Thursday, April 2, 2009

Still in Amsterdam

Yes, we thought we would be moving on to Muiden yesterday, but we're blaming the wind for the delay. Yesterday was pretty breezy—around 20 mph—and that makes it difficult for us to maneuver. We could get off the dock fine since the wind is currently behind us, but we were leery of the drawbridges, locks, and the new unknown marina with our rusty boat-handling skills. Beside that, we do like it here, and our harbormaster isn’t in any hurry for us to leave either. The forecast is for considerably less wind tomorrow, so maybe we’ll leave then.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing more of Marike again, and that’s been wonderful. March 21st we took a day trip down memory lane to Amersfoort. I’d only been back once in 2004, and Marike had only visited a couple of times herself.

One of our two prime destinations was the former Nefkens family home. The house looks good, but Marike noticed some changes from when she lived there. I kind of hoped that the current owners would notice us loitering on the street and question us. Then we could say that we used to live there and maybe be invited in. No such luck. Some guys working on the landscaping did ask us what we were doing, but that’s all.Nefkens family homeThe former Nefkens family home. I loved this house and the people who lived there.

John didn’t want to come with us, but he did ask that we bring him some beer from the Drie Ringen brewery. I suppose we could have found it in a local store (it isn’t generally distributed outside of Amersfoort), but we decided to visit the brewery itself in the scenic old city. Between the house and the brewery we drove by another house where I lived and the old gymnasium around the corner, past Marike’s old schools, the building that housed her dad’s former Opal dealership and garage, and houses in the neighborhood where Marike’s family lived before I knew them. We also visited the cemetery where Marike’s parents are buried. They were very good to me, and I would have loved to see them again, but I returned much too late for that.Koppelpoort from the insideA view of the Amersfoort Koppelport from inside the old city. The Drie Ringen brewery is on the left. You can barely see a few people standing outside it.

When we got to the old city, we found it filled with people. It turns out that the city charter for Amersfoort was signed 750 years ago, and we were there on the opening day of the festivities to celebrate the anniversary. If not for the crowds, we would probably have spent more time wandering around enjoying the old town. The weather was beautiful.Lange JanAnother Amersfoort landmark is the Lange Jan, the bell tower of the old cathedral.

Last Friday Marike did a great job again in picking the weather for a canal boat ride around Amsterdam, and official tour. Although we’ve spent considerable time on the water here, it was fun and relaxing to do it again, and Marike hasn’t had the same opportunities to enjoy being on the water. To top off that excursion, Marike treated us to refreshments at Bickers aan de Werf, the little restaurant here whose terrace we walk across going to and from the boat. It was the first time we’d actually stopped there and gone inside.John and Shirlee at Bickers a/d WerfThe inside of Bickers a/d Werf

This past Monday I met Marike and her sister Gemma for lunch. It was so much fun to see Gemma again. Although she lives in Amsterdam, we hadn’t been able to arrange a time before. Gemma and I arrived at about the same time before Marike, but we managed to recognize each other. The third Nefkens sister, Relinde, lives in Utrecht, and it hasn’t worked out to get together with her. I loved talking with Gemma; she was very good about sticking to Dutch even when I lapsed into English, and I really appreciate that.Shirlee and Gemma at the restaurant at the WaagGemma and I on the terrace of the restaurant at the Waag

The big surprise and extra treat was that after lunch Marike invited me to ride with her to Den Ilp to see where she lives and to meet another of the Heyboer women, Maria. After having spent so many years virtually cloistered in Den Ilp, Marike still likes to keep her outside world separate from her inside world, so I was especially honored. Marike had met John and Märzen, of course, and had seen how I live on the boat. Now I’ve also met Marike’s dogs (Ivan and June) and have seen how Marike lives. When she tells me now that she took a little nap in the hammock in the garden on a sunny afternoon, I can picture it exactly—in my mind. I didn't have a camera with me.

Marike gets credit for all of the photos in this post.

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