|An Orange Excursion||
Well, sorry for the lack of Blog updates, but it has been quite the busy week. National Bier Proeflokaal Weekend (beer tasting at De Prael---6 out of 6, the Willecke is awesome), volunteering at a mid-level school teaching kids English (me..around kids...), and not too mention one exciting weekend around medieval Holland!!
Well where to start, I say the tour of Zutphen, Deventer, and Kampen. Small, medieval, and cities that say they could practically be in the same millenium as the death of Jesus. First was Zutphen, the pictures above, it was in central-eastern Holland, and was a major site for trading and fighting, as seen by the huge wall that cut through the middle of the town. We took a nice quite boat ride through their little stream/canal, and were almost decapitated many a times by low bridges. The perfect retiree spot, assisted living homes dotted the landscapes as we sailed down a Dutch waterway that had houses with watery backyards....not too mention a neat city square with a cool market, intriguing brewery, and a massive cathedral. Next, to Deventer!!!
Deventer, unlike Zuthpen, was not demolished during WWII and kept many of its medieval buildings. From the house of the Bishop of Utrecht circa 1100ish, to the main church with the founding well before 1000, to the hoome of the first and true Waalstraat Deventer was everything America is not----old. Because we went on a relatively gorgeous and lazy Saturday, people were at the restaurants, at the market, or in their homes, one could really feel get the sense of blacksmiths pounding out swords, wagons carrying goods, and people dumping their personal sewage into the streets, (of course their 21st century!). The image of the city, home of Erasmus, the biggest book market in Europe, and seriously rich off of Hanseatic traders early on is nicely blending the medieval importance of its roots with a very modern society (They had that therapy where those fish eat your dead skin off your feet---the is NEW AGE). After Deventer, it was a short overnight stop at one very smelly, loud, and hip hostel, and to Kampen, a city situated right on the Ketelmeer and had its own type of ship, the Kogge, and with a surly seaman to narrate the story of his town, and his ship, it made for one hell of an experience. All I can say is this, old guy with grizzled hands and a worn face who talks like he's choking on soup and starts his story with, "Now we must go back many years," yea, he was the town's designated story-teller, and if would of busted out a Stephen King novel I probably would of lost it. The man topped the cake.
(the black ship is Kogge) So, after this, the CIEE Americans came home, but all was not finished. Because their was football to be had. Me and a good friend, after partaking in some taste testing at De Prael wondered into the Red Light District for some sights, sounds, and another spot. Well, after many small alleys, scantly dressed females, and some guy asking me if I wanted "good stuff" (I cordially refused) we descended on a bar playing the Giants-Eagles game. Got a Duvel and sat back, thought the beer was overpriced, it was well worth watching good ol' 'Merican football.
There is one event however, that I had, until yesterday, deferred until the perfect locale with the most perfect cuisine was researched and selected. So, alas, my eerste pannekoeken belevenis happened. Yes, I lost my Dutch Pancake Virginity. The Pannekoeken Upstairs establishment was the one to have the joy of treating me. Ascending the extremely steep steps (80 degrees at least) and into the squeezed a space no bigger than my apartments living room with the threat of falling pots was worth it. Call it a, "trial of pancakes." Luckily 5 of us went, and 5 of us got different things, so obviously we shared, and obviously it was all delicious. Coconut, banana liquor, chocolate, cherries, cream, tomatoes, more bananas, cheese, and ham all celebrated this triumph of Dutch cuisine. Yes, with the ability to put almost anything on them, they are a nice substitute for the ingredient laden and syrup covered pancakes of America. A good weekend? I'd have to say een uitzonderlijk weekend full of traders, pancakes, water, and loads of colorful people and hostels. Prachtig!!!