Sunday, November 6, 2011

Amersfoort and the bell tower in the Netherlands

I had a couple day stopover in the Netherlands to visit my friend Ernst and his 5 year old son, Ruben. Ernst teaches at Utrecht University and works in industrial energy efficiency. He taught me the first stuff I ever knew about power plants, nearly 20 years ago.

He lives in this planned community of some 15,000-20,000 folks. It's all funky architecture, tons of awesome bike paths, ring roads that make driving unpleasant and inconvenient, and schools and health facilities in the center of the community. The bike paths are great - bikes are separated from pedestrians as well as cars. You can ride side by side. No hills. It's completely pleasant and easy and the nicest way to get around. Even when you're as short as I am, and riding a bike made for someone 6 ft plus.

These houses are famous for their architecture:

We happened to be in Amersfoort on the last day they had the Onze Lieve Vrouwe tower open for tours. This is the second highest tower in the Netherlands and the x-y origin for Dutch maps, and it has a wonderful carillon. Ruben and I got to try our hand at carillon - you make a fist and hit the keys. Each key rings a different bell.

We got to climb the very narrow, dark, spiral staircase to the top and watch a carillon performance. If you can't see the video below, go to

P.S. Forgot to include this in the Denmark posting, but this was smallest thing I saw in Denmark - the bed. It was so small, I had to be careful not to fall off. That's my laptop on top for scale.

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