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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Guidebook Research IX: Westerbork

Kamp Westerbork as they saw it
So peaceful here at the southeast edge of Assen. Cloudy. Sitting by the trail to Anreep/Geelbroek/Hooghalen, I see it is moderately busy with cyclists, walkers and runners. I'm looking at a field of cut grass, a creek in front of me that splits to wrap around an isle of clay. The fragrance of many blossoms, distant birdsong.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Guidebook research VIII: Assen & Drentsche Aa National Park



Wonder boy of Assen
Rainy morning in Assen. As Wika Spoelstra, my 70ish vriend op de fiets is off to Sweden tomorrow, she made some calls to set me up with another friend of the cyclist, Anja, about 500m away. Not only did Wika phone my new hostess, she escorted me to Anja's place by bike. She also printed me out a route through Drentsche Aa National Park, east of town, but I think I'll follow the route in the ANWB cycling guide.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Guidebook research VII: the hunebedden



Hunebed D17 at Rolde



Today it's all about hunebedden, 52 of which stand in Drenthe (two more in Groningen). They are the remains of 5000-year-old dolmens, or burial tombs. At the Hunebed Center, a museum dedicated to the ancient monuments, I learned that they were built at the dawn of the Neolithic era and first excavated in the 19th century. It is believed that the granite boulders used for these dolmens arrived with the glaciers from Scandinavia during the Ice Age.




Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Guidebook research VI: Into Drenthe


Southeast Groningen
Bourtange was a tour-bus attraction, so a different experience. It's a reconstructed fort dating from the 1500s in the extreme southeast of Groningen province, with a handful of little museums. Nothing earthshattering but the film in the museum called Terra Mora is pretty good, plus photos of local wildlife and the chance to shoot cannonballs at your friends. There is also a reconstructed synagogue (dating from 1842) and the docent Gerrie is endlessly effusive, telling me all about how the rabbi comes over from Amersfoort to conduct services on Hanukah and Passover, and about how someone came and blew the shofar on Rosh Hashana. But clearly what most people enjoy is sitting on the plein in the sunshine. I had a dull salad at the cafe. It was nice to walk on the ramparts under the trees while the mostly elderly tourists took the cobblestone road below. After lunch I rode toward Vlagtwedde. The knooppunten direct you off the road along a nice country lane and I came across a tiny Jewish cemetery.

Guidebook research IV: Friesland & Ameland Island



Harlingen, Friesland. At the home of Elizabeth & Jan Minemma, breakfast is an exercise in minimalism, almost as it would be served on a ship--well, they do live in a shipyard, the one house amid warehouse, and their neighbors live on boats moored in the adjacent canal.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Guidebook research V: the 'highlands' of Groningen


The hogeland of Groningen today. The train station, Groningen Noord, is a stone's throw from Vriend op de Fiets Jenne Oosting's flat. This corridor is served by Arriva trains (rather than the national NS line), and the machines are different: they suck in your chip card rather than asking the user to scan. When I reached the top of the ramp, the train to Delfzijl was standing on the platform, and I figured I'd miss it but ran toward it anyway. The conductor stuck his hand out the window and asked me if I was getting on. I nodded. "Scanner?" I asked, holding up my card. He gestured toward the rear of the train. "Quickly!" I scanned my card and got on.