A Visit to Fatima

IMG_0284Mam had such devotion to Our Lady. I think the stories of the apparitions in Knock and Fatima were her two favourites. She made many pilgrimages to Knock where she found great strength and calmness in facing the many trials of life. We always had holy water from Knock in 32 and Mam always carried her Rosary beads in her bag. I know how much she would have loved to visit Fatima and when that became an impossibility, I promised myself a visit on her behalf.

IMG_01632017 was the centenary of the apparitions in Fatima and six statues of Our Lady were commissioned by the Pope and sent to each of the continents. The European statue came to Ireland in March and was displayed at Mass in Naas as it began its journey around the country. Although I decided then that this was the year to travel to Fatima it was October before I made the snap decision, googled flights and hotels and booked.

ApparitionIn preparation, I revisited the story of the Cova da Iria where on the 13th May a “Lady brighter than the sun” appeared in the branches of a holm oak to three little shepherds and wondered would I be as touched as Mam with enthusiasm, fervour and faith. I did little research into the trip other than that!

TUESDAY
My Ryanair flight was EARLY (5.30am). Airport assistance whisks one from entry to plane, through check-in and customs making travel SO EASY. I must compliment the staff who are most friendly and pleasant, although some feel speed is of the essence and the journey in the wheel chair can be sometimes hair-raising.

I landed in Portugal shortly after 9 and public bussed into Lisbon. Nice way to get the feel for a place. I had decided to do one of the hop-on hop-off city tours and the “Tagus Tour” seemed to offer the greatest range of sights.

Lisbon top tourist attractions printable city mapWe travelled the city’s main avenues (“the fresh breeze of the Tagus on your face” had been promised but a heavy mist of rain is what we got). We did get a taste of Lisbon. The commentary was a bit haphazard and so I would do some research or buy a guide book if I travelled again.

exporers portugalHowever I was fascinated by the lovely avenues, and the stories of Portuguese explorations, some of the amazing tiling of which the city is very proud and the variety of architecture along the Tagus.

I particularly liked this sculpture celebrating the age of the Portuguese Explorers to the Orient on the banks of the river: “Padreo dos Descobrimentos“. Note the 25th April bridge in the background

The fine mist however had become a deluge before the end of the trip and a second tour on the trams was scrapped in favour of a typical Portuguese lunch. The driver suggested a small café in a side street. The bacalhau (cod fish) with rice and side salad was delicious; however the compliments of a “charming” (???) young waiter dancing attendance on “the pretty Irish lady who brought the rain” did became a bit wearisome after a while.

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(Eduard Gordeev’s “Rain in Lisbon”)

The weather was a decider on taxi transport to Set Rios (the seven rivers) Bus Station for the bus to Fatima. The initial plan to see the countryside was also scuppered by the rain – visibility was limited – but good chance to catch up on lost sleep!

FATIMA:

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I was really pleased with choice of hotel: Hotel Coracao de Fatima and my room overlooking the cross in the Basilica square (previously the Cova da Iria where Our Lady appeared). I couldn’t have been closer to the shrine: I could hear the prayers and hymns from the Chapel of the Apparition without leaving the room. Tonight, I took a stroll over for Rosary before dinner. I had forgotten to bring beads – but there was any amount of them available in the MANY surrounding shops (don’t think the commercialism of the centre is as evident at this time of the year; it’s also much easier to get around and visit places without the throngs of people).

The “comboio de Fatima” (little train) was going to guide my itinerary for the days ahead.

Day 1 (Wednesday):
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• Monumento aos Pastorinhos (the Monument of the Shepherds)

 

 

 

Image result for valinhos fatima   Valinhos (a monument to Our Lady on the site of one of the apparitions)

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• Via Sacre (the Hungarian Calvary, the stations of the Cross- a gift from Hungarians in exile around the world)

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• Loco do Anjo/Cabeco (site of two of the apparitions of the Angel)

 

 

 

Day 2 (Thursday):

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• Mass in the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Rosario de Fatima (the Basilca of Our Lady of Fatima)

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• Azinheira (the holm oak in which Our Lady appeared to the children in the Cova de Iria)

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• Basilica da Santissima Trindade (new Basilica of the Holy Trinity
• Confession in the Chapel of Reconciliation

• Art Exhibition: “The Colours of the Sun”

Day 3 (Friday):
• Aljustrel (the village where the children lived peaceful village marked by the seasons and work in the field as well as weaving)
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• House of the Santos Family (Lucia’s home- she was the youngest of six children)

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• Loco do Arneiro (site of the second apparition of the Angel at the end of Lucia’s garden)

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• House of Marto Family (the home of Francisco and Marta)
• Museum of Aljustrel

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• Igreja Paroquial de Fatima (Parish Church in Fatima) where the three children were baptised and where Lucia received her First Communion

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Particulary liked the story of this, the oldest statue in the Parish Church, OUR LADY OF JOYS, where the baby is playing with Mary’s hair. it is said this is the only statue of Jesus playing.
• Candlelit Procession

SATURDAY
Taxi to Lisbon Airport for Aer Lingus flight at 10am.

So what did I come away with? I probably was somewhat sceptical going, following the belief of a mother rather than any personal conviction. But I was moved. In the peace and quiet especially of the countryside one would have to find an inner tranquillity. The intent of the other pilgrims as they prayed and sang and lit their candles at the various celebrations impressed me hugely. I thought back to the nights awaking from the coma, the desolation of not being able to move and the fear of what lay ahead, the comfort the hospital chaplain brought assuring me that God would help, reciting the Memorare (Mam’s favourite prayer), listening to some favourite hymns. I think Our Lady of Fatima reinforced that faith, the belief that God will send help if it’s needed.
It might not be in the form of an angel; it could be in the guise of a friend who will call at just the right time or a piece of music that raises the spirit or words in a story or poem that inspire. God is watching me; He cares. The smallest concern of mine still matters to Him.

You might think after reading this entry that I have fluent Portuguese – unfortunately not BUT I do love the “real” names of the places. My only Portuguese – “Obrigada!” THANKS!!!!

Derry: First “Retirees” Trip APRIL 2017

DAY 1- HEANEY COUNTRY
Early morning pick-up at the Cinema in Naas for the trip to Magherafelt. Great to see so many faces from the past both INTO and teaching colleagues – even people I’d interviewed for various jobs (their smiles and warm greetings implied they had been successful!). Sas, the driver, seemingly a regular driver of the retired teachers of Kildare kept us amused with odd stories of where we passed through. His stories of trips to Jonesboro in the days of the border brought memories of Jimmy O’Loughlins hitting off with his family to that same market, ever a man for bargains, and my poor mother wondering where on earth all the toilet rolls and boxes of washing powder would be stored in our small house!!!! It was strange to be stopping for breakfast at 9.30 but after the early start the Carrickdale Hotel was a pleasant break – tea and gorgeous scones. Back on the bus promptly at 10.15 – I wonder will we all be as prompt as the trip progresses?

Just after noon, and right on time we arrived at Laurel Villa in Magherafelt, owned by the Kielt family -an award winning guesthouse and a reported haven for Seamus Heaney fans.

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Eugene Kielt’s welcome included halting the traffic for us to cross the road where his wife, Gerardine ushered us into her dining room. There we were treated to home made soup and wheaten bread (we have all come away with the recipe) and tea/coffee with a choice of apple tart or pavlova (the pavlova was a replica of my mother’s in appearance and taste and that’s a true compliment!). To say that this is a centre for Heaney fans does not do justice to the memorabilia that is around the house, not to mention the private collection of books and leaflets and information that Eugene can show and talk about.Image result for laurel villa magherafelt

We bid farewell to Gerardine as Eugene joined us on the bus for a trip around Heaney country, highlighting many of the people and places that featured in his work, including the poet’s birthplace at Mossbawn and his final resting place in Bellaghy Graveyard.

 

The highlight for me had to be our stop on the Hillhead Road:

“The Hillhead Road links Knockloughrim and Toomebridge” Eugene told us. “It is not a speeding dual carriageway, just an ordinary rural link road of no great consequence. It was here, in February 1953, that two of Heaney’s younger brothers, 3½-year-old Christopher and an older sibling, walked from Mossbawn with a letter to post. Something distracted Christopher and he darted into the road. The driver could do nothing”.

Eugene tapped on his smartphone and instantly the bus was filled with that familiar voice, rich and mellow, reading his own memory of that awful day when he was called home from boarding school in Derry for the return of Christopher’s body to Mossbawn Farm.

“Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
A four foot box, a foot for every year.”

Eugene left us to self-guide our way around an amazing exhibition on the poet and his work when we arrived at the Seamus Heaney Home Place in Bellaghy. We had plenty of time to view the artifacts, listen to commentaries and view videos (and even have a peek in the shop) before the signal came to return to the bus for the final leg of the journey into Derry. Sas demonstrated his driving skills as he reversed down the narrow Butcher Street in Derry to drop us right outside the Maldron Hotel. Check-in was speedy – an envelope for each of us, up to the room for a quick tidy up and down for dinner at 7.30. Lovely food, friendly service and lots of chatting about past and present, and of course the odd glass of vino!

DAY 2 – TOUR OF DERRY

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Hands across the Walls on the entry road to the city – note the GAA jersey on one of the lads!

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My room/suite!!! is on the corner of Butcher St overlooking the Butcher Gate and the walls ….what a view over the walls/Bogside at night!

Leisurely breakfast before meeting with guide to walk the walls. He looked quite energetic (and later reports confirmed that he was indeed a fast mover with little patience for dawdling! Wasn’t I wise to let them away and do the wall touring myself?

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There were plenty of information plaques giving relevant information.

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 and I was able to stroll at my ease and take some photos.

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Windswept on the Walls!!!!

 

 

Met up with some of the returned walkers for lunch before hitting off on bus tour of Derry with Martin McCrossan.

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The Peace Garden with the Eternal Flame

 

And boy did he know and love “his” Derry. Some of the crowd had asked about Martin McGuinness’s grave and so that was added to our tour and was our first port of call. Flowers still fresh, it was hard to comprehend that had we travelled a week earlier the funeral may nor have allowed a tour of Derry at all. The Bloody Sunday grave was adjacent.

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Sas’ skills at manoeuvring the narrow street were award winning – although we had an encounter with police and ambulance services all worked out well (another story for another day).

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“The shirt factory horn (just up behind the trees)                   Called the women from the Creggan, the Moor and the Bog”

I gave the “Walking Tour of the Bogside” a miss and accompanied SAS back to the hotel – between Sas’ stories and the book I bought about the Bogside Murals, I had lots of information!!!!

20170404_170238 Sas told about an old guy who used to sit opposite this corner day after day, in all weathers – he was the father of this girl, one of the first children to be killed during The Troubles.

 

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Many of the Murals represents marches, the hunger strikers, etc. but there are modern murals also that celebrate PEACE and people who stand for Peace. The FREE DERRY CORNER is repainted regularly to celebrate even the different seasons, so it may not always be white!

 

DAY 3- HOME VIA KAVANAGH COUNTRY
After breakfast we had a free morning to catch up on some missed sights or to shop before boarding the bus for Monaghan and home.
Sas had returned to Tipperary the night before to pick up a crowd going to Wales and our new driver was a quieter guy. However, there were some on the bus who knew that part of the country and so the journey was peppered with tales of their childhoods and happenings at various locations. Reminded me of travelling with Mam and Dad – a story for every bush and stone!
We were ready for eating when we pulled into the Shirley Arms in Carrickmacross for lunch accompanied by the usual vino! Isn’t it great to be driven around????

300px-KavanaghcentreBack to the bus for the drive to Monaghan and the Patrick Kavanagh Centre. The Centre is located in Inniskeen and was set up to commemorate the poet Patrick Kavanagh who is regarded as one of the foremost Irish poets of the 20th century. He was born in Mucker townland Inniskeen. (You can imagine some of the rhyming slang attached to that!!!! especially in his associations with Brendan Behan!!!!) We listened to some lovely stories from the guide about the exhibition – not only did she know her stuff, she knew how to entertain. Two of our own gave a rendition of “Raglan Road” before we went out to see the grave.

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The guide was excellent – after all our travels and info gathering, he was still able to hold our interest as we drove through the narrow roads of Kavanagh country.

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“The bicycles went by in twos and threes,             There’s a dance in Billy Brennan’s barn tonight.”

(from Inishkeen Road by P Kavanagh)
Lots of sleeping as we headed back to Naas (and Newbridge). What a great tour, due entirely to the excellence of the organiser – she had accounted for everything – I’m a definite for next trip!!!

 

DAY 8: BACK TO COLOGNE

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Hearty breakfast as disembarking at 9.30 – cases had to be out before 7am. Quick rendition of “My bags are packed”.

Our biker guide was on the quay to make sure we all got on the bus with our belongings.

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I did my usual people watching in a small café – where locals were coming to buy breakfast while the rest of the cast did last minute shopping, sight-seeing.

 

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I did go to a few shops and met a really interesting guy in one who talked about the destruction of Cologne during the war. He rooted out some old postcards to give me that showed then and now – a bit of a find!

 

 

 

The resilience of the European people never ceases to amaze me. the awful atrocities they lived through during the war and the way they picked themselves up and moved on.

As I’ve a “blue pass” I can get assistance through the airport – but today was an example of service at its best. Think it probably was because there were three young guys coming to Dublin for the weekend, one of them in a wheelchair. Well! Each of us got our own attendant and we were brought direct to the plane and “airlifted” on. The lads asked would the same happen in Dublin; I certainly couldn’t give them any assurance (I was doubtful). But surprise surprise – it did.

Another memorable adventure!

DAY 7: NIJMEGEN, NETHERLANDS

After busy day yesterday, decided that walking tour of Nijmegen in German could be missed. So wrapped up and went on deck and to read and watch the world go by.

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Have become friendly with some of the German guests – a few of them have been to Ireland and like to talk about their trip. Others have plans to visit. And while I don’t think they understand the Irish wit, they are very impressed with how we enjoy ourselves. They were particularly taken with the sing-song last night and that we could sing for hours!!!!!

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Great kefuffle at noon  when ship ready to sail, and an Irish person from Cabin 225 (not me) was missing – tried to phone but went to answering …. And then she comes ‘strolling’ along the quay. ALMOST another emergency!!!!! Great crack at French Dinner as stories of lost sheep were repeated. We even had a rendition of “A poor little sheep ……I’ve lost my maa-maa-maa”.

DAY 6: ANTWERP

 

Antwerp, the City of diamonds – and we didn’t even look!!!!

Antwerp, the city of Rubens: Great experience in De Kathedral Antwerpen. The guide pamphlet set the atmosphere for the walk around the Cathedral of our Lady. “Welcome! When entering sit down on one of the chairs at the back of the cathedral. Feel the majesty.

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Gigantic pillars support the ribbed vault above your head. Large stained glass windows filter the light. You are surrounded by opulent works of art. Our visitors are often reduced to silence by such beauty

….The cathedral was built as a house for God and today it continues to receive many Catholics who wish to celebrate and pray here.””

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This modern statue stands close to the back of the Cathedral and symbolises man trying to balance faith (the cross) and living.

The visit was at our own pace, focussing on what drew us: it was so spiritual and inspiring to see four of the masterpieces of Rubens, the Antwerp painter who was the proponent of Baroque in the Low Countries:

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“His dynamic flamboyant and imposing alterpieces continue to leave visitors speechless” according to the guidebook – AND THEY DID.

 

Antwerp, the city of Lace: Fiona and Catherine went off shopping. Being “crafty”, I decided to visit the Dupon Lace House. Met a fascinating lady whose family have been lacemaking for generations who was delighted to explain all about bobbin lace, needle lace and combinations.

 

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NEEDLE LACE

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COMBINATION NEEDLE AND BOBBIN LACE

Bought three lovely examples: Renaissance Needle Lace, Duchess Bobbin Lace with Bruges pattern and Princess Bobbin Lace.  Thoroughly enjoyed the chat.

And just had time to buy some Belgian chocolate before meeting girls for coffee. As time was moving on we decided to get a taxi back to the ship – luckily we had only 10 minutes to sailing. Then to find Fiona’s mobile missing – still in taxi- what a nice guy to race back and return it just as gang plank was being pulled up!!!

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There were 180 passengers on the ship, 174 of them from Germany. And still it was the Irish contingency that out-sang the Karaoke with renditions of An Puc ar Buile, the Banks, Molly Malone and many many others – all unaccompanied as you can imagine.

 

DAY 5: GENT, BELGIUM

Docked in Gent today and decided to take coach trip to Bruges …..such a quaint town! Known as the Venice of the North, it’s UNESCO site.

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The Historic Centre of Brugge is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble, illustrating significant stages in the commercial and cultural fields in medieval Europe.

Brugge in medieval times was known as a commercial metropolis in the heart of Europe.

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The city reflects a considerable exchange of influences on the development of art and architecture, particularly in brick Gothic, which is characteristic of northern Europe and the Baltic. This architecture strongly determines the character of the historic centre of the city.

The 1th century city walls marked the boundaries of the medieval city. Although the walls themselves are lost today, they remain clearly visible, emphasized by the four surviving gates, the ramparts and one of the defence water towers. The medieval street pattern, with main roads leading towards the important public squares, has mostly been preserved, as well as the network of canals which, once used for mercantile traffic, played an important role in the development of the city.

In the 15th century, Brugge was the cradle of the Flemish Primitives and a centre of patronage and painting development for artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling. Many of their works were exported and influenced painting styles all over Europe. Exceptionally important collections have remained in the city until today.

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What did we do besides walking around and sightseeing –

EVERYONE in Bruges seemed to be eating chips from a van with dollops of sauce on top. we ate chips and sauce out of a bag as all good Brugians do!!!!So we joined them.e-in-bruges-2

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Will have to rewatch “In Bruges” when I get home as its set here (hence the name!) and lots of the violent scenes takes place around the Square.

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Our translator, Marie Claire (aka as Marie Celeste, Marie Antoinette, Polly) entranced us with her knowledge of the area – Waterloo (had never even heard the ABBA song?); Flanders (Bruges is known as the Jewel of Flanders); wasn’t quite sure whether we were in Holland or Belgium; But she certainly minded us – making sure we knew return times, meeting points, etc. so very pleasant you couldn’t be cross with her – but lucky we had access to WIFI. Also the German guide had pretty good English and shared some info with us.

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Scenery to and from Bruges was gorgeous – reminiscent of the landscapes one sees in WW1 films

 

DAY 4: ROTTERDAM

WOW! Did I ever think I would be the cause of a medical emergency on board a ship in Rotterdam Harbour????? Well that’s what happened!

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Not feeling great this morning so decided to stay in the bed and let the five Irish off with English speaking guide for a tour of Rotterdam. Thought a trip on deck might sort me out, but ship receptionist felt I needed a doctor – emergency services arrived (in less than 10 minutes) – top to toe examination – some immediate treatment and strict orders to stay in the bed.

What did I miss during all this excitement….a museum that wasnt open!!!!!! And these cubist houses which would have been worth a view.

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Ever obedient (not) I decided to wrap up warm and got up on deck in the afternoon (warm and sunny) to see us leaving the harbour!
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DAY 3: AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

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Woke up in Amsterdam this morning. An English speaking guide met us for a bus tour around the city. Just as I pictured – canals, bridges, waterfront buildings. We had an hour to spare before our booking in the Van Gogh museum so the cork lads wanted to do some walking, the Laois couple and Fiona decided on some retail therapy. I stayed on the canal bank soaking up Amsterdam atmosphere and watched the world “sail” by.

c-amsterdam-van-gogh-museum Van Gogh Museum was so informative – another excellent guide– exhibitions of all his work as a timeline … I probably never appreciated his genius – and it was great to have previously known about the Arles (France) connection

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c-amsterdam-poldersFiona and I decided to see some of the countryside and signed up for a trip to Edam and the Zaanse Schans windmills (all operational) and traditional village – who could think of Holland without windmills and cheese????

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Just imagine that most of Holland is below sea level and yet they have designed a system of drainage and land reclamation that allows farming on a grand scale. Will think of these polders when i hear about the annual flooding in Ireland!!!! Many of the farmers have their own windmills to drive the drainage systems!

Amazing that Zaanse, realising that Irish is an official European Language has produced a guide leaflet “as Gaeilge”.

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Onto the village of Edam next, one of the centres for the CHEESE industry- lovely little town – traditional Dutch houses – the rest of the gang walked through …. I slept on bus – it’s a busy day!!!!!

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We visited a dairy farm on way back and Auntie Antje, the farmer’s wife, showed us how cheese is made. Then we got a chance to sample – would have loved to bring some home but case weight is a consideration. So just feasted here!!!
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Barely an hour for dinner, then out again for the Grachtan tour of the canals by night. As the tour was designed for the predominantly German contingent, Marie Claire (designated minder of the Irish) accompanied us to translate – unfortunately she thought most of the information was “irrelevant” and we had to make do with our limited knowledge of German!!!! We have the poor girl totally confused with our humour; she’s trying so hard, BUT!!!!!!

DAY 2: HOORN, THE NETHERLANDS

Woke up this morning to views of the Markermeer, a large lake in the central Netherlands. It used to be part of the Zuiderzee, but is now a freshwater lake. Hoorn, with a beautiful old city area, is one of the richest Dutch ports.

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Everyone walks or cycles or uses a small boat moored outside their door.

We managed to get a taxi to centre and do some shopping, some coffee in a Pancake Café

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the Trophy is for Pancake Champs of the year – NOT Sam!!!)  There was bell ringing practice in the nearby church for the duration of our coffee – not sure if this is an everyday occurrence!

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We then had to make a mad dash to the Westfries Museum right in the town centre to see the current “special” exhibition. It’s an exhib of returned art. In 2005, 24 paintings and 17 pieces of silver were stolen. Five of the paintings were recently discovered in the Ukraine and have been returned to Westfries. All of them have sustained major damage but luckily are in the process of being restored. The Statue is of a guy called Coen, very big in the Dutch West Indies – came from Hoorn.

b-hoorn-sqcoen-statue  bhoorn-waiting-for-a-taxiThe luxury of sitting in a bar and calling a taxi to the door!!!!!

With all that culture under our belts, we hit back to the ship for drinks and dinner.  All free for the cruise duration!!!!! and then onto deck for a last look at the sunset in Hoorn!

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My Rhine Experience The Stories DAY 1: COLOGNE

There are six of us from Ireland on the trip. We were collected at Koln/Bonn Airport by “an old biker” who proceeded to bore us with the ancient history of Cologne – that’s what I think he was on about anyway but with his monotonous voice that could be barely heard above the engine, twas hard to know. He hit rapidly for the hills when we arrived at the Novatel to find there was no booking!!!!!

It all worked out – German competency at its best- lovely room and free mini-bar. Quick freshen up and we made our way to a really typical German Restaurant/Beer house recommended by receptionist; we sat at a long table, sharing with a local family who enjoyed out attempts at understanding the menu (even the English version), however we chose wisely and had an amazing meal – (“Kolsche Pizza” – delicious) and a few beers before home!

Next morning a new guide arrived to take us to tour the Cathedral and Cologne. Antje was super – a Cologner who loved her city, warts and all, and who presented it with such enthusiasm. She congratulated us on our choice of eatery the night before. As we travelled around, she pointed out many of the important sites with historical references and stories of social interest, all presented with the humour of ‘a Cologner’ have appropriately (and wittily) nicknamed some of their city sculptures; , just like us ‘Dubliners’ with our “Hags with the Bags”, “Floozie in the Jacuzzi”, “Tart with the Cart”, etc. One couldn’t be but impressed with the way this city has been restored following its almost total destruction during the war.

You could not but be impressed with the restoration of buildings that has occurred since the war – all back to original glory. In the second World War, Cologne was devastated by air bombings. Famously, Cologne’s legendary cathedral was spared by the Allies, partly due to its cultural significance, but also because it helped direct air pilots toward Cologne (it being one of the world’s tallest buildings at the time, indeed the world’s largest Gothic church in northern Europe).
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St. Alban’s stands in stark contrast, blown out and restored only at its facade. It was left in such shape as a reminder of the pains of war and the loss of human life sustained by war. This ruined church evidently had a long history before its destruction during World War II. As in many cities, Cologne decided to leave a prominent church in a ruined status as a memorial to the sadness caused by war. There is a moving Kathe Kollwitz statue representing the grief of parents who have lost children in war and there is also a memorial to prisoners of war who had not yet returned (German prisoners of war generally took 3 years after war’s end to begin coming back and some were held for longer). A marker at the site reads: “Still the prisoners of war await their return home,” a stunning metaphor for all victims of war.

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And the Kolner Dom – the Cathedral of Cologne! WOW!

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The Stained glass windows

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The most recent of the windows using all the hues of glass from the old windows to replace that destroyed in Cologne bombings.

Antje was brilliant – wonderful stories about the Cathedral but never imposed on our own freedom of “just enjoying the place”.

Image result for shrine of the magi cologneThe Shrine of the Magi. Cologne was stop of point for pilgrims to Jerusalem – so its likely that relics would have found there way here.

The Crucifix of Gero (VERY different from usual portrayal as its focus was not on suffering but on resurrection)

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The mosaic floors made by who other than Villeroy and Boch (still going strong Kildare outlet!)

St Christopher – always invoked for the traveller by Mam – even when he lost his job!

coogne-cathedral-adoration-of-the-magi Picture of the Magi visiting the stable, with side panels implying the Cologne gentry were also there.

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the two organs the old and the new linked so that both can be played at same time, ………VERY IMPRESSIVE!

Antje offered a trip around the old town, but I took myself off to Café Reichard to “hold tables” for the walkers! What a wise choice – very friendly waitresses, great cakes and pastries, ice cream, chocolates; I chilled out on the terrace with a coffee until the wanderers arrived back and then went inside to a reserved table to FEAST on cake. Sinful!!!!
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Back to the bus for short hop to the port to board the MS A-ROSA SILVA and the start of the cruise northwards to the Low Countries.