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Cheese and clogs

Well, little random discoveries from exploration always make me feel better. Yesterday I'd walked down to the botanic gardens and zoo, but it was too late to be worth paying. €18 for the zoo, what's with expensive European zoos? Trammed around some more, had ok Indonesian food -- right, started the day with a burger. Waitress didn't know what kind of cheese they used, and said no tap water, but brought some anyway when I didn't order anything else.

Indonesian was in Muntplein shopping area, which seemed to close early, and where's a Starbucks when you want one? I just wanted a cafe, coffee and bathroom and warm seating with no expectations. I finally resorted to McDonalds which turned out to be charging 50 cents for the toilet. Bookstores didn't seem to have toilets either, though I walked around rather than ask.

Anyway. Today's really windy but it's not so bad bundled up and with the sun out. I decided to walk the area, such as it is. Further down the lane is a couple more houses, then farms and canals, the end. The other way seems private-industrial. Up the main road toward Edam is a few more houses, looking less ramshackle than my lane, a hotel, and a cheese and clog factory.

No, really. They sell cheeses, mostly varieties of Edam and Gouda -- I left with stinging nettle Gouda -- and wooden shoes. I got a personal tour of the works. Not much to the cheese, but the clogs were interesting. Start with wet willlow wood, and shape; got shown a bit of hand technique, then the machines that work from a model. Tried some on too, though it didn't really appeal. Painted varieties included ones pretending to be real shoes with X for laces, Friesian shoes painted with flowers and such, and specially carved wedding shoes for hitting your spouse with.

Klompen, as the Dutch call them, are still worn by fishermen and farmers and such. Waterproof from below and pretty solid armor. And, she didn't say, perhaps easier to wash shit and mud off.

Hse gave me a tourist map of Volendam and Edam, and I kept walking to Volendam. Ouch, a half-hour that got wearing. And I noted at some point that the bike lane along the main road had disappeared: I guess my side road was the way to go after all. Lots of cows and sheep and some swans; I realized that the really ubiquitous canals probably serve in lieu of fences for separating livestock: fencing I saw was mostly just a gate blocking off a small land bridge. I wonder if the canals are fresh or saltwater.

Finally made it, found my way to the shore and a wooden platform that I realized was bobbing with the waves, and thence to town center and harbour tourist trap.

Volendam has US style street signs! So happy. Blue not green, but still.

Had some minestrone and lasagna at a place a bit off the boardwalk. Decent. Bubbling hot lasagna. No tap water, RAGE. How can you be a socialist utopia if people can't get a free drink of clean water? No water fountains, remember! (Well, not that I've seen enough public place in Holland to judge that.)

Bus back to my howling wasteland, 6 minutes. Apparently I couldn't pronounce "De Zedde" such that my driver could understand it, I had to point at a list.


Damien Sullivan

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July 2019


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