Day Fourteen: North Holland and Fryslân

Did not sleep until after 4am as I had severe abdominal pain and nausea. I ended up pacing the lounge room for a while.

We got up early to collect Bram from the Amsterdam train station before we went on our adventure. Our first stop was along the Afsluitdijk, the dam that has protected the Netherlands from the open ocean since 1933. It runs for 32km and was built by hand at the time - it took 13 years to construct and it’s leading engineer, Cornelia Lely, died in 1929 before it’s completion.

We continued our journey onto the small Friesland town of Sneek (pronounced Snake) which is known for its waterways and water sports dating back to 1760. We had a soft drink at ‘De Walrus’ and got back into the car.

Giethoorn is a town reknowned for not having any streets - only canals and walking paths and is also known as the ‘Dutch version of Venice’ to some locals. We walked along the many canals and I especially admired the thatched roof houses with their immaculate gardens. As a novelty, you could hire a small electric powered boat but the Asian tourists that were in the majority of the boats, could not drive well and kept bumping other boats so I preferred to stay on dry land. We passed many souvenir stores but one of them was very unique and more traditional as it sold handmade pottery with the typical Dutch blue and white plates and cups but I ended up buying two little ceramic birds that were handmade and painted. As I later found out about the town of Giethoorn, farmers would move their cows between paddocks with the use of row boats and hay bales. We had lunch at a local restaurant and Jip and I both had the Dutch equivalent of a ploughman lunch. We had a small cup of soup (potato and broccoli) with fresh bread made onsite, goats cheese, smoked salmon, steak tartare and salad. It was delicious and very filling!

Enkhuizen was our next town to pass through. It is so beautiful with its townhouses stuck to each other and each house had a dark green door with the family’s name at the top. The town is quite noteworthy in history as it was the strategic harbour for the Dutch Merchant fleet in the 17th century. We walked through many of the streets before coming out to the main canal where there is a drawbridge so boats can pass through. We were just in time to see a small yacht enter the harbour before waiting for the bridge to return back down and we could walk across. On the other side of the canal, there is the Drommedaris. It is a tower dating back to 1594 and was used as a defence mechanism for the city. It has since been used as a prison, restaurant and museum.

Back in Amsterdam, we got Layla and went to the Delirium beer cafe but unfortunately meals were closed due to a private function. We then walked the smaller Delirium cafe at the Central train station which had more beers available but their food menu was limited. Jip had a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with a spicy capsicum soup (ended up being too spicy and was left) and I had the nachos with jalapeños and sour cream. It was delicious. On the 20 minute walk back home, there were 2 massive cruise ships at the terminal and Jip’s dad told us that they are only able to turn around outside their apartment complex further within the harbour before leaving out to sea. They dwarfed the surrounding buildings!