Sunday, February 19, 2012

Drift Ice in Friesland

Last week, most of the canals and lakes around the Netherlands were frozen. This week, the ice was melting and disappointing nearly 20,000 natural ice marathon skaters. The melting ice was also breaking apart, making it easier for the wind and currents to shove the ice into the banks of bigger water masses.

The drift ice started a strange phenomenon around a lake in the northern part of the Netherlands. Currently, the free floating ice is being pushed into piles and stacks of broken ice mountains along the shores of the Ijsselmeer.

Father and son, Jaco and Jan Engelsma standing on top of the Hindeloopen drift ice.
Standing on a pile of drift ice in Hindeloopen, IJsselmeer, The Netherlands, I interviewed a local Frieslander, Jan Engelsma. Coming from Texas with our only ice floating in tea glasses, I did not know the translation for 'kruiend ijs.' Now I do.

Video: What is 'kruiend ijs' or drift ice? 

On a very sunny Sunday, February 19, after news stories about the ice piled up on the lakeshores, the Dutch people traveled by car, bike and on foot to the banks and dikes of the lake to get a closer look and even climb the ice mountains.

Tammie (me) and buddy Martha in front of the drift ice formations on the Ijssellmeer.
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
To show my Dutch spirit, I too climbed with the help of my sturdy Meindl hiking boots. I'd guess the drift ice was 1 to 1.5 stories high. Not Mount Everest, no oxygen tanks needed, although you can hear me or some older, out of shape person behind me panting in the video. The structure of the ice was similar to ascending and descending a heap of slippery crushed glass. No falls. Tammie 1, Drift Ice 0. 

Today, I was a Texan, an American, in the Netherlands, in the Friesland province, climbing in German boots. I didn't have the proper number of flags for my victorious climb. 

Standing triumphantly, frozen, windblown and teeth clenched atop a glassy ice mountain. 

Links to more drift ice pictures:
Kruiend ijs bij Lelystad by (in Dutch)
Dutch Polar Landscapes Created by Thaw by Radio Netherland Worldwide (in English)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine's Day on Harlemmerstraat

Harlemmerdijk and Harlemmerstraat, Amsterdam
On February 14, 2012, I took a nostalic, romantic Valentine's Day stroll and saunter down a tiny shopping street in Amsterdam. The street has every tiny shop imaginable. If in Amsterdam, walk it. You too will be charmed.

The street is full of specialty stores. Some so special that it is hard to catch them open. Chique de Friemel is full of quirky, odd, retro kitchen and household items. It's only open on Friday and Saturday, not very early, not very late and not very often.

 Plenty of special shoes and shoe shops for the daring and boring or barefoot.

 Not just a bookstore, but a cookbook store. De Kookboekhandel, a shop that sells only cookbooks.

The Movies usually shows artsy, award winning films that don't play very long in the big theaters.

Amsterdam is also cupcake crazed. De Tafel van 18 (Table for 18) offers cupcake equipment and cutesy novelty cookie cutters shaped like a skull or a marijuana leaf.

The Grapedistrict is one of the many wine shops in the street. Grapedistrict is on the trendy side with a sparkling clean, colorful interior. Others seem more old worldly with dark brown wood and dust on the bottles. I've heard you can buy spray dust for effect.

For the artist wannabe, you can buy a paint brush in an art shop. Buy completed art from a little studio or the second hand shop. Or pause and enjoy the street art for free.

Two women having a wedding photo shoot at the Posthoornkerk (Posthoorn Church). They were drawing a small, intrigued crowd. After I took this picture, they shouted "Come closer and get a better picture." I was not sure if they were being rude or sarcastic or sincere. I went anyway. I got the next shot.
Meet Newlyweds Vivien and Juut. Later, we met the Valentine's Day couple in their street clothes. They were flattered and thrilled with all the attention from voyeurs like me.

Harlem is a soul food restaurant with maybe 8 tables and a cat. It's on the corner, a great spot for people gazing, food grazing or just sitting and reading magazines and sipping on fresh mint tea. You will always be sitting extremely close to someone or the cat.

Barney's is a world famous coffeeshop. No coffee. No shopping. But a marijuana menu for mostly world travelers. Although this is the last picture, this is not how we ended the day. Next time.