Posted by: patriciamar | January 27, 2010

Sheep tracks in the Snow

Today, I took a day trip to Haarlem- just to get out and see a bit more of the world now that I am working and busy in Leiden (hurray!).  As you have probably heard, it has been a bit colder and snowier than usual in the Netherlands (and in the rest of the world).  On the twenty minute train ride from Leiden to Haarlem, I got to see a world of white, complete with a few frozen canals and a maze of sheep tracks criss-crossing the snowy fields.

Haarlem was wonderful and it was even warm enough for me to skip the bus and make the walk into the center.  I spent the day mostly wandering around and visiting charming cafes.  On the way to the Frans Hals Museum, I found one tiny cafe and sandwich shop that charged only 1.25 for a coffee!  It appeared to be full of regulars and provided local newspapers to pass the time- which I enjoyed as well.  Mid-way through, there was a bit of commotion and -although I did not fully understand- terminated with the owner shuffling around outside looking over and under everything and finally returning to say that yes- whatever it was, it was still there, in the old woman’s bike.

Good to know.

The Frans Hals Museum was very nice and had much more than only Frans Hals.  There were many of his portraits, as well as those of Judith Leyster, known to be the first female Master painter.  I like her work a lot and was sad to read that once she got married (to another painter), she all but stopped painting so she would not be competing with her husband…

The museum itself was great because it is situated in a former almshouse (hofje) for older men.  The small rooms surrounded a very nice courtyard garden and visitors were able to read all about the men who lived there and the things that they had to have to be residents (i.e. 5 clean shirts and 5 sleeping hats…).  Is there anyone who still wears nightcaps?  I know a lot of people who drink them.

It was also quite gezellig (cozy) in the museum because of the nice museum cafe which caused the smell of kaas toasti’s to float cozily around the whole museum.

(please note, toasti’s is actually spelled this way in Dutch, and the apostrophe is a Dutch apostrophe, not an English one, so it does belong there.  It signals the presence of a missing -i)

After the museum, I wandered back up towards the markt and the giant church in the center of Haarlem.  I found a nice bar/cafe that looked out over the plein and spent a few hours drinking cappuccino and writing.  Eventually, I wandered back to the train station and took a train back to Leiden.  Although I considered getting off in Heemstede for a look around, I was on such a nice train (the newest) that I just couldn’t make myself get off and go back out in the mist.  Plus, thanks to my new REI thermos (thanks Brad!), my tea from the morning train was still hot and made for a very nice train ride back to Leiden.

All over the Netherlands, cyclists were bundled up to make their evening commutes.  My own bicycle has been struggling as well.  My lock seems to protest any winter usage, and the button of my back light simply refused to budge for several days last week.  Although I suppose I could have gotten a ticket for not having a back light, I decided the Politie (police) might understand that it really does work, just not this week…

I guess tomorrow I am back to work.  Plus, the new international students have arrived and Matt and I will be helping with Introduction Days on Thursday and Friday.  Tours, answering questions, and explaining how to register… just like old times at OFYP at the U of M!

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