January 25, 2011

Tata Steel Chess - Free Day!


Yesterday was a quiet day in Wijk aan Zee: free day! For those who wanted to take their mind off chess, a trip to Haarlem was organized.
17 people were present at 10 o'clock, when our journey started...
The city is located on the river Spaarne, about 20 km west of Amsterdam and near the coastal dunes. It has been the historical center of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries and bears the nickname 'Bloemenstad' (flower city), for this reason.
The historical city centre of Haarlem is a treasure trove full of exceptional monuments. In our tour we passed by magnificent monumental architecture, we visited surprising "hidden green oases" - known as the "almshouses", enjoyed a lot the beer tasting of the famous local beer, called "Jopen", brewed in a former church, and, after so many efforts, ended our day with a delicious dinner in the restaurant of Hotel Carlton. 
Here are the pictures:

We went off the bus exactly in front of this beautiful church.
The Grote Kerk or St. Bavokerk is the largest church in Haarlem.It was built
in 1479 on the spot where a smaller church stood before it burned down in the fourteenth century. What makes this church special is that no piles were used for the foundations of the building. The city of Haarlem was built on a raised sandbank, and thanks to this sandy base no piles were needed for the construction of the church. The St.Bavokerk is sometimes called " Jan met de hoge schouders"(Jan with the tall shoulders), as the steeple is rather small in proportion to the rest of the building. The tombstones of Frans Hals and Pieter Teyler can be found in the church, which also contains the famous Christian Muller organ, the largest organ in the world. Mozart played this organ as a boy aged 10 while visiting the city with his father.

The Dutch Governement decided to cut the fonds for Culture
and the flags you can see here, placed in fronth of the theater, say:
"Holland screams for culture" - an attempt to draw attention towards it.

The theater.

Why did we stop right here, in front of this shop?!

That's why! Right next to the shop was the entrance to an almhouse, entrance almost impossible to spot out:)

We all agreed that we don't see so often such a big and healthy cat:)

This was our first almhouse.
Behind heave doors and concealed entrances, we found the almhouse communities of Haarlem, with their odd little houses and pretty gardens. Haarlem's wealth of beautiful almhouses serves as a reminder of bygone days. Wealthy citizens established almhouses as sheltered accommodation for the aged and elderly women in need. They were accommodated in small homes arranged around an inner courtyard garden.

Now anybody can live here, not only the elderly people, with only one condition: you have to wait on a list to be eligible for such a home.

Having a rest inside of the almhouse you just saw in the previous pictures.
Tea, coffee, sanwiches, small break before we continued:)

The famous Dutch wooden shoes:)

I had the impression that somehow...they were a little bit big:)

The Grote Markt (Great Market), previously called 't Sant, is the original centre of the city of Haarlem and is considered by many to be the most beautiful urban square in the Netherlands. This square owes its distinction and character largely to its historical buildings. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the square was even larger, as there were no buildings on the south side.

In action:)

What's next?!

A group picture on the stairs of the city hall, where usually the wedding photos are being taken:)

The Van Oorschot almhouses were built in 1769; the court consists of a main building with two wings. In the main building, there is a poem about the generosity of the founder, Wouterus van Oorschot, bringing comfort to the poor and setting an example to the rich.

The Lutheran almhouses were built by the Lutheran community around 1648 and have always been closely associated with the Lutheran church. The church and almhouses were built on the grounds of the former Norbertine monastery. These monks wore white scapulars and were referred to as "Witte Heren"(WHite Canons), which explains the name of the street.

And now, the long-expected point on our tour:
beer tasting:) The Jopen Beer is brewed in a former church, where we are sitting right now: look at the windows and arcades. Unusual were the carpets on the ceiling, giving the place an even more traditional and unexpected look.

At the end of 2005 it was announced that the old Wijnkerk in Haarlem will be transformed into a cafe/brewery, and will open in November 2007. Jopen won two silver medals at the 2008 World Beer Championship.
Beer brewing was a very important industry in Haarlem. Until the 16th century the water for the beer was taken from the canals in the city. These were, through the Spaarne and the IJ, connected to seawater. However, the water in the canals was getting more and more polluted, and no longer suitable for brewing beer. A place 1.5 kilometers south-west of the city was then used to take fresh water in. Haarlem was a major beer producer in the Netherlands. The majority of the beer it produced was consumed in Noord-Holland. During the Spanish siege there were about 50 brewing companies in the city; while 45 years later in 1620 the city numbered about one hundred breweries.
From the end of the 17th century the economic situation in the city turned sour, for a long time. In 1752 there were only seven beer breweries left, and in 1820 no breweries were registered in the city anymore. In the 1990s the Stichting Haarlems Biergenootschap revived some of the old recipes under the new Jopen beer brand, that is marketed as a "Haarlem bier".

This was our first beer: Stout, with 5.5% alcohol. I am not a beer expert, but what I can tell you is that the beer had a coffee taste, the colour was almost black and I could feel some caramel flavour as well. As a coincidence, the name "Stout" means "naughty" in Dutch:)

Everybody had questions and we all enjoyed the beer.
 Ilya wisely skipped it, my husband tasted just a little bit and David tried only the third one - professional attitude:)

The second beer we tried was: Koyt, with a red-brown colour, 8.5% alcohol.
This beer is brewed after an old recipe from 1407, is really drinkable (despite the alcohol percentage) and less bitter than the previous one because of the absence of hop - one of the few beers in the world which uses this technique.
The beer tasted even better with blue cheese next to it:)

The first two beers were dark in colour and the best is to drink them when they get warmer, like red wine. I didn't know this before, but just found out:)

The third and the strongest one, 9.5% alcohol, was JubelJoop.
As the name suggests, this was a celebration beer, which started to be brewed thanks to an internet poll, where people voted for the beer they would like to be produced. It is a tripel beer, with a sweet flavour, and we combined it with...beetroot cold soup! 

That was it! Personally, I liked the second one: Koyt:)

The cafe/brewery seen from above.

Another almhouse on our way to the the next stop.

The chemist's shop "Drogisterij A.J. van der Pigge", which can be easily recognised by the traditional "gaper" (yawning figure) above the entrance. This chemist's shop sells "Haarlemmerolie" (Haarlem Oil), a centuries-old remedy said to cure any physical or mental disorders. Van der Pigge is worth a visit simply due to its fascinating interior, which dates from 1849.

Dinner time!

The Restaurant of the Carlton Hotel.

Time to go back to Wijk aan Zee...wonderful day!


  1. Erg leuk en leerzaam artikel, ga vooral zo door!

    Groeten, Haruka Kubo

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