Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Netherlands

After a three hour flight on Turkish Air, we arrived in The Netherlands at Schiphol. Thankfully, our friend, Maarten, was there to pick us up - it was cold and rainy. Due to heavy, rush-hour traffic, it took us an hour to get to his home in Purmerend.

We took the following day just to relax and catch up, waiting until Saturday to begin our road trip through the north of the Netherlands. Our first stop was  Zuiderzee Open-air Museum in Enkhuizen, right along the waters of the Ijsselmeer. The Ijsselmeer used to be a salt water sea called the Zuiderzee, but years ago, the Dutch built a 32 km dam, drained out the salt water and made it into an enormous, yet shallow, fresh water lake.

The cobble=stoned streets of the museum's village

Once of the volunteer villagers

Another volunteer villager

The open air museum is fabulous. It is comprised of a replica of an old fishing village and an inside museum. The village consists of the typical houses and shops found in the 19th century such as a copper smith, a sail and rope maker, a boat builder, a fish smokehouse, a pharmacy and more.

A fisherman's home

A carpenter's workshop

Smoker doing his best on the eel

Smoking local fish

On our walk through the open air museum

What makes it special and unique is that there are volunteer villagers dressed up in the period clothes who you can talk as you stroll down the cobble streets,. Some of the women are busy with common household chores such as cooking, cleaning or sewing. At one of the houses we even were asked to join in for a light lunch along with a few other visitors.  She had prepared a dish that was commonly eaten - potatoes mixed with spinach and bacon. Savory and very tasty.

A surprise lunch

The displays of the old boats are excellent. There are fishing boats, an ice boat with a metal hull, a transport ship and an old Frisian hunting boat with a huge mounted musket and many others.

The inside of a village house

The inside of a village house

The living room of a village house

A typical work boat of th era
You'd definitely need to keep a can of varnish and a paint brush handy with this boat.

After finishing with the museum we drove another hour to Steenwijk, a sleepy village near to where we intended to rent a boat the following day. The inn was a very charming place that had been a iron smith’s store. On the bottom floor, a lot of it has been left in tact.

In the morning, breakfast was a feast of strawberries, orange juice, omelet, cheeses, cold cuts, yogurt, jams and  breads. Afterwards, we packed a lunch and drove to nearby Giethoorn, a village with few roads but lots of canals and a lake. The plan was to rent an old canal boat with a sail and a pole.

Walking into Giethorn

And that’s just what we did. We started out poling through the narrow canal, ducking under the bridges and making our way to the lake. After 30-40 minutes, we made it out to the lake, stepped the mast and put up the sail. Pretty soon we were moving smartly under sail crossing the lake. We tacked a few times and then entered another one of the canals.

Close quarters usually meant poling

We're sailing....

Sailing along in the lake

Even in the canals we sailed because on the other side of the lake, with no housing development, there were no bridges on the canal - it was rural. We continued onward, sailing most of the way back, once in a while having to pole. The round trip took us just short of four hours.
We sailed a good portion of the canals

Approaching one of the bridges

Back in Steenwijk, in the evening we went to dinner and had a wonderful meal at Woody’s, a non-pretentious American styled restaurant with a mostly Dutch menu.

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