After a decent night’s sleep, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the Pulitzer, and then headed out for our private tour of the Dutch countryside with Jackie, our local tour guide. In American terms, Jackie is a leftover from the 60s – a flower child, a hippie, and a bohemian. And she was a trip, to say the least. Every time she laughed, she sang the first line of a song – the lyrics of which sometimes tied to the topic of our conversation, and other times made no sense at all.
We started our day in Schermerhorn at the Museum Mill. The classically picturesque windmills were originally built in the early 1600s to drain away the many lakes that were posing a threat to the surrounding land (a large portion of the Netherlands is below sea level). Mills were not only used for drainage but for power sources and for facilitating industry. There were 10,000 of them at one time throughout the Netherlands. It was fascinating to see how these mill caretakers lived, at one time, in the base of the mill.
We continued to the quaint little town of Edam next on our journey, where we lunched at a lovely outdoor cafe overlooking the courthouse, and where a wedding commenced while we were eating! Edam was formed as a borough in 1357 and became known for its cheese market in the 1600s. We left with some incredible rounds of truffle and baby sheep's cheese from Henri Willig’s cheese farm.
No trip to Holland is complete without a stop at the clog shop! Irene Hoeve’s shop near Monnickendam was our next stop. Getting Karen and me in and out of the giant clog for a photo opp was a comedy of errors!
It takes about an hour to make one clog – very entertaining to watch this wood maker at his trade. Did you know there are more than 40 sizes of clogs? The pointy ones are used for fishing; the rounded ones are used for gardening or farming. With daily use and wear, they last up to six months. Who knew!?
Our last stop was in the fishing village of Marken. This small village is made up of clusters of homes on “hills.” Apparently, each “hill” has its own community and they are quite exclusive and segregated from one another. It was in this town that we experienced our first Poffertjes – little bites of pancake, butter, and sugar goodness! Oh my! You can also see our guide, Jackie, in the far left photo below. We are convinced she took several breaks along the day to “toke up.” You go, girl – you do you!
Once back in Amsterdam, we ventured over to the Van Gogh Museum – what an incredible museum. Did you know that Van Gogh only painted for one decade? He was said to have produced a painting a day during the last several months of his life. The museum is an incredible homage to this troubled but brilliantly talented soul.
Our last photo of the evening, before returning to a light meal at our hotel, was of the famous “I Amsterdam” letters outside of the Rijksmuseum. All in all, a lovely, full day in this vibrant city!