Today broke cloudy and cool, so we broke with all previous plans, turned off the GPS, bought a map, found some place near the sea to aim for (you just can’t have a bad day next to the sea), and headed out for the towns of Hindeloopen and Harlingen.
All I ever knew of Hindeloopen is that they have colourful traditional dress. Google “klederdracht Hindeloopen” and check the images, and you’ll see what I mean. Of course nowadays they don’t dress that way any more, except for fun.
Hindeloopen is an absolutely adorable fishing village in the province of Friesland, which has its own language. Many street signs are bilingual – Dutch and Frisian. We had no trouble, as everyone also speaks tourist. Except for one disgruntled German man, who confided to me that Dutch was the loveliest language – of all the animal languages!
Hindeloopen is surrounded by a high dijk, which is a good thing as a few quick looks around show that it sits well below sea level. You can walk almost all the way around the town on this dijk, but watch your step as this is also where the sheep are pastured.
Making land do double duty in this way is typical Dutch economy. I too have been accused of thrift, but not like the man in the restaurant who scraped the bottom of his soup bowl with his spoon, and then used his finger to scoop up every last drop. Or the woman at breakfast whom we saw furtively stuff a few slices of cheese and ham into her bra!
What an effect WWII still has on this little country, even though it is now 75 years in the past. Streets are named after resistance fighters and other war heroes, like this one in Vollenhove.
In Hindeloopen we came unexpectedly upon Canadian war graves, and were both surprised by the depth of our emotions at seeing these familiar monuments so far from home.
And in Harlingen, a large and prosperous fishing town, we found this four-inch bronze plaque embedded in the pavement, memorial to a woman who was taken from this place and murdered at Sobibor.