Friday, July 25
Since we had slept through breakfast the first day we decided to start setting the clock. We made it on time this way, and it was worth getting up for. Breakfast is buffet style, with all the Dutch yummies: several kinds of rolls, breads, and crackers; cheese; sliced roast beef; ginger/molasses cake; pound cake; boiled eggs; bishout (sort of like zwieback); chocolate sprinkles; licorice sprinkles; yogurt; vanilla pudding; muesli; granola; fruit; juices; coffee.
After breakfast we met Fred and El again. They had offered to drive us around the "Krimpenerwaard", the area around the city where Willem was born. We joked being on a pilgrimage, going back to all the major spots of Willem's youth. We started in Krimpen aan den IJssel, the city he was born in, and went to the 1669 house where his mother had been born and where she also gave birth to both of her children. It was a very picturesque street, built on a dike. When I get the photos out you'll have a better idea of it. All of the houses are from that same period - mid 17th century - but very well kept and still lived in. We also saw the houses of some of his aunts (his mother was the youngest of 10), the school where his maternal grandfather was head master, and the canal where he learned to skate.
On the other side of the river in Capelle aan den IJssel we saw his Opa Offerman's house and the pub where he went on Sundays while Oma was in church. Sometimes he and Willem cycled there together and Willem was sworn to secrecy about the trip. We also saw the ferry house where he took the ferry across the river to go to school. When it was warm he would take the ferry across with his bike, then ride into Rotterdam to school, picking up friends along the way.
From Capelle we stopped in Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel for lunch at a charming little place in the old town and saw the spot where a skipper had shoved his barge into a hole in the dike during the flood of 1953. His action prevented the dike from breaking and extending the flood all the way to Utrecht.
After lunch we did the university period, going to Waterloostraat where Willem had his boho apartment; and to Bikini, the college hang-out where he partied hard and long.
We got back to the hotel around 5:30, just in time to change for dinner with his best friend from school and college days. They used to bike together to elementary and high school. We had a lovely dinner with him and his wife in a private club located in a downtown park. After dinner we went to see their new condo on the 17th floor in a building right in the park, with 360 views of the city from floor to ceiling windows.
Afterwards, we walked the short distance back to the hotel and fell exhausted, but happy, into bed.