Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Alkmaar Trip and Vicinity

So, after all those weathervanes and gable stones (last post), here's the first day of our overnighter a couple weekends ago when we Seized the Weather!

Just to refresh the geography, we drove from South Holland, where we live,
to North Holland, the province of Amsterdam, as you see.
Alkmaar is about 62 miles north of Gorinchem (our city).

But first, about 4 miles SW of Alkmaar, Astrid wanted to stop in Heiloo.
This is the chapel on the property where her dad died on 8 March 1981, 34 years ago.
Astrid had never been back since, so this was a bit like staring the tiger in the eye.
His last 10 years were spent here, sick and apart from his family, dying at age 61.
She faced the tiger and unleashed her pent-up tears.
And I got to see the place I had heard about for years.

From Heiloo we drove the short distance to Alkmaar, known for its cheese market.
(The tourist attraction itself is only on Fridays, in season, from 10-12:30, 
something I had seen years ago in my past life.)
Impressions, you know.

As we walked into city center, the icons and sights became familiar.

But as often happens, we were ready first for koffie break!
Remember, the weather was glorious, so we actually sat outside in the sun (50-60 F).
As I've said on Facebook, the apple pie with whipped cream is NOT dessert to the Dutch.

THEN we went to the very spot of the world-famous cheese market.
Can't you just imagine the hustle and bustle of those days of yore, right on the canal.
The building is the cheese-weighing house, with the cheese museum on the 2 upper floors.

Because it was Sunday, out of season, nothing was open.
But there was plenty to see as we stood on the bridge opposite the weigh house.
We weren't the only ones taking advantage of the good weather.

Not far from city center is the Molen van Piet from 1769,
one of the most picturesque Dutch windmills you'll ever see because of it's location on the canal.

 But a bit farther out from city center were other windmills, just as colorful....

...and turning (some of them).
I was especially entranced by the juxtaposition of the wind turbines in the background,
turning the opposite direction (Dutch windmills turn counter-clockwise).

Back in the car, we headed north from Alkmaar to Schagen
on our way to our hotel in Callantsoog, on the North Sea.
You know me, snapping pics all along the way, sometimes without a clue what I'm seeing,
like that lookout tower (?) in the middle of nowhere.

Then Astrid gave me my education about the stolp farmhouses we started seeing everywhere.
Stolp = cover/cap (like the cover over a butter dish).
As a farmhouse, the stolp refers to the roof and its square-based pyramid cover.

It so happens there is a bridge in Sint Maartensbrug, 5 miles from Schagen,
that is a skeleton of such a stolp farmhouse.

We had to see it, of course, and get inside it's inner structures.
How very clever for someone to think that up!

Sometimes you have to see to believe!

Once we made it to Schagen, it was time to eat our mid-day meal,
directly across from the Grote Kerk on the market square.

By now you know that we buy 2 different lunch items and split them,
accompanied by a really good beer...which happened to be from Texel, this time,
the island just north of there where Astrid spent many a year visiting.
(You may remember that we spent 3 days there in October, 2011.)

And because we like to do it, we treated ourselves to a scoop of ice cream afterwards,
to last until we reached our hotel in Callantsoog for the night, 7 miles to the coast from Schagen.

How's that for a spur-of-the-moment trip to capitalize on good weather!
Coming up is the next day, driving back home along the North Sea coast.


  1. I LOVE seeing your trip photos. Astrid's face in the sun says it all. So, if apple pie is not dessert for the Dutch, is it breakfast? Lunch? I could get into that big time!

    1. Astrid's face DOES say it all, Susie, indeed. The Dutch are sun worshipers, maybe even more so than Americans. It has surprised me, to be honest. But then, the weather here almost never gets above 80F at its warmest, so the sun is always very welcome. :)

      The apple pie (appeltaart) is for koffie break, mid-morning...pure and simple.

  2. Such wonderful videos within all that beautiful photography! Gives such a sense of place! Love!

    1. Thank you, Robin. Sometimes a wee video gives more of a "reality" to the subject, so I'm trying to get more and more snatches everywhere I go.

  3. This road trip looks very therapeutic. The sunsoaking image of Astrid is wonderful. And the cats, the cats!!!! Hope your March is going well.

    1. It was a spur-of-the-moment trip, Maria, which you know all about. It was wonderful in every way. And yes, I put the cats in for all you cat lovers. :)

  4. Lots of movement here, it's spring! The variety of structures is really amazing, isn't it?

    1. Yes, Ruth. It's spring! How is that possible, with so many still having snow on the ground. Well, it happens, as we know.

      Variety is what it's all about here in this country. I love it!

  5. What wonderful blue skies you had! and once again, a lovely series of photographs, it is good sharing your visits.

    1. Thank you, Anne. You go out on your bike to find all these fun places, which is another wonderful way of doing it.

  6. All beer and ice cream! Yeah, I could live on that. It’s probably what brought on my heart attack. I especially liked the round chapel where you began. When was that built?

    1. The good thing, Ted, is that we eat and drink all of these things in moderation. Our normal diet is as healthy as it can possibly be. That's the good news. :)

      The chapel: "The O.L. Vrouwe van Lourdeskapel is the chapel of the Willibrordusstichting, a psychiatric institution. The chapel was built in Traditionalist style in 1938-1940 and was designed by H.J.W. Thunnissen and J.H. Hendricks.

  7. A trip to Heiloo was never high on my bucket list, however this was a good moment to show you on our way 'up north'.
    It is amazing how some things never go out of the memory. The windmill from Piet.... still there. The Koeienhemel (cow's heaven) still there. Great to be in this part of the Netherlands, a part from my youth.
    Thank you for being my support and partner in crime :) IHVJ.
    Absolute fabulous pictures and vimeos.

    1. I was so proud of you, MLMA, facing that tiger in Heiloo. Thank you for being willing to do that for me. It was such a good trip in every way! I'm so happy to be in this Journey with you, as you know.

  8. I think the whole of Holland is made up for taking pictures! The landscape is always picturesque with unique architecture. I like all your collages – always enjoy looking at the food (with envy…) and I like the cats, too. Your tiny videos were nice as well. Soon you should see flowers/tulips everywhere?

    1. Actually, Vagabonde, as far as I'm concerned, the whole country is a photo op just waiting to happen. I can't think of a better way to put it. And that's why it will take the rest of my life...and probably another see as much as I want. I can't get enough of it! The tulips will start popping up within a couple weeks. Trust me...we'll be ready for them!

  9. Oh I love dark beer....mmmm! Of course the adventures and vistas are spectacular too.

    1. We have so many chances to drink good, dark beer, Donna. We take advantage of the opportunity every chance we get. One of the highlights of our day...along with everything else. :)