Tuesday, 31 May 2016

New Zealand meets Old Zeeland

We really must get this spelling sorted out. Is it Zealand or Zeeland?  Should we have a referendum on it back home?  Would be wonderfully diversionary for any political party that tries it. Far simpler than a flag referendum. 

Anyway time to back up the bus a little. A quick note from yesterday in Bruges about unthinking insensitivity. We are sitting in a cafe in the main square. It was raining heavily. There is a huge lightening flash followed by a ginormous sharp and almost deafening clap of thunder. " Sound just like a bomb going off " says the English tourist next to us somewhat unthinkingly and with a loud and penetrating voice as only the English can do. . Diana pointed out to him his gaffe. The chappie got the message loud and clear. Bombings are still a hugely sensitive issue in Belgium particularly in public places and they were telling us the tourist trade is now well down as a result and even the economy is shaken. 

Anyway back to stories of the road. We leave Bruges and tootle along lovely country roads thru the Belgium landscape. A "Welcome to Zeeland " sign pops up. That's it, that's all and we are in Holland. 

The trick of the day was to avoid the cities of Amsredam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utricht. A bit hard really as they straddle our path somewhat. So we twisted and turned to avoid them as much as possible  and ended up crossing the Rhine on a ferry. 


"And who pays the ferryman" you might ask?  Diana of course! 


Then we come to the town of Haarlem. Could  we now say the Hubbards are the Haarlem Glodetrotters"

A few wrong turns later and we arrive in Alkmaar. What a delightful Dutch town   A cheese town. 


And old buildings and Church's built in the 1600's 


And plenty of room for the locals 


And lots of canels


We thought we would try the local food of the region. We asked what restaurant food the locals ate and liked the most. "Chinese and Indian " was the reply. So we settled for a Swiss style Fondue restaurant although the cheese, of which they are very proud, was local. You do get struck by the perfect English of just about every Dutch person we meet. 

And thus back to a hotel that probably predated Abel Tasman setting sail for New Zealand.  Possibly even the mattresses do also! And under the grey cover in front of the hotel is our bike "Orlanda" all tucked up for the night. 


And thus ends a very satisfying day. 

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