Friday, June 22, 2012

Wedding Day in Haarlem

For our last day in Haarlem, we were treated to three weddings! After a little rain during lunch, a bride and her groom emerged from the City Hall to greet their guests…and all in the market square. After posing for photos and the obligatory kiss for the crowd, they were off in their vintage Citroen. The best man and maid of honor drove the couple out of town…after an embarrassing stall of the car…bless his heart.

City Hall is apparently like a Vegas wedding chapel because as soon as couple number one left, couple number two entered. I didn’t stick around for them to make their exit and instead heading to meet Julie and a few classmates at the Corrie Ten Boom House. En route, I was mistaken for a local and asked directions! After having explored Haarlem for a week, I was actually able to help the lady (German I believe) who remarked “your English is very good”!

Turns out the folks at Corrie’s house changed the time for the next English tour so we had an hour before the next tour. Since half my lunch was soaked by the sudden rain, I was actually a little happy about the delay so Julie and I headed back to market square for poffertjes (little pancakes…aka Pillows of Happiness). To make it a somewhat healthy selection, Julie went with the strawberries and I the bananas.

Before our poffertjes arrived, the second wedding party was exciting so I was able to get their photo…and that of the band. Apparently in Haarlem, “The Farmer and the Dell”, “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Puttin’ On The Ritz” played by a trumpet, guitar and violin are the custom.

After enjoying our Pillows of Happiness, we were off to meet up with Julie’s classmates at the Corrie Ten Boom House.We were a little way-laid by the arrival of a double decker bus with yet another wedding party!Not being able to resist another photo op and loving that the entire wedding came in together in a bus, I headed back to City Hall.Finally the bride and her bride emerged from the bus to the cheers of the crowd.

We finally made our way over to the Corrie Ten Boom House. I haven’t read her book “The Hiding Place” but after touring her home, it is on my list. During the Nazi occupation of Haarlem, Corrie, her sister and father helped over 800 Jews go underground and escape Holland. Most of the Jews that came to their house would stay for one or two nights but two couples (who looked too Jewish to continue in the underground) and two Dutch boys became permanent residents of the Ten Booms.  Corrie’s bedroom was altered to create a hiding place for them in the event of a Nazi raid.

Cupboard built with secret passage
to access hiding place
Brick wall was wallpapered and weathered
to look like it was 100+ years old
Interestingly enough, they were never arrested for assisting the Jews but instead for possessing over 300 food ration tickets. Corrie’s father (over 80) was offered the opportunity to be released if he promised to do nothing against the Nazis to which he told them “if a Jew came to my door tomorrow, I would do whatever I could to help them”. Needless to say, he was not released from jail. 

Hiding place for the 300 food ration cards
Unfortunately he died not too long after being imprisoned. Corrie and her sister were sent to work camps where they witnessed to their fellow prisoners. Corrie’s sister died in the camp and a few days later Corrie was released by clerical error. She continued to travel the world spreading the word of God…and to quote the caption of one of the photos in the house she was“Corrie, Tramp for the Lord”…gotta love literal translations!

In Haarlem next to the Grote Kerk, there is a spot for those that can’t wait to get to a private toilet. Kerr, one of Julie’s classmates, took one for the team and posed for a couple pics. What a guy!

A few us spent our last night in Haarlem having Indonesian food…a first for me and it was quite good.  Kerr spent two months in Indonesia so we put him in charge. After dinner, we had one last stroll through market square and one last gelato.

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