It was a busy weekend in Delft. As already mentioned, there was the Taptoe.
It was Open Monuments, when many historical buildings are open to the public free of charge. It was a gorgeous, perfect day and people were out in force (because, as we all know: winter is coming).
A crane on a boat working on the bridge near our street (got that?) tipped over! Holy cow! I hope no one was hurt. This massive boat-crane tipped and wound up with its base in the air and the long crane-arm sprawled across the road. When I perceived the chaos, I walked down the street only to be told by a police officer to move along. “No looking.” Ah, sorry, sir, but there are about 200 people here “looking.” And they all have their iPhones out. The process eventually involved so much looking that across the canal, people brought out folding chairs and sat all evening watching as special boats and two more cranes were brought in to right and dismantle the original one.
And lastly, I started a new job. Now, before you get confused, this job will only occur occasionally, and will not result in a large or steady income. (In short, it is right up my alley.) Saturday morning I led my first guided tour of Delft with the Delft Rondleidingen tour specialists!
This venture came out of a Sunday morning when, biking out of Delft on our way to church, I passed two gentlemen looking up at the Waag, the weigh-house on the market. I looked and listened as I rode by them, because I aspire to become Sherlock Holmes. “So it’s the Boterhuis, then the Waag,” one man said, pointing and then making notes on a pad of paper. He had a very distinctive voice. He also wore some very American-looking jeans. When I caught up to Tim, I said: “I swear, that is Rick Steves.”
Tim hadn’t noticed anyone.
I made him cycle back around to confirm my suspicions. He wasn’t convinced. “It’s possible,” he admitted. I cited the note-taking, obvious interest in historical structures, and the voice—we’ve both listened to RS podcasts and TV episodes. We deliberated and made the decision that I had to ask, because otherwise we’d never know. Thus resolved, we realized we’d lost track of them. About twenty minutes of red-herring games followed, during which we 1. stalked the pair into a cafe they were not in, going so far as to order espressos to blend in 2. followed a different man who also seemed to be taking notes, so we thought he was with RS–but we quickly concluded that he was a separate and odd character. Finally, convinced that now I had to know, I hopped on my bike and did a quick loop around the immediate blocks, and spotted the men easily on Oude Delft nearing the Oude Kerk. I cycled up behind them and listened to the American man’s voice until I was positive that I was listening to the author of most of my guide books. There was no break in the dialogue, so I finally interrupted awkwardly and said, “I’m sorry, but I just have to ask: are you Rick Steves?” BINGO! Having confirmed my hunch, I launched into my elevator pitch of how we live here, we love his books, I’m a writer, I’d be happy to talk to him about Delft; and he politely smiled and accepted my card. Well, I never heard from him.
But the other man offered me a job as a tour guide.
And so on a sunny September morning I nervously shepherded nine visiting businesspeople around our town and thoroughly enjoyed talking with them about the history of the city and what it’s like to live here now. I wrote my own 1.5-hour script for the endeavor, after shadowing a tour done by my colleague, and it was a great opportunity to solidify all the jumbled facts and “I-think”s of Delft history that have settled in my brain over the past two years.
Delft Rondleidingen offers historical walks, walks with visits inside some of the city’s important buildings, and walks combined with dinner and drinks. I am their only native-English-speaking guide, and I’m ready to go! Can I say once again that I love my freelance life?