VLAARDINGEN / DOYLESTOWN – Every Sunday at Vlaardingen24: Vlaardingen in den Strange! The people from Vlardingen who left Harringstad behind take turns to search for their fortune elsewhere in the world, to give a glimpse into the cuisine of their lives ‘in a foreign country’. Follow the trials of Wilma Hollander (Greece), Marijke Bersijn (Belgium), Dick van der Bell (France) and today Cora Flug Pot (USA).
Van Gogh Immersive Experience tickets were ordered two months ago. The location wasn’t known yet, we just knew it was going to be somewhere in NYC. August 5 was the day. Nice weather, the location is well known and we are looking forward to it. I picked up Kobe and talking as we drive north. About two hours later, the car was in the Staten Island parking garage and we walked to the free ferry. Masks required. These free ferries are no junior, running 7 days a week / 24 hours a day, weekends every hour, weekdays every half hour. Crossing over the Hudson River takes 25 minutes. The world-famous view of the Manhattan skyline is impressive and still is. We sail through the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants entered America by boat at the end of the 19th century, only to find their happiness, far from home and hearth, in uncharted land.
At times like these, I am very proud of myself. We did this anyway. We only live here, we made the big, anonymous move after all, now 21 years ago. Cobie totally agrees and has the same sense of pride. Kobe eating herring from Katwijk and Cora de Haringkoop from Vlardingen.
We’re heading straight to Lower Manhattan. The skyscrapers that once housed the Twin Towers shine in the sun. The new Freedom Tower now stands proudly above all else. Lower Manhattan, or New Amsterdam, was founded by the Dutch in 1626. The Lenape Indian Territory. We did a great job in this promised land until the English defeated the Dutch in 1664. Then New Amsterdam was renamed New York. We get off the ferry and are instantly in the always crowded financial district. A very nice young man named a Dutchman, trying to sell tickets for the tour bus with charm and fun talk. But that doesn’t work out for these two real-life Dutch girls and we wish the Netherlands a ‘have a nice day’.
Near the Van Gogh Spectacle, we go in that direction in our spare time. We soon find ourselves at the site of the World Trade Center, unfortunately known as Ground Zero. This is a place with many feelings, thoughts and memories. It remains a place of sadness and respect. The footprints of the Twin Towers are like permanent waterfalls. Nearly 3,000 names are engraved in the black marble setting. I think it goes back to October 2001. We have lived in America for 14 months. I went to Ground Zero with our Manhattan born and raised neighbor. A month and a half after the eleventh of September. The neighbor had to go there, out of respect and as a kind of farewell to her. She asked me if I wanted to come, for moral support. A day I will never forget.
The Van Gogh Experience is just around the corner. We’re early enough, we walk a bit to Battery Park, where we buy coffee and sandwich. We once again enjoy the view of the Hudson River, the coffee and the people around us. Hilma was supposed to come with us as well, but she couldn’t join at the last moment. Now is a great opportunity to find the right person, to delight them with Hilma’s entry ticket to the Van Gogh Experience. Our entry time starts in half an hour. My first attempt with a Pakistani guy. He’s eating a sandwich in the sun. He should go back to the office. A very decent lady who walks her bikini. We skipped it, because she could easily buy a ticket herself, apparently. I ask a young woman if she would like a “free ticket” to the Van Gogh show. “Oh no !!” Says. It just was and I had to buy an extra ticket because she accidentally bought tickets online for the regular Van Gogh fair instead of this scene. That was “bad timing,” unfortunately. An old Chinese man sitting on a bench. As soon as I start talking to him he stands up, waving his arms in panic “No no no no” and runs as fast as he can. Our next victim is a young woman on a bench. She looks at her cell phone as she eats her lunch. What a shame, she loves it, but unfortunately she has to get back to work. She is a social worker and people are waiting for her. She thanks us 10 times and thinks we’re “cool”. We must hurry now. The seat on the left is a ‘good-looking man’, and the seat on the right is a lady in a cheerful colored hat. Eni Min Mot… The Woman in the Hat. She is having a relaxing (non-English) video call with a member of her family. I had already seen and heard it half an hour ago, so we were allowed to disturb for a while. She’s from Mexico. She is very excited. She had passed through the entrance before, thinking she would love to peek inside. She handed her the ticket and Kobe and I quickly made our way to the immersive Van Gogh experience. The woman who wears the hat is already inside and enjoying it to the fullest. After about an hour and a half we were back outside again. Fantastic experience, as if you had just landed in Vincent’s paintings. A good man should know how famous and loved he is all over the world.
It’s half past three already, but we’re not going home yet, not yet, not yet. Vice World Trade Center around the corner. One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower. On floors 100-102 there is the One World Observatory. Let’s go!!
The elevator takes you to the 102nd floor in 47 seconds. In the elevator, the transformation of New York City is shown on the four walls in those 47 seconds. From pristine landscapes to today’s New York City. Of course some distinct Dutch “flies” in those 47 seconds.
Construction of One World Trade Center began in April 2006. In 2012, it will exceed the height of the Empire State Building. November 3, 2014 New York City Pride opened. 104 floors, 541 meters high. The old World Trade Center tower, the height of the towers was 415 and 417 meters. The One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the United States. The elevator door opens and the view is amazing right away. North, east, south, west, around the glass everywhere. Breathtaking.
It’s time to go home again. We’re just munching on an impossible burger on a city park bench. Local teens show off their skills on skateboards, benches, stairs and walls. The ferry is already waiting for us. We admire the view again, with a beautiful sun, which very slowly prepares to disappear beyond the horizon. The golden/orange glow of a sunset makes Lady Liberty sparkle with pride.
When we’re on the road, we get home before dark. It was an amazing day. A great city in New York, but after so much hustle and bustle from The City That Never Sleeps, it’s always great to come home to the quiet and beautiful Bucks County.
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