Day 11 – Wageningen, Rhenen, Veenendaal, Renswoude, Woudenberg

First some apologies for skipping day 10. I will post it in the coming days. Today five municipalities, the first in Gelderland, the four others in Utrecht.

Wageningen

The first municipality of today is Wageningen. Both famous for having a university with many international students, being placed on the world rank list with 152 different nationalities inhabiting the municipality,  and playing an important role in the surrender of Germany, as this was the place where the surrender documents were signed. But this is all nothing compared to the interesting fact that there are remarkable few basements in the historical altstadt 😉WageningenThis picture was hard to take, since it was market day, and the square was literally stuffed. Had to make my way through the crowd with my bike. But it’s a quest, it’s supposed to take a little effort :)

Rhenen

For me this town is also known as the hilly town, as it lies on the Utrecht Hill Ridge, in the province Utrecht, as are the other municipalities for today.

Rhenen

I like the art work in front of the town hall, so if anyone knows who made it, let me know. I would like to know what it is about.

And the obligatory self-shot:

Rhenen

Veenendaal

Veenendaal

I like this town hall’s architecture, although it is quite recent and modern.

Renswoude

Earlier I was in Rhenen; it turned out that Renswoude is related in name. The name comes from “Rhenen-s woude”, which can be translated as Rhenen’s forest. Around 800 it was also named this way, but in Latin: “silva Hrenhem“.

With around 5000 inhabitants it is the smallest municipality in Utrecht, and one of the smallest in the Netherlands. Even though we have had a lot of municipalities fusions, Renswoude escaped unscathed every time. This is especially interesting since the municipality only contains one town. In the last referendum in 2007 98.4% was against fusing with neighbour municipalities Scherpenzeel and Woudenberg. With an attendence of 83.7% this is a clear sign from the inhabitants.

2013-02-09 15.24.53This town was actually quite freaky. From the pictures it is not clear, but behind the window on the right on the first floor you can see some faces. At first I thought someone was just sitting there in folk costumes. Turns out there are two human-size dolls. They had me there for a bit.

Woudenberg

Woudenberg is also a small municipality with only one town. Apparently there is a large pyramid in Woudenberg, built by napeleonetic soldiers around 1800:

Courtesy by Kattjosh (click on image for the source and author info).

Although I have not seen it, it looks like something I would like to visit in the future. Especially the obelisk looks nice.

Woudenberg

As you can see, it started snowing. It was the first time I had to drive through the snow, and it was amazing and fun. Fortunately, the snow was fresh, and the roads were still clear of packed snow and ice. Just using my heated handgrips was enough to prevent me from cooling of too much.

In a car you don’t realise how much snow is getting on your windshield if you have wipers. On the motor this is a totally new experience, where you have to wipe it off yourself. With rain this is not necessary, as the wind will dryblow you. With snow, this is not going to work, I can tell from experience 😉


km: 142
km total: 2149
done: 5 (55)
to to: 360

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Day 11

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Day 11: 52.022078, 5.554962
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Renswoude
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Woudenberg
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Veenendaal
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Rhenen
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Wageningen

Day 9 – Asten, Someren, Cranendonck, Heeze-Leende

Today’s trip has a somewhat different reason behind it. For no particular reason I wanted to visit Belgium at least once this year. Summer passed, and I still hadn’t visited our neighbour country. To cross off this resolution, I headed for Belgium, and visited some municipalities along the way.

Asten

The day started with rain, and it was not going to stop raining for even a single moment.

The first town hall is Asten’s. From the outside it is not clear that it is the town hall, and people were in such a rush because of the rain (very poorly depicted in the photo, as it was coming down in bucketfuls) that they didn’t want to confirm my thought. This is the only clue they give you:

2012-12-22 13.56.35-1

Asten… sounds like a bell! — Municipality Asten

Funny detail is that when I stood on the sign, the bells (from this church) would indeed sound. The sign also refers to the Royal Eijsbouts bell foundry located in Asten. In 2006, it manufactured the largest bell ever made in Europe: it weighs over 36000kilograms.

Asten

Municipality: Asten
Location of town hall: Asten

Someren

Earlier I reported that the Veluwe has nice heath, and forests. It was nice to learn that to the south we can find similar landscapes. Not as vast, but it still provides for a nice scenery.

The town square in Someren was being prepared for christmas activities. With just a little stable and some christmas trees, it still looked a bit meagre. But then again, the weather was really awful. My gloves were soaked to such an extent, I was hardly able to get them on again after drying my hands with a towel.

Someren

I have some pictures with me on it as well, but the rain covered the lens with some blurry spots. Not that you are missing out or anything 😉

Municipality: Someren
Location of town hall: Someren

Cranendonck

Moving on to Budel, where it turned out to be an utter mess. Where last trip it was crowded because of Sinterklaas, now it was crowded because christmas was approaching. From this picture you cannot see the multitude of people and parked cars.

In the spirit of previous posts, a short etomological explanation of the suffix “-donck” or “-donk”. A donk is a inhabited hill that clearly stands out from its environment. In the province Noord-Brabant, where we are now in this trip, it particularly means a high sand hill or a ridge along a stream valley.

Cranendonck

It was a strange experience to see all these Belgium license plates on cars. Since I live closer to the German border, I am used to see the white plates with black characters. I forgot that I headed for the Belgium border, and, for a moment, was absolutely clueless about what was causing this overload of tiny white plates with red characters.

Municipality: Cranendonck
Location of town hall: Budel

Heeze-Leende

The town hall looks nice with the stained glass, I think it might well be one of my favourite contemporary town halls. It looks a bit futuristic with the blue lights inside and overall architecture, but still it has “that” old feel.

Heeze-Leende

Municipality: Heeze-Leende
Location of town hall: Heeze


Belgium

Belgium, at last! According to my GPS I was atleast 10ft across the border. As far as I was planned to go anyway 😉 since it would be turning dark any moment.

2012-12-22 15.36.42


km: 221
km total: 2012
done: 4 (44)
to to: 371

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Day 9

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Asten: 51.403016, 5.744666
Someren: 51.385694, 5.714032
Cranendonck: 51.273520, 5.576154
Heeze-Leende: 51.378778, 5.578220
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Asten
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Heeze-Leende
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Someren
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Cranendonck

Day 8 – Ede, Scherpenzeel, Nijkerk, Putten, Ermelo, Barneveld

Today (24 november) was a trip we looked forward to for weeks. We were going to visit Barneveld, and for us a visit to Barneveld means that we are eating spare ribs :) But first we had to visit some other municipalities.

Ede

The day started cloudy, but dry. Even before we got through the first city, I had already lost my father and sister, in the busy traffic of Nijmegen. Beforehand we discussed the route a bit, although apparently there was some some misunderstanding. This resulted in them going via the highway, whereas I wanted to see some local scenery. After waiting quite a bit to see if they would follow, I returned and went for the highway as well. In the end I found them, and we went for the local routes all the same.

The villages we crossed where really crowdy, as Sinterklaas is coming up, and everything is buying the presents already. Fortunately, the town hall of Ede is outside the city centre.

The work of art is called Samen (“together”), as the two ‘ellipses’ are actually one line.

Municipality: Ede
Location of town hall: Ede

Scherpenzeel

Next stop is the municipality Scherpenzeel.

The town hall is located completely remote from the towns it governs. From the size of the building you would expect that there many people work here, however there is only one parking spot for board members:

Scherpenzeel

Municipality: Scherpenzeel
Location of town hall: Scherpenzeel

Nijkerk

The city is actually quite nice, however, wherever you look, there is one giant factory ruining the view. My first impression of Nijkerk’s town hall was that it resembles a coffin, both in shape, aswell was having sleek curtains along the sides.

Right next to the new town hall is the former town hall. Albeit not the nicest town hall either, it at least “feels” like a town hall.

A funny fact about Nijkerk is that numerous early explorers of the new world were from Nijkerk. They helped building Nieuw Nederland (nowadays known as New York). Schenectady was one of places founded by Arent van Corlaer from Nijkerk, in 1662. To this date, the municipality Nijkerk still has political relations with the city as a twin town.

Municipality: Nijkerk
Location of town hall: Nijkerk

Putten

In the Dutch Wikipedia on Putten there is this interesting story about a case of radioactive contamination in Putten in january 1958. Apparently, during a treatment in the hospital, a needle head with radium stayed in a 5 year old girl’s nose. At home, the girl threw up, and the vomit was thrown into the fire. Later, the ashes were scattered over their garden. This caused all their grown vegetables to be contaminated as well, leading up to the whole family being contaminated in the end. The garden was completely dug up, and together with the fire stove, packed up in concrete. The Royal Navy dropped the package into the sea.

Municipality: Putten
Location of town hall: Putten

Ermelo

In an earlier post I already looked at the etymology behind the suffix “-lo”. In the first reference to Ermelo, the place was called Irminlo. “Irmin” can mean something like divine or exalted. Nowadays there seems to be more heath than forest.

Municipality: Ermelo
Location of town hall: Ermelo

Barneveld

Finally the municipality for today, as it was getting dark already. Barneveld is famous for its poultry-breeding and trading. That’s why I think it is a bit ironic to go there for spare ribs :)

The national egg price is determined in Barneveld. Even the light rail connection that goes through Barneveld is called the “chicken connection”. Go figure.

It proved to be virtually impossible to make a decent picture of the former town hall. To get the whole town hall in frame, I had to walk into this alley, but with 14feet, the alley just wasn’t long enough. Anyway, you get the idea:

Municipality: Barneveld
Location of town hall: Barneveld


km: 186
km total: 1791
done: 6 (40)
to to: 375

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Day 8

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Ede: 52.045654, 5.674996
Ermelo: 52.300854, 5.618056
Nijkerk: 52.226078, 5.482864
Putten: 52.261475, 5.607576
Scherpenzeel: 52.081234, 5.469689
Barneveld: 52.139698, 5.586285
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Ede
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Scherpenzeel
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Nijkerk
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Putten
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Ermelo
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Barneveld

Day 7 – Liesveld, Goedereede, Dirksland, Middelharnis, Oostflakkee

Last sunday we did a trip through the province Zuid-Holland to visit the five remaining municipalities that will merge in january. Four of them will merge into one municipality Goeree-Overflakkee. I also promised to visit the current town hall of Liesveld, as I only visited (by accident) a former town hall, and that of course does not count towards the total of 415 town halls. If you didn’t see the picture, check out the previous trip log.

Liesveld

The weather said it was going to rain, and for once they were right. We drove about an hour through pouring rain, and as we entered the province Zuid-Holland, the sky cleared up. My navigation system was also back from being serviced, so we had a nice ride.

The town hall is positioned at the bottom of the dike. It is unfortunately by no means as adorable as the former town hall in Nieuwpoort.

Municipality: Liesveld (fuses into Molenwaard 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Groot-Ammers

Goedereede

Goedereede used to be an important city, especially the fisheries and the harbour were very prosporous. The reede in Goedereede refers to Rede, a roadstead. Goede means as much as good. You can now figure out the meaning of Goedereede 😉 However, because of the silting, the standing of the industry declined. To prevent the damage of the many floods that scourged the city, dikes were built. This caused a change from an active mercantile centre to a rural region.

To get to the town hall, we drove through big cities such as Rotterdam. Although I’ve been there numerous times, we entered from the south-east. It is always interesting to see that cities can have many faces: I’ve never seen this residential area of Rotterdam.
We followed the water and drove over the Dammenweg, a large dam. On both sides the water was totally flat, and the sky was clear.

Municipality: Goedereede (fuses into Goeree-Overflakkee 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Goedereede

Dirksland

By the time we did the last town hall for today, we already forgot we visited Dirksland earlier. Maybe that says enough about how interesting this town hall is.

I parked my bike in front of the town hall, and my father parked it a bit further down the street. A guy went up to him and began telling that when he had a new bike, he would also make pictures in the weirdest places. He actually thought my bike was new. Even I can see from 100m that the dirt has formed a crust on the bike :). As you can see my rear wheel is really shiny. It took me over 3 hours to get it a bit cleaner. It drained all my motivation to clean the rest as well.

If you ever have to spend some time around Dirksland, I can recommend you to visit the church. I have not been inside, but the location of the church is just magnificent. The moat around the church is unfenced, so do be careful.

Municipality: Dirksland (fuses into Goeree-Overflakkee 1 january 2013)
Location of the town hall: Dirksland

Middelharnis

Middelharnis is the third municipality from the west on the island Goeree-Overflakkee. The name of the island is also the name of the new municipality. Last month there were elections for the town council, and the orthodox protestant party got over halve of the votes. Another clear indicator that we are in the Dutch bible belt, as it is called.

Currently, since september to be precise, they are extending the town hall, as it will house the new town council, and it will function as the town hall for the new municipality.

Municipality: Middelharnis (fuses into Goeree-Overflakkee 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Middelharnis

Oostflakkee

Oude-Tonge was one of the places I wanted to visit for quite some while now. My uncle was born there, and my father lived there when he was just an infant. The surroundings are mainly polders. The villages are really wide-spread, and the only thing you encounter when going from one town to another is yet another plenitude of pastures. It has its charmes though. It feels stereotypically Dutch, with the mills, and free sight until the horizon.

Some of the houses in the street where my uncle was born were still intact. Wooden cottages, which is nice to see for a change, since most houses are made of bricks. However, the parental home was taken down. But it is interesting, that they built the new houses in a similar style, from wood. It gives the street a special character. When we were looking around a bit, the church emptied, as the Mass ended. Other than the church-goers here, they were all dressed in black, another sign we are in the Bible belt.

As I said earlier, at this time we forgot that we visited Dirksland, and had a really hard time figuring out which municipality we skipped. We even drove to another town just to see whether we would encounter a new municipality sign, but to no avail. We went home, as the sun was setting already, thinking about how we would have to do another trip to this island. Luckily, everything went better than expected.

Municipality: Oostflakkee (fuses into Goeree-Overflakkee 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Oude-Tonge


km: 371
km total: 1605
done: 5 (34)
to to: 381

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Day 7

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Liesveld: 51.926153, 4.821475
Goedereede: 51.816840, 3.978596
Dirksland: 51.748425, 4.102707
Middelharnis: 51.755130, 4.160846
Oostflakkee: 51.692578, 4.217570
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Oostflakkee
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Middelharnis
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Dirksland
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Goedereede
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Liesveld

Day 6 – Nieuw-Lekkerland, Bleskesgraaf, Liesveld, Molenwaard

The second day of the trip started from Amsterdam. I would meet my father and sister in Nieuw-Lekkerland, the first of the three municipalities scheduled for today.

Molenwaard

In an earlier post I mentioned that early 2013 (three years later than planned), the municipalities Nieuw-Lekkerland, Bleskesgraaf, and Liesveld will officially fuse into the municipality Molenwaard.

The municipality boards decided to take a route that is different from the usual procedures. Normally, the municipalities fuse, and the offices are merged afterwards. However, Molenwaard established an organisation (De Waard) that has been functioning since mid-2009, before the municipalities were officially merged. This organisation found accommodation in the municipal office in Bleskesgraaf:

However, since the municipalities cannot come to an agreement about the location of a new town hall, Molenwaard will probably be a municipality without a real town hall. Instead they have a ‘virtual town hall’, which has been operational since 2011.

Municipality: Molenwaard (as of 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Bleskesgraaf (51.869390,4.784353)

Nieuw-Lekkerland

Nieuw-Lekkerland is a small municipality, home to international tourist draw of the windmills of Kinderdijk. There are 19 draining-mills, all of them are administrered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as World Heritage Sites.

Currently, the former town hall is home to a community school, named after the carillon on the town hall square. The town hall moved its public services to Bleskesgraaf already early 2012.

Municipality: Nieuw-Lekkerland (fuses into Molenwaard 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Nieuw-Lekkerland (51.886981,4.682858)

Bleskesgraaf

A bit to the west we found the town hall of Bleskesgraaf. As always we ignored the signs and found ourselves on a unpaved road. Had it rained, I probably would not have been able to convince my father and sister to follow me. All went well, and it contributed to the whole adventurous experience of exploring. When we finally got into town, we asked for directions to an elder lady. She was rather confused, as it was sunday, and the town hall was not open for public services. She described the town hall animatedly, and she was also a bit disappointed that the municipality is about to fuse. Sadly, I found that to be a common sentiment among inhabitants I ask for directions.

I have to admit that although I am not a fan of most of the new town halls, I like the temporary town hall of Molenwaard. However, one feature I think is vital for a town hall is the landing. Without a proper landing, it feels more like an office.

Municipality: Bleskesgraaf (fuses into Molenwaard 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Bleskesgraaf (51.870675,4.779654)

Liesveld

The last part of the trip was Liesveld.

What went wrong in finding the town hall, I don’t know. We did not find the former town hall. Instead, we found the former, former, town hall of Liesveld. As you can see, it might be one of the cutest buildings around. A small landing on the front, very small footage, and a rich history. So, I am lucky to have seen it.

We didn’t know that the former town hall is actually in the next town. So, on a future trip I will visit Nieuwpoort again to make a better picture of this lovely former, former, town hall (as my dad tries to attention whore it with his yellow jacket), and I will make sure to visit the former town hall in Groot-Ammers.

Municipality: Liesveld (fuses into Molenwaard 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Groot-Ammers (not depicted in the picture above)


km: 302
km total: 1234
done: 3 (29)
to to: 386

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Day 6

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Nieuw-Lekkerland: 51.886981, 4.682858
Bleskesgraaf: 51.870675, 4.779654
Liesveld: 51.935250, 4.868585
Molenwaard: 51.869390, 4.784353
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Molenwaard
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Nieuw-Lekkerland
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Bleskesgraaf
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Liesveld

Day 5 – Zijpe, Schagen, Harenkarspel

Day 5 marks the beginning of multi-day trips. The days are getting shorter, and although autumn commenced a while ago, only now it’s getting slowly colder. I haven’t seen much rain, but winter is still more than a month away and lot can happen in a month. The bridge to the quest is that as I am progressing, working my way through the municipalities, I normally visit the nearest municipalities. Although there will always be a nearest unvisited municipality (as long as the quest is not completed), but eventually it gets to a stage where it really appeals to your interpretation of the word “near”. For example, to the north the municipality Eemshaven is 233km from my house, and to the south-west the municipality Sluis is with only 3km less, almost as far. Driving back-and-forth already takes over five hours, and that is mainly boring highway. If you avoid highways alltogether, it takes 4.5 hours just to get to Eemshaven. And with the sun only being visible for 9 hours right now, it is really difficult to make it work and keep it fun.

So this weekend I went to a party in Zaandam, and planned the saturday trip for the north-east of the Netherlands. I then slept over at a friend’s in Amsterdam, and started driving in the afternoon to meet up with my father and sister for part two of the trip.
In an earlier post I mentioned that early 2013, the municipalities Zijpe, Schagen, and Harenkarspel will fuse into the municipality Schagen. They are located about 40km from Zaandam, in a beeline. Since I had to go to Zaandam anyway, visiting them now would mean I would not have to rush for these municipalities before the end of the year.

The trip towards Zijpe, the first municipality for today, leads me through the most diverse landscapes the Netherlands have to offer. Alas I did not take pictures to support this claim. The first part leads me through the Veluwe, a forest-rich ridge of hills. The roads are surrounded by lakes, woods, and sand drifts. The second part was through Flevoland, figurehead of the polder, a province with only reclaimed land. To get to the last part which are also polders, I took the 27km long dam (although it is incorrectly named and called a dike: Houtribdijk), which was a dreary experience. Everything was foggy, and the sight was no more than 200m and grey of colour; driving more than 15minutes in a straight line without anything to see, is simply put very boring. The conditions were rather unfortunate, since I’ve been there before, and when it is not foggy, the views are nice enough to make it a fun ride. After 175km and four hours of driving, I finally reach Schagerbrug.

Zijpe

During the reign of Charlemagne the peaty soil was gradually conditioned for agriculture and residence. By digging ditches the marshes were drained (remember this is all in the polder). This enabled the cultivation of grain, but it also caused the soil to compact because the oxygen settled into the ground. This process caused the surface to descent, 1 to 1.5 cm per year, for hundreds of years. In an area without dikes this obviously caused problems, such as the sea having free play.

Then it took a lot of time and trial by error to figure out how to succesfully battle the rising water levels. In 1597 all levees were ready and Zijpe was the first succesful land reclamation, or impoldering, on a large scale.

Municipality: Zijpe (fuses into Schagen 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Schagerbrug (52.800011,4.767122)

Schagen

Schagen is a small province town that gained town privileges in the 15th century. The town is also called Magnusveste (“ramparts of Magnus”), after the knight Magnus who conquered the village Damietta (in Egypt) during a crusade in 1219 and who returned to his home town again a year later.

Also I would like to apologise for the pictures of this trip, I am going to put some more effort into it. In hindsight the pictures came out worse than expected. Maybe I will revisit some of the town halls to redo some pictures, let me know if you have any suggestions.

Municipality: Schagen (fuses into the new municipality Schagen 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Schagen (52.785803,4.799995)

Harenkarspel

By the time I reached Harenkarspel it was already getting dusk.

The municipality consists of 13 villages and towns, most of them having around 200 inhabitants, three of the towns are somewhat larger, having a few thousand inhabitants. The size of the town hall looks a bit out of proportion for this reason.

From 15 december this town hall will stop providing public services, and the council will stay until the beginning of january to make the transition to the new municipality.

Municipality: Harenkarspel (fuses into the new municipality Schagen 1 january 2013)
Location of town hall: Tuitjenhorn (52.734661,4.746072)


km: 347
km total: 932
done: 3 (26)
to to: 389

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Day 5

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Zijpe: 52.800011, 4.767122
Schagen: 52.785803, 4.799995
Harenkarspel: 52.734661, 4.746072
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Zijpe
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Schagen
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Harenkarspel

Visualising the location of town halls

Earlier I only maintained personal Google Maps maps to visualise the locations of town halls and to keep track of town halls I visited already. Although you can give the pins different colours, and you can add notes to the marked points, it proved difficult to create hierarchical maps that are easy to maintain.

With the WordPress plugin Maps Marker it is also not possible to create a hierarchical structure of aggregated maps. But he advantage of the plugin is that I can now create a map per day, and adding it to a province is just a matter of ticking a checkbox.

Another great functionality is that it can create rich-content bubbles for each marker. A plugin I tried earlier (Comprehensive Google Map plugin) does not allow html code in the bubbles, nor is there any functionality to add pictures in the bubbles. Maps Marker allows for richer content in the bubbles. If you click on a marker of a visited town hall, it shows the corresponding blog entry (for that municipality) and the photos.

Although the search functionality of this blog works quite nice, reading the entries for municipalities in the marker bubbles allows for a non-linear browsing experience. Try it out on:

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Day 2

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Ubbergen: 51.830135, 5.921803
Millingen aan de Rijn: 51.864101, 6.046606
Oude IJsselstreek: 51.877575, 6.375270
Aalten: 51.926998, 6.581422
Winterswijk: 51.968979, 6.714792
Oost Gelre: 51.988110, 6.563269
Doetinchem: 51.963062, 6.292366
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Ubbergen
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Millingen aan de Rijn
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Oude IJsselstreek
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Aalten
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Winterswijk
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Oost Gelre
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Doetinchem

For other examples of maps click on the province entries in the menu bar at the top of the site. A map can also be found at the end of each trip log.

Fusions of municipalities do not reduce costs

The twentieth century was characterised by the many municipal merges, which caused a strong reduction in the number of municipalities.

In the Netherlands the national government hands over certain tasks and authority to municipalities. This process started in 1986, and the goal was to give the municipalities more freedom and responsibilities. It was thought that many smaller municipalities could not handle the responsibilities, or not to the full extent. Therefore the idea was to regroup them into bigger municipalities. The expectations were that bigger municipalities can work more professional and businesslike.

In a recent news article it is stated that fusing municipalities does not produce the expected financial gains. On the contrary, after a fusion municipalities spend even more money, as is claimed by researchers from the University of Groningen.

The last years we have built a large deficit, and cuts in the budgets can be found in almost any sector. However, the prime-minister Rutte claimed that merging municipalities yields substantial savings. Research shows that from the municipalities that have been merged, without exceptions, every new municipality cost more than the municipalities of which the new one arose.

Prior to the fusion municipalities spend more money to make the proper adjustments, after which the expenses drop to their normal level. However, after a few years the expenses rise structurally, says researcher Maarten Allers.

In the period 2001 to 2012, 197 municipalities have been regrouped into 75 new municipalities. The goal of the prime-minister was to regroup all municipalities such that each municipality has at least 100.000 inhabitants. In the current situation that means that over 95% of the municipalities would have to merge.
This number increased steadily over the last decades. In the beginning of the eighties the directions preferred 5.000 inhabitants, whereas at the end of the nineties the national government strives for 25.000 inhabitants per municipality.

This year we went from 412 to 418 municipalities. For 2013 there are three regroupings scheduled involving 10 municipalities. The municipalities Graafstroom, Liesveld, en Nieuw-Lekkerland already share the same town hall. For 2014 and 2015 there are also fusions in the making. If the plans continue for these so-called giant-municipalities, we end up with only 200 municipalities. I hope for the sake of my quest that this will not be implemented on short notice.

Source: http://nos.nl/artikel/436735-fusie-gemeenten-eerder-duurder.html
Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemeentelijke_herindeling_in_Nederland

Day 4 – Bronckhorst, Berkelland, Lochem, Zutphen, Brummen, Rheden

Bronckhorst

Today we did the last few municipalities in the Achterhoek (“rear-corner”), the eastern-most part of Gelderland. Maybe not a famous region for foreigners, but what if I told you that the first Grolsch beer was brewed in Groenlo in the Achterhoek in 1615? Already sounds more appealing right? Grols is by the way a dialect of Groenlo, and Grolsch meant as much as ‘of Grolle’, as Groenlo was called back then, so that solves the mystery of the name.

Bronckhorst was the first municipality for today, known for being the largest rural area of the Netherlands. The name Bronckhorst was chosen after several municipalities fused in 2005. The name refers to a famous and distinguished knight banneret family Van Bronckhorst that was in control of the area and possessed many buildings.

At the moment of writing, and for the past two years, the municipality Bronckhorst has the most energy-efficient town hall of the Netherlands, costing about 20 million euros. Apparently this took quite a cut out of their design budget as this is the result:

Municipality: Bronkhorst
Location of town hall: Hengelo (Gelderland) (52.044765,6.304350)

Berkelland

Continuing counter-clockwise we arrive in the Berkelland. This is a recent municipality as well, Borculo, Eibergen, Neede, and Ruurlo merged in 2005. Interestingly enough, the three of them, except Ruurlo, already shared a administrative unit between the 11th and 18th century: Herrschaft Borculo (or “Heerlijkheid”). The Herrschaft was bought by prince Willem V in 1777. Therefore, to this date, queen Beatrix of the Netherlands still wears the honorific title Lady of Borculo.

Municipality: Berkelland
Location of town hall: Borculo (52.116722,6.526694)

Lochem

Lochem is also a very old town. A charter from 1059 mentions that Lochem already had a church. Time passed, and the town was plagued by the Spanish army, the Germans and who knows what, and was frequently set a-lit. After things calmed down a bit, they built a new town hall in 1634-1640. Which is now of course the former town hall.

At first I sat on the bench in front of the new town hall, like this:

When some elderly people asked us what we were doing. We explained a bit about this weird quest, and they almost got angry we did not take a picture of the old town hall. Which was literally next to the new town hall. We promised them to take a picture of it as well:

I am glad we got to see this town hall as well, as it maybe one of the loveliest buildings I’ve seen. On the sides there are names of former majors and a flag of their town. Too bad they stopped with this tradition…

Municipality: Lochem
Location of town hall: Lochem (52.161713,6.415246)

Zutphen

Zutphen has been inhabited for over 1700 years, and has the most incredible history. It started as a settlement on group of river dunes. The town survived many crises, and was even destroyed by an attack of Vikings in the 9th century. It was even the residence for the royal house, and joined the Hanseatic League in the 12th century. Because of its location it has been part of many wars. Since one of the easiest things to do to annoy your enemy was to burn down the houses, Zutphen’s counterreaction was to subsidise the usage of bricks for buildings.
When you enter the centre of Zutphen, the remains of a prominent city are still there. Also, there is a big wall around the centre, and a lot of the old buildings are still standing.

Oh, and it was raining. A lot.

Municipality: Zutphen
Location of town hall: Zutphen (52.140072,6.194921)

Brummen

Brummen is a nice green municipality, quite old. But I don’t think anything has every happened here. I hope that at least they will finish their town hall one day since this is their temporary town hall:

Municipality: Brummen
Location of town hall: Brummen (52.088276,6.147001)

Rheden

Although we tought that Brummen was the last town hall for day 4, we went home and literally drove past this town hall and had to return.
The town hall is so big that when I wanted to get the whole thing on the photo, you could hardly see my bike anymore, even though it had the lights on. Go figure.

Just before we were leaving this morning, we talked about a possible route for that day. I kept saying Rhenen instead of Rheden, confusing my father to no end. He must’ve thought I was really stupid, because I was convinced Rhenen was next to Roozendaal (another municipality in Gelderland). But actually, Rhenen is a municipality in Utrecht (another province). In the end we settled on a route, and it was a nice sunday afternoon.

Municipality: Rheden
Location of town hall: De Steeg (52.017941,6.057190)

While driving, my mind always wanders off a bit. Driving through Hengelo, Ruurlo, Burculo, Groenlo,I was thinking about what the -lo would mean; its etymology.

It turns out that loo or lo, is a historical name for a forest. A very specific type of forest, as it may only be occupied by broad-leaved trees and bushes, and it must be a place where humans can live. Usually it was near a settlement, and contained small fields.


km: 190
km total: 585
done: 6 (23)
to go: 392

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Day 4

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Bronckhorst: 52.044765, 6.304350
Berkelland: 52.116722, 6.526694
Lochem: 52.161713, 6.415246
Zutphen: 52.140072, 6.194921
Brummen: 52.088276, 6.147001
Rheden: 52.017941, 6.057190
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Bronckhorst
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Berkelland
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Lochem
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Zutphen
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Brummen
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Rheden

Day 3 – Lingewaard, Overbetuwe, Renkum, Westervoort

Lingewaard

The municipality Lingewaard is a bit controversial. In 2010 when they had a shortfall on their budget, they increased the land value tax with 50%. Also there have been cases where council members or even the major would fraud with their expense account.

Totally by accident it turned out that today the major would resign because of such fraud. As you can see the media are also at the scene. It was funny though: I was taking some pictures, and looking at my iPad where to go next. This must have looked like I was a reporter, because the onlookers would ask me all kind of questions about the situation. At  that time I didn’t even know something was going on. But I can give you a hint: if someone is fully clothed in protective gear with the most lousy camera you can imagine, it is probably not a reporter 😉

Municipality: Lingewaard
Location of town hall: Bemmel (51.890003,5.896541)

Overbetuwe

To the west we find the municipality Overbetuwe. Together with Lingewaard it forms the subregion Over-Betuwe. Well, nothing to say besides it might be one of the dullest town halls I know.

Municipality: Overbetuwe
Location of town hall: Elst (51.918556,5.845767)

Renkum

In 1970 the 1000th anniversary of Renkum was celebrated. Although no-one knows how old the town actually is, they just guestimated on some references. For more than 800 years it was a small hamlet, but during the 19th century that changed. As you enter Renkum you can immediately see that is a wealthy town now. Everything is very spatious, green, and the houses are stately and big.

One of the unique things for Renkum, and perhaps even for the Netherlands, is that they decided to remove an industrial zone in favour of giving the area back to the nature. The goal is to connect two big areas with wildlife such that wildlife can roam freely.

The experience of taking a picture in front of the town hall was a bit awkward. People actually stopped working and looked out the windows to see me set up my tripod, configure the countdown-timer and run back to my back to make it in time. Ah well.

The town hall is located in Oosterbeek, a town very famous for memorial services of WW2. It is home to the Airborne museum, and the Airborne war cemetery where 1754 soldiers, pilots, and marine forces are buried. The most of them died during operation Market Garden in september 1944. The cemetery is very impressive to say the least.

Municipality: Renkum
Location of town hall: Oosterbeek (51.988205,5.842227)

Westervoort

As it was a weekday and getting rush hour, I was glad to be on a bike. I zifted through the traffic-jam and found myself in Westervoort in no time.

The town hall is very difficult to find. From the surrounding roads there is no sign that there is a town hall, other than some signs that send you in a certain direction. However, since the commercial zone you have to go through to get to the town hall is forbidden for motorised vehicles, the signs send you to a interjunction, and leave you there clueless. Anyway, I parked my bike, took my tripod and took this picture:

Municipality: Westervoort
Location of town hall: Westervoort (at the green arrow) (51.962521,5.968843)


km: 87
km total: 395
done: 4 (17)
to go: 398

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Day 3

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Lingewaard: 51.890003, 5.896541
Overbetuwe: 51.918556, 5.845767
Renkum: 51.988205, 5.842227
Westervoort: 51.962521, 5.968843
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Lingewaard
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Overbetuwe
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Renkum
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Westervoort