Friday, August 14, 2009

Gouda, Netherlands

Today I have found that accent makes all the difference in the world. Let me give you the two examples. The first happened at the Central Station here in Rotterdam. We were taking the train to Gouda and the schedule showed that the train to Gouda would be leaving from track 11. On track 11 the sign showed that the next train was for Utrecht (or someplace else) but track 12 showed a train to Gouda so I asked the conductor on track 12 if this was the correct track for the train for Gouda (I pronounce it GOO-DA as in the cheese) and he said that he didn't know of any train to that place. I pointed to a sign and spelled out G-O-U-D-A and he said, "Oh, you mean GOW-DA! Yes, this is the right train." It's all in the pronunciation.

After visiting Gouda (as in GOW-DA) and we were on the tram back to our hotel and paying the conductor I said that we were going as far as the stop at Leuvehaven and the look on her face told me that the did not have a clue as to what I was talking about. I tried, "Just before the bridge" (the Leuvehaven stop is just before the Erasmus Bridge) and she asked, "What do you want to go to the beach for?" The Beach! I didn't want to go to the beach I wanted to go to Leuvehaven but this time gave it a hard sound on the "haven" part rather than a soft sound. That she understood! Again, it's all in the pronunciation.

As you can tell from the above we spent the day in Gouda and had a very good time. Although yesterday when I checked the weather forecast for today it called for rain in the morning and cloudy. Well, the forecast was close . . . it was warm, sunny and not a cloud in the sky. As with most cities in Europe, the central train station in Gouda was very close to the central part of the city. We visited a number of churches and the Stadhuis (town hall). The clock had a 'puppet show' as a part of it that went off two minutes after the hour and half-hour. I just uploaded it to YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

Our time in Rotterdam was been great. We will be leaving probably around noon tomorrow for Amsterdam where we will spend the night and then join our Rhine River cruise there. The only prt that we are not looking forward to a schlepping the luggage up and down the stairs at the train stations to the platforms. Both of our suitcases are on wheels; Nancy's is a regular wheeled bag and probably weighs 40 pounds. Mine on the other hand is a huge duffle bag on wheels and it is probably close to 55 pounds. (Flying to Boston it was 52 pounds.) Because it is shapeless you can put so much more in it than a regular suitcase but that sucker is heavy. We'll see how we fare.

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