Monday, April 18, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016: Zwolle to Zutphen, The Netherlands

We checked out of the hotel around 8:30am to drive about 5-10 minutes to the village of Staphorst. We want to drive through the village while everyone is going to church on Sunday morning.  This town and the surrounding area is considered the “Bible Belt” of the Netherlands.  It has been the strictest embodiment of the Protestant Dutch Reformed Church for centuries. 

In 2004 when I visited our daughter who was living in Amsterdam at the time, I wanted to show her some places we had visited when we lived here.  We took a weekend trip, stopping overnight in Zwolle, then Sunday morning we just happened to drive through Staphorst when everyone was going to church – we had perfect timing.  Many of them were wearing costumes, and their riding bikes. The area around the church was full of parked bikes.  It was so interesting that I wanted to return with Cal to see it again.                                                                                   

I must also say, Staphorst is one of those villages where you do not take photos of people – out of respect to their wishes.  

This morning after leaving the hotel we drove north on the autobahn to the exit before the Staphorst exit allowing us to drive a little back-road into the village.  We first went through the little village of Rouveen.  Both of these towns are very rural and most of the inhabitants are farmers.  The neat brick house/barns in the village were very similar in style with the green shutters, green trim paint, and a stripe painted blue around the bottom of the house.  As we came into Rouveen we saw our first bicycles on their way to the church – the riders were all dressed up in suits and dresses.  We saw more and more, plus there were people dressed up in cars – however, in Rouveen we did not see anyone dressed in costumes.  We finally got to the church in Rouveen, people were coming from all directions for church. However, some seem to be going to another church across the street.  We of course have no idea as to the difference in churches. We had to drive slow coming into town as we were behind bikes.  After we passed the church, the bikers were on the opposite side of the road coming toward us.  

When we crossed the line between the villages of Rouveen and Staphorst, all the bikers began going in the direction of the Staphorst church.  The closer we came to the church, the heavier the crowd.  Everyone was dressed up – suits & ties, and some women had hats to match their dress.  We just stayed behind the bikers – Dutch women can ride bikes while wearing dresses of all lengths and high heels.  We did snap a couple of photos from within the car.  In Staphorst we did see some of the older ladies wearing costumes (walking and on bikes), plus they are the ones with the decorated bike skirts – a colorful skirt to cover the bike spokes – see photos.  

After we drove through town we waited a few minutes, giving everyone time to get to church, before we turned around and drove back through town again.  This time taking photos of the traditional homes, gardens, the church and the bikes in front of the church, etc. 

The number of people wearing costumes has definitely dwindled in the past 10+ years, & more people are driving to church The size of the towns appeared to have stayed the same – I don’t know where the young people families live.  They are remodeling a couple of the old houses – they gut the house except for the front and sides.  We are so glad we went this morning and also glad we found the village of Rouveen.

The traffic going to church

A sneak photo of costumes - sorry about the focus

Bicycles with fabric skirt guards

Decoration above the entrance door

We now are going to try to get to the village of Bronkhorst – the one just across the river we could not cross by ferry yesterday afternoon!  We decided to drive a different direction, thus crossing at a bridge.  Bronkhorst is a village with 160 persons.  You park at the edge of the village and walk around.  The buildings are charming; some of the house/barns are now exclusive shops that open at 12:00 on Sunday. The little village church had mass this morning, but at noon opened with an art exhibit.  We sat down for a nice lunch in one of the charming old buildings converted into a restaurant. Outside of Bronkhorst we found another very nice windmill - another photo!
House/Barn in Bronkhorst

Uitsmitter - Yum!!

Our afternoon will be spent “castle spotting”!  Within a very small area there are 8 castles.  We saw the following Castles: Huize Baak; Hackfort; Vorden; Onstein; De Wiersse; Medler; Wildenborch, Het Velde; De Voorst; Den Dam; plus Manor House Walien.  There are many more castles, within a 50 mile radius. It was a fun afternoon, as most of them are in secluded wooded areas.  Some of them you could not see well enough for a good photo, and in some cases we were glad the trees were not totally leafed out, so you could see through the trees.  Only a few of the castles are open to the public.  Most are still private home. 
Huize Baak Castle

Hackfort Castle

Vorden Castle

Vorden Castle

Onstein Castle

Huize Medler Castle

Wildenburg Castle

Welien Manor House

Het Velde Castle

De Voorst Castle

Den Dam Castle

When driving through one of the towns we went past a very large Catholic church (we are now south far enough in Holland that most of the churches are Catholic – whereas in the northern part, every church is Protestant).  The doors were open so we stopped.  As usual, most old churches in Holland are now museums.  They were having an exhibit of icons painted by a person living about 25 miles away.  We have never seen a church with the number of statues that this one had.
Klooster of Kranenburg Church

Some of the Icons on display

Bronkhorst Windmill

Vorden Windmill

Vorden Windmill
By now were decided to call it a day and went to the nearest city, Zutphen, where we found a hotel in the old part of the city, across the square from a lovely old church, which of course was not open. The old part of the hotel was a former castle.  We walked around the lovely old city center and along the old city wall before selecting a restaurant. 

Tomorrow we are driving a little farther south to visit another very large castle – Huis Bergh. At this point we plan to tour Huis Bergh.       
Old Zutphen City Wall

Large Church across from our Hotel and the City Wall

Old City Gate in the City Wall, c1444

1723 Poort Bornhof Hofje

Our Hotel

Hotel at Night

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