Europe 24.06.15

Wednesday the 24rd of June

I drank a lot of wine last night. And it is to this that I will attribute my oversleeping that caused me to miss the scenic morning walk to the cliff face bordering the Rhine Valley river. Of course I was not the only one who had to rush to be ready for the Contiki Coach departure to the extent that I had to brush my teeth in the storm drain, but thankfully there were travellers more organised than myself to whom I entrusted my camera to take photos of the gorgeous surrounding landscapes.

WE’RE BACK IN THE NETHERLANDS!

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There is no doubt this trip to my home country will be something very different to what I have experienced in the past. There is already talk of drinking and drugs and even a sex show in the evening?! There is so much more to The Netherlands than its unique tolerance for things that are elsewhere considered contraband! For goodness sake – I cannot tell you if I am excited or apprehensive.

I am washed over with relief when Michael steps back up to the microphone for his daily rendition of facts about our place of visitation. He informed us that our day was to be filled with experiences synonymic with ‘The Netherlands’. So many metres below sea level, it has a high production of potatoes. My patriotically fuelled grudge had subsided and I was again keen to feel at home with a quick kalfsvleeskroquet in hand and ready for our first excursion: a Bike the Dyke tour of Edam. We stopped in front of an old windmill that had been centuries in operation of pumping the water from the dyke back to the seaside. It had a thatched overlay that needed to be reworked every four months to prevent water damage from reaching the wooden insides of the structure. Although The Netherlands does not have tall iconic buildings that attract waves of tourists each season, there is no doubt these humble windmills are the epitome of this country and a sight to marvel.

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We were becoming culturally acquainted with the surrounding landscape that was a fine balance between agriculture and innovation. Upon the conclusion of our cycling tour, we treated to a visit to a cheese factory and clog workshop in Edam. We were given an insight into the churning and waxing processes of edam cheese produced on site and were then allowed to taste a long platter of smoked, salted, herbed and natural cheeses that were DE LI CI OUS! The connecting clog workshop provided us with a demonstration on how clogs are made. Freshly cut wooden blocks are worked with metal tools into the traditional shoe shape and then the moisture is removed by exposure to five weeks in the wind. These shoes are still used today in the place of work boots due to their insulating quality that also protects the feet from injury – we even passed construction men wearing these shoes as they were working on the pavement in the streets later that day.

A moment of closure in regards to my aforementioned uncertainty:
Excited. Definitely Excited.

Due to the mature content of the happenings in Amsterdam, the recount of the evening has been omitted from this account. Although an excruciatingly detailed description of the events in the Red Light District has been documented, it will not be published on this platform for the reason that my parents are my most dedicated readers of this travel journal. (I will say that I ate the most delicious waffle of my life this evening.) I will admit I have learnt a new side of The Netherlands that is as rich in culture as the tulip fields and windmills.

For anyone else who is any more interested:
Amsterdam – enough said.

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