Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016: Aalsmeer to Sneek, The Netherlands

We left our host in Aalsmeer this morning after a leisurely breakfast which included a favorite – suiker brodt – sugar bread.  We drive north to the city of Alkmaar to hopefully see more blooming fields of tulips in that area of Holland.  We were disappointed as the fields of tulips are in the same stage of blooming as the fields south of Amsterdam. We are ahead of schedule to see the mass of color from tulips.  However, we did see several fields of pink tulips – se photos.  We are really in the season for hyacinth and daffodil - many fields were a mass of pink, purple & white hyacinth or yellow daffodils.  We are enjoying both of them plus the smell from the hyacinth. We are still hoping to see more tulips before we leave Holland. 

For the next week we are going to be driving around Holland with no real agenda. We have a general idea of the direction we will take, but that is not ‘in stone’.

It has been of course ‘years’ since we have driven around Holland, but we will be returning to areas we have been before, plus we want to go to different locations.
Netherlands Landscape

Well Kept Windmill - Molen

Modern Wind Turbine

Smell the Hyacinths?

Deep Pink Tulips

We drove into the city of Alkmaar and strolled around the town center.  Alkmaar is known as the Cheese City. However, the ‘cheese market’ display for tourist is held only on Friday – which we knew.
Entering Alkmaar

Former City Gate

City Hall with Church in background


After a while we were back on the road, taking ‘side roads’ to get closer to the bulb fields – you know, I realize I have not really explained what I mean when I say the ‘bulb’ fields.  At least 99% or more of these flower fields are grown for only the bulb. After the bulb blooms the grower (farmer) will cut off the bloom so the plant will put its strength into the bulb, for a bigger bulb.  This use to all be done by hand but how it is done by a machine – just like de-tasseling seed corn– most of it is now done by machine. Only a small percentage of the blooming flowers are sold on the market.

We also went on side roads to see the old fashioned windmills (molen).  I really enjoy the different styles of mills, as well as the architecture designs at the top of buildings in the towns, and villages.

Holland has used the resource of wind for centuries, and it has now invested into the new style of wind energy – wind turbines.  They dot the landscape.  You see an old windmill and nearby is a new wind turbine. 

We drove to the Afsluitdijk.  This is the 32kilometer barrier dike that was finished in 1932 to control the sea from flooding Holland.  When we arrived we needed to wait for the opened bridge. Boats were going through the locks from the North Sea to the controlled Zuider Zee. 

At the other end of the dike is the Providence of Friesland.  We began driving south along the dike, stopping to stroll through several villages. To mention a few - Makkum, Workum, & Hindeloopen – each is unique.   We continued driving on the narrow country roads, some were tree-lined roads, past many beautiful farmsteads with large Dutch-styled barns and houses.  Friesland has vast meadows and they have large dairy farms.
Hindeloopen Harbor

Hindeloopen Church

List of Ministers since Inception, 1580

Netherlands Dikes

One of the Many Draw Bridges 

Unique Dutch Architecture on Houses

Netherlands Countryside

Large House-Barn

Dairy Barn-House

By evening we decided to make our destination the City of Sneek. Upon driving into the city center we spied a hotel – a very old hotel that has been updated – it has lots of character.  After walking around the town center we had dinner in the hotel restaurant. 
Sneek Hotel-Restaurant

Sneek City Gate

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