Delft, and London next

We haven’t gone anywhere much since the holiday cruise, but this weekend the weather was far too gorgeous to stay home, so we headed off on the highway. We had some trouble deciding whether to go to the Kinderdijk (which has a long line of windmills) or to Delft, but opted for the latter on the theory that the Kinderdijk is probably better as a side trip than an end in itself. We’d slept in and gotten a late start so had to pick and choose what to do in Delft.

The travel was made a little more difficult because we had a Netherlands map that showed us what highway to take to get to Delft, and we’d downloaded and printed a map of the city center but we were a bit lacking in drections from getting from the one to the other. However, there were some signs and we didn’t have too much trouble finding the Koninglijke Porcelayne Fles (Royal Porcelain Factory) which has been there since the 1600s. there they had exhibits of all the different types of pottery they’ve made and explanations of the different styles, some painters we could watch, and a walk through the factory. It wasn’t as intriguing as the Waterford Crystal factory tour, but still interesting. Reportedly the prices for real hand-painted Delftware are far cheaper in the factory showroom than in the stores in town, but it there were quite a few pieces well into three and even four digits in the showroom. They also had some lower-cost items made at a satellite factory with transfers instead of handpainting, so we got a few small bits and grabbed a copy of the catalog in hopes of ordering hand-painted tiles and building them into a house someday. There’s another Delft Blue factory on the other side of town, so if any of our guests want to go we can visit that one and the churches.

My favorite of our purchases was a large tile with a mouse painted on it – meant to be used as a mousepad.

After that, we headed for town, except that we crossed the wrong canal and went 90 degrees in the wrong direction. Once we got ourselves straightened out, we decided it was too late to visit either of the old churches in town (it’s one of those places where the “Nieuwe Kerk” was completed before 1500) and contented ourselves with a visit instead to the Legermuseum, which covers Dutch military history from Roman times through to recent UN missions. It was very well done; the gem of the museum is probably the huge collecting Dutch-made firearms from the “Golden Age” in the 17th century. I can’t imagine they actually worked all that well (no rifling yet, only muzzle-loading until the end of the period) but well enough to change the whole way wars were fought. These were beautiful, too: intricate inlay, all kinds of materials, some even with ivory stocks with faces carved into the butt. A lot of them were probably used more for show than for killing purposes. Maybe what we need now are beautifully-tooled cellphones for similar purposes?

We did have a bit of trouble finding our way back to the highway, but not too bad. (Though we think we may have driven on a bike path once. Oops.)

The other activity of the weekend was travel planning; we’ve now got airfare, hotel, and theater tickets (Patrick Stewart in The Tempest!) to spend my 40th birthday in London. (Ted’s was on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean sea.) We’re staying in the Bloomsbury area near the British Museum; the things I want to see are scattered enough that I think it’s more important to be near a Tube station than near any particular thing, and Bloomsbury is both fairly central and not overly expensive (by London standards). We’ve been to the British Museum before, though of course we’ll go again if time permits. My priorities this trip, besides the show, are to visit the new British Library, the V&A Museum, and the Greenwich Observatory. Also, maybe a meeting with online friends, if schedules match up.

I’ll probably be back there in May with my mother; she’ll need to see the Tower, since it’s her first visit, and the Crown Jewels, and probably the Changing of the Guard. Maybe the BM again, or the National Portrait Gallery, depending on what she wants to see.

4 Responses to “Delft, and London next”

  1. Sarah HB Says:

    Have a great trip to London. I hope to get back there when the kids are a little older so we can hit the sights!

  2. Merrie Haskell Says:

    Though we think we may have driven on a bike path once. Oops.

    Ha! We totally did that in Edinburgh. Twice. Same bikepath. We were going in circles. The best part is, we were going the wrong way on it.

  3. Ari Says:

    I LOVE the Bloomsbury area – you’ll have a great time. I agree that it is a great area.

  4. Marsha Says:

    I definitely want to go to the British Museum (the Rosetta Stone & the Elgin Marbles (you saw the whole part in Greece), possibly take a cruise on the Thames (they even have a “Duck” (the bus that goes into the river). The other art museum I really want to see is the Tate Britain for the Turners.

    I’m glad you had such an enjoyable time during Carnaval, sounds like you had a better time than Larry did in New Orleans.

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