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Open Air Museum

September 08, 2006

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We had a fantastic day today at an open air museum called Zaanse Schans Folk Museum that is about fifteen minutes north of Amsterdam in Koogzaandijk. We got to do a lot of the touristy things that we have been wanting to do before leaving Holland including eating a traditional  Dutch pancake meal ( they call it pancookin), see and go inside windmills,see a cheese farm and factory, find out how wooden shoes are made and watch that process and more. In fact, there was so much wonderful information & sights that I will break it into a few blog entries as some parts need their own page. I want to leave some cool pictures for the curious kids following us.

Today was a more typical fall day in northern Europe and the overcast morning sky did not clear up  like it usually does in California as the day goes on. We missed the sun,but it still was a very pleasant day and warm. We did our usual breakfast, get ready and home school routine and managed to get out earlier
than yesterday.

We had a new challenge today, learn how to take the train. The museum might only be 15 minutes north
of Amsterdam, but we were 20 minutes south of Amsterdam. Plus we had about a 10-15 minute walk to
the metro from our camper and knew there was a 10-15 minute walk once one got off the train until one arrived at the museum and that is not counting the wait for the train and metro or buying the train ticket
in fairly long lines. We are certainly getting in good shape in Europe and learning lots about mass transit!
Its more difficult in another language as well because of course we do not know how to pronounce the words so it is fairly easy to miss a stop if one is not careful. We lucked out and made no mistakes today
even tho things were more crowded than usual due to a marathon.

You would think we would know the Central Station by heart by now as we have spent quite a bit of time going through there and we certainly do know it much better than when we arrived. But it is a huge place and still quite intimidating. Finding the train from the metro was a whole new process in a whole new section. Yet it is all part of the adventure and part of the puzzle that makes traveling exciting. Once again, it really helps that so many people speak English.

Mozart of course, loves it all and I am grateful she is getting this experience. It is much more distracting having a young child with you as they bounce around, chatter away in a made up language, or ask for yet another treat that they see, as you try to make your way thru a sea of people and stay focused, but so much more enriching and joyful too. It probably will sound silly to Europeans,or maybe even New Yorkers, but I am glad that she is getting first hand experience on what a train, tram, bus and metro is at this age. I have had extremely rare exposure to such and it’s funny how scenes from movies or books suddenly become much more clear when you have this experience in your personal data bank. Trains in Europe are just something one has to experience to really understand what they are like.

I am slower, so I am usually lagging behind Mozart and DaVinci. I do get such a kick out of watching them ahead of me. I thought today that I should do an album of just that .... my two best beloveds exploring Europe. Just seeing the back of them walking ahead of me with spirit and eager eyes makes me smile. Dad and daughter often hand in hand, exploring the world (sometimes she is in my hands too of course as she is a mama’s girl but I so enjoy their bond and how happy they make each other). She usually carries her own little backpack of diary, snacks, small toy and book, but when she falls asleep on the metro like she has the last two nights, I end up carrying it because DaVinci puts her on his shoulders above his own large backpack. We have always been a close family, but I already see this journey making us an even closer one and that too makes me smile with pride and satisfaction. It is soooo good to have this time together and I am sooo grateful.

As we approached the open air museum, there is a wonderful smell in the air because it is right by a cocoa factory. Just past that was a windmill that had the date 1656 on it and of course it was huge close up. It was exciting to be in a place that had so many windmills and it was lovely as we approached this mystery of the Netherlands.

There were typical shops and homes from the late 17th and early 18th century (often referred to as the golden age in Holland) and all are original buildings moved here from across the country. It is located on the river Zaan and the people who had grown rich through trade and fishing,built their first windmills here around 1600. There were once 1000 windmills in the Zaan area,but by 1850 the work of the windmills was taken over by steam engines and today only 13 windmills have survived here. Thru the many demonstrations and sights we got a real feel for life at that time in Holland. This type of museum is always a great way for kids to learn about history and it is perfect for the period of history we are studying now.

Upon arrival we met a man trained in making wonderful intricate things out of pewter which he called the poor man’s silver. I have it on video, but somehow got confused on how to switch back to camera mode, probably because I was caught up in his demonstration. So no still shots. (I can’t wait to get my camera back!). He took it from a 375 degree liquid, put it into a mold and it came out a spoon. Mozart fell in love with a few of the exquisite collector thimbles, but their prices were above our budget for such things, so we got her a lovely little tulip charm instead.

Then we went onto the village and found a costume shop that had some really interesting things and information. My stills (made with our video camera) are not great and some are bad, but will give you a little idea. When we saw the lady in bed we thought she was sick ,but were very pleased to learn that she was just nursing her baby. (We are big on attachment parenting, breast feeding and child led weaning so it was great to see this particular scene about children.) We had already discovered the cupboard beds in Marken, but it was humorous to learn that the console type piece of furniture in front of that mannequin was a commode.

The pancakes are more like crepes and were a hit with all of us. I got the ones with cheese, Mozart got plain with cinnamon and sugar, powdered sugar and 2 scoops of whipped cream, dad got apples and whip cream. The syrup is more like black strap molasses in taste and I was the only one who tasted it as I was curious to see how it would vary from our maple.

I have found a new camping hair do for those who are wondering why I have my hair up in braids. I have fine hair so it tangles easy in this humidity, wind and sleeping in a camper. So the braids on top work good on the days that I don’t wash it and keeps it from tangling and out of the way better than any other way.
I wear my hat a lot too and it works with one going off and on a lot.

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