I'm going to write about my trip to Assendelft last weekend. I've been emailing one of my dad's cousin's, Tineke, for the past month, and the weekend of Carnivale, Kristin and I found some time to visit where my dad's side of the family is from. We went up to the suburbs of Amsterdam to visit my Opa's side of the family. While we had a stop-over in Nijmegen, we bought some flowers for Tineke. She picked us up at a trainstation about 15 minutes outside of Amsterdam Central, and told us that if it was alright, we would be going over to her brother Daan's house to meet him and his wife. Tineke's English is pretty good, but there were times when the conversation was strained - I wish I knew more Dutch. I have to admit that it isn't really studying abroad if you don't pick up the language. Anyway, Daan's house was really nice. Having the same profession as my Opa, he designed and built his house himself. It was really lovely - lots of large windows and natural light. After being in both Daan's house, and the extension of the house my father was born in, where Daan's son lives now, I'm very impressed by how well people manage to live in smaller spaces than most suburban houses in America. There isn't as much space for Europeans to live in, but they make do with the space they have and it actually works very well. More utility, less clutter.
Back to the point. Daan made the whole group some wonderful tomato and meatball soup, along with sandwich items we eat at the castle, too. Then we walked over a block or so to see the house where my dad was born. It's due to be torn down soon, because it is in such disrepair. It's a shame, but at least the land will get to be used for something useful. I took a few pictures. Like I said earlier, Daan's son Rueben lives in part of the old house which has been renovated - it's called the citadel. Then Tineke offered to drive us to see where my Oma was born. It's this great house with a roof made of reeds. The house is nicknamed 'wijkeroog.' We went back to Daan's for a bit to sit down and talk about Europe and traveling. Daan's wife speaks very good English. She told us about her time spent in London and Italy. Daan gave me his map of Italy that he used when he went backpacking quite a few years ago.
We parted ways and Tineke took Kristin and I to this kind of preserved, touristy section of Zaanstad, where there are still original, working windmills. We took a tour of a mill that still grinds pigments used for colors and paints. We also saw how clogs are made (oh, by the way, Daan put on a pair of wooden clogs to walk over to the old house, not even kidding! How cute). Since we didn't have to get back to the castle until later in the night, Tineke offered to cook us dinner at her townhouse. We went to a fish market and she asked us if we'd ever had herring or paling. We said no, so she bought a few of those, along with some salmon. She made us a Portuguese rice dish, similar to paella, but with fresh tomatos and zucchini and salmon. We shared a bottle of red wine and great conversation for a few hours before we had to go to the train station. Her apartment was a perfect reflection of herself - modern art and sculpture all around, but not overwhelmingly so. She likes to do a lot of cultural things around Amsterdam, including her own sculpture work. She took some Portuguese lessons in Amsterdam awhile back so she could give a speech at her daughter, Madelin's, wedding - she married a Portuguese man named Gabriel and they live there, on the beach. Kristin and I got to see a wedding photo album and it looked absolutely gorgeous.
It was an amazing visit. We didn't have too much trouble communicating, and Kristin and I both enjoyed ourselves a lot. Kristin says that it was like she was a Noe for the day - oh, and she thinks I should start putting the umlaut back over the 'e' in my last name. I'm thinking about it.
Here are some photos I took - I wish I had taken more in Assendelft, but I was too caught up in the moment. Next, I need to get in touch with my Oma's side of the family. But look out for a post about my trip to Køpenhavn, Denmark - I just got back a few hours ago. It's midterms here, so that's my excuse for being late with all of these updates.
Here is where my father was born.
This is where my Oma was born.
Daan, me, Tineke, and Calmerra (that is her name, I believe).
The little village replica.
Me and Kristin.
Kristin coming down from the top of the windmill.
An example of a cheese factory.
Here are also some photos from Carnivale, which is celebrated more in the South of the Netherlands, because it is a Catholic tradition. Emerson students got to march in the parade on Sunday afternoon. That night we won 3rd place in the Groups competition, because we didn't have a float. The floats are created by groups of people who work on them for 4 months, only to set them on fire when they are done with Carnivale.
Courtney and Kristin.
The cute boys from Bergen, dressed like soldiers, driving a tank float.
Bettina and I are both Dutch-American, and thinking alike, dressed as cats.
Mia's foot has been strained since Bruges, so a kind man let her ride on the front of their float.
Now I've done this instead of studying for my art history midterm. I'm in a bit of a bind - so I think I will wake up early tomorrow to cram before the exam. Wish me luck.