On our website we now and then make some remarks about our home country, often stating that we feel much hapier when we have crossed the border and that we think Holland is quite boring compared to other countries. Well, many people reacted to that and most didn't agree. And we know we exagerated a bit. But we therefore decided to pay some more attention to our own country and look at it as tourists. From now on we will also put our short excursions in Holland on the website and this is the first. Next year we have less time for long holidays so we will do this more often.
Our first stop is at Giethoorn, also called the Venice of the North. We are lucky enough to find a parking place near the centre of the village which is further prohibited for cars. Which is quite understandable when you know that there are only waterways and a path for cyclists and pedestrians. The comparison with Venice is quite correct, although Venice is a bit larger and there is no big piazza or cathedral here.
We have both been here before, when we were very little, and when we see the canals, the distinctive bridges and the nice farmhouses, we realise that the reality is still as in our memory. Time doesn't seem to have passed here in, well, 30 years or more.
Giethoorn is situated in the northwest of Overijssel in an area that used to be peat moor. The peat was digged and dried to make lumps out of it which were used for heating. Because of the peaty soil there had already pools and lakes been formed and to transport the peat canals were dug. They are not very wide and most of the canals are just suitable for oneway traffic.
Very nice are the houses which are often build isolated on a small island, very cute. But we are surprised to see that so many of them are for sale. Within 300 meters we count 7 houses. The lowest price is € 250,000, we find out later on the internet, but most are much more expensive. Why would people leave a pretty village like this, because of the tourists, maybe?
Although Giethoorn is just a small village, we walk around for a couple of hours. There is enough to see here, like the beautiful De Oude Aarde (the Old Earth) where minerals and gems are on display. It is not very big but surely worth a visit. And there are lots of galleries and small shops.
Now and then we see people from the neighboorhoud who still wear traditional costumes, but most people are obviously tourists. The sun comes through the clouds now and we can sit outside for a coffee and a brunch. We are just in time since after a few minutes all the tourists seem to follow us to the restaurant where we are sitting.The best way to explore this village is by boat, with the old-fashioned punts (flat bottomed boats), canoes, whisper boats or by modern canal touring boat. There are many hiking trails and cycling pathways in the area, but you must have luck with the weather. With lots of wind and rain it isn't so pleasant here, so make sure to bring your umbrellas.
After this visit we drive through several small and charming villages to Kampen near the river IJssel and then via Zwolle to Laag Zuthem and Heino, the road that Teije cycled every day in his youth to go to school. This area has changed more than Giethoorn, according to his memory.
And to show Elisabeth that we also have real castles in the Netherlands, we have a look at castle Nijenhuis near Heino; unfortunately, it is closed today for the public. Within is a collection of ancient and modern art. Another time perhaps.From there we drive back to the IJssel and follow the river valley to Deventer. This is also a nice route, but we don't make as many prictures as we normally do when we are abroad. Maybe we have to get used to the idea that Holland is also worth photographing.
From Deventer we drive to the west to see another castle, Cannenburgh in Vaassen. The 16th century castle is, like the one in Heino, surrounded by water and has square towers. It was build by the commander-in-chief of the army of Gelderland, Marten van Rossem. We are a bit late, so this castle is also closed.
It is time to have a break, so we sit outside at a snackbar to have a traditional Dutch meal, french fries with mayonaise and a 'kroket'. In English this would be a croquette, but we have never seen anywhere abroad something that was like our 'kroket'. It is fried and has some traces of meat in it. Well, we enjoy it and also the sun which makes it really warm now at the end of the afternoon. We have beaten the weather forecast again (as so many time before).Then it is time to look for our hotel near Beekbergen. The viaducts over the highway are full of people who are waving enthusiastically to the groups of motorcyclists who return from the TT, but we are already there, turn off the highway and check in. A pity that we don't have a balcony, since the weather is still so nice. But it's allright, we are quite satisfied with all that we have seen today and are rather tired, so we go to bed early.