Haarlem - IOSC reunion - 2016


This is to be the sixth IOSC reunion since we first all gathered in Vancouver in 2006.  Jaap has delegated the organisation of the reunion to Henk.  It is to start with a welcome meal on Sunday, 11 September and will end with a farewell breakfast on Thursday, 15 September.

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Saturday, 10 September - Journey to Haarlem
Sunday, 11 September - Haarlem
Monday, 12 September - Amsterdam
Tuesday, 13 September - Utrecht
  Wednesday, 14 September - Haarlem and the seaside
Thursday, 15 September - Haarlem
Friday, 16 September - Haarlem
Saturday, 17 September - Homeward Bound

Previous DayContentsNext daySaturday, 10 September - Journey to Haarlem

A driver from Millers taxis arrives early. He has a cup of black coffee with two sugars. We get ready to leave. At 12:30 we leave. We arrive at Southampton airport and leave on time on the Flybe Dash Q800 turbo prop. it is our third flight with Flybe in as many months. This time last week we were in Austria at Maria Alm with Stephen and Sophie.  At Schipol we land and walk miles to passport control. We opt to use the self service method and are impressed. You put your passport into a reader with portrait down. A camera adjusts to your height and with a bit of luck you are recognised. The man in the booth declares that Graham has been 99% recognised. We walk to the railway station and buy tickets to Haarlem. We are given instructions on which platform to go to, where the train is going to and at which station to get off. We are directed to the correct platform and train. The double decker train arrives and we find a seat downstairs. We change at Amsterdam Sloterdijke or something similar. We get a train to Haarlem and walk to the bus station. We cross it and follow signs to Teylers Museum. But the signs run out. A lady on a bike walks with us to near the hotel. The staff at the Frans Hals hotel are very helpful. We use the lift and find our way to room 111. After a phone call we agree to meet Don and Slava and Jaap and Roeline. We wander to an Indonesian restaurant Flamboyant but it has no tables for six people. We retrace our steps to Stempels and have a pleasant meal.  Jane has mussels and Graham has an entrecote.  We return to our hotel and retire.

Previous DayContentsNext daySunday, 11 September - Haarlem

We get up and go down for breakfast at 8am. We eat with Don and Slava. We decide to walk to the Molen de Adriaan as a lot of sites in Haarlem are free to visit today. On the way there Graham decides it's too difficult for him to walk because he has a problem with his back, so he returns to his room. Jane continues and visits the mill and the Teylers Museum. We have lunch in a Sumo all you can eat Japanese restaurant. We cross the road to the church of St Bavo where a ladies choir is performing. In most of the churches in Haarlem this weekend choirs are preforming 20 minute stints. Don and Slava visited some yesterday. After the end of the performance we return to our room for a siesta. At 5:30pm we meet Jenny and Roger, Bill and Joan, Lynn and Bob and Eva. Henk takes us in his car to the restaurant Hout. The others walk or take a cab. At the restaurant we have a group photo taken by a bubbly local lady. A short video is taken. To see it click . The meal is excellent - very small beautifully arranged dishes for three courses. Jaap welcomes us all. Henk explains the programme. Don hands out camera straps which he has made. Henk drives us back to near the hotel.

Previous DayContentsNext dayMonday, 12 September - Amsterdam

After breakfast we all march towards the station, allegedly 800 metres away. It is certainly shorter than the way we took to the hotel a couple of days ago. The train is surprisingly ten minutes late. Jaap has bought our tickets. There are no concessions for senior persons. At Amsterdam Centraal we are met by Henk. We walk to the palace where Henk has pre-booked tickets which he shows to the ticket collector as QR codes on his iPad. We pick up audio guides, Jane leaves her back pack in the cloakroom. We watch an introductory video. We climb to the floor above and enter the Citizens Square. We go from room to room where the ancient dignatories of the city sat and held court. When King Willem Alexander is not in residence the public may go around the palace but not where he lives. We catch a number 2 tram to close by the Rijks Museum and walk to an outdoor cafe for a drink and a bite to eat. A band is playing nearby. A short video is taken. To see it click . Six of us and Henk opt for a canal trip. The others visit the museums. The canal trip has an English audio guide and lasts about 75 minutes. We visit a street side cafe and have a couple of beers. We make our way to the tram 2 stop and wait for the others to join us. We journey back to the station and walk through the station and take a free ferry to the I-J Kantine restaurant which is housed in an old shipbuilders warehouse. We have a three course meal and catch the ferry back. The train takes us to Haarlem and we stroll back to the hotel ready for bed at 11pm after walking over 5 miles today.

Previous DayContentsNext dayTuesday, 13 September - Utrecht

After breakfast the route march to the station starts at 9am. Jaap buys us tickets and the train will leave from platform 3. That is the small number 3 by the big 4. Today the train is on time. We get off at Amsterdam Centraal. Henk joins and we find our way to the train for Utrecht. Utrecht is where Jaap was born and the authorities are discussing the best time to hang a blue plaque on his birthplace. At Utrecht we walk to the Dom tower, 465 steps tall. Nearby we wander around a small garden where a couple of ginger cats are having a disagreement. We leave them to it and gather in a street cafe for a coffee. At 11:30am a tall Dutchman with an unpronounceable name comes to us. He is our guide for the rest of the morning. We learn of the origins of Utrecht and are taken to the house of the only Dutch Pope, Adrian VI. We stand in one of the rooms with large paintings of Adrian and his progress from being the son of a carpenter, becoming regent  of Spain and then becoming a much hated pope who eventually died from being poisoned. We visit other rooms in the house including cooler rooms down below at canal level. We leave the house after saying goodbye to our guide and Jaap leads the way to search for food. We end up at an Italian restaurant by the canal. We have a Caesar salad and some drinks. We are allowed to roam free in the afternoon. Two ladies climb the Dom tower. We choose to take an hour long canal trip. It is pleasant and cool. It goes thorugh the canal on the eastern side of the city.  After the trip we hunt for an ice cream and track one down by the canal. We meet up with some of the others and saunter along to the Oudaen Brewery where a table has been reserved for us from 5:30pm. We have a tour of the brewery given by a very enthusiastic brewer called Ralph. We return to our table and have an excellent three course meal. We march to the station and get a train back to Haarlem via Amsterdam. At Amsterdam the train is delayed by about half and hour. We get back to the hotel at 11:45pm where Jaap very kindly presents us with a calendar souvenir from Utrecht. Today we have walked more than 5 miles.

Previous DayContentsNext dayWednesday, 14 September - Haarlem and the seaside

We are planning a quiet day today. We start with a breakfast at 9:15am. This is followed by a rest for Jane. At 11am we wander out into the streets of Haarlem. We peruse around the Apple Store but do not buy anything. We go down the pretty street where the Frans Hals museum is housed but we do not enter. We have an ice cream in the shadow of St Bavo's church. We return to the hotel for the one o'clock rendezvous. Nine of us opt to go to the seaside. The others want to shop or visit museums. We walk to the bus station which is by the railway station. We have a short wait in the shade. Henk buys family tickets for us all which is the cheapest way. It takes about twenty minutes to get to the seaside. We get off the bus and walk to a cafe (more...) which overlooks the sea at Bloemendaal aan Zee. Slava goes for a swim and Don stands by to prevent any shark attack. The rest of us enjoy refreshments. At 4pm we take the bus back to the station and walk back to the hotel for a short break. Just after 6pm we walk for 10 minutes to the ML restaurant (more...) where there is a reserved table for us in the courtyard. We tuck into drinks till Henk and Meike arrive. The exquisite food arrives. The waitress explains what has been carefully been placed in front of us. Jaap and Henk make speeches. The night passes slowly but enjoyably. At 11pm we pay up a one star Michelin price, say a few goodbyes, and leave.

Previous DayContentsNext dayThursday, 15 September - Haarlem

It's a sad moment when the party ends. All of the delegation congregate in the breakfast room at the hotel to say their goodbyes.  In two years' time we will be meeting somewhere near the centre of the USA.  The idea of spending a few days in Lebanon, Kansas did not appeal to everyone.  We return to our room and at ten go for a stroll to a park.  Next we have an ice cream and then visit the Frans Hals museum which has a wonderful display of pictures including many by Frans Hals himself. The visit is helped by an audio guide and a good introductory video.  We have a club sandwich for lunch in a narrow street.  Haarlem is full of bikes, mainly the sit up and beg style.  Some of the ladies dress as though they are going to a cocktail party in their summer frocks and high heels, smoking a fag or listening to their iPhones whilst riding their bikes.  The rule is priority on the right but you still have to be very careful walking the streets. After lunch we have a siesta.  At 6pm we meet up with Don and Slava and make our way to the Flamboyant Restaurant for an Indonesian ris taffel.  It is very enjoyable.  We return to our hotel having spent a very quiet day.

Previous DayContentsNext dayFriday, 16 September - Haarlem

We have breakfast with Don and Slava but Jane does not feel too well.  Don and Graham walk to the Apple store to see how long the queue is for the iPhone 7.  We think they were expecting longer queues as there are some unused metal barriers.  We return to the hotel and stay in our room till a late. We take a short walk and return to our room. Fortunately we can get BBC 1 and 2 on the television so are able to watch Andy Murray play Juan Martin del Potro in their Davis Cup match.  When Andy is two sets to one up we leave to go with Don and Slava to the Toujours restaurant where we can use vouchers for free aperitifs for the four of us - a glass of Prosecco and an oyster.  The Canadians let us eat the oysters so Jane is happy.  We have a pleasant meal with Jane just having lobster and scallops soup and chips. We return to our hotel. Andy has lost!  

Previous DayContentsNext daySaturday, 17 September - Homeward Bound

We have breakfast with Don and Slava and Jane is feeling better but not a hundred percent.  We say our goodbyes.  Don and Slava are going to spend today searching for more castle ruins. We stay in our room and then go and sit in the bar of the hotel.  At 2pm a taxi arrives to take us to the airport.  We had thought of catching the 300 bus which would have involved a short walk but we are not feeling up to it. Travellling is bad for your health.  Schipol airport has a policy of allowing only electric taxis to use the fast lane. We see several Teslas.  to At the airport we go to MacDonalds and select our chicken meals on a display screen and pay by card.  After the food we have a short wait before we walk for twenty minutes to H7 where the Flybe plane is waiting. The fight is about an hour. At Southampton we walk to the Mercedes garage where Emma picks us up and whisks us home. It has been a very enjoyable holiday.










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