Monday, October 12, 2020

River Cruise Diary – Nijmegen, Netherlands

Nijmegen, Netherlands (18 November 2019)

Before going ashore for our first tour in a Netherlands town, pronounced “NI-may-ghen.” we attended a talk given by an old gentleman who was a boy living here during Operation ‘Market Garden’ in September 1944. Three months after D-Day, allied forces were preparing to cross the Rhine and take the war into the German homeland. The largest airborne offensive in World War II up to that time failed to secure any of the bridges, thus dashing any hope of ending the war by Christmas. A positive outcome was that the city of Nijmegen was liberated.

After the talk, we hit the streets…charming, narrow passages that accommodate cars now and then but seem little-changed for the past few centuries. Unfortunately, the almost-bad weather dropped the ‘almost’ and the dark skies were also wet. The boat provides umbrellas and the walking tours are no longer than 90 minutes. A few people scrambled back to the boat but several of us chose to linger and explore.

Dutch East India Company Symbol, Nijmegen, 
Netherlands (18 November 2019) 

An interesting decoration on a few of the older buildings is some representation of an elephant. This notes that the house at one time contained part of the Dutch East India Company. Formed in 1602, the operation is the classic, public/private, early capitalistic, colonial case study. It’s like every global conglomerate today can trace its roots to what the Dutch East India Company either started or refined. The main source of all the exotic goods the Dutch merchants brought to Europe was India and the elephant added a recognizable sign for all to see.

Say ‘Cheese’, Nijmegen, Netherlands (18 November 2019) 

As I have noted before, European town centers have gorgeous specialty stores. Butchers, bakeries and cheese shops are beautifully stocked and presented. Of course, this is the Netherlands…where the Dutch take their cheese quite seriously. We bought some vacuum-sealed 3+-year old Gouda that we just opened and devoured. The rich, nutty flavor transported us right back to Nijmegen,

Holocaust Memorial, 
Nijmegen, Netherlands (18 November 2019) 

A tiny square (really a roundabout) in a quiet neighborhood has been turned into a Holocaust memorial. The rain added a tear drop to the figure.

Holocaust Memorial, 
Nijmegen, Netherlands (18 November 2019) 

Our guide, the jovial and informative Amin, ended the walking tour at one of those infamous ‘Coffee shops’ where one can buy wonderful hot chocolate (and coffee also, I guess) and/or a serving of marijuana.

Amin interacted with the staff to show these curious American senior citizens how such a business can exist without the town being destroyed by drug-crazed potheads at the same time.

Anyway, guess who stayed behind after we were all dismissed? It was chilly and gloomy outside and the hot chocolate was divine. Good thing there were three of us. Together, we found our way back to the boat. 


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