Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cks From The Hague

Cks is in The Netherlands completing a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for Teachers.

For those of you who have been reading cks’ “letters,” here’s her latest followed by my response below the star line.


I cannot thank the US taxpayers enough for funding such a program that allows teachers the opportunity to study a particular period of history in depth as well as the ability to visit many of the museums which hold items to which they refer in their classrooms; and to visit those places that have played such an important role in the development of our own civilization.

Going from London to a small, leafy suburb in the Netherlands has been in some ways a culture shock. Riders on horses clip clop outside my apartment window during the day. I bicycle into the small town nearby or can walk (though I have not yet) to the North Sea beach that is about three miles away.

We have been on walking tours of both Amsterdam and Den Hag. Tomorrow I am off to Doorn to visit the castle and resting place of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Mostly, at this phase of the seminar program, I am expected to (and am working on) writing a paper that relates to what we have read and observed.

This coming week we are off to northern Netherlands to see the polders and dikes as well as the industries of that region. Our last site visit is the following week to Leiden and Haarlem.

While in the Netherlands, one is in a position to take side trips to visit many places - however, for me, until I am finished with my writing and reading, such meanderings will be put on hold.

Thank you again for your suggestions (and those of others) of places to see while in London.

If you have any suggestions of places in the Netherlands or Belgium to visit I am open to them as well.


Dear cks,

Thanks for keeping us informed.

My favorite part of Amsterdam is the Canal district. It’s not heavily commercial or touristy. It's largely a residential area great for casual strolling.

Almost all the buildings are old, architecturally harmonious and appealing, at least to me.

The area has many nice cafes and restaurants locals favor.

Don’t miss the side streets between the main canal streets. You'll find in those streets many interesting shops.

Breda is a small city not far from The Hague. Most tourists overlook it, but it’s a jewel.

Check it out on the Net to see if you think it might appeal to you.

If you go, don’t miss the Grote Kerk.

Good luck.

Keep in touch.




Anonymous said...

cks, you really should visit Bruges in Belgium. It was considered the Venice of the North and is quite beautiful with many of its building dating back to the 13th century. Also, along the canal there is a place called the Beguinage, where many of the weavers of Belgian lace show their wares. The Ardennes is quite beautiful also and it will be well worth you effort to visit some of the WWII cemeteries their in the Flemish part of Belgium. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Dear JinC and Anon:

Thank you for the suggestions. have not been to far afield of late as reading and writing have occupied my time. Did go back to Amsterdam and to Delft this weekend. I had been to the Anne Frank house many years ago and since that time a museum has been added that gives much more context to the visit - I think it would be a wonderful place for all people to go to as one cannot but helped be moved by what the Franks (and those with them) endured but also the selflessness of those that enabled them to remain in hiding as long as they did. I also went to the Rijksmuseum - there is an annex open while they remodel so that one can see the highlights (including of course the Night Watchmen) of the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic. In Delft I visited the last remaining Delft pottery works and saw how the porcelain is made and decorated. That is very fascinating and worth the price that one pays for the tour. I also visited the Prizenhof where William the Silent was assassinated (he is the first ruler to have been assassinated with a pistol). The Prizenhof is a very intersting museum - originally it was a convent. The collection of paintings, artifacts, furniture, guns, etc. are something else. The exhibits are mounted in such a way that information about all aspects of what one is seeing is reaadily available to all. My traveling companion and I (a wonderful librarian from NC) ate lunch in the town square and listened to a hurdy gurdy which instead of having a monkey to go around and collect money from all assembled had a young man and woman who danced as little jig as they went from table to table. It was intersting to watch the hurdy gurdy operate the wheel that made the machine play its music. The all day antiques market in Delft had a variety of inteesting items - not the least of which were a number of dealers selling old wooden skates. I would have bought a pair to bring home to show my students but at this point I am afraid that with the books I have purchased I will already be way overweight in my luggage.
One final note - I have to comment on the death of Harry Patch - the last British Tommy to fight in WWI. It is amazing to think that he was badly wounded in his first engagement - at Passenchaendale - all his companions died in the fighting of that battle yet he survived and returned to fight until mustered out at the war's end. It will be five years this August 1st until the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. It is little taught in today's classrooms - perhaps if it were as well as the disastrous treaty that followed, there would be an appreciation of how much the world was changed in that very short period of time.