Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kate's Birthday

Monday dawned bright and blue, and when Kate arrived at the doorstep she announced that it would be warm as well. We stepped out onto the sidewalk, trying to avoid the constant flow of cyclists. Our first stop was just around the corner at the concert hall where Kate's orchestra is in residence:  The NNO, the North Netherlands Orchestra.  
After seeing the auditorium and the entrance lobby we headed through the city.  She took us past different churches with amazing tall and graceful towers.

The path lead through the former Jewish Quarter with its imposing synagogue. In spite of the efforts of some to save them, the community of 3000 Jews was largely wiped out during the war.  

We passed through the merchant quarter dating from before the 17th century, when Groningen had been one of the thriving Hansa trade cities.  The old buildings stand proud beside newer buildings hat echo the classic architectural style.

We passed the University buildings which house the law school, and walked through some more residential neighborhoods.
Kate was a bit distracted by some texts, but we didn't pay any attention until she lead us into a walled park and we saw one of Olivia and Paul's kids streak across the path in front of us.

Who should we find but Olivia and Paul and their four kids as well as Vincent waiting for us at a Teagarden. We had tea, coffee and cakes while Kate opened her first gift of the day. 

From the garden we went to meet my brother Robert at the conservatory where he works. But first we stopped at the church where Robert and Greetja were married in 1971.

When we arrived at the conservatory Robert showed us around and introduced us to his colleagues. We watched the choir rehearsing Berlioz for an upcoming concert.

The tour ended in a lesson room with four pianos. Each grandchild got to sit at a different piano.  You can imagine the music that filled the air. 

We all gathered at Kate's for lunch.  

More presents appeared. .Robert was on his lunch break so he had to leave after we ate, but we sat in Kate's living room and talked. The kids went out to play, and things quieted down a bit. But when they came back, we brought out the cakes. There were three different ones, which were nearly gone by the end of the day.
Olivia and the kids left after the cake, and there was a lull before a whole new set of friends arrived for dinner. The table was cleared and the dishes were almost done when we headed back to the apartment at about 10 where we stayed for the night. It was a full day birthday party. 

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