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Published: October 21st 2007
Amsterdam became 'jump street' for exploring Holland and beyond
. With Antonio at the wheel and Mama Marcia riding co-pilot we took to the 'snelweg' at different times and to different destinations. With the cramp, crowds and chaos of Amsterdam far behind we drove thru never-ending farmlands with tulip-filled greenhouses and black-and-white cows miniaturized in the distance.
In this blog we chronicle our visits to a few rather memorable attractions.
A vast expanse of land turned museum, Zaanse Schans displayed quite possibly the only things more 'Holland' than the RLD or cheese: windmills
. The Zaan area had once been the oldest industrial area in the world (so says Dutch historians). But when its population of windmills dwindled from about 1000 to 50, something had to be done. 'De Zaansche Molen' society was set up in 1925 to preserve the 'molens' for future generations. They did an outstanding job because standing in front of us were about 11 bright, well-kept windmills. And not the modern-day, metal wind-powering generating type but the traditional, wooden, crush-some-nuts kind. The star attraction was De Zoeker
- a 1676 oil mill. We were allowed inside to watch the giant millstones pulverize helpless nuts
and to climb a risky ladder which led to an external platform. From there, we looked out on near-perfect views on other windmills, a few houses and a picturesque lake. Detouring thru the strategically-placed merchandising outlets, we made our way back to our car and hit the road again.
A narrow, man-made peninsula cut across the waters of the Waddenzee creating a passage to the northern province of Friesland. The Afsluitdijk is a wonder of human ingenuity and engineering. The rough waters of the sea yielded on the left and a massive lake - IJsselmeer - was created. Halfway across was a rest stop and scenic area where we chilled a bit before continuing on into Friesland.
An agricultural province, Friesland had huge farmhouses and lands. It was pleasantly green and scenic and we would have stopped for pictures except that Friesland felt 'freezing' (well, to Vibert, at least)
. We had spent most of the day driving, exploring backroads and generally having a good time and it was late afternoon when we pulled into Urk. A lively fishing village, Urk offered up some scrumptious fish dishes before a long, fast and focussed drive back to Amsterdam (well, for
Antonio, at least).
A living, breathing organism is what the Zuiderzee Museum really is. Situated in Enkhuizen, the museum details, in real life, the activities in and around the 'South Sea'
. Artists and craftsmen have fashioned and rebuilt an entire city like it was some 700 years ago. And actors relive everyday life in true living color. We walked into houses frozen in time and chatted with homemakers who carried on with their daily duties like washing, cooking and knitting. Entrepeneurs were selling smoked fish, the blacksmith was pounding iron, clothes were hung out to dry, children pranced thru the streets and the postmaster was busy accepting parcels.
There was also an impressive maritime museum displaying classic, immaculate ships from some past era.
We spent hours walking the village and interacting with its residents. A truly charming and one-of-a-kind place
. And since this massive outdoor museum and spectacle is best experienced, we will allow the pictures to add the other 161 words to round out this blog.
DE DELTA WERKEN
The Netherlands was hit by a massive flood in 1953. It wasn't the first flood by any means. The name 'Netherlands' literally translates into
'low lands' as the territory is way below sea level. What made this flood stand out was the almost apocalyptic damage it wrought. The decision-makers decided that there had to be a way to co-exist with the South Sea and that became the catalyst for the Delta Werken
project. An ambitious plan was created to 'control' the sea. Decades of ingenious, cutting-edge work placed piles and metal plates on the sea floor, colossal barriers and flood-gates to stop the sea surge.
What we actually saw when we drove in was basically a bridge held up by massive pillars. It was only after seeing the documentary about the construction that we gained a true perspective of the unbelievably massive scale of the project. Most of the wow-factor lay hidden beneath the waterline. But the Delta Werken set the Netherlands up as the undisputed world leader in flood management.
Judging from the hefty entrance fee to the park and its attractions (boat ride, hurricane simulator, water park, etc), the project's maintenance surely must cost a bundle.
HAARLEM JAZZ FESTIVAL
On the lighter side, we hitched a ride with Eva, Shanna's friend, to the waterside community of Haarlem. In its
center, framed by impressive Gothic and Renaissance structures, was a jumble of tents from which music emanated. We digged a few tunes, offering very little time to a group of young head-bangers on whom the genre 'jazz' was obviously lost😞. Most of the few hours were spent either hiding from the persistent drizzle or on the fringes fearing lung cancer.
The night's highlight was an interesting activity started by Eva. She'd approach a random stranger and, with arms wide open and a big, genuine smile, yell:"wilt u een gratis knuffel?"
. The "free-hug"
campaign caught on and soon Eva and a few cohorts were dishing out hugs left, right and center. Most people registered genuine surprise and gladly accepted. This one lady seemed really touched and she held the hug for a few seconds longer. It was almost like a hug was what she really needed at the time. The only declination came from a gruff-looking German who said a curt 'nein'
and then rushed off.
It took a little while but soon Shanna was 'knuffling' with the best of them. Vibert remained mostly a spectator, skeptical about whether this campaign could succeed in Guyana or the Caribbean. All
in all, it was a good nite out with good friends.
😊 Mama Marcia and Ton
😊 Eva and friends
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