Delft plate with windmills

Delft plate with windmills

"In the Month of July" showing a windmill on a polder waterway by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel, Rijksmuseum collection

“In the Month of July” showing a windmill on a polder waterway by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel, Rijksmuseum collection

Think of Holland and you think of windmills and the distinctive blue and white of Delft pottery.  We saw both by using Amsterdam as a base for daytrips to the town of Delft and to Zaanse Schans.

There are over 1150 working windmills in the Netherlands.  Zaanse Schans, a short bus ride (bus 391) from Amsterdam, is a “living history” destination with the opportunity for a close-up look at several old windmills.

The windmills of Zaanse Schans

The windmills of Zaanse Schans

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By covering the blades with canvas, the windmill catches more wind.

By covering the blades with canvas, the windmill catches more wind.

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We took the train from Amsterdam Centraal to Delft.  The train, filled with commuters going to the Hague, was a smooth, quiet ride.  We saw a few fields of yellow daffodils from the train windows.

The central train station in Amsterdam

The central train station in Amsterdam

Commuters reading the newspaper on the train

Commuters reading the newspaper on the train

Fields of yellow daffodils

Fields of yellow daffodils

Audrey and I both loved Delft.  On the day we visited, there was a general market in the main square, an outdoor flower market, and a flea market.  Our main activities there were strolling, looking, and nibbling.

"The Little Street" by Johannes Vermeer showing a street in Delft, from the Rijksmuseum collection

“The Little Street” by Johannes Vermeer showing a street in Delft, from the Rijksmuseum collection

 

Shop selling Delftware

Shop selling Delftware

Painter at one shop demonstrating the art of Delft painting

Craftsman at one shop demonstrating the art of Delft painting

Detailed painting

Detailed painting

Delftware with tulips

Delftware with tulips

At the Delft flower market

At the Delft flower market

Delft flower market

Delft flower market

So many cheese shops, Delft and everywhere in Holland

So many cheese shops, Delft and everywhere in Holland

Rhubarb for sale at a green grocer in Delft

Rhubarb for sale at a green grocer in Delft

Old windows, Delft

Old windows, Delft

Stone surface in the market square, Delft

Stone surface in the market square, Delft

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer with kaleidoscope effect.  Vermeer was born in Delft.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer with kaleidoscope effect. Vermeer was born in Delft.

Another view from the train window on the ride back to Amsterdam

Another view from the train window on the ride back to Amsterdam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The sight of large masses of people hurrying down into underground chambers was perpetually strange to me, and I felt that all of the human race were rushing, pushed by a counterintuitive death drive, into moveable catacombs.”
— Teju Cole, Open City

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

It did not take too long to become familiar with New York City’s subway system.  It was initially disorienting because we made our entry into the city at Penn Station, which has to be one of the most confusing subway stops.  We had arrived on the NJ Transit train from Newark, and we did not realize that Penn Station is also the hub for Amtrak, the Long Island Railway, as well as the NYC’s MTA subway system.  We eventually found our way to the ticket booth for the MTA and each purchased a 7-day, unlimited ticket.  That gave us the freedom to hop on and off the subway at will, and we got our money’s worth!

The first thing we learned is that New Yorkers do not say “subway;”  they are taking the “train.”

The second thing we learned was to know if we were going uptown (north) or downtown (south) before following the signs and arrows to the appropriate platform.

And indeed, the subway is a vast, mostly underground train system.  The trains are much longer than I expected, and they zoomed into each station.  What a convenient way to travel around a huge city like New York!

Staricase in a subway station, NYC

Staircase in a subway station, NYC

The trains traveled at fairly high speeds.

The trains traveled at fairly high speeds.

Inside a subway car

Inside a subway car

Traveler on another platform (posterized photo)

Traveler on another platform (posterized photo)

Enterprising busker

Enterprising busker in a subway station

“People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”
— Proverb

Vancouver's glass skyline with red and yellow houseboats

My husband and I just returned from a weekend getaway to Vancouver, B.C.  We traveled on Amtrak, departing Seattle on Saturday morning and returning on the late Sunday train.  It’s been many years since we’ve spent a day in Vancouver, and we enjoyed walking the streets of a “foreign” city.  The heart of Vancouver is built on a peninsula, so it is surrounded on three sides by water.  It is a city of glass — many, many towers of glass form the city’s skyline.  I wonder how this openness, this permanent exposure, affects people’s sense of privacy.  I imagine that when the proverb about people living in glass houses was first uttered in the 1600s and 1700s, few could have conceived of the glass skyscrapers that have become common in our lives today.  With the internet, blogs, and social networks, much of our lives are open books.  Maybe living in a glass house is just another aspect of our transparency.

Sunday morning street in Vancouver

Vancouver's waterfront with soaring tent-like peaks of Canada Place

Canada's maple leaf flag

“I have never found a city without its walkers’ rewards.”
— John Finley, “Traveling Afoot”

Common sight on urban walks, waiting for the walking sign

I so enjoyed my first long urban hike across the I-90 floating bridge (see yesterday’s post), that I’ve planned several more.

I set out on my second long walk, a journey of 8-1/2 miles, from my home to the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.  I hiked 3-1/2 hours, including stops for photos and coffee and a picnic breakfast, along a route with scenic trails.  Here are some highlights:

6:00 a.m. on the path at Green Lake: notice my long shadow in the early morning light

Summer morning at Green Lake

First stop: the Woodland Park Rose Garden at 50th & Fremont Ave N (unfortunately, the gates did not open until 7 a.m.)

I could still enjoy the roses viewed through my zoom lens!

Tree-lined walk down Fremont Avenue N

Waiting for the Interurban sculpture at Fremont & N 34th Streets. It's a Seattle tradition to decorate these statues.

Trees line the Ship Canal between the locks and Lake Union. My walk took me along the Ship Canal Trail.

Rowers on the Ship Canal

I crossed over the train tracks on W Dravus Street after stopping for coffee at Starbucks.

Mount Rainier seen from the Elliott Bay Trail

I took a short detour off the trail to check out the Amgen Helix Bridge.

The Amgen Helix Bridge is a pedestrian bridge to the Amgen campus.

Looking across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains from the Elliott Bay Trail

Totem pole along the Elliott Bay Trail

Small rose garden along the trail, with Spaceneedle in the background

Lovely yellow roses

The trail runs along the Olympic Sculpture Park.

I walked along Seattle's waterfront to the Hill Climb to the Pike Place Market.

Flower vendor at the Pike Place Market

Truck at the Pike Place Market

Parked along U.S. Hwy 2 in Montana

After driving State Highway 20 across Washington to the Idaho border,  we continued our journey east to Glacier National Park via U.S. Highway 2 across Idaho and western Montana.  This was another exceptionally scenic route through mountainous terrain.  The colors were a lovely blend of green and yellow and gold.  Much of the highway parallels rushing rivers.  And it seemed we were never too far from a railroad track!

Morning clouds played peek-a-boo with the forested mountain slopes.

We took a short hike to Kootenai Falls near Libby, Montana.

Rushing waters by Kootenai Falls

I liked the pattern in the steps of the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks by Kootenai Falls.

Train passes under the pedestrian bridge at Kootenai Falls.

Old barn along Hwy 2 in Montana

Another weathered barn along Hwy 2 in Montana

A cautionary tale: Montana marks the site of each highway death with a white cross. (And we saw lots of white crosses.)