It was a tremendous first-world privilege to be able to catch a flight to Amsterdam on Saturday for a few hours of sightseeing before attending the Association of Music in International Schools European Honors Orchestra performance, this year being hosted by the American School of The Hague.

Representing AISV, the illustrious violin, viola, and cellos students. For the First Viola and First Violin divas in the upper right frame, this year is their middle school swan song, for which they were recognized for earning chairs in the orchestra for each of their three middle school years. Next year they face high school competition. As unbelievable as it may be to read, the audition music will be available next week.

Our favorite First Violinist and Concert Mistress!  60 students from 16 schools came together to share the beauty that is music. Afterwards we enjoyed a light reception and had the opportunity to thank the family who housed Anna Grace for three days, a very generous family with SIX children of their own, one of whom was also performing in the concert.

Now for the secondary reason for visiting The Netherlands. Windmills!  About an hour or so from Amsterdam one finds these UNESCO windmills in the village of Kinderdijk. Perhaps we would have arrived sooner if we could have figured out how to change the Nav system in the rental car from Italian to English. Somehow, though, it all worked out.

 

When up close to the windmills (and this is as “up close” as one can get), the whooshing sound of the blades is rather musical.

The view from afar, as we were leaving Kinderdijk.

With a couple of hours to spare, and the town of Delft being between us and The Hague, a stop for a late lunch was an imperative.  The town has googobs of charm, and really warranted more than the passing glance we gave. Sigh. Another time.

 

 

 

The windowfront of a workshop specializing in handmade chocolate. Simply beautiful.

 

 

 

 

The main square was abuzz with a “Wares Markt;” the warm and sunny skies, and the outdoor tables, only added to the experience.

We were unable to secure an outdoor table, but found great enjoyment in an old canal side tavern. Lunch was the winter classic Dutch “Snert,” a thick pea soup brimming with sausage and vegetables, and served with cured bacon atop pumpernickel toast.

I purposely booked our hotel in Scheveningen, the coastal area of The Netherlands along the North Sea. Though we had but little time to appreciate the dunes (and the WWII Atlantic Wall remnants) before leaving for the performance, the smell of the sea through the open balcony door and the lighthouse beacons shining into our room at night was just lovely.

 

Following the performance, a celebratory late dinner at a highly-recommended beachfront fish club. Here, our excited, hyper, and very tired First Violin Diva enjoys her Shirley Temple cocktail.

Three rounds of Kibbeling of Lekkerbeck and a couple of rounds of cocktails made for a merry evening for the three of us.

Cheers to The Netherlands!  Thank you, American School of The Hague for hosting the orchestra concert!  This was our second visit (if this one counts) to a country with beautiful sights, friendly people, and delicious food.