lornge was fantastic!

Day 12 Return to Main Page Day 14


Original Web Upload May 2002
Last Update: March 18, 2008