Monday, January 14, 2013

Welcoming the New Year in the Netherlands

Yes, it is unusual for me post two days in a row. I am just back from a wonderful trip to my second home country, the Netherlands. My hubby hails from the Netherlands where most of his family lives, including an aging father and many siblings. Since 2009, we have made an effort to bring one grand baby with us. This time it was Owen's turn (he is 7 and a half). This trip was also unusual because for the first time in many years we did a great deal of traveling and sight seeing away from the beautiful home province of Noord Holland and especially West Friesland. Next year, my hubby and I will take a group of students to the Netherlands for an interdisciplinary study of water in the Netherlands. The study of water in the Netherlands will include water as engineered through the country’s vast network of canals, dijks, windmills and polders in Zeeland, West Friesland and Amsterdam; the exploration and exploitation made possible by water (Dutch East India Company); water in commerce; conservation efforts to restore wetlands; human expression of water through the visual arts and winter recreational use of water (ice skating).

You may not know that a great deal of land in the Netherlands, especially the west where my hubby is from, is land claimed from the sea. Over hundreds of years the Dutch have acquired land (called polders) through an ingenuous system of building dijks to isolate sea or lake segments, dredging canals to allow the water to flow and drain the land and then pumping the canal water back out to sea through the use of windmills. There is more to it, but that is the simple process.   

We welcomed the New Year in the Netherlands and spent our first few days with family in the northern province of Noord Holland specifically, West Friesland, an area well known for water recreation. Water is everywhere in North Holland including this canal right behind my hubby's birth home.

 Water is necessary for the growth of tulips destined to be shipped to the US.
Boats like this one were used by my father-in-law to 
get out to his flower fields to farm up to the early 1980s.
 Standing on a small bridge that spans a canal.

 Biking with Owen along a canal. 
The Netherlands is very flat making cycling feasible and accessible for transport for all.
Almost every road has dedicated bicycle paths along side.
 These windmills were used to pump water to drain the land for a polder.

 The Dutch Maritime Museum
 (above) focuses on many aspects of water in the Netherlands.
Below, Owen with his Opa (grandfather) and
 great grandfather (Opa Opa) checking out old Dutch speed skates for kids.

 Trying out speed skates on an outdoor rink in Amsterdam with Opa.

I was fascinated by the bike garages (above) that are found near many train stations like this one on the town of Enkhuizen. And of course I was enthralled with all sorts of lovely bikes in the Netherlands including these rental bikes:
Bicycles equipped with a front "bucket" for 
children where they are protected from the ever present rain.
 Lovely women's transport bikes..

 And my favorite from this trip (above). Can you see how easy it would be to
shop with a sturdy rack like that one?

So that is a little glimpse into the beautiful country of Holland 
where we spent the last 13 days. Have a great start to your week. TTFN, Michele


  1. ME SO JEALOUS!!!!!!

    Looks wonderful and fun! Oh, the JOY!

  2. Always love reading about your trips to The Netherlands. The last time I was there, we were with a group and unable to do any hiking or walking. We've NEVER had the opportunity to bike and oh, how I'd love to do so. Maybe one of these days. I know how busy you are (remember, I live with an academic - LOL!), but I do miss your more frequent posting.

  3. Looks very peaceful there. Can you find a good hot dog or hamburger anywhere?