Program & Journal Adult Exchange to Schenectady
Thursday, September 17
The start of our holiday. We all gathered at the railway station. Counting to see if everyone was there, 32 in total. The whole group was present with suitcases and suitcases.
By train to Schiphol.
We checked in and did some shopping. Before boarding we went through a thorough security check. Then we were ready to leave but . . . the plane was not!
First, a passenger did not show up and his suitcase had to be removed. Then we were told there were some minor technical problems, will take a minute.
Proved to be one hour because a tire, due to pressure loss, had to be replaced, in other words: a flat tire! After that we had a quiet and good flight.
JFK. After picking up the suitcases and passing various check points (they were even making an eye scan and a hand print, Big Brother is watching you!) we boarded the bus for a 240 km long journey.
After all the delays we arrived at the First Reformed Church in Schenectady at 10 o’clock in the evening. There we were welcomed like family. Coffee, tea with cakes and above all cookies.
|Warm welcome in Schenectady|
Everyone got a bag with the program inclusive documentation plus a cap with the text ‘Schenectady Nijkerk’. Then our various hosts/hostesses took us to our new ‘homes’, for a well deserved night’s rest.
Friday, September 18.
For this first day in Schenectady nothing was planned, so most of us just enjoyed getting (re)acquainted with our host family.
Saturday, 19 September.
This was a day full of surprises! A bus ride through the beautiful Adirondack Mountains – a large national park the size of the province of Utrecht – took us to Lake Placid. En route we stopped for coffee and (1/2) doughnuts in The Noonmark in Keene Valley, a real American road house (a restaurant with a low bar where one can have his breakfast).
|Coffee at the Noonmark and Ski Jump|
Lake Placid is the place where the Olympic Winter Games were held in 1932 and 1980. There we visited a 90 meters high ski jump.
|Lunch and Whiteface Mountain|
After lunch at The Northwood’s Inn with an American style sandwich, quite a plate full, we went to Whiteface Mountain (2432 ft), one of the highest of New York State. The gondolas of the Cloud Splitter Sky Ride took us to the top, where we enjoyed the grand view. The first signs of the Indian Summer were already visible.
On the way home we visited The Carillon Restaurant in Ticonderoga (owned and run by the daughter of Mrs. Josephine Slater). Lovely place, lovely food. We really enjoyed it. The American steak was very large. Too large for some of us! We also celebrated Ed Vedder’s 50th birthday with a lot of singing. It was a day with excellent weather and with a lot of new impressions: a picture of part of the American countryside, but also some typically American things.
|Ed 50the & Carillon restaurant|
Sunday, September 20.
After the church service our group (host families and guests) were taken across the street to attend ‘the re-dedication of the Plaque’.
As 2009 is a special year, special attention is given to the 400th celebration of the fact that, 400 years ago the New York State was discovered. The discovery of this part of America, by Henry Hudson, commissioned by the VOC, was the cause of a strong bond between America and the Netherlands. This bond is especially strong between the cities of Nijkerk and Schenectady, because the latter was founded by the Nijkerker Arendt van Curler.
In 1909, during the celebration of the 300th anniversary, to honor Arendt van Curler in Nijkerk as well as in Schenectady, bronze plaques were placed. The bronze plaque in the “Grote Kerk” in Nijkerk was re-dedicated on July 13th 2009 during the youth exchange from Schenectady to Nijkerk.
Today the same took place at the Stockade District of Schenectady. On behalf of the Schenectady-Nijkerk Council the meeting was opened by Michael Brockbank, who was also present in the “Grote Kerk” in Nijkerk. The Mayor of Schenectady, Brian Stratton, addressed all present and mentioned the strong bond between both cities and the great influence the Hollanders had in this part of America. This bond we should all honor and cherish, he said.
On behalf of Mayor G. D. Renkema and the Nijkerk Schenectady Foundation Edith Terschegget outlined how this bond was created and reinforced.
Mayor Stratton and Goos Terschegget then jointly unveiled the bronze plaque.
|Re-dedication of the Plaque|
On these occasions you feel that Schenectady is a part of Nijkerk and Nijkerk is a part of Schenectady. After all we, the people of Nijkerk, are honorary citizens of Schenectady. After the re-dedication there was a reception in the lobby of the First Reformed Church. Over coffee and delicious cookies and cakes, baked by the hostesses, old friendships were renewed and new friendships began to flourish.
Monday, September 21.
Monday was announced as ‘Schenectady-day’. So the first thing to do was to visit City Hall, the center of the community. Here we were officially welcomed by Mayor Brian Stratton. In a warm speech he narrated the strong relationship between Schenectady and The Netherlands and especially Nijkerk. He also stressed the importance of the influence the Hollanders had on American history.
To emphasize this he personally handed every one of us a certificate that formally declared that we were in Schenectady on September 21, 2009.
Edith Terschegget as chairwoman of the Nijkerk Schenectady Foundation thanked the Mayor for his warm reception and indicated how the present relationship between Schenectady and Nijkerk came into being. To underline this she then presented Mayor Stratton with a commemorative plate on behalf of the Municipality of Nijkerk.
|City Hall & Mayor Stratton|
Then we got a special tour of the nearby Proctor Theatre. There we were treated to a concert on ‘Goldy’, the antique Wurlitzer organ (1931) that used compressed air powered instruments.
|Proctor Theatre, we did some singing|
After lunch at The Van Dyck’s we went to Union College, once started by the federation of several churches in Schenectady. Nowadays approximately 3,000 students are studying here. We walked part of the grounds and also went into the Nott Memorial building.
|Lunch at Van Dyck’s|
The day ended with a ‘progressive’ dinner, 3 courses, each served in a different place.
Cocktails, wine and cheese were served in Eli MacNett’s house; the main course was served in the First Reformed Church and enhanced with American Folk Music from the Red Hen; the dessert we enjoyed in the home of George & Pat Marshall.
An evening of leisure. That made it possible for us to get acquainted with the American lifestyle and culture.
All in all, a wonderful day! and it gave us a good feeling about the warm relationship between Schenectady and Nijkerk.
Tuesday, September 22.
This day we went to WestPoint. It was a bus ride of about 2 hours. After the security guard had checked our passports, we were inside. First we visited the church. Silver plates with the names of the commanders of West Point, like General MacArthur, General Eisenhower and a few other well known commanders, were fixed on the front benches.
|Historical guns, view of the Hudson
During a guided tour we also saw the lunch parade; the 4,000 cadets were marched off for lunch. They had to finish their lunch within twenty minutes.
|Lunch parade and our Lunch|
We got our (sumptuous & delicious) lunch in The Thayer Hotel (lasted more than 20 minutes), after which we went to the South Dock. There we boarded an antique boat, the MV Commander, with which we sailed down the Hudson to enjoy the view.
After some time we arrived in West Haverstraw, where the bus was waiting for us with Cider and snacks.
|Hudson, boat trip|
In Schenectady we were picked up by our host families.
Wednesday, September 23
We departed from Schenectady for a day full of history. First we went to the remains of the Schuyler farm. There was not much to see, the place was marked by some stones.
Some of us saw an adjacent garage, with one of those large trucks that people drive in America. A chat with the owner and we could organize some American license plates with ‘New York State’ on it. We did like that: a trophy of present history!
The next stop was at the Cohoes Falls on the Mohawk River. These are the second largest waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains; Niagara Falls is the largest.
It was an impressive sight, but the water level of the river was not high. We found the remains of an old lock of the Erie Canal. In this area there are still many factory buildings, which used the water, by means of a water turbine, as power supply. Due to the recession of the 1930’s they had to close those plants. They are converting the buildings into flats.
After Cohoes Falls we went to the Crailo Historic Site in Albany, Rensselaer. Crailo Farm was part of the holdings of the estate of Rensselaer’s and takes its name from their estate in The Netherlands. The two story brick house contains a treasure of Dutch history in the Upper Hudson River Valley, including Albany Fort Orange findings from excavations.
Here we drank cider and of course there was cake.
|Albany, Rensselaer, Crailo|
After this visit we went to Schadack Island State Park for a picnic lunch which was provided by Michael & Maureen Van Heusen. Under a large marquee a delicious lunch was served.
After a break in the sun along the Hudson, we drove back to Schenectady.
Later we went for a BBQ at the Mabee Farm. The Mabee Farm is an old farmhouse, once inhabited by Dutchmen. It is now a museum.
|BBQ at Mabee Farm, country music|
In the park and the old barn the BBQ was held. There was a lot of good food like Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, rolls, salads, dessert, beverages and so on. And there was enough time to enjoy good company and the Folk music of the Riverview Ramblers.
Thursday, September 24.
Today we went a-sailing! We boarded the Clear Water Sloop. With a woman as captain!
The Clear Water is an initiative of the singer Pete Seeger and it is used for educational purposes. One of the targets was to clean the Hudson, hence the name. Following instructions, we fished with a fishing net; not many fish, but we got a crab! Then we joined forces and hoisted the giant sail. It was a major event, we felt like real Sea (River) Men.
After this effort a delicious lunch was spread out on deck. One thing is sure: we are well fed these days and we will gain a few pounds!
|Clear Water, Lunch and singing|
Being ‘sailors for the day’ we started singing, accompanied by a guitar, which one of the crew brought up from below deck. It was an impressive trip, although there was not much wind.
After this we had a visit to the CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, the world’s premier culinary college.: “It’s the best culinary school in the world.” Paul Bocuse, world-renowned French chef
|Culinary Institute of America|
The evening brought us to the home of Van Calhoun & Sue Senecah in Chatham. A beautiful place to have dinner.
Van was BBQ’ing steaks. These pieces of prime rib were so big as we had never seen before.
|BBQ at Van & Sue|
Inside the house it was one big party. Needless to say that we felt grateful for another wonderful day.
Friday, September 25.
The Albany day, the capital of the state of New York.
|Leaving by bus|
We briefly visited the Albany Museum; there was an exhibition of 9/11. Very impressive.
Next was a Duck Tour through Albany, past buildings all worth seeing and impressive. Then a sudden dive into the Hudson and we were sailing on the river and we could have a good look at “The Half Moon”.
|Albany, city and museum|
|Albany by Duck tour|
After this tour we were offered lunch at the Albany Pump House, now a brewery. Here we were to “Meet the members of the Holland Society of New York, The Dutch Settlers in Albany, The New Netherland Institute and others from organizations which share an Interest in the history of the Dutch in America.” There were speeches, among others by Robert Van Vranken, former president of the Holland Society. His family comes from the Rijkert Claes Van Vranken, originally from Nijkerk (1651)
On behalf of all of us Edith expressed our thanks for the great hospitality.
|Lunch at Albany Pump House|
After this ample lunch we walked to the Half Moon to visit this historic ship, the ship that brought Henry Hudson to America and due to which the New Netherlands were founded and afterwards Schenectady.
After that we went to The Albany Institute of History & Art Museum. Here we saw the exhibition on the history of the Hudson and the surrounding areas. One can see that the Dutchmen had much influence in shaping this area and laid the basis of America as it is today. It gave us a feeling of pride.
|Dinner at the University Club|
Michael Brockbank then took us to his club, the University Club, for dinner and more! Delicious food and music of Nanne & Ankie. They played music which describes the origin of the Dutch colony in America. Michael handed us all their CD “Henry Hudson & De Halve Maen”. So we could take the atmosphere of this evening home with us!
Saturday, September 26.
We attended the 50th Stockade Walkabout, a traditional event and it refers to the ancient fortifications of the town of Schenectady in the 17th century. On this day you can visit many historic buildings and get an idea of the history of Schenectady. On the streets of the Stockade Area you may encounter people dressed in the clothes of the 17th century, you will hear traditional folk music and you will gain an insight in the many ancient crafts. Most of us participated in the Stockade organization and so were directly involved in this event. We were given various tasks like explaining why certain buildings where built in this manner or about the flags of the Dutch provinces in a church, but also selling tickets for entrance to the 50Th Stockade Walkabout.
This nice day was finished off with the Farewell dinner in the Turf Tavern, Scotia. This was our way of thanking our hosts and hostesses and everyone involved in this wonderful trip of ours. Of course, there was a dinner. But some members of our group had organized other things as well. There was a story about the meaning of Dutch words taken up in the US/English language; for example: Yankee comes from the Dutch names “Jan-Kees”.
There was a cabaret and a contest with puzzles to solve. It was a nice evening, with song and laughter, and we hope everyone had a great night.
Sunday, September 27.
This was the last day in Schenectady. Free time to spend with the host family and everyone did this in his/her/their own way.
It was a day to say good-bye.
Monday, September 28.
Farewell and departure to New York City; an emotional farewell to our friends!
|Say Good bye|
It was a beautiful trip along the Hudson and a very impressive entry into a totally different environment, New York City.
|Train and arrival in New York City|
Having settled in the Skyline Hotel (nice rooms and reasonably close to the center, on the corner of 10th Avenue and 50th Street), Peter guided us through the Center of New York City. A very impressive event, certainly for those who had never been here before.
|New York City, Hotel and Skyscrapers|
Everyone was free to spend the evening as they wanted.
Tuesday, September 29.
To have a good look at New York City you have to make a bus ride. We took the NY Gray Line Tours. This trip through the Big Apple was very impressive.
Of course, we visited Ground Zero, although there was not much to see, because it is now a building site. However, but it gives an idea of what happened.
|Church, 9-11 Memorial|
An American lunch at noon, with a Burger, very big and very much.
|New York City|
With the Staten Island Ferry we made a trip back and forth to admire the New York City skyline. Then a walking tour on the Brooklyn Bridge with a fantastic view over the river and New York City.
|Skyline from Staten Island Ferry|
That evening some of us went to the Yankee Stadium for a baseball match of New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox.
Wednesday, September 30.
You were free to spend this day as you wished. At the end of the day we all went to China Town for a Chinese Dinner. China Town and Little Italy are a different world in a global city like New York City.
|New York City|
|Bulls on the Stock Market|
Thursday, October 1.
This day everyone went his/her own way! Finally we had to be in the hotel in time to drive by bus to JFK.
At 22.00 hours we flew away from a magnificent experience, never to be forgotten.
|Hotel & Airplane, leaving the USA|