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It was a damp drive from here in The Lake District, across northern England to Kingston upon Hull Ferry Port.
After enjoying a brief stop for tea with my brother along the way, we completed the journey and boarded the ferry
for an overnight sailing to Rotterdam.
We settled to "cruise" south down the east coast of England and out across the North Sea towards Holland.
Along the way we enjoyed an excellent meal and were entertained afterwards by the ship's professional musicians and entertainers,
before retiring to bed in our cabin.
The flat overlooks one of the many Dutch canals and internally it reflects her eclectic taste in all things far-eastern.
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Once unpacked, it was time to be heading off to Loes's elder brother Eddie in Zaandam, on the northern outskirts of Amsterdam.
To get there we drove the motorway, about 25 minutes from Haarlem to central Amsterdam.
Space is a premium here . . . so it you want to build flats and offices then the motorway must just dip below it !
Eddie lives on Het Eiland, an island in the river Zaan connected to the surrounding town by two causeways.
The Zaan Canal connects with the main Noordzeekanaal that runs through the middle of Amsterdam.
We strolled across the causeway and walk into the older town centre, passing this unusual bike along the way.
Bikes feature large in Holland of course and we would see many versions of this iconic transport during our stay.
A lot of the buildings were constructed on reclaimed land but the developers have retained the numerous canals within the town.
These were originally for transporting of goods, but nowadays they also have an aesthetic beauty in their own right.
We walked some of the local roads that would host the "Dam to Dam Sponsored Run" in a few days time,
then returned to Eddie's house for supper, past famous Monet's house close to the waterfront.
Haarlem Station . . . where we caught the sprinter train to the big city.
The central station delivers you straight out into the canal area in the middle of the city.
Architecture here in Holland seems a lot less restricted in style, with no two buildings looking alike.
Here the cheese shop on the ground floor has an entrance door that fills the entire end wall of the building.
Likewise, the flats above have narrow windows filling the narrow wall of a sharply-angled lounge.
In the olden days the merchants would have hoisted up their merchandise from the street using hooks strung from the external beam.
Nowadays these old narrow houses with steep internal steps means that household items often have to be craned to upper floors
as it would be difficult and sometimes impossible to move large items of furniture floor to floor inside the house.
In the old city there are also wide streets and tramways for moving about . . . if you don't own one of those bikes opposite !
The old building with the spires was the Old Central Post Office, now a modern, high class shopping centre.
We met Mary (in green) and Ellen at De Bijenkorf (The Beehive), a dutch department store equivalent to places such as Harrods in London.
We adjourned to their roof garden for a mid-morning coffee and Dutch style apple cake. We had a great chat through the medium of Dutch and English.
However when Loes chatted away, she slipped seamlessly into Dutch and seemed to forget all about her English language !
Still there was sufficient translation and English words flying about to keep me in the conversation.
Dutch is an unusual language, with influences of German, Flemish and English, all spoken at about double speed !
Afterwards we parted company with Ellen who had an afternoon appointment.
So it was Mary, Loes and I who headed over to the canal quay to be tourists for the afternoon.
We boarded a classic sight-seeing boat for a tour of the city centre canals and the seaways.
[ The red brick building in the distance is the Central Station once again.]
We ventured out onto the main Noordzeekanaal (known here as the Het IJ) which would have been regarded as the open sea in the olden days.
Now the Zuider Zee has been controlled by barrages and the shoreline extended and re-claimed, it just appears an over wide canal.
The modernistic building opposite takes on the shape of an ocean going boat is the Nemo Science Museum,
which sits on top of the start of a major road tunnel under the IJ which takes traffic to the northern parts of Amsterdam.
We turned the corner to cruise one of the old semi-circular city canals, passing houseboats and floating houses.
The cost of real estate here is potentially so high that mooring a floating home on the canal is a worthwhile proposition.
That thin house in the second picture is the narrowest house in Amsterdam, being just a metre wide at the front. Let's hope it is wider inside !
The Lock-keeper's House again dates from when the outer canals were tidal . . . the old lock gates are still in place.
The area is now important for tourism and coffee shops.
The sandy nature of the land sometimes leads to subsidence in the old buildings that have lesser quality wooden pile foundations.
Never more so than in this collection of rather crooked canal side houses.
Holland is famous for flowers and we passed the Floating Flower Market on our way back to the main canal.
The low bridges are often lined with parked push bikes as canal-side space is limited.
The height of the bridges is not over-generous either . . . hence the low and wide nature of the canal's tourist boats.
Back now towards the Central Station, passing the Sea Palace floating Chinese Restaurant, serving food since 1984.
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After our canal trip, Mary suggested we crossed the water once again, to visit the Eye Filmmuseum for lunch.
This dramatic building, standing on the "sea front" and hold a similar prominence to the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
The Eye is a Film Museum and Arts Venue with a terrace restaurant overlooking the water.
To reach it we use the ferry boats that ply back and forth across the IJ canal.
A roll-on roll-off ferry . . . for bikes !
The building has striking architecture in brilliant white, with sweeping angles dipping to the waterfront terrace.
We chatted more and browsed the art shop inside for a while,
before saying our goodbyes to Mary and heading back across the water to the Central Station once again.
Our train back to Haarlem this time was an inter city double-decker . . . now that's different.
To be continued . . .
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Technical note: Pictures taken with iPhone 11pro mobile phone camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . a local guide who knows the area like the back of her hand.
Previous walk - 7th Sept 2023 - Derwent Riverside & Castle
A previous time in the area - 14th June 2022 - Holland with Loes
Next walk - 13th September - Utrecht and Almere Haven
Missing your Lake District photos . . . don't panic . . . read on . . .