May 25, 2009

Day 7 : Too much sugar

I wanted a break. I was not feeling up to sightseeing that day and my brain wanted a rest. But of course, it was simply not done when you have limited time and money. Dutifully pulling myself I got ready for the day. By now, we had found a Pizza place which sold some sort of breakfast breads with cheese and veggies in it and we predictably went there.

We were going to go to Keukenhof that day. Kilometeres of walking paths, millions of tulips, beautiful colors I had read again and again in the brochures. But I must admit I was only mildly curious. It was the same person who designed Vondelpark that designed Keukenhof, I vaguely remembered. The girls in the traditional dress at the entrance and the large wooden shoes were naturally a photo-op.

We wandered in and while the rest of the party oohed and aahed about the flowers I was only mildly impressed. It felt like the feeling one gets after eating too much sugar. It was all a blur of multi colored flowers with only two things standing out - one, I was besieged by yawns and two the straw bale seats with the nice headrest. It is intriguing how we had spent such a long time in the park and everyone else in our party enjoyed it much but I don't have much to write. I really tried hard to whip up some enthusiasm about the varieties of tulip flowers but failed miserably. If I knew the details about how many people worked, what they exported where, what happens during the rest of the year, I might have liked it better.

We wandered for a long time in the gardens, bought knickknacks in the shops and then post lunch decided to go to Zaanse Schans. We lost the way somewhere in between causing some concern about if the attraction had any closing time, but came back to Hoorn and managed to get to Koog Zandijk with lots of time to spare.

The mills were obviously the first attraction - no doubt it is my romantic view point, but I love seeing old mechanical inventions at work. Like the astronomical observations that human beings of yester-eras excelled in, each mechanical marvel such as these windmills never ceases to amaze me. These were original windmills from all over Netherlands that had worked hard for men harnessing the power of nature to make oil and paint and many things more - I wish we had continued down that path than the detour with petroleum.

The museum or was it a craft shop of shoes and then another one with cheese was thoroughly interesting. There were hundreds of clogs from a giant size to miniatures. I was wondering if it was possible to actually walk in those clogs - sort of reminded me of the Indian style wooden sandals. The cheese shop had a live demonstration and a variety of cheese for sales.

The buildings restored and 'displayed' as a tourist attraction was a great idea - I wished they would think of something like that for all the old bungalows in south India. We do not have a great respect for old buildings in our country.

I chose a delft [imitation no doubt] souvenir. The rich doctor heroes of Betty Neels stories invariably had original delftware in their houses. Many of them came from Friesland too I thought looking about.

After a while we strolled out, I was interviewed by some kids for a school project - an American with an unmistakable southern accent told them 'Be cool, stay in school'. I laughed and complimented him on his rhyming skills.

We traveled back to the hotel, tired.

I was reflecting on the town of Haarlem and other names that many American cities originally had , colonial times and those seafaring men of those bygone years as I lay in bed. My dreams were full of ships and battles.

May 25, 2009