Local Heart, Global Soul

May 17, 2018

Himeji Castle And A Golden Gate…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve now come to a World landmark in the Te Papa Wellington, New Zealand LEGO exhibition that I know nothing about: Himeji Castle in Japan. I’d like to know more about this beautiful building so did a little bit of research.

Wikipedia tells me: “Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex situated in the city of Himeji, in the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan. Regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, it comprises a network of 83 buildings with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period.

It gained the nickname: Hakuro-jō (“White Heron Castle”) because of its brilliant white exterior and supposed resemblance to a bird taking flight.

Dating from 1333, when Akamatsu Norimura built a fort on top of Himeyama hill.

The fort was dismantled and rebuilt as Himeyama Castle in 1346, and then remodeled into Himeji Castle two centuries later. Himeji Castle was then significantly remodeled in 1581 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who added a three-story castle keep.

In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded the castle to Ikeda Terumasa for his help in the Battle of Sekigahara, and Ikeda completely rebuilt the castle from 1601 to 1609, expanding it into a large castle complex. The castle complex comprises a network of 83 buildings such as storehouses, gates, corridors, and turrets.

For over 400 years, Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the extensive bombing of Himeji in World War II, and natural disasters such as the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.

Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and it was registered in 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.

The area within the middle moat of the castle complex is a designated Special Historic Site and five structures of the castle are also designated National Treasures.

In order to preserve the castle buildings, it underwent restoration work for several years and reopened to the public on March 27, 2015. The works also removed decades of dirt and grime, restoring the formerly grey roof to its original brilliant white colour.”

It’s interesting to find out about somewhere I have never heard of before… and it’s a very cool LEGO build as well.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then on the far distant side of the Pacific, we “travel” to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wikipedia tells us: “The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

The structure links the American city of San Francisco, California – the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula – to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait.

The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States.

It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[

The Frommer’s travel guide describes the Bridge as “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world.”

At the time of its opening in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, with a main span of 4,200 feet (1,280 m) and a total height of 746 feet (227 m).”

One thing is for certain: building bridges in LEGO is a lot harder than it looks.

I’ve tried to build several small bridges at home because I had the bright idea of building elevated LEGO train tracks with his buildings and cars below. Little Mr had previously been running the trains next to the LEGO road plates but we kept having cars on tracks, trains on road. I thought it would be a space saving idea as well. I failed spectacularly on every attempt to build a decent bridge so I have a very special appreciation for the technical difficulties that need to be overcome to make a structure not only stand, look amazing and be instantly recognisable as the world famous landmark it is, as well.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himeji_Castle
Wikipedia / Himeji Castle / Japan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_Bridge
Wikipedia / Golden Gate Bridge / California / USA

June 18, 2015

Getting Up Way Too Early…A Long Day Ahead…

Filed under: Accomodation,Nijmegen,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in October 2014, Himself and I went to Nijmegen to see Doctors, have tests and look for solutions for my problem foot since it isn’t healing as planned.

Yesterday when the kids got out of school, we dropped them off with friends and Himself and I hit the road, arriving in time to have dinner before the Golden Tulip Val Monte hotel restaurant closed up for the evening.

Even though we were both outwardly calm, it was one of those night’s when Himself and I tried to sleep in spite of the thousand questions racing though my brain and after tossing a turning and laying quietly looking at the ceiling, I finally realised that Himself was doing exactly the same thing.

I whispered a question asking if he was awake and he was relieved to tell me that it was 04:00 am and he had been awake for a while.

Both of us were nervous about what the specialists would say and sleep was going out of the window until we knew more. Luckily both the swimming pool and the restaurant where breakfast was served were both also open extra early, so we started the day with a swim and  breakfast and had both the pool and the breakfast area completely to ourselves.

I was very pleased that there was no-one to see me get into the pool, there was a ladder rather than steps so with one good foot and Himself giving me more than a hand I got in (and out) eventually.

It wasn’t however graceful at any moment of the procedure, but my physiotherapist would have been proud of my effort, knowing how much of a non-swimmer I am. In the breakfast room I spy some unusual egg cups, they were plastic throw-a-way ones so I asked if I could take two for our children back at home and the staff were happy to oblige. It was still early when we got back from breakfast and after packing we decided to just leave early for the hospital rather than sit around watching the minutes tick slowly by…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 16, 2015

A Room Or A Tent, It’s Complicated … And It Shouldn’t Really Be.

Filed under: Accomodation,Nijmegen,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On our way to dinner in the Golden Tulip Hotel Val Monte restaurant, Himself and I see an exhibition that includes a bamboo bicycle and a photograph of a tent, Himself stops and takes a look.

At first he is really enthusiastic, the deal is that the customers pay a Euro 75,– donation to an organisation called Shelterbox and sleep in a tent in the grounds instead of one of the hotel rooms for one or two nights.

It wasn’t really clear if the idea was that there would be a Euro 75,– donation per night or if that amount covered two nights, and Himself had a laugh and said that had we been there in the summer months then he would be really keen.

I told him he was on his own on this one, when I book into a hotel I rather like the idea of having a toilet on hand should I have to go in the night and whilst coffee works or some, I’m not particularly human until I’ve had a shower in the morning.

They advertise the breakfast as being “free” but if you’ve just aid Euro 75,– for a night in a tent then breakfast isn’t exactly free.

I’d rather take a proper hotel room and just donate Euro 75,– to the cause.

According to the information board, it costs Euro,– 750 (that includes transport costs) to get one Shelterbox to a family in need somewhere in a disaster zone. Also according to the information board, 130,000 boxes have been donated in 200 disaster areas in the last ten years.

Himself was getting really enthusiastic when I spotted another line on the information board: “ neem uw eigen slaapmat en slaapzak mee” which translates to: “bring your own mattress and sleeping bag with you”.

I was speechless,  I don’t get how they expect people to bring half of their own camping kit to a hotel… or is it just me?  This line did kind of take the wind out of Himself’s sails too, and we decided that maybe it would be better if we stuck to paying for a normal hotel room and donating to the charities we feel we want to.  Later in the week I looked  up the ShelterBox website (link at the bottom of this post). They look like a wonderful organisation that are doing excellent stuff… I felt that the hotel “advert” for them didn’t really do justice to their cause.  It seems to be so much more complicated than it needs to be. I’d still rather donate than camp though!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

ShelterBox

June 15, 2015

Checking In And Getting Ready To Check Out Early…

Filed under: Accomodation,Nijmegen,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in October 2014, and having arrived at our hotel, the Golden Tulip Hotel Val Monte just outside of Nijmegen, we go to find our room and get checked in.

It’s going to be an interesting stay because we check in half way though the evening, have a very early start tomorrow morning,  several different hospital tests and appointments and then a several hour trip back to the Hague.

Hopefully we will be arriving back just as the kids arrive home from school.

Of course we have child care made plans so that if we are running late for any reason, then we don’t have two stranded parent-less waifs left on the doorstep, and whilst we tossed up if these extra arrangement would be necessary, we finally concluded that Life usually runs more or less to Murphy’s Law… i.e. if you hadn’t made plans then something will happen to make you wish you had, and if you did make plans then probably you won’t ever need them. In a basic effort to be responsible parents we went the extra mile and of course arranged a back up plan. Once in our hotel room we get to sort of unpack and pack at the same time… Well that’s my idea at least because I like sleeping in as long as possible and hate packing last minute early in the morning (when I’m still 90% asleep).

Himself on the other hand rises with the larks, in all seasons, work days and holidays and wouldn’t mind the entire packing procedure to take place at the crack of dawn. Pretty much as soon as I have the suitcase in the room I find a solution:  I sort out what I need for bed, then lay out clothes and toiletries for tomorrow morning, put the appointment papers on the top, and then all that needs to be done tomorrow after my shower is to shove my night stuff in the bag after I am dressed and I’ll be good to go.

That’s the plan.  In fact the whole organisational stuff takes me ten minutes and during that time Himself has discovered that if we hurry up then we can be one of the restaurants last customers before the hotel kitchen closes for the evening. Perfect! Time therefore to see what’s on the menu in this part of the country…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

March 23, 2015

The 17th Century: The Dutch Golden Age…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This archive post finds us in the small Gelderlandse village of Garderen in an area of the Netherlands called the Veluwe.

Family Kiwidutch had taken advantage of the fact that there had been a long weekend and joined extended family members and Oma (Grandmother) in holiday homes a short drive way so that Oma, now in her 90’s could enjoy spending time with us in as big a collective family group as possible and for an extended period of time.

After seeing an advertisement for this exhibition, our family left the holiday park early on the last day so that we could detour here and enjoy seeing the sand sculptures for ourselves. The theme of this year’s exhibition is  “Experience the Golden Age”

The website: Holland.com (link at bottom of this post) tells us:

” The Dutch Golden Age encompasses most of the seventeenth century.

The first half of the century was taken up by the Eighty Years’ War: the Dutch War of Independence from Spain. After winning their independence, the united Dutch Republic ran the country in peace for the last half of the century.

During this time, Dutch explorers charted new territory and settled abroad. Trade by the Dutch East-India Company thrived, and war heroes from the naval battles were decorated and became national heroes. During this time, The Dutch Old Masters began to prevail in the art world, creating a depth of realistic portraits of people and life in the area that has hardly been surpassed.”

Important people from this time are depicted in sand sculptures and important trades: Coopers, who made barrels that carried goods world wide on ships, candle makers working with their rows of dipped candles,  and there are many other scenes, women looking out to sea awaiting the safe return of their menfolk, bakers and klompen (clog / wooden shoe makers).

Piet Pieterzoon Hein 1577 – 1629. Netherlands Lieutenant General and commandant in the West Indies Campagne…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Rembrandt Harmenzoon van Rijn (1606 – 1669) Artist

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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http://www.holland.com/us/tourism/article/history-of-dutch-golden-age.htm

December 10, 2013

A Golden Girl In Flowing Robes, And Other Quirky Bits…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this section of our Luxembourg City tourist bus tour, I’m focussing a bit more on the details… Regular readers will know that I can never manage to take photos without zooming in whenever quirky things, architectural details and pretty patterns catch my eye.

Today is no exception. Although I’m usually less of a fan of modern art, three quirky statues on the front lawn of a historical looking building caught my eye, as do some eccentric and bright yellow telephone boxes. (which interestingly are still “boxes” rather than the minimalist installations in The Netherlands that as a public facility are darn near impossible to find thee days.

Much to my delight, decorative towers and turrets abound (If I win the lottery I’m building a house with a tower with windows around the top to be a sun-trap reading room, yeah I know, dream on!).

I spy a very sparkly golden lady high up on a column, she holds a wreath and I’m trying to work out if she has cape that billows out around her or is she has a flowing dress, even on maximum zoom she’s hard to capture from ground level so I try several angles.

I like the colourful stripes on the local public transport buses and in yet another example of how important cycling is here I see a special cycle crossing right through the centre of a large intersection complete with it’s own cycle road markings.  Cycle lanes are everywhere, and separated from the car traffic (also done ever possible in The Netherlands too) you can see how popular cycling is by the numerous cyclists peddling by.

I was disappointed not to have had more information about some of these beautiful buildings on the tour bus commentary… but at least that didn’t diminish the visual delights.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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