Saturday, April 16, 2016

Friday. April 15, 2016: Emmen to Emmeloord, The Netherlands

This morning we were greeted by real “Dutch weather”!! It was drizzling! Enough to pull out our umbrellas.  Later it began to rain.  This is what makes Holland green and the bulbs so bright!  But not being ducks, we can’t say we like the cool damp weather!  However, we have been extremely lucky to have had great weather this trip – we really cannot complain.

Our hotel last night charged extra from breakfast so we stopped at a McDonald’s down the road.  Yes, we did it!  Once is enough!!  
Cows in the pasture

Cows being fed while in the barn

We drove from Emmen to Orvelte.  Orvelte is a village where they ban cars, so you walk, like we did, or when there are lots of visitors they do have wagon rides into the village.  It was raining the whole time we walked around the village, stopping at shops and exhibits so we could warm up a bit.  Almost every building had a thatched roof as well as a thatched design on the side of some building – for which we received no answer concerning the origin. The exhibit of the interior of a 19th century house was great.  All the houses and house-barns have been restored if necessary. 

This is the first we have seen little open-sided sheds in which dried peat was stored.  Peat is found in the boggy marshes – it is actually dense peat moss. When harvested it is cut into rectangular pieces, 3x3x6 inch pieces, dried, stored, and burned.  When burned it has a distinct smell.  Our very first experience with Peat was in Ireland, but it was used extensively in this part of Holland as well. We spent more in Orvelte than expected. 
Open sided Peat shed

House-barn open to visiters

Kitchen living area with beds in the walls

We drove on to Westerbork a few kilometers down the road.  Westerbork town church has an onion shaped dome.  We wanted to enter the church but a funeral service was in progress!  By now it is after 1:00 – we do not seem to get very far in the morning!  After stopping at the Friday town market where we bought some nuts and strawberries, we looked for a restaurant for lunch and found a very cute place.  At one point it was a museum in a house/barn. But then the daughter and son-in-law added a restaurant.  It had the neatest antiques and displays of antiques/way of life displays. A farmer and his family lived in this house barn until the l970’s.
Roadside gardens

New Thatch on the roof

New thatch and tile

Canal, road and bike trail

From Westerbork we went to Giethoorn, a village begun in 1230 by religious refugees.  This village has always been a favorite of ours, but WOW have they commercialized this village in the past 20 years.  The only way to visit the old village part is by walking or go by small boats thru the canals. Every other time we have visited Giethoorn we taken a boat ride, but this time we decided to walk as it had stopped raining.   Cute, Cute as always!  The high bridges, the houses, the thatched house-barns, boat garages, the small canals, and the old peat boats!  The only church in town is an old Dutch Mennonite church.  

This area also has two Tjaskermolen – this windmill turns an Archimedes screw which moves water from one level to another.  We accidently saw both windmills. Also in this marsh and swamp area there are lots of reeds growing, which are used for thatching of roofs and cane furniture.   We saw lots of cut bundles of reed, as well as some stacked into shapes like oat shocks that we see on Amish farms in Iowa.    

Giethoorn is located in a very swampy marsh. It is in the largest continuous peat moor in northwestern Europe.  For years’ peat was harvested, dried, and burned instead of wood.  In fact, the shape of the village is due to the area in which peat has been harvested (dug). After peat is dug, the area fills in with water, creating ponds, lakes, island and canals.  Giethoorn has special flat bottomed boats which were used for hauling peat, but now used for hauling tourist!  They also use these boats to haul their cattle to the islands to graze (we have seen this in the past), bring in hay for winter use, as well as bringing in the reeds for thatching. 

Everything that comes into and out of the old part of town is brought on a boat down the canals.  We saw them demoing an old house.  All the old plaster, wood, junk, etc was loaded into a dumpster on a flat bottomed boat to be hauled away. Every house on the other side of the canal from the walking street has a wooden bridge across the canal. Bridges are everywhere. It simply is a charming town.

We stopped at a pottery shop where I bought a flower vase.  The owner said Geithoorn has a million visitors each summer (May – mid October).  They look forward to each season, but are tired when it is over! They did add that by 6:00pm almost all visitors are gone except those walking to restaurants. Also during the day when it is crazy busy along the walking path/street they can retreat to the back of their house to the garden where it is quite.
Doopsgezinde/Mennonite Church

One-Way Canal/Street

House, side canal and house-bridge

Transporting Goods on Flat Bottomed Boat through the town

Early boat ramp

Tjaskermolen windmill - Turns an Archimedes Screw to pump water

Harvested Thatch

By now it is 5:00 pm so we drive directly to the closest city with hotel possibilities.  We are in Emmeloord on the Noordoostpolder (northeast polder).  This is the first polder to be drained in Flevoland (1942). It has rich farmland, fruit orchards and tulip bulb fields.  On our way into town we drove by some tulip bulb fields, in the bud stage.  We are going to drive a ‘tulip route’ tomorrow to hopefully see some open.  Everyone tells us this spring has been too cool.   

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