Benji drove down from Ede to pick me and Arij up and then we traveled to Kasteel de Haar. We met up with Joram and his girlfriend Maaike and went for a very nice tour. The grounds were the site of a medieval castle that fell into ruins when the family that owned the land left for the southern Netherlands (present-day Belgium) after the ascendancy of the Protestant faith. It was later rebuilt by the Baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt in the late 1800s. The castle as it stands now was designed and the project overseen by the same architect of the Rijksmuesum in Amsterdam, Petrus Cuypers.
As befits a the nobility, not expense was spared or inconvenience allowed. The baron bought out the farmers living on the land surrounding the castle so that he could have a appropriate grounds, demolishing the village with the exception of the church, which Cuypers felt fit with the feel of the castle. They brought in fully grown trees from around Netherlands to fill the park because the Baron did not want the grounds to seem too new. The castle had hot and cold running water and electric lights – the Baron was so proud of the later fact that all of the light bulbs are visible to show them off properly.
The tour was in Dutch but they gave me an English translation of the tour guide’s spiel and there were little signs around in English as well as Dutch – I was able to catch some of what he said but mostly because I had already read it and could get the context with a few words. Benji and Maaike also helped fill me in on things that weren’t in the literature. Lead to funny moments because Joram would try to come tell me a story and I would have to say I already heard that. Finally Joram joked “What am I good for?” (Bit of an inside family in-joke – Joram is the official family tour guide as he is well-traveled, studies history and retains facts about places and things like you wouldn’t believe. So normally he would be the one giving all the details on any given excursion. Don’t worry, Joram, you’re still the resident expert!)
It is a stunning place but is currently under renovations due to the settling of the land and the consequent cracks in the foundation and walls of the castle. Pics only allowed outside of course but here are a few:
Anyway, had a nice evening with Oma and the rest of the family in residence in Goudswaard. Fried rice (lekker!) and chocolate and berry muffins for desert.
A quiet day tomorrow just relaxing with Oma and the rest. Jim and Ingrid will come in the evening to wish me farewell. Torn between wanting to stay another two weeks and wanting to go home but I really have done what I came to do.
See many of you very soon.
Much love and blessings,