Saturday, March 08, 2008

twente driving tour

sundays are usually quite lovely around here: all the shops are closed, and the cafes don't normally open until at least 2:00 pm. it's very quiet and easygoing, and adam and i enjoy our lazy weekends together.

except, at 42 weeks pregnant, one can get a little stir crazy. towards the end of my pregnancy, i hardly left the house at all. not because i couldn't move, and not because i didn't have much energy... mostly it was because i was SO SICK of people saying, "oh, are you still pregnant?" and "when is your baby coming?" um, yeah. i'm still pregnant. um, i don't know when the baby is coming. shutup.

so i didn't leave the house. i just stayed indoors all day long, waiting waiting waiting for spruitje to come. one day flowed into the next, and after a while i got a little bit insane.

so i contacted my friend jolanda to see what she was up to on the weekend. she suggested that we take a driving tour of the area, to get me out of the house and to show my mom the beautiful twente countryside. what a good idea! get my mind off of being sooooo damn pregnant, and see some lovely farmhouses and castles! brilliant!

jolanda came over for brunch that day and after we ate a delicious breakfast of homemade american pancakes ("i loooove american pancakes!" jolanda exclaimed), we hopped in her car (they all hopped, i more or less plopped), and headed out.

our first stop was the beautiful village of het stift, a community that began in the 12th century as an abbey of sorts. i kind of understood it to be a sort of beguinehof (sp?), which is something i was first introduced to when adam and i travelled to bruges a few years ago. a beguinehof, at least the one we saw in bruges, is a community of holy lay women, unordained, who live together in a sort of monastic lifestyle. the beguinehof came about in bruges, the way i understand it, because during the middle ages there were just no more men anywhere -- they were killed off by disease or war, and to be a single woman back then was almost like a death sentence. so the women pooled their resources together and lived the lives of nuns basically, but were never ordained as such. and i sort of got the sense that het stift came about in the same sort of fashion. rather than marry, the women contributed their dowries to the abbey here, and lived in community. it was really remarkable to see such a beautiful and historic area so close to our home because so much of this area was destroyed during world war II. there was an old church, a giant communal well, and another well or spring that used to be used for the brewery. the original brewery house is no longer there, but the house that stands on that spot is still quite old. and people actually live in het stift! (in fact there is a woman in adam's department who owns a house there.) it's not just this old village with opening hours and an entrance fee -- it's a real village! how cool would that be to live there?!

after het stift we drove to oldenzaal where we saw the beautiful castle of singraven, where the first structure built on the property was sometime in the mid-15th century. adam visited the inside of this castle during his first outing with the philosophy department but this time around we all just stood outside the gate and admired the grounds and the surroundings. there was a watermill there and a pancake house as well. adam ate there when he was there during that field trip with his coworkers, but this time we only stopped in to look at the beautiful interior and warm up for a brief moment as it was quite windy and cold outside.

after the castle and watermill, we headed out to see another watermill. because we were not really looking at a map but instead tried to get lost so we could see the countryside, we ended up inadvertently driving past castle twickel, which we have seen numerous times already. it seems like whenever we have a guest, we end up taking them to twickel. rae and bob, shep, and joe, jj, and camille have all been there, and adam and i went there on our first weekend living here. it's a beautiful castle and quite nearby so it's a place we like to take our guests. and we just happened to happen by it, so of course we had to stop. mom looooooved it, this gorgeous old castle surrounded by a moat and a garden on the edge of a little dutch village. she just thought it was the most wonderful thing she's ever seen. (ps we discovered later that our kraamverzorgster, wilma, has a son who does reconstruction/maintenance work at twickel. he's the guy that paddles around the moat in a canoe, looking for holes to patch up. that is seriously cool!)

finally at the end of our long day we made our way (somewhat illegally, driving down roads the wrong way and getting lost in the process) to the oldest functioning double water mill in the netherlands. i have no idea where it was, but it was cold and dark and the twilight and the water were all the same color. it was just lovely. we thought we would have stopped there to eat but the restaurant was suuuuuper fancy (read: "expensive!") so we decided to call it a day instead.

it was a really wonderful day, and i'm so grateful to jolanda for getting my pregnant butt out of the house. i know my mom had a great time too and still talks about this trip, even though it was over a month ago. we had a great time! thanks, jolanda!


teresa said...

thank you for sharing; i LOVE LOVE these photos! i am especially enamoured with the story of the "Beguinhof".

Jeanne Lisbeth said...

Such beautiful pictures!! And here I thought just seeing you would be reason enough to go to the Netherlands! *sigh* It makes me smile to be reminded of the beauty you are surrounded by. :-)