Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day #17: Giethoorn

Frans wrote:

22 Nov '09: I think it is understandable that we woke up late the morning back in our chalet. For once in a long time we didn't have to be on time for breakfast, check out off our accommodation or be on the road by a certain time to make the next destination at some reasonable hour that night.

The suitcases were unpacked and a few items and souvenirs saw daylight again after they were packed away as quickly as they were bought. Maxine found the mushroom hat I had bought in Budapest and decided to put on a fashion show with that, a stick we use to lock the sliding door in the chalet and Karen's coat.

Admittedly I shouldn't have bought the hat in the first place because it will not pass custom inspection in Australia as it is made out of a plantlike material but it was such a curiousity where the whole hat is actually made out of some huge mushroom that I just couldn't help myself. Despite that, Max created such a laugh with it on our return to the chalet that that alone was worth the price of the hat!

The weather hadn't been too bad to us during our long trip. Sure there have been showers and wind but considering the time of year and the climate we had our fair share of nice days as well. unfortunately the weather in Holland had decided that it had really become time for real autumn weather and the long term forecast was for rain and wind as far it could see.

I thought it might have been a good idea to go to Giethoorn that day. Giethoorn is known as the Dutch version of Venice only it doesn't look anything like Venice. The best way to describe this place would be lots of houses and farms connected with small streams and pathways and cars are not only prohibited, it would be simply impossible to drive one there.

As we had already done so many times, I programmed our TomTom to find the way to Giethoorn for us but avoiding the motorways. This took us through a lot of old villages on the way which in itself was a tourist attraction and I think my companions enjoyed it as well..

When we arrived in Giethoorn we took a guided boat tour through the village and surrounding lake and fortunately our skipper/guide gave his narration in English as well although his jokes were way off the mark. It is possible to hire your own small punt and drive yourself around the town and the lake but that day it was frequently raining and the wind had a chill factor that was not appreciated by the ladies. Fortunately our tour boat was enclosed and heated.

The tour took about an hour and we returned all safe and well and full of knowledge of this strange village, its habits and its customs. We came straight out off the boat and into the Cafe for lunch where I introduced Karen and Evonne to the Dutch delicacy of pancakes. Evonka screwed her nose up when I ordered a pancake with bacon on which I had placed a generous helping of maple syrup and powdered sugar but once she had a taste of it she was immediately converted to a believer. She was so enchanted by the pancakes that a few days later she made them herself in the chalet for dinner.....

When our bellies were happily filled (again) we strolled into the village 'on foot' this time and visited a shop/museum called the Old Earth. It is a place where they exhibit and sell semi precious stones of all sorts, colour and sizes. A lot of these stones are still in their natural form and you can even buy a Mexican Ball that is cracked open for you at your feet so that you can admire the hidden chrystals inside. I picked a not so commonly shaped 'ball' in that it seemed to be more elongated then round and I asked the young shop assistance to crack it lengthwise instead of across it as it is usually done. We were not dissapointed, I ended up with two halves filled with chrystals in various colours.

We drove back again to the chalet that night following whatever paths our navigation system could find without taking to the motorways and we had our first home cooked meal for a couple of weeks!

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