Harlingen and the Road to Amsterdam

Trip Start Sep 22, 2007
Trip End Oct 06, 2007

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Where I stayed

Flag of Netherlands  ,
Tuesday, October 2, 2007

This is an accidental stay (see last entry), but a pleasant interlude.  I have come to like smaller centers, and this is no exception, a smaller town right on the sea.

Our hotel is easy to find:  we just drive into down, follow the road until it crosses a drawbridge and immediately to our right, backing onto the water, is our hotel.  We are tired and hungry and are lucky that the hotel has some food available - its kitchen is already closed.  We see the surroundings in the dark, but don't think so much about them as we are eager to get to our rooms and eat whatever they can prepare after hours.  We quickly check in and park along the water behind the hotel, then haul our stuff upstairs.  As we exit our room to head down to eat, we hear loud shrieking from Roel and find out he has had a collision with a wall.  The goose egg on his head disappears quickly, though.

We had a good sleep there in a good bed.  I have no reservations in recommeding this hotel.  I look out the window and see water in both directions and want to explore.  It's a goreous day, and the little walk to the waterfront discloses an old tall ship ready to go, a lighthouse, and a boy with his finger in the dike. 

We want to keep exploring, and the hotel lets us check out and keep our car in the lot for a little longer, so we head to a small commercial shopping area only about a block away.  As we round the corner, we see the Dutch version of public works.  They apparently had to replace a pipeline that runs under a sidewalk.  The sidewalk is paving stones (probably concrete), and a crew of 4 does the whole job.  First comes a man with a crowbar lifting all the paving stones and setting them aside.  Then comes a tiny backhoe to dig a ditch, with a man with a shovel clearing out the bottom of the ditch behind the backhoe.  The pipe is laid, then the ditch filled in, dirt tamped and the stones laid back down.  A job that would have taken a couple months back home is started and finished in the same morning.

We walk alongside the workers as they dig the ditch, stop at a souvenir shop and buy some fuzzy dutch shoes (made to look like the wodden shoes), then cross the road to a bicycle shop to study the dutch version of bicycles, some of them electricity  driven.  On our way back we stop at a small grocery store and buy some fruit, then as we are returning to our hotel, we pass the construction site again, and to our surprise the work on the sidewalk is nearly complete.  I mull over the possibility of doing that here, but I suppose that wouldn't work - the ditch would have to be much deeper because of frost, and perhaps we need poured concrete sidewalks or they would heave in the cold.  It seems much more efficient than our methods.

After our trip back to Leeuwarden to see Gary's friends (see last entry), we head to Amsterdam, crossing the 32 km Afsluitdijk and driving through farmland alongside rows of new windmills.  The farms remind me a lot of the Fraser Valley - very green, many ditches, and flat, with many fields containing dairy cattle.   Have I said how much I love this place?
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