It's undergoing planned expansion right now by the government, but when my grandparents moved to Amerfoort from Heerjansdam (a village established sometime before the 12th century) when my mother was 14 it was all farmland.
When I was younger I was at the house frequently enough to necessitate my own bedroom, this time my mother stayed in the room and I stayed in my cousins Charlotte and Arthur's room. This was particularly painful because their room has a glass wall.
These are the scary stairs. The house is three stories tall and if you're going down the stairs in your socks, you might wind up with a couple of broken limbs.
I wish I had a better picture of the house itself, but I forgot to take one.
This is Onze-Lieve-Vrouwentoren (The Tower of our Lady) seen from the center of the shopping district. It's known by Lange Jan by the locals. When my mother was 17 she worked as a tour-guide for the tower and she lost something like 30 pounds from climbing up and down all thirteen stories of stairs every hour.
Amerfoort is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Western Europe aside from Bruges. The streets are extremely narrow.
My mom walking ahead of me through one of the gates in the inner walls.
The city is built on a system of canals like most cities in the Netherlands, because the country is something like 5 meters below sea level. They get really annoyed that the US was so slow to acknowledge global warming because they have been facing very real consequences for the last ten years.
The building my Uncle got married in.
My mother claims this is the Amersfoort culinary school, but my Uncle claims he's never heard of an Amersfoort culinary school, so who knows. I was amused because the window panes were fitted with lavendar glass.
Organ Grinders are still seen throughout the Netherlands. I once saw one in Utrecht that was playing "Hips Don't Lie." My mother claims she's been seeing this exact one in Amersfoort since she got there.
The Grebbelinie. These were dykes built for WWII fortifications. The Dutch had a strategy of flooding out the enemy so that they couldn't get into the Netherlands. Unfortunately by the time of WWII the Germans had planes so that kind of failed to work for them. Also, the Dutch army was on bikes. I think that might have failed to work for them too.
The Koppelport or the Watergate. I'm not sure why this is so important, but I'm sure it has something to do with making sure the town doesn't flood which is a rather singular concern in the Netherlands.
New Years is a really big deal in the Netherlands. Probably because they don't have an independence day to go nuts over. Anyway, everybody eats this stuff on New Years. It's called oliebollen and it's deep fried dough with fresh apple and raisins.
My aunt Carole, who is french, famously embarrassed herself by asking for this in a shop and saying "oilyboily." I'm not sure why my family finds this so hilarious given the fact that oliebollen literally means oil balls.
They also make apple flapjes, but I didn't have any pictures.
And of course on New Years everybody has to play Sjoelen, which involves sliding pucks across a wooden surface into slots. You have to slide sets into each of the slots to get more points.
My Tante Angelique playing.
My oma and my mother.
Om Jan Kees and Tante Angelique.
My Grandmother is famously the best at this, but she always gets a low score because she can never get anything into the two slot.
Everybody sets off their own fireworks in the Netherlands. It's amazing because it surrounds you on all sides and it's louder than a warzone. I wish I had better pictures.
65 million euros of fireworks were sold in the months leading up to New Years this year and last year 1,100 people were treated for firework related injuries. We thought the neighbors next door were going to set fire to their house because they kept launching them into the back yard.
My mother says if the people weren't allowed to set off their own fireworks in the Netherlands there would be a revolution.