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Our trip to Holland started with a visit to a re-creation of a traditional cheese and clog factory where we were shown both being made and (of course) given an opportunity to buy some Dutch souvenirs.  Our guide suggested to us before we went in that there would be cheaper places to buy them.

We then went to a working windmill where we were welcomed inside.  The windmill was build in 1650 and has been operational ever since.  In 1988 they had re-thatched the roof at a cost of 80,000.  The previous thatching had been done in 1896!  There were over 10,000 windmills in Holland in 1900, but over the years they were replaced by turbines until in the 1980's, only 1,000 remained.  Then it occurred to someone that a prolonged power outage could see Holland totally flooded.  Since then, they have been restoring old ones and building more.

We stopped in Volendam, an old fishing village built on one of the earliest dykes.  You got an impression of how valuable the land was as you toured the tiny houses and narrow streets.

Then into Amsterdam where we went on a canal cruise to see the city.  The main canals are lined by 16th century buildings which were both home and warehouse to the many businesses.  Here the people lived on the bottom floors and the businesses were above.  You can still see the pulley systems on the gables for hauling thing up the outside of the buildings.  The buildings were taxed on frontage, resulting in most being tall and skinny.  The homes of the VERY wealthy were obvious from their width.

After dinner in an Indo-Chinese restaurant (reflecting the influence on the Dutch East Indies colonization on the local culture) we toured Dam Square, the old centre of town, and then walked through the red-light district where the working girls stood at their windows encouraging customers.  Monday is obviously a slow day as they were all on view.

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Back to Europe 2005