Nan and Walt's Summer Vacation 2006

The Netherlands

June 24 - July 7

We took the train from Vienna to Rijen in the Netherlands.  The trip was long but fine except for the last leg.  There had been a traffic controller screwup and trains were backed up for over an hour.  It worked out ok for us though. We had anticipated missing our train for that leg anyway as there was only supposed to be 4 minutes to change platforms and with all of our luggage that seemed an impossible feat. Fortunately trains covered that leg every half hour or so.  It was kind of funny in the end that we actually made the train (it was an hour late) that we had planned to miss.

We stayed in Rijen with friends from our sabbatical at the University of Twente in 1992-1993, Klaas and Margot Wijbrans. They have two children and a lovely home and were very generous to let us base ourselves there for a couple of weeks.  We picked up a rental car on Monday from National Rental Car.  Both unfortunately and fortunately, changes to our rental arrangements made in the States didn't get propogated to the Netherlands.  Unfortunately, because we ended up with a Saab 93, a much bigger car than we wanted/needed with gas prices above $7.00 a gallon; fortunately, because it had cruise control and air conditioning, both of which were very welcome! (After Barcelona we had temperatures that were 80-95 degrees and with high humidity once we left Spain. As not much is air conditioned, the car was sometimes the only escape from the heat.)

Klaas and Margot Wijbrans  Mel and Bea

Klaas, Margot and Daughters, Bregje and Marijnte in their favorite outfits

From here we visited Remco DeRechter in Breda where we had tapas - something we hadn't done in Spain. :-)  A short time later, Remco was in NYC celebrating the Italian World Cup win and got his photo in the paper with his bride Lindsey (just behind the painted guy).

Remco and Lindsey

And now came the reason for the trip - Erik and Rachel's wedding (Click for more photos).

Erik and Rachel

The next day we traveled to Eindhoven to visit other friends from the Twente days.  The Wijbrans went as well, so there were eight adults and six children ranging from 3 to 11.  The folks we visited were Johan and Nune Sunter in their new home, as well as Herman and Ira Roebbers who live in the same neighborhood.  One of Herman's children had just bought a 50 Euro "ipocket" which is somewhat of an ipod knockoff.  They were on sale marked down from 100 Euros. Walt decided he had to have one, so we trouped to the local shopping center to pick one up.  (Boys and their toys!)  It was WONDERFUL to see everyone again and to see how these kids have grown.  Unfortunately and I'm not sure why, we took no photos.  Thankfully both Herman and Johan did and shared theirs!


Dinner with UT Friends (clockwise starting with me:
Klaas and Margot Wijbrans, Nune Sunter, Ira and Herman Roebbers, Johan Sunter)

Dortmund, Germany

July 3 - July 4

We made a two day trip to Dortmund, Germany   (or here) to visit with Thomas Braunl  who is in Germany on sabbatical from Perth Australia.  We'd last seen Thomas in 2000 in Perth and had not yet met his wife Marion or their baby Sonja.  We spent a couple of very filled days, going to the World Cup Robot Finals, walking through Westfalenpark Dortmund, visiting a local carnival, and visiting a very interesting art neveau(!) coal mine.  Unfortunately, our spare camera battery was in another location and the web site just doesn't do justice to the very interesting designs.

Back in the Netherlands

July 5 - July 7

storm surge barrier

Visited the storm surge barrier (The Maeslantkering) outside of Rotterdam with the Wijbrans.  Klaas was responsible for designing the control software.  Walt and I had visited the storm gates earlier but no English was available for the tour. It was really interesting to see it again and get the inside scoop.  For more info, see or

storm surge gates

Klaas telling us how it works

storm surge gates

Traffic on the River

From there we went to the beach and then stopped in Rotterdam to pick up some more equipment for Margot's photography and web design business. She does beautiful work. (See

 Besides reading in our down time, we did some gardening and ran through the sprinklers with the kids to cool off.

Brussels, Belgium

July 7-July 9

We took the train to Brussels to meet with Vali Lalioti, whom I'd met during a SIGGRAPH delegation trip to South Africa, and her husband Dougie Brew, and son Alex.  We spent a wonderful time with them, touring Brussels and going to a garden dinner party with a group of their friends, mostly ex-pats like them.


Amsterdam, the Netherlands

July 9-July 13

From Brussels, we took the train to Amsterdam and met Renate Korinek who does work in a glass studio there and Natalia Straszewicz, our hostess for our final days in the Netherlands.  We did a little touring, a lot of talking and went to dinner.


Amsterdam area where on a previous visit a couple of porn stores surrounded Micky D's

July 10
We had dinner with Erik's brother Ronald and family (Franja, Sonja, and Sonja's mother).  It was nice to see them again and to see the progress that was made on their house restoration.  They live quite close to Natalia, so both got to meet their neighbors! These are actually photos of Sonja from Erik's wedding.

Sonja  sonja   Sonja
Sonja (at Erik's Wedding)

July 11
Natalia joined us on an excursion to Utrect to meet a friend, Michael Baird, whom we'd met in South Africa in 2000.  Michael is a percusionist/composer/producer and has recently finished remastering Hugh Tracy's 1950s-1960s African tribal recordings to CDs.  They are wonderful! Check them out at  We had lunch and caught up. Michael then gave us an insightful tour of old town Utrect.  For example, the Cathedral of Saint Martin was hit by a hurricane in 1674 when the nave was destroyed separating the transept  from its bell tower (Dom Tower).

Utrect Utrecht  Utrect

Utrect Train Station and Lunch with Michael and Natalia (Nata)

Canal  street musicians

Utrecht (river/canal with "garages, street musicians, bell tower)

Aside: Today (Aug. 26) I was listening to a local radio station and heard an interview with Michael! It was a 2005 interview done in England...but it was really neat. It is transcribed at and I found it to really interesting. And, it was also nice to hear Michael's voice again so soon!

July 12
We had originally planned to go home on July 19, but were by this time feeling quite tired and ready to be home.  Erik and Rachel
graciously came home a day early from Switzerland to entertain us in their home in Boxtel.  We had planned to spend the next weekend with them.  It was nice to see their new house and catch up a bit.  It was a short visit, as we needed to pack and get up quite early the next morning for our trip home.

Boxtel  Boxtel

Lunch in Boxtel

Nan's Cafe

Check out my new place in Boxtel!

Back to Europe Summer 2006

Author: Nan C. Schaller
Last Updated: August 27, 2006