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The Netherlands (April 9, 2002)

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After Denmark and Legoland, we went to the Netherlands. If I understand Mom and Dad correctly, Holland is in the Netherlands, not the opposite. That confused me.

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. We took a train from Haarlem, the town we were staying in, to Amsterdam, and Joss and I got these little packs of weird cards called "Railrunner Rappy." We figured they were some kind of domino game. Amsterdam was build on the place where they dammed the Amstel River (Amstel dam, Amsterdam…). There are little stanchions that are painted different colors and have three "X"s on them. Joss counted about two hundred seventy-eight or something like that. Another thing there is in Amsterdam are "Gables." They are different roof fronts that are shaped strangely: there are Cornice Gables that have only two corners, Neck Gables that are slanted steeply, Bell Gables that are like the top of a bell, Spout Gables that look like the spout of a kettle, and Stairstep that are sort of like stairs. Amsterdam is a lot like Venice because there are a lot of canals and bridges. A lot of people bike around.

In Amsterdam, we went to an exhibition of Van Gogh and Gauguin art. We got little guide books that tell what each painting is of and what was going on at the time. Van Gogh liked sunflowers (in Australia, we saw a giant painting of one on a giant easel) and wanted to create a "Studio of the South" in Arles, a town we had visited.. He dragged pour Gauguin from England to join him. Unfortunately, it became very cramped in the apartment, and Van Gogh ended up chopping off his own ear (Van Gogh was a bit crazy).

Next, we went to the Anne Frank House, where eight Jewish people hid during World War II. Our tour started at the front of the house, and we worked our way to the back, or the "Secret Annex," reading sentences of Anne's diary on the walls. We went through the bookcase that hid the door to the annex, and up the narrow flight of stairs. We watched several films that were made after they were discovered, through the eyes of the suppliers. Joss and I used some computers to look at different things they did. I had just finished the bit on what an ordinary day was like when Mom and Dad dragged us back out.

We then went to Keukenhof, a flower park. When we entered, we were greeted by the smells of hundreds of different flowers that had just bloomed. We went into a greenhouse that was, well, blue, and stuck our noses into the flowers (the flowers must think that Humans are very rude to mash their faces into them). One called Crème Upstar smelled like butter, and Pinocchio smelled like carrots. We came back out of the bluehouse just in time to hear the bells chime. Mom and Dad gave Joss and me some time to play at the little playground. We went on the giant rope-web and climbed around. I got a blister.

We then went up some rocky hills and looked at some interesting fountains and waterfalls, and then Joss and I finally, finally got to play on a giant chess board (our first try was in New Zealand, then in Tanzania, where the pieces wouldn't stand up, and then again in Salzburg). Then we had fun getting lost in the giant bush-labyrinth. We walked around some more, smelling flowers. Nobody saw Joss's visor fall off, but that's another story. The adults gave us some more time at the playground, and then we went to leave…

…and to turn right back around again when we discovered that Joss did not have his visor on his head. It reminded me of Australia and the wombat* (*see The Saga of Joss's Wombat). We went all the way back through the Bluehouse, around Bell Square, under Net Park, through the Labyrinth (and you could imagine what a nightmare that could be), around the chessboard, and finally found it in a patch of grass. And there that visor had me thinking it was hiding in a mob of yellow flowers.

Zuiderzee Museum was next and last on our list for the Netherlands. It is a restored version of a little fishing village. We went on a ferry over some water to get there. First we went to the Bronze-Age section, where there where little thatched-roofed houses and Joss and I pretended to roast on the spits (nothing like a hot meal on a cold day). We then went to the actual town, and Joss and I got to play with some of the toys kids would have had back then: stick-horses, jump-ropes, and stilts. I was very good with the stilts. Joss and I got to try on some of the fishing clothes that boys would wear back then (hats, handkerchiefs, blue shirts, and black pants) and also the wooden shoes. We also got to make ropes, and Joss started lassoing everything in sight (including me). We met with some goats, looked at a windmill, and then went back to the car.

The Netherlands have been fun, fun, fun and fun.


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