Thursday, April 14th

One night in Edam was enough for us so we packed up and walked down to breakfast…..where the buffet was served tableside.  Our server brought a three-tier rack filled with goodies to our table…..all the standards – lunchmeat & cheese, yogurt & fruit, cereals, breads & pastries.  After breakfast, we checked out…..Craig went back upstairs to get our suitcases while I waited downstairs (one trip a day down these Dutch stairs is plenty).

We rolled the suitcases over to the car and headed out to the Zuiderzee museum in nearby Enkhuisen.  This open-air museum replicates the fishing villages and towns of the Zuiderzee before the sea was barricaded and the area became a lake.

We arrived shortly after 10:00 and waited for the next ferry to take us over.  The fifteen minute boat ride in the brisk morning air was a wonderful start to the visit.

We docked and walked into the 1905 fishing village of Urk……was life here as bleak as these narrow streets packed tight with small, dark homes?

Onward to the lush, green pastures of the polder lands……watched over by the windmills so vital to their existence…..”God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland.”

Nearby was a smokehouse where volunteers in period clothing were smoking fish and eels…..we passed on the eel, but the fish, still warm from the smoker, was delicious.

Pharmacy.....say "Ah"

Over a bridge and we were strolling though the 1920’s……life now centers around an urban area…..shops and homes lined the streets next to the canals……

including the Van der Kamp house…. that was also home to the local laundry (hmmm…..I wonder if that’s why Craig doesn’t mind washing our clothes).

Another bridge led to a harbor with beautifully restored wooden boats…..even more wooden boats were on display in an indoor museum down the street.

We were so captivated by this museum that we stayed well past our two-hour norm.  But when the skies turned dark, we knew it was time to leave.  A ferry was waiting  and we got back to the car just as a few wet drops started to fall.

Tomorrow morning, there’s a cheese market in Alkmaar…..well, ok, its a re-creation of a cheese market…..but it sounded like fun, so that became our next destination.  By the time we reached Alkmaar, the rains had stopped and the sun was once again shining.  With our trusty tour books in hand, we drove through town looking for a hotel.  We circled through town a few times but we finally found the hotel we were looking for near the historic center of town.

Unfortunately, they were fully booked.  The young woman at the Reception desk recommended the Golden Tulip hotel and said it was just down the street by the stadium…..so off we headed.  We were preoccupied watching the traffic, deciphering the road signs and looking for the hotel when the traffic slowed.  We wondered if there had been an accident but, as we crept forward, we looked up to see a police officer standing in front of the car….motioning us to pull over.  I rolled down my window and was reaching for my Dutch-English dictionary when the white gloved hand of our officer came through the window holding some sort of apparatus that was being passed to Craig.  Craig’s first sobriety test!  Craig took the machine and breathed deeply into it….once, twice, three times…..finally our officer was satisfied.  He took the breathalyzer back, read the results, smiled and waved us on.  He was probably just as happy as we were that he wouldn’t have to deal with the paperwork that a failed test would have necessitated.

We drove on…..not finding either the stadium or the hotel so we circled back to the center of town and called the other hotels listed in our tour books….all booked.

Craig had been in increasing pain all day…..he was hurting from his waist to his knee.  He off-loaded his money belt and wallet thinking that would help.  It didn’t.  He adjusted and readjusted the car seat hoping to find a comfortable position.  He didn’t.  We needed to find a hotel room soon so he could rest and, hopefully, recover.  And, since he didn’t think he’d be able to carry the suitcases up another flight of stairs, it had to have an elevator.  The Golden Tulip was our only hope.

We found our way back to the first hotel and headed down the road hoping to find the stadium.  As we approached the checkpoint, the police waved us around…..did they recognize us or was Craig driving better?

Careful not to drive past town this time, we turned at a big intersection and, sure enough, about a half-mile down the road, we spied the stadium (wouldn’t you think there’d be signs for it?).  Across the street was the welcoming neon of the Golden Tulip….a modern hotel with an elevator!

We went in to see if rooms were available…..nope, this hotel was fully booked, too.  But the lovely young woman at Reception called around until she found a room for us.  Every hotel in Alkmaar was booked, but the VanderValk Hotel in nearby Akersloot had a room and would hold it for us.  We returned to the car, got on the freeway and drove to the first freeway exit.  Right next to the freeway was a large hotel….the Akersloot Hotel.  We were tempted to pull in to see if they had a room available, but the VanderValk hotel was waiting for us so we drove into town….and through town….and way past town….without finding it.  We turned around and headed back into town….driving slowly and looking into each side street…..no VanderValk Hotel.  We stopped and asked a group of young men if they knew where it was.  They directed us back toward the freeway.  We slowly drove through the town until we neared the freeway…..still no VanderValk Hotel.  We gave up…..we had tried our best but the VanderValk was incognito today.  We turned into the Akersloot Hotel’s parking lot hoping they’d have a room for us.

As we approached the Reception desk, I noticed that all the information in the lobby said “VanderValk.”  The desk clerk confirmed that the Hotel Akersloot is also the VanderValk Hotel….and that our room was waiting for us.  Oh well, at least we had a lovely drive.

The hotel had a very strange lay-out.  We had to roll the suitcases down a hall to an elevator, take the elevator up one floor, roll the suitcases down a long hallway to another elevator, take that one up two floors, roll the suitcases around a corner and down another long hallway to our room.  Strange…..but since Craig’s as gimpy as I am right now, “no stairs” is a good thing.

We needed an attitude adjustment so we went down to their very sophisticated bar and had a Jenever.  Soon, the tensions of the day were gone…..I wonder if we can buy this stuff in France?

With mind and mood mellowed, we ambled over to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner.  Our charming young waitress asked about our trip.  We told her we were touring Holland in a car.  She laughed and said, “That won’t take long…..the country’s two hours across and 2 1/2 hours long.”

Dinner was good but nothing special.  I had Chicken Cordon Bleu with Alkmaar cheese sauce…..Craig tried their Rib-Eye steak with corn on the cob.

It had been a long, tiring day…..so we walked across the lobby, down the hall, to the elevator, up a floor, down a hall, up two floors, around a corner and down another hall to bed.

Goodnight, my love
Pleasant dreams and sleep tight, my love
May tomorrow be sunny and bright
And bring you closer to me……Paul Anka 
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About Languedoc Lady

I'm a newly retired woman from California getting ready to spend a year (or more) with my husband living the good life in Languedoc in the southwest of France.
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