Thursday, June 18, 2009

Zaanse Schans

We couldn't really say that we had been to Holland without actually seeing a windmill and at least some dykes and canals. The canals in Amsterdam don't count; they're more like Venice comes to northern europe. Thus we found ourselves at Zaanse Schans which turned out to be a fascinating day. They have restored to working order a half dozen windmills so we were able to go in and atctually see one in action.

The one we chose to go in to see happened to be a manufacturer of pigments for oil paints but there were others that produced oil or lumber. I found it fascinating to see how they actually worked because most of the windmill is made of wood including the gears and actually seeing it operating one got a feeling of just how much power was actually derived from the wind. At one stage there were 1000 windmills in Zaanse Schans and it was considered to be a major industrial centre.

We wandered around a bit and had a bite to eat at real tourist prices. 9EUR for a pancake was just a little over the top so we contented ourselves with a cup of coffee and some excellent apple pie. I have been putting off having Dutch cheese for some unknown reason and they had a cheese factory where I could taste a whole variety and I have to say that my reluctance was misplaced; they were quite delicious. Caron came down with a headache about an hour later so we suspect that there is some food die used in their manufacture but other than this, they really tasted great.

The road bridge over from the main road was undergoing repairs so we had to use a ferry and in boarding it Caron accidentally stepped in front of a woman on her bicycle. Realising this, she turned around and apologised to which the response was "You should be!". Caron was so taken aback by the rudeness that she was speechless; the Dutch, it seems, are not renown for their politeness.

The tiny shed on the right is the outhouse and it discharges straight into the canal. Methinks that Holland must have hummed a fair deal when these were common and in use. Not the sort of water one would like to fall into.

We moved on north to see the afsluitdijk between north holland and friesland. It is about 30km long and keeps the north sea from flooding holland and was built pretty much by hand during the 1930's. During the last two years of it's construction there were 5000 labourers working on it every day and seeing the size of it, one can understand why. It's a huge amount of earthworks and it looks like the water level inland is at least a metre below that of the north sea.

This is actually the sea wall near Den Helder but it looks about the same size and to finish the day off I caught the Dutch showing everyone else how one ought to climb hills. Close your eyes and get someone else to push!

1 comment:

M.Elferink said...

We had never heard of Zaanse Schans but the on the day we read your blog there was a mention of it in the newspaper. So strange! But wish we had visited it - really sounds interesting. Looking forward to hearing about your visit to William and Nita. Mom.