Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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Haarlem and a really good museum

Thursday 25 August

Today's plan was to meet pariyal and her three daughters and spend the day in Haarlem. After breakfast I made my way to Schiphol where I arrived a little before the agreed rendezvous time, which handily allowed me to buy a new handbag from a shop on the concourse. I really needed something smarter than either the handbag with the broken-strap or the red rucksack for meeting Roger and daughter tomorrow.

I had been anxiously scanning the crowd, looking for pariyal and wondering, as you do, whether we would fail to spot one another. But as soon as she appeared, I knew her instantly because she looked remarkably like her user picture. *g*

pariyal worked the ticket machine, which accepted my Maestro card and gave me a ticket. Then we all trooped off to the platform to get the train to Haarlem. Well, actually we changed somewhere, but the connection was easy and the trains frequent, so soon we were trundling through the Dutch countryside and duly arrived in Haarlem.

This turned out to be a very pleasant town, which seemed quiet after the rush and bustle of Amsterdam, but which was obviously thriving and had lots of the kind or shops I classify as "nice". Meaning that they're small and individual and sell interesting and/or pretty things and interspersed amongst them are pleasant cafes and tearooms (though the one tea room that Irina had always wanted to try is never open, apparently and it wasn't open today either).

We visited a tea/coffee shop, called (in Dutch) "The Threadbare Nobleman" where pariyal stocked up on teas and coffees and I (mindful of having to carry everything back on the plane) contented myself with a nice little mug and saucer and an attractive square tin to keep my teabags in. (I have a tin for loose Russian tea, but I wanted something bigger to put the ordinary Typhoo decaff teabags in, something that would look nicer than the box they come in from the supermarket. So these are my souvenirs of Holland. Plus the handbag and the diamond, of course.

Next stop was the herballist shop, which smelt wonderfully of herbs and spices and had carved wooden snakes hanging above the counters and two stuffed crocodiles up by the rafters.

More shops were visited, clothes shops, stationery shops and finally we reached the Greek resaturant -- to find it closed. So we reverted to Plan B, which was the coffee bar and sandwich place near the museum. Suitably refreshed, we went round the Telyers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands, opened in 1784.

It is a museum as museums should be. There is none of this new-fangled interactive stuff. Nothing is interpreted; it's all just there in glass cases with labels on for the visitor to peer at and marvel at. So there were the usual fossilised fishes and teeth from dinosaurs, along with more remarkable things, like fossilised ants and tree leaves that looked exactly like their present day counterparts.

The scientific instruments, especially the things relating to the discovery and taming of electricity were wonderful creations of brass and wood. Brass spheres featured in many of them. And there were some demonstrations of the kind done in the 18th and 19th century, such as being able to hear the ticking of a watch right over on the other side of the room because the sound was being reflected and focused by two brass parabolic mirrors. (They could also be used to demonstrate the reflection and focusing of heat. In this case, instead of a ticking watch, you would put a heat source at the focal point of one mirror and something highy inflammable, like a match, at the focus of the other. For obvious reasons, in a public gallery, they were sticking to the version of the experiment that uses sound. *g*)

There was a modern extension, with the obligatory display about volcanoes, but even here, rather then explain what a volcano is and how it erupts, volcanoes had been given a historical slant with paintings done in the 19th centure of varios eruptions and the showing of an old scratchy black and white film of scientists observing the emergence of a volcanic island.

There were also coins and a display on preserving old manuscripts and explaining about the damange the ink of the drawing itself can do to the paper and how the colour changes with time. (Upstairs is an extensive library, but that's by appointment only, not open to all.)

Having exhausted the delights of the museum, we made our way to the excellent Italian icecream shop, which had the best range of flavours I think I've ever seen. Everyone chose their preferred combination of flavours and completed the treat with a topping of cream. I had vanilla and lemon and the lemon icream was really sharp and lemony. If you ever find yourself in Haarlem, make your way to the Bertoli icecream shop; I can highly recommend it.

Then there was more wandering around the picturesque streets and a conversation by a canal about writing, while the girls watched the swan and cynets and coot with young coots swimming about in the water and the pigeons and the egret (like a mini-heron) perched on a boat moored at the canalside, all waiting for the remnants of fish.

Thence back by train to Schiphol where I parted from Irina and the girls, who went off into centra Amsterdam in search of hamburgers for dinner.

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