Delft Blauw (2004-02-27 - 11:00 a.m.)
Steph and Remkes have gone off to the Visa place again. (I'm not even going to attempt to spell the Dutch for that one). Before Steph left Canada, she went to the consulate, got all the necessary paperwork, and sent her passport off to get a visa put in it. Now that she's here, nobody cares about the visa. What they want is some sort of letter telling what the visa is supposed to mean (apparently). It's all very frustrating and last time she made an attempt to sort it out, she came home in a very bad temper. I tried to help her out by shouting some of the words Pierre taught me in French, but it didn't seem to cheer her up much.
Hanging out with Steph again is great. I'm sure poor Remkes is heartily sick of the scrapping, but I find it very entertaining. Steph + me + the transit system in a foreign language is also a formula for a fairly interesting day. Yesterday we braved the trains to attempt to get to Delft. We got our tickets, and that was fine. We got to the right platform, and that was fine. Then there was an announcement in Dutch, and suddenly the entire platform emptied. That wasn't so good. Luckily Steph had the presence of mind to ask someone to translate - it turned out that the train was arriving late and also at a completely different platform.
So that worked out okay, and even the transfer at Rotterdam wasn't too bad. When we got to Delft, however, a blizzard was sweeping the streets. Snow was actually staying on the street, from what I hear not a common occurance. We grimly bundled up to the ears and set off down towards the Markt.
Luckily for us, Delft is a town with many museums. And because of our beloved Museumkaarts, they were all free! We went to two, starting with the Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof. This used to be the residence of William of Orange, and is also where he got shot. You can see the bulletholes on the stairs! They're huge, though, from hundreds of years of tourists poking their fingers into them. (Now they have glass over it, as I found when I went to poke my own fingers into them!) There was a very cool display on Delft earthenware at the museum as well, which I enjoyed. Did you know Delft was made blue and white to copy Chinese porcelain, because blue was the only colour that could survive the firing temperature in Chinese kilns? The Chinese porcelain was thinner and stronger, though. Then, later, when the Germans invented a more colourful style of pottery, the Delft potters copied that as well.
The other cool part about the musuem was the small display of medical and apothocary stuff. (Steph found it first and said, "You have to see this, you'll love it!" She looked disgusted). They had some cool things like skeletons, and a fetus in a jar, and one of those instruments for boring through peoples' skulls to relieve the pressure. Unfortunately nearly all of the placards were in Dutch, with very few translations, so I didn't get as much out of it as I might have. Need to learn some more Dutch!
The other museum used to be someone's house. They had some very interesting examples of Delft tiles, but the house itself was the coolest part. Apparently it was designed by a stained glass artist. (Dad, take note.) It was gorgeous, with a sweeping staircase and intricately carved windowsills and a beautifully designed garden. Too bad there was big scary security guard who kept standing in front of everything and glaring at us.
By this point we were museumed out, and starving. So we stopped at the Happy Corner Cafe (how could we resist?) and had Dutch food: a tosti for me (grilled cheese and pineapple, yummy) and pannekoeken for Steph. And we both had poffertjes for dessert, which are technically tiny pancakes, but are smothered with so much sugar they may as well be donuts. Yummy! I haven't had a donut fix in ages.
After that we just wandered around and were tourists, taking ridiculous numbers of pictures and poking around the shops. Then we headed back to the station. This is where it got interesting: we knew we could change at Rotterdam (the way we came) or Den Haag on the way back. I was voting for Rotterdam, but Steph saw a train for Den Haag just about to leave and jumped on it. Should have been fine, except for the fact that there were four or five stations in Den Haag and we didn't know which one to get off at! We were waiting for one that said "Centraal" when we noticed that we were once again travelling through the countryside. oops. Luckily the train only went to Leiden, which is pretty big, so after waiting around for half an hour or so we did manage to get on a train for Utrecht. Like I said, Steph, Anne and transit systems do not really mix.
A strange thing about that trip is it cost me one Euro more to take a roundtrip train journey from Utrecht to Delft than it took for me to book a flight from Amsterdam to London! Cannot believe how dirt cheap flights are. 17 Euros to get back to London again, which pleases me greatly.
So I'm sad I didn't manage to buy any pretty tiles with birds on them in Delft (I was scared about how well they'd transport) but I'm happy we navigated the train system with some degree of success. And Remkes, I found out last night, can cook Thai food... so life is good indeed!
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