Friday, September 23, 2011

Joel Joins Us in Holland

As soon as we picked Joel up from the airport we headed for Alkmaar to the Friday morning cheese market.  This was the final market of the summer and business was hopping.

 Joel wanted to try some of the Dutch baked items.  Poffertjes are especially prized as a sweet treat.  They resemble donut holes that are sprinkled with powdered sugar.

This cute Dutch girl was passing out brochures for the tourists who were there to enjoy the market.
It was a beautiful sunny day - rare in this part of the world.

More people in traditional Dutch costumes.

Since I posted pictures of the cheese market previously, we'll move on to Marken Island where we showed Traci and Joel a traditional Dutch fishing village.

You haven't been to Holland unless you've watched a wooden shoemaking demonstration.

Our next stop on our whirlwind 'hit the high spots' tour was Zanse Scans.

If you see Joel with his eyes closed quite often that's understandable.  After all - he's been on a transatlantic flight and hasn't slept for about 36 hours!

Traci is standing inside a windmill that was used to cut trees into building materials.  We watched the wind-driven sails turn the saws that cut the planks from the tree trunks.

Our host explained the ingenious ways that man has harnessed the wind via the Dutch windmills to provide power for all kinds of industries - from cutting wood to making mustard and linseed oil.

We left Zanse Scans early hoping to get to the Muiden Castle before it closed at 5:00 pm.  We were there at 4:30 but the last tour had already left and they wouldn't let us any closer than the main gate.  I hope we can get back there sometime.

 On Saturday we took the tram down into Amsterdam to let our visitors see this beautiful old European city.   The               first place we stopped at was the Grote Kerk - the oldest church in Amsterdam.

Walking down to Dam square, we were able to see the beautiful Royal Palace, which has been completely restored inside.  It is truly a place 'fit for a king'.

The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) on Dam Square was open to the public.

I tried to get some pictures inside, but they were quite dark.  The interior was very elaborate.

The strangest thing we saw inside this church was the arrangement of naked silver statues of women all over the place. 

There was an exhibit being held of designer bridal dresses - but I didn't quite get all the naked statues everywhere.  It didn't seem appropriate for a church somehow.

I loved the beautiful stained glass windows.

Outside again, we started walking around the old part of the city.  Amsterdam centrum is totally encircled with canals.  This is one of the many we strolled along.

I never tire of the beautiful architecture of the old buildings.

The flower market on Singel was quite a sight to see.  Bulbs and blooms of all varieties of flowers are available here.

If I knew more about flowers I would have been tempted to pick up some Dutch bulbs to take home.

Walking along the streets is a sensory delight.  That black house in the center is leaning forward at the top about 2 feet.  The one next to it was leaning to the right creating a gap of another foot between the buildings.

 We decided to take a canal cruise so that Traci and Joel could see the city from the water - (it gave us an excuse to get off our tired feet for a few minutes.) 

I wonder if the people who live in the black building worry that it will fall out onto the street!

Many, many canals intersect the city making it necessary to construct lots of picturesque bridges like this one.

We were told that the homes were built with these winches at the top so that furniture could be hoisted up and moved into the homes through the windows.  Narrow doors and stairways made it impossible to take larger furniture through the doorways.

Even the water towers are pretty.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum is behind us on Dam Square. We opted not to go inside because we wanted to enjoy a nice meal with our guests to celebrate our 46th anniversary.

We went to a nice hotel restaurant where we enjoyed a lovely meal and caught up on the family news. 

A trip to Amsterdam wouldn't be complete without exploring the public urinals.  How desperate are you, Joel? 
We'll be sorry to see them get on the train tonight for Germany.  It has been so fun to have some of our family here with us.

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