For our last full day in Amsterdam the sun came out for us and the day was bright and clear. Our Aunty Els’s cheeky brother Henk and her Dad – Jan, came out to pick us up for a day of adventure in the country side. We were very lucky with the weather. They picked us up, and greeted me with three cheek kisses each – the Dutch three is even better then the French two 🙂
We set off through the countryside – Henk took us along the scenic route, which involved a lot of one way roads and cutting through small housing areas. He said he usually goes a lot faster, but slowed down for us 🙂 The land is green and mostly flat, filled with farms that have a few sheep or cows scattered on them, but nothing looks too crowded. What is puzzling is looking at the water levels. A lot of the land has been re-claimed – so what used to be underwater, has now been drained and used for farming, it is edged by the dykes. The re-claimed, low lying bits of land are called “polders”. What is amazing is seeing the water up high and clear land below. It’s very hard to describe!
Along the way we also saw roadside flower vendors and a mobile shopping van. The vans are less common nowadays, but are basically little mobile mini marts – awesome. As we were being Dutch for a day, we stopped for coffee and stroopenwafels by a lake at around 1030. (Maybe the Nieuwkoop?) We sat in the sun and enjoyed the view while having a chin wag. Henk has also been to South America – a little while before us though. There is a small museum near the place we had coffee ( will have to get details on this later) which is about the natural environment and local flora and fauna. It gives you an idea of how soft and boggy the land is – and there are houses built all over it!
We drove through Els’s old stomping ground (the one way roads ofÂ de Meije), where she and her family lived, cycled and even skated on the waterways in winter! Jan showed us an old windmill which had been turned into a house – he likes it quite a lot. We also checked out Het Potlood (the pencil) which is a water tower, overlooking a river. It is all so very pretty, any direction you look is lovely..so much green!
We stopped for lunch and most importantly, beer at the Brouwerij de Molen (Brewery the Mill) – it is located in Bodegraven (the green heart of Holland) – and is a place to taste a fine array of beers and eat a good meal. It is also housed in an old windmill. I think they brew elsewhere now, but they have a big range to check out – some on tap. Greg tried a I.PA and a dark ale and I had a “Light & Lusty” which was a lager crossbred with something else – tasty!
After lunch we continued to the town of Oudewater which is beautiful old town packed full of very old buildings from the 1600’s. One of which is the “Witches Weighthouse” which is a small museum where you can still to this day be weighed to find out if you are a witch – you even get a certificate to prove it.Â We all passed muster! While we there, a local couple got married – they were escorted by friends and family to the townhouse and emerged a little while later hitched. It was a very casual wedding though – no dress in sight 😉
Henk had been talking about how Dutch snacks generally involve eating whole herring raw and we somehow agreed to give it a go. I’ve avoided frogs legs and snails but I ate a whole raw fish in the Dutch countryside. It was definitely an acquired taste – Greg didn’t mind it, but I’m going to take some convincing to everÂ try it again!
After wandering around Oudewater for a bit and having a sly fishy snack, we ended up in Gouda (the town) and checking out the town hall and church there. There was a market just finishing up, but didn’t get a chance to stick my nose in! The church has some pretty cool stained glass windows, which were taken down and hidden during WWII. A choir was rehearsing while we were there – they sounded amazing!
We finished our day with a cup of tea at Jan and Trudy’s house, then dinner at a nearby pancake house. Dutch pancakes are crazy – they are gigantic and come in nearly every topping you could ever want. (Except lemon juice with sugar :P) It was a great day – it was so lovely to get shown around by people we know, who are so proud of their country. We hope one day we can return the favour 🙂
One last photo – a milestone Jan showed me. There was a story involving a Dutch princess – I forget details!
sending luv n hugs xoxo
Local tour guides! Nothing better. It looks amazing there, I like the photo of you two together. Photo album cover?