After leaving Wing Ding we headed southwest towards Holland and Amsterdam. Holland
is a province within the country called The Netherlands. We took two days to do
it following 2-lane roads that crossed 3 rivers, two were on ferries and one tunneled
Then we arrived in The Netherlands and saw our first historic Dutch Windmill. The
roof is made of thatch carefully trimmed smooth. (We have seen hundreds of windmills
all over the low countries of Denmark, NW Germany and The Netherlands, but they were
all modern and producing electricity.)
We had a campground "15 minutes from Amsterdam" marked in the GPS but when we got
there we found it swamped with backpackers. We tried to pull up to the registration
building but couldn't get near it for the crowd of backpackers trying to register. So
we turned around and left. We had seen signs pointing to another campground on the
way to this one and decided to check it out.
It was a couple of miles away, but down a narrow dike-top road with two way traffic
and parking along the side. This campground was crowded but not packed and we didn't
know where else to go, so we stayed. And that night it rained for the first time
in a week, but was dry the next day. We found out the bus came down this narrow
lane and stopped near the campground. The next morning we took it into Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is the most varied city we have seen yet. It has all the canals and bicycles
you have heard about.
And then it has the sex shops, prostitution
and "Coffee Shops" that sell marijuana.
Mixed in with this are cafes and restaurants that serve almost every type of food
you can think of to eat. We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant at the end of a canal. But
they didn't serve any Mexican food for lunch, only dinner. We wandered around for
several hours looking in shop windows and playing tourist.
There were lots of young adults, many with their backpacks, in the plazas and streets. I
think many of them were staying in the streets. Most of them were in their teens
to twenties, but some were old enough that they looked like they were left over from
the 60's. They say that if you remember the 60's then you were not really there. I
believe you could say the same about Amsterdam. It is a strange city, at least downtown. We
didn't get into the suburbs so we can't speak about the whole town.
While at the Wing Ding we had met a Dutchman who invited us to stop by while we were
in town. Dirk is a real genuine Dutchman, with the wooden shoes and all. He uses
them as outdoor clogs and slips out of them when entering the house. In fact the
shoes were so handy that I would like to have a pair to take home, just that they
are too bulky. Dirk took us to a village of vintage houses and windmills that had
been set up as a heritage site.
We got to try on some wooden shoes but couldn't find a place to pack them to bring
The heritage society had moved the houses and windmills to the site and had crafts
persons doing crafts from the 17th and 18th centuries. We watched a man make pewter
spoons with a hand mold and another make wooden shoes on a machine. The shoe machine
worked like a key cutting machine. There was an already shaped shoe in a holder
and the machine used it as a guide when it cut into the block of wood in the other
Some of the shoes are carved or painted with decoration. These were all for sale.
We spent several hours at the village and had a very interesting time. The Dutch
were very clever to build the windmills, dikes and drainage to create the land for
much of their country.
The next day he and his wife Heddy took us to the life-size replica of the Batavia,
a sailing ship from the days of the Dutch East India Company. This was when the
Dutch essentially owned the oceans and brought valuable spices from the orient to
Europe, greatly enriching their small country.
I have read a lot of books about the days of sail, mainly fiction and a few factual
reports of life at sea in those days. We were able to wander freely about and take
pictures. I'm glad I'm not one of the crew. (And wait until we report on the British
Admiral Nelson's ship.)
We stayed with Dirk and Heddy for several days and had a wonderful time. But finally
we had to leave. When we arrived we had our usual top-heavy load on, and Dirk was
amazed at how much we carried without a trailer. We discussed the problems and advantages
of both systems, mostly my problems and the advantages of his trailer, until he insisted
we take one of his trailers. He has several, all built by him and of very good quality,
if not fancy. Just perfect for us. So now we have a trailer! We do have to return
it someday, but it is very nice of him to let us use it. (In the picture his bike
is ahead of ours and has a another of his trailers on it.)
From here we're headed to the British Islesand a couple of Treffens (rallies). We
plan to be there for about six weeks.