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 European Vacation - 6/22/04 - 7/9/04

Italy | Switzerland | Germany | The Netherlands | Belgium | France

Volendam (The Netherlands) and Brugge (Belgium) - Tuesday 7/6/04:

Again we had another early wake-up, but it was a rather nice morning. Breakfast was pretty good this morning, although they didn't have much fruit. I ended up with a toasted raisen roll and a doughnut. Another interesting thing is that they had little boxes of chocolate shavings to put on your bread. I of course took a few boxes for a snack on the bus a little later.

After leaving Amsterdam we headed out to see a little more of Holland. First we stopped at a working windmill that was used to bring water up from the farmland canals, and up to a higher elevation. The owner let us climb to the top to see how everything worked. It was very interesting. This windmill was made (a few hundred years ago) to be able to turn the blades so they are facing the wind. The ENTIRE top of this windmill would turn to face the wind. I believe he said it was several tons and took him about a half hour to manually turn it 180 degrees.

After this we head to a wooden shoe factory. The had machines that carved the outside and the inside of the shoe, and they would cut some of it by hand still. After that they would sand it very well inside and out for comfort. Surprisingly many people still wear these. They are protective, cool and water resistant so they are still worn by many fishermen and farmers.

After leaving the shoe factory we crossed a small bridge and went to a little cheese factory where we got to see how they made cheese, as well as sample many kinds of cheeses. I ended up buying a hand painted cheese cutting board and slicers. As we left the factory we noticed a cute miniature pony which we pet until we had to get back onto the bus.

From here we head straight to Volendam where we went to "De Koe" (The Cow) for lunch. I'm not sure why we went here because we went here for lunch last time, and they are lunch Nazi's. The second you sit down they quickly tell you what you can order and expect you to choose right then. I said I would have the fish since it is their specialty (which I didn't realize I had eaten for the three meals prior) - though it was actually very good - but we were finished in a couple minutes and pushed out the door.

We took a nice walk around the houses and found a cute little tattoo shop… the neatest/cleanest one I had every seen! From here we head back to the touristy area and had some dutch pancake crepes. These were SO good! They were served piping hot with butter and powdered sugar. They were small and round and very gooey in the center (just how I like them!). As we were walking back there was a car rally where about 15 classic cars drove through the town and parked near our coach.

From Voldendam we head out and went to Brugge - one of my favorite places! When we got in we got settled in our room and went down for a beer and to play some cards. I found out that the wheat beers (hefeweisens) here were called "white beers" and were very good! For dinner we had cheese croquets (which happened to be fried Gueyer cheese) and a beef stew and hot rolls. VERY good dinner! For desert we had some chocolate mousse and celebrated Patti and Al's 4th anniversary (which is actually on the 7th, but since we aren't having dinner as a group tomorrow night we are celebrating tonight)!

After dinner we went for a walking tour of the city. The walk started after 9pm but still didn't get dark until after we got back from the walk at about 10:30. The walk was great and Joe took us around and told us what we should do the next morning. When we got to the main plaza Mom took a family picture with the local paper so we could be in the newspaper when we got home. Brugge is such a cute little town - It is sometimes called "Little Venice" because of the small canals running through the city.

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