Monday, February 27, 2012

PHOTOS: A visit to Brielle

I woke up yesterday to a lovely, sunny Saturday morning.

Ever since I took my Dutch state exam (yes, I took it early this week, and don't ask me about it until I get my results in five weeks' time), I haven't been going to my Dutch classes (obviously), which I'm still allowed to attend until I'm officially done with my exams, ie. I pass my exams.

So I now have full weekends again, which is really great.

Schrobbenmaster and I went to the floor shop about 40 minutes away to look at new flooring for the home. One of our windows was leaking, and during the few extremely stormy nights last winter, the water came in and ruined the few wooden planks that make up our floor. So after calls to insurance and visits by the floor guy, we were finally approved to acquire a new floor.

That's why we were there. In a little town called Monster.

Anyway, we've decided to change our floor to laminate *sob* instead of real wood floors like we have now, because the budget that insurance has determined for us isn't enough to give us new wood flooring, and because laminate is easier to maintain. I'm very sad about it, because I think wood flooring makes me happy and would make it so much more appealing for buyers when we eventually sell the house. But at least we get a new floor, which is nice. An opportunity to get a lighter shade of "wood".

After the floor shop visit, Schrobbenmaster had planned a surprise for me. He took me to a little town nearby called Brielle. It looks like it's pronounced Bree-ell, French-style, but it's actually just Breel. Not so charming, eh.

The town turned out to be very charming though. It was so quiet and the houses were so quaint and pretty. It's situated right next to the sea and the river Maas, which runs through Rotterdam as well. And it's just outside the gigantic Rotterdam harbour. So the view while driving there is quite impressive. All the containers, cranes and industrial buildings you see at the harbour are really awe-inspiring in their humongousness.

But I digress... the point of this post is Brielle. So here are some photos.

We arrived at noon and the town was still so quiet and peaceful.

View of the church tower. You can probably see the church tower from almost anywhere in the town. It's one of those towns where the church is unproportionally large for the size of the town. I think it's a medieval church, definitely before Protestantism arrived in NL, because this looks so grand. But still not so new that they have gothic decorations like Notre Dame. Wow, I sound so knowledgable on church architecture,  but I'm just guessing all this.

The exterior just reminded me a little of Spain. Which is weird. NL never looks remotely Mediterranean.


What's a bunch of photos without an artistic shot inserted in between?

Old houses and buildings regularly have ornamental plaques and tiles. This just caught my eye cuz it's weird to see a naked woman all of a sudden.

Quaint exterior of the police station, complete with WWII looking vehicle in front.

Arrived at the church and was very impressed by the size of it.

It was bloody difficult to go far enough backwards to fit the whole tower in the photo. I started in the church compound and slowly moved backwards, crossing the road and finally hit the fence of the house opposite. Then had to squat down and angle myself weirdly. I'm amazed I managed to get this relatively straight shot in one try.

Model of the day.

What I love about towns like these are vintage/secondhand/antique shops. I managed to buy a whole bunch of stuff from here, including a birthday present for Mumsy Bumsy. Because everything I bought here is related to what the present is, I shan't say what I bought. Just that I was really really happy all day because of what I found.

The dude in red outside is the one who goes around flea markets and does all the buying of the "junk". And the dude inside is his life partner, who mans the cash register.

Walking back to the car, I just liked this scene and had to take a photo. It's almost kinda English town-y.

Just a bit of trivia now: Brielle was the first city to be liberated from Spain after the 80 Year War, when NL was occupied by Spain.

"Op 1 april verloor Alva zijn bril" is a famous saying among the Dutch. It literally means that Duke Alva of Spain lost his 'bril', which means spectacles, on 1 April, but of course, it's just word play, with "bril" being a substitute for "Brielle".

On a related subject, I just started a Tumblr page to document little alleys that usually get ignored, even when they're really interesting. First photo was taken in Brielle.

Go visit!