Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 8: Windmills and Woolly Mammoths

Today could have been any given Saturday, as a group of us went for a drive and a run.  Except, of course, that it wasn’t Saturday, and our drive and run destinations are nowhere near where I spend most of my Saturdays. To start, however, notwithstanding the good intentions last night, I did not get up early for a run this morning. It might have been the jenever, advocaat, and a beer back at “home” after dinner, but I’ll blame the enduring jet-lag.  I didn’t wake up until after 9am this morning. (Given that I normally wake up naturally around 7:30 on a Saturday, this surprised me.)

Once I finally did haul my sleepy body out of bed, we got our stuff together to check out Zaanse Schanse. Dubbed a “Dutch theme park”, Zaanse Schanse sprang up when a number of traditional Dutch buildings (assorted windmills and shops) faced destruction in their native settings. Thanks to a concerted effort of nationalistic historians, the buildings were transported to a destination just outside of Amsterdam, easily accessible by transit or, in our case, car. (Thanks Paul!)

Mindy and I hemmed and hawed about Zaanse Schranse as a destination as compared to Kinderdijk.  Kinderdijk is the real thing!  19 windmills along a beautiful waterway preserved as it was centuries ago. By comparison, Zaanse Schranse is a typical tourist attraction, simplifying access by sacrificing historical legitimacy.  Kinderdijk is a Dutch treasure, while Zaanse Schranse is just for tourists. Wait, though.  Mindy and I ARE tourists.  As Paul had never been before, he was also playing the part of a tourist in his own land. (Stella was dutifully studying for exams at home.)

In retrospect, Kinderdijk would have been an awful lot of effort (~2 hours each way in transit) for at most an equally satisfying experience. Zaanse Schranse creates its desired effect – it presents a fairly accurate example of Dutch life as it once was, even if it cheats regarding the geographical footprint. Besides, I don’t think Kinderdijk would have had a Dutch bobsled on display!

Of all the shops we checked out in Zaanse Schranse, I think the clog-making shop was most interesting.  First of all, they were actually making clogs there!  I tried some on, and they really aren't comfortable.  I asked Paul about what I have heard - that they get more comfortable with ongoing use.  He used to wear them around the house and in the garden as a child, ans he assured me that they do NOT.

Wedding clogs??

Once we finished with the windmills, we drove to a nearby forest where Paul and I went for a run.  Mindy was debating joining us, but instead opted for a nap in the backseat of the car... A fwe kilometres in, we ran right into a pack of woolly mammoths!! Ok,in truth, they were Scottish long-horn cows, but take a look at these things, they look like small woolly mammoths! ...kind of...  (At least that's what I think mammoths would look like...)

Although our day was supposed to conclude with a Dutch birthday party (a friend of Paul's), Paul was feeling crushed by how hard I pushed the pace while running...and an unrelated migraine.  We picked up some very non-Dutch sushi on the way home, and the four of us (Stella pulled herself away from her studies) watched the movie Minions.

Like I said, it was like any given Saturday at home with friends.

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