Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Netherlands 1991 - Final Entries

Wednesday, May 1

Today we do not bike. This is our first day out of the saddle. We hope to find interesting wool and hand knits. The exchange rate is good – we enjoy a wee advantage in value received. John and I went to the P.O and bank before starting the stores. It is a small town but their wool shops for yarn and hand knit sweaters is excellent. Practically everyone bought a sweater or two. I bought a pair of shoes (Italian) but all good values plus a ton of yarn to knit for the children.

We drove to De Koog for Pannekoukens – today I had ham and cheese. Then back to Den burg for more shopping. I bought wooden shoes for the little ones at a hardware store just like the farmers’ children wear, leaving them at the door as there is so much mud.

Dinner in Oudeschild at Pakhuss where we had shrimp called “Gambas” about 6 “ long. Great vegetables served in restaurants, family style. Fun evening – lots of laughs. We ended up with a discontinued $100 bill they would not accept. Will try to straighten that out at a bank tomorrow. We have a long ride tomorrow.

Thursday, May 2

We left Den Burg after breakfast. Marion and Don are in the van today. It is bitter cold – must be 35 degrees, but at least it is dry. The wind is unrelenting – blowing a gale. We rode to the ferry, mostly with the wind and enjoyed a hot chocolate on board. Our trip down to Hoorn was about 40 miles but the wind was at our backs and it was sheer fun. We know with this temperature it would be impossible for us to go to the opposite direction. We took the 10:05 ferry and arrived about 3:30. Our lunch was not much but some of the towns were beautiful. We loved Abbikirk in particular. Our bikes are stored in the pantry of this hotel in Hoorn. The shelves are full of liquor and supplies and 10 bikes fill the floor space. This town is very nice – very old and picturesque. Some of the buildings look as if they are leaning toward the street. Our dinner was fabulous – a new little restaurant called Pablos. Very fine, very pretty. I had lamb and it melted in your mouth. We stopped for a glass of Port in the bar in our hotel before turning in.

Friday, May 3

We left Hoorn about 10 after a trip to the bank and the leather store. It was a nice ride although rain threatened. The wharfs in Hoorn were very interesting. The buildings have beautiful ornamental facades and look as if they are leaning toward the street. John had a flat tired halfway to Edam but after a short repair stop we were on the road again. Edam is lovely – very old picturesque with charming shops. Our hotel is the Fortuna. It is a picture-book place with lovely gardens. It is cold. John and I drove to Volendam but didn’t stay long. It is a tourist trap and held nothing of interest. We had a brief nap before dinner at the Dam Hotel. Charming old hotel with beautiful dining room and 4 star food. We had another fun evening. We had grilled salmon – excellent, but not as good as The Beatrix. I’ve had fish every night except one.

The van has been great and has worked beautifully. We have it when we need it. Today it came by as we had our flat tire so we had the big tire pump to use. Thanks to Bill for bringing that.

Jack and Carol Sweeger, who left our group last Sunday, came to Edam on their last day in Holland used The Fortuna for a hotel. He left a note at the desk for us saying what a wonderful time they had with us. He suggested a place for lunch and dinner and suggested the Fortunas’ gardens needed a bit more color. The joke being that the place is a reat of color. We did go to the Dam Hotel for dinner, which was his recommendation.

Saturday, May 4

Rain. Sky cleared before we left Edam. We can’t believe our good luck. We waited for an antique shop to open so we could see Marion’s demi0-tosse spoons. She bought them – 200 guilders for 6 sterling. I think it is a good buy. We had more fun in this shop – stuff we all would have grabbed if we had room to carry it. I ended up with a little dilft plaque for J&J’s kitchen. Dianne Fearen went beserk – “like an alcoholic in a brewery” she said.

We rode to Markson, an island connected now by a causeway. It was against the wind going out. Quaint little fishing village. We stopped for Proffer tjres – little 50k sized pancakes with powdered sugar and butter – delicious and coffee. The coffee here is good – almost as good as the chocolate. We headed South toward Amsterdam and Abcoude. It was a gorgeous ride except where we ran through Amsterdam, which was a little hairy for a short time. We were tired after the long day. Stopped at La Taverna in Durgurdam for lunch – old Tavern written up in Travel and Leisure Mag, but nothing special. We have seen and been to so many old antique places that are truly beautiful that this place just looked seedy. Holland is very clean. We haven’t been in a dirty rest room the entire trip. The hotels have been immaculate – the food definitely superior. We have had fabulous restaurants every night. We arrived in Abcoude about 4:30 and the proprietor was out to shake hands with each of us. He remembered John and me from three years ago. We immediately set to taking our bikes apart and packed for the trip home on Monday.

Our dinner will be at the wakend Hen here at the hotel. He had it set for us and they (Suzie and Chip) had chosen a set menu to save time. Every night we have spent 4 hours having dinner so this will be a relief. The dining room is so beautiful, all in seafoam green – walls and drapes with pink tablecloths, black chairs. The windows are all leaded and reflect the candlelight. We had 2 minutes of silence at 8 o’clock for Liberation day remembrance. May 5 is the day Holland was liberated from German control.

Sunday, May 5

8 o’clock breakfast and we were happy to see cornflakes. You do get tired of cold cuts for breakfast although I haven’t eaten them since first two days. We planned to go to the Niew Church of St. Catherines, but the church was having a Press Photo Exhibit funded by KLM and Kodak. We enjoyed the exhibit but never did get to church. We had lunch at a sidewalk restaurant to watch the weirdos. This town has many and it is crowded today. The flea market has taken over the streets near Leidesplein and you can hardly move. Their flea market makes ours look like Neiman Marcus. We went to the Van Gogh Museum and it was great. They have over 200 Van Gogh’s and some of Claude Monet’s, many Pissarro sketches besides many other artists. It was mobbed and we couldn’t wait to return to Abcoude.

Dinner at the Oyster Bar alone. Everyone has gone their own way today. We met six of our friends at Central Station on our way back. A drink together at Merrill’s room and John and I were in bed.

Monday, May 6

John and I drive to the airport to return the van. We have a swing day but have hired a truck for the bicycles and luggage. We had fun in the Duty Free Shops; there are a great variety. We bought cheese, candy and scotch. We have discovered that there are six racing teams on board going to New York for the Tour de Du Pont – many young, handsome men in uniform clothing. We are kidding that we are the seventh team: The Geriatric Team.

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