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April 9, 2002
Nederland: Zuiderzeemuseum (Russell)

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Two 19th-century fisherboys with wooden shoes and homemade rope

April 9th, Gail and Russell's 14th wedding anniversary, was also our last full day in Nederland.  Our sightseeing choices for the day included Madurodam, an amusement park that features Holland in miniature, and Zuiderzeemuseum, an open-air museum that recreates a turn-of-the-century Dutch town.  Our wonderful and knowledgeable host Hans, never shy with an opinion, advised us that we would much prefer the Zuiderzeemuseum.  He proceeded to map out another scenic (and circuitous) route that would take us north to the town of Enkhuisen.

Today's weather was the opposite of yesterday's -- overcast and eventually rainy.  Thanks to Hans and his maps, however, we had another wonderful set of experiences just getting to the museum.  At Akersloot, we saw first-hand how the Dutch have used windmills to reclaim land that used to be underwater -- the farmland on one side of the road was actually lower than the water level of the canal on the other side of the road.  For the bargain price of 1.05, we got to ride across the canal in our own personal car ferry, manned by some poor Dutchman whose job is to stand in the rain and wait for cars to show up.

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The car ferry at Akersloot

We drove through the quaint little towns of De Rijp and Graft, but skipped the Museummolen (windmill museum) for lack of time.  Along the way we saw goats and sheep with their newborn babies, swarms of swallows blackening the sky (we have decided that we saw swallows, not bats, back in Roma), and dozens of swans meandering around in the fields (Russell had never seen a swan out of the water before).  We passed more places with more wonderful names like "Nibbixwould," "Wijzend," and "Wognum."

When we finally arrived in Enkhuizen, our map stopped corresponding to the roads, and we had to stop and ask directions at a gas station.  (Hans had told us to ignore the signs to "Zuiderzeemuseum" and to park at the train station instead -- we had an extraordinarily difficult time finding the train station.)  Ultimately, we were able to take the car ferry from the train station to the ticket office, then further on to Zuiderzeemuseum itself.

Zuiderzee was once a sea in northern Nederland, until an afsluitdijk (enclosure dam) divided it into two inland lakes, the Waddenzee and the IJsselmeer.  The closure of the Zuiderzee also brought an end to the way of life of the fishermen and their families who lived here.  The Zuiderzeemuseum recreates this life, its centuries-old crafts, and its traditional costumes.  We started at the Boerderij uit de bronstijd, a recreation of a 1600 BC Bronze-Age farm, then moved on to the main village.  Here, we had a wonderful time.  Cameron and Joss played with stilts, hoops, jump ropes, and other traditional games.  They donned the clothes that 19th-century fisherboys wore -- including the wooden shoes.  Best of all (at least for them), they each got to make their own rope; for the rest of the day they used their ropes to "lasso" everything in sight.

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The Boerderij uit de bronstijd

We made one more stop at the Binnenmuseum (indoor museum) to see the exhibit on whaling before we walked back to the train station and the car in the late afternoon.  We had fairly heavy rain for the entire drive back (we took the long way again so that we could enjoy the car ferry one last time).  In honor of Gail and Russell's anniversary, we had an increasingly rare dinner out at a Chinese restaurant in Haarlem (Gail and Russell had hosted a Chinese banquet at their wedding reception 14 years ago).

Our stay in Nederland was supposed to be a time of rest, but somehow we ended up doing even more walking and activities than usual.  Fortunately, we have enjoyed ourselves immensely these last few days, and we feel re-energized -- at least for the time being -- for the next legs of our trip ahead.

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14 years and still going strong (photo taken by Joss)


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