April 12 we woke up to a foggy Dutch morning. The trailer/cabin that we stayed in (pictured below) is owned by my Aunt, it’s located in a national forest campground which is pretty cool. Because it is a bit out of the way it would take us 45 minutes to bike to my Aunt’s house, or an hour on the local bus to get to Utrecht’s Central Train Station. We got really good at taking public transportation all over the place!
I just loved the way fog makes everything look mysterious and exotic!
Any guesses what the wooden gutter thing is for?? Bikes of course!! These are located at the train station so you can push your bike up to the train platform and take your bikes with you. Most people leave their bikes at the station bike parking lots, but there are a few on each train.
We decided to head to Haarlem, a smaller town that holds the Corrie Ten Boom Museum.
As we walked to the museum I saw these crazy cheeses shaped like wooden clogs! Really. So weird.
The museum is located in the original house that Corrie lived in. A very plain, simple building with a big story. In WWII Corrie and her family hid Jews in their house, they build a special “Hiding Place” behind a fake wall where the Jews could hide in case of a house search. To make a long story short they were reported to the SS and the family went to a concentration camp, but the Germans never found the Jews hiding in the special space. After the war Corrie wrote a book, but because so many Europeans had their own war stories she took her book to America, where it became very popular. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it!! You can find it here… The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.
The third photo below is of an advertisement that Corrie and her sister would put in the shop window to let other resistance workers know if the house was safe or not.
The Jews would practice running to the hiding place, taking any cups or evidence with them. Corrie and her family installed a buzzer that they would randomly ring and see how fast everyone could run up the steep steps and out of sight.
They built a false wall in one of the bedrooms using old bricks (new bricks would give it away) and made the entrance in the bottom of the closet:
The room held 8 people for 2 days after the SS came through! I really can’t imagine.
After our tour of the Museum we walked back to the train station and noticed one of the notorious Dutch coffee shops. For those who don’t know a “coffee shop” is where they sell marijuana – legally. It’s SOOOOO weird to walk down the street and see these places, and smell that sweet odor as you pass by. Actually I didn’t even notice it until my cousin pointed it out in Rotterdam, so many people smoke (tobacco) in the Netherlands that it sort of blended in. My dad thought the sign below should say “come and joint us” – ok sorry, really bad pun.
If you want coffee you need to stop at one of the many cafes and restaurants all over the city. It’s interesting that the Netherlands has such small streets, yet almost every restaurant has outdoor seating. Especially in the city square! It’s so lovely!
Back at the train station we hopped onto a quick 10 minute train to Zaandvort – a little tourist town right on the North Sea.
I really liked this mural at the Zandvoort station!
The North Sea is very cold, but being by the ocean is always a treat for this land locked family from Fargo, lol!
Some of the Seashells were blue and white striped, they reminded me of Dutch Delft Blue ceramics.
Since the train had to go back through Haarlem we got out and had supper there. The blue skies were so pretty so after supper we walked down a few streets and canals just for the fun of it. I love that kind of vacation, not too planned, just enjoying the experience.
I really loved the windmill and reflections in the river. So postcard perfect!
An abstract of the windmill reflected in the wake of a passing boat:
It was getting pretty late so we rode the train for an hour, the bus for and hour and walked back to our cabin in the woods. By that time it was completely dark and we had forgotten a flashlight so it was quite an adventure the last mile or so, lol! My brother had to get out our video camera and use the screen as a faint flashlight just to keep us from tripping! Good times for sure.