“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within in.”
— Lillian Smith

Interior, Grote Kerk, Haarlem

Interior, Grote Kerk, Haarlem

Certainly one of the things that helps to put us in the frame of mind for an inward, spiritual journey is the awesome architecture of soaring cathedrals.  I suppose one could plan a trip doing nothing but visiting the churches and holy places of the world.  (Is there even a European city or village without a church at its center?)  I find their interiors — with the exalted vaulted ceilings, filtered light entering through stained glass windows, and whispered conversations — an uplifting environment.  And I’m moved to try to capture this expansiveness in my photos of these spaces.

While in Haarlem, I stepped away from the busy outdoor market in the church square and entered the vast interior of the church itself.  Here is what I saw:

Vualted cedar ceiling

Vaulted cedar ceiling

Side aisle, columns, arches, chandeliers

Side aisle, columns, arches, chandeliers

Choir stalls, rood, organ

Choir stalls, rood, organ

Choir stalls

Choir stalls

Soft reflections from the stained glass windows

Soft reflections from the stained glass windows

Gravestones on the floor

Gravestones on the floor

Detail of gravestone

Detail of gravestone

Zebra striped bicycle on a canal in Amsterdam

Zebra striped bicycle on a canal in Amsterdam

I am totally in love with the bike culture in the Netherlands.  It’s impressive.  EVERYONE bikes.  Older people, parents toting children (1, 2 or 3 on a single bike!), shoppers, men in business suits, women in high heels.  In Amsterdam, the bike lanes are more than twice as wide as the pedestrian sidewalks where you often have to walk single file.  And the Netherlands has an excellent system of paved paths between towns and cities.  I wish we could do half so well here in America.

Parked bikes, Haarlem

Parked bikes, Haarlem

Getting ready to leave the Grote Market with her purchases

Getting ready to leave the Grote Market with her purchases

Shopping at the market by bike

Shopping at the market by bike

Bike loaded with shopping

Bike loaded with shopping

Mother and daughter biking along a canal in Haarlem

Mother and daughter biking along a canal in Haarlem

Classy rider with heels

Classy rider with heels

Bikes parked along a narrow residential street in Haarlem

Bikes parked along a narrow residential street in Haarlem

My sister called this the latest version of the "covered wagon."

My sister called this the latest version of the “covered wagon.”

Double-decker bike parking near the train station in Delft

Double-decker bike parking near the train station in Delft

Dad with kids

Dad with kids

At the Delft flower market

At the Delft flower market

Innovative carrying solutions

Innovative carrying solutions

This older woman gave a graceful hop onto her bike -- you could tell she had executed this movement thousands of times in her life.

This older woman gave a graceful hop onto her bike — you could tell she had executed this movement thousands of times in her life.

Weekend bikers aon a trail near Zaanse Schaans (example of trail between towns)

Weekend bikers on a trail near Zaanse Schaans (example of trail between towns)

Decorative bike guard on a canal in Amsterdam

Decorative bike guard on a canal in Amsterdam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barge on the River Spaarne, Haarlem

Barge on the River Spaarne, Haarlem

Don’t you love it when you travel to a foreign country and it actually looks and feels exotic and different from your accustomed surroundings?  When I was in Haarlem I felt immediately that I was in Europe.  The houses, buildings, canals, narrow stone streets, doors and windows, sidewalk cafes — everything exuded Old World charm.

Spring in Holland was at least a month behind Seattle’s, and though I was looking for tulips, I saw only snowdrops and crocuses and a few yellow daffodils.  I had planned on renting a bike and touring the countryside near Haarlem, but it was too cold (reached freezing overnight) so I spent my 1-1/2 days there simply walking.  And that was a delightful way to spend my time.  The AirBnB home where I stayed was a 45-minute walk along the River Spaarne from central Haarlem.

Haarlem, like much of the Netherlands, is flat, densely populated, and cosmopolitan.  It is a very walkable city, crisscrossed by canals and the river which are lined, wall to wall, with old gabled homes and buildings, houseboats, and little cafes.  The public transportation on trains and buses is a marvel — clean, on time, and affordable.  I was so taken with the biking culture here that I will devote my next post to bicycles.

Let me share some of the sights and delights of Haarlem with you here:

Rooftop view of Haarlem with Grote Kerk dominating the city's center square

Rooftop view of Haarlem with Grote Kerk dominating the city’s center square

Rooftop view of Haarlem from the 6th floor cafeteria in the V&D Department Store

Rooftop view of Haarlem from the 6th floor cafeteria in the V&D Department Store

Lovely old canal houses along the River Spaarne

Lovely old canal houses along the River Spaarne

Shabby chic -- rustic table and chairs on a canal barge, Haarlem

Shabby chic — rustic table and chairs on a canal barge, Haarlem

River reflections

River reflections

De Adrianne windmill in Haarlem; notice the short rail track from the water to the mill.

De Adriaan windmill in Haarlem; notice the short rail track from the water to the mill.

Cut tulips brighten a window

Cut tulips brighten a window

Bridges and arches over the canals; notice all the bikes on the bridge.

Bridges and arches over the canals; notice all the bikes on the bridge.

I loved seeing "Stinke" cheese spread at the Grote Market

I loved seeing “Stinke” cheese spread at the Grote Market

Butcher stall at the Grote Market in the central square

Butcher stall at the Grote Market in the central square

McDonalds sign.  "Chain stores abort vacation vision." -- Alexandra Horowitz

McDonald’s sign. “Chain stores abort vacation vision.” — Alexandra Horowitz

Even the crows are different from the ones at home in Seattle.

Even the crows are different from the ones at home in Seattle.

Flowers grace a houseboat along the canal, Haarlem

Flowers grace a houseboat along the canal, Haarlem

Door of alms house, Haarlem.  (Wealthy merchants charitably funded homes for widows and poor women.  I took a self-guided walk to see some of them.)

Door of alms house, Haarlem. (Wealthy merchants charitably funded homes for widows and poor women. I took a self-guided walk to see some of them.)

Coffe break at the V&D

Coffee break at the V&D

My mother always told me to clean my plate.

My mother always told me to clean my plate.