Netherlands – Day Ten – Colonial Memdemblik and Cool Trains

Netherlands – Day Ten – Colonial Memdemblik and Cool Trains

kay, so, observations.

Our journey has exacted a toll. There are at least four women on the cruise who now sport splints on their arms. No men. We all think that irregular cobblestones (and a lack of situational awareness) have contributed to this. I did hear bitching that someone lost their footing dodging a bike. To that: (A) Bikes run largely in straight lines and (B) at constant speeds and so if an object moving along a set path and velocity “surprised you”, you (C ) weren’t looking. That’s on you.

No billboards here, none at all. On I-75, coming into Florida, the roads are plastered with them, for everything from tittie bars to places where you (and your kids) can shoot machine guns. None of that here – everything is clean and orderly.

Yes, Mr. and Mrs. American talk too loud. And mostly about themselves and their personal negative experiences. I know of one Yankee gentleman on the cruise that is evidently coming back on another cruise here, possibly the same one, in six weeks. So whenever a guide or host says, “The next time you come back…” (in polite farewell), I hear him pipe up with “Wall, darlin’, I’ll be back in six weeks…”, sounding like Slim Pickens. Look it up.

The Dutch don’t fuck around with their windmills (or, now, wind turbines). It’s nothing to see forty or more of these things all revolving away. One night on top-deck, in the dark, JB pointed out that over our stern you could see, all along the horizon, fifty-plus warning lights (on top of the masts) all blinking in unison.

Personal observation – I always fall in love with one of the maids during the trip. Not that I do anything about it (even if I was single, I wouldn’t). But someone catches my eye and I imagine her seeking me out, breathing “Com back to Romania/Bulgaria/Transylvania wit me, darlink”. And with a sigh, I record this admission and look out at passing turbines.

No matter where we sit in the dining hall, we seem to get served last. This makes my mom bonkers – she loves conspiracies and gets off on this.

My own conspiracy involves those who sit with us. We’ve sat with others and it never seems to be repeated. What scares them off is anyone’s guess – my sister’s rapid-fire travel competencies, my mom’s local-news sea-wall diatribe, my dominating storytelling or my wife’s spooky silence. I can think of all the people we’ve sat with who, on sighting us, gingerly wave and dive into other groups. The only long-term masochist is Mary, a nice lady from Sarasota who is fun to talk to and, possibly, brings out our best. Maybe? One wonders what she thinks.

The A/C. Still broken.

The cats at home, finally coming out to greet Phil and trusting him. They seem to have recovered from the alarm going on that one night.

Neil Gaiman: I’ve just finished a collection of his short stories and am now reading American Gods. This is likely coloring my observations on Americans.

I do love the aft lounge. In the evenings, I write about my adventures. In the mornings, I enjoy a cup of coffee and some quiet time. I’ll miss this.

And just now, the very cute maid came through and wished me a good morning with a sunny smile, her hands filled with cleaning supplies. Sigh.

Let’s get on with the trip, shall we?

So we were sailing across the Zuiderzee, which is not much more than a gigantic man-made lake that the Dutch made, pumping out seawater and gaining fresh (well, brackish) water (and also control over their floods and tides). And here in the town of Memdemblik, we found the Zuiderzee Open Air Museum. Just like Colonial Williamsburg, the Dutch captured as much of their heritage as they could before everything went underwater. In this, they have literally transported the villages (brick by brick, and sometimes as a whole) to this new location. And hence you can stroll the olde towne and see what it’s like. We got in just before opening and came across a disturbing site – two of their park “actors” had fished three cats out of a well. No bodies were visible, fortunately, but it makes me wonder how three cats would end up like that. Was someone getting rid of kittens? Or had they fallen in one at a time and not been noticed? Just seems like there was more story there, and I’m not sure I want to know what the story is. As Death says in one of Terry Pratchett’s books when he pulls the souls of dead kittens drowned in a bag and releases them from this world, “YOU SEE THE WORST OF PEOPLE IN THIS JOB”.

I only hope it was an accident.

This little fellow followed us into the treat shop, stood while we ordered, then followed us back to the table. Where he pecked my leg and quacked for food. Next thing I know, he’ll squeegee my windshield.

But otherwise, the buildings were quaint and fun to prowl around in, the attendants nice and bilingual, and the day cool yet clear. JB and I did the tour, had lunch on the boat, then got ice cream at a little quay-side shop. The ducks there were amusing – panhandling for handouts, they would actually stand between your legs and beg. While I was eating my Sunday, one of them was nudging my leg with his bill. Not since my cats have animals been so vocal to me about their feeding expectations. And no, I didn’t give them anything. They wandered off to find other “marks”.

Our final stop this day was a quick run up the coast to the small town of Medemblik. It was a tiny place with a single shopping street that we strolled as the sun set, the normal shops closed and the restaurants opened. I was looking for some sort of aspirins (I’d had a sneezing fit earlier and wasn’t sure if I was coming down with anything). Anyway, we checked a grocery store – no – but there was a pharmacy across the street. Grabbed some up but while in line, one of our elderly co-passengers (they were pretty much ALL elderly, older than me in almost every case, and riddled with canes, boots, and the scent of the grave). Anyway, one old guy was asking the young cashier about one aspirin product and she couldn’t/wouldn’t answer him (what if he died? The American Air Force might bomb them). I called back to my sister (retired doctor) and she went up and asked what he was looking for. He didn’t realize that it had aspirin in it (he was apparently on blood thinners) so it was good my sister could assist. He got what he needed, the line moved, and everything was solved. She was Batman. I was, well, Robin.

After checking out the street, I took a little time to scope out the railroad station/museum (closed, dammit). While nosing around the building, I found a box car (complete with bumpers) on the station track. Also, there was a double slip switch, bumper tracks and a water column there (what the fug am I talking about? Well, my model railroad guys will get a boner out of it). Looks like they run “tulip trains” under steam during the season (I noticed that there was some activity that had shinned the otherwise rusty rails). Sorry I missed that. I’d have liked to see what they had on display.

If you were into railroads, you’d find this really, really cool.

There was also an indication that a Lancaster bomber crashed somewhere near here – I’ll have to look that up when I get home. And there was a railroad cat who followed the tourists and allowed himself to be petted.

That’s it for this day. Tomorrow we look at tulips and then it is the great trip home.


>>>NEXT DAY<<<