Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29, 2014 – Enkhuizen

The days continue to be full from dawn to dark.  We began today’s activities with a presentation about Tulip Mania.  The speaker tried to tell the story of tulips from their beginning until today in 45 minutes, a difficult feat, but she covered a lot of territory.

Tulips were discovered by accident in Tajikistan and over the years spread to India and the area that today is Iran and Iraq.  They are perennials which do not need to be planted every year and grow from bulbs, not seeds.  The bulbs are not unlike garlic or onions.  Some of the bulbs found their way to the Netherlands, a leading trading nation in 1200s and beyond, but no one knew what to do with them.  Apparently some were thrown in a trash pile [recycling not being important 700 years ago] but drew attention when they later blossomed in the garbage. 

The Dutch learned to cultivate the tulips and over many years developed methods for making them bloom larger and stay healthy for years.  Techniques currently employed include cutting the flowers off the stems the first year they bloom so that the energy the plant might have expended on the bloom can be diverted to making the bulb stronger.  The tulip bulbs produce “children” in the same way that garlic has cloves which can be broken off.  Each tulip bulb produces cloves which become new bulbs and the cycle is repeated.

Tulip Mania developed when people started to offer inordinate amounts of money for bulbs in the hope that someone else would them buy it from them for even more money.  As long as people were willing to speculate on the tulips, the market for them rose; once people decided that prices were too high to invest further, the price, and the market, plummeted.  This kind of economic bubble has affected real estate and dot-com stocks in recent years.

That is all well and good, but not of importance to the rest of today.  After the lecture, we were divided into 3 groups – riders, short walkers and long walkers – for the afternoon activity.  Then we were dismissed to get our stuff for this morning’s tour.

Old sailing boats at Enkhuizen
Once again we were in the Green group, but there was no real difference in the groups today.  We walked from the ship to a ferry for a short ride to the Zuider Zee Museum, ironic since there is no longer a Zuider Zee.  This outdoor venue combines elements of Sturbridge Village and Plymouth Plantation, both in Massachusetts.  At Plymouth Plantation, the original Pilgrim community has been reconstructed to be as identical to the village as possible.  Actors in period clothing go about their daily routine as if they were living in 1620.  They maintain the gardens, repair the stockade fence, cook and clean and, in addition, assume the identities of specific, real colonists.

Two types of fishing nets dipslayed
at the Zuider Zee Museum
Sturbridge Village is a collection of original buildings from around the state formed into an imaginary village.  The houses and shops represent 200 years of Massachusetts history with obvious differences n architectural style.  In addition to assorted houses, there is a church, pharmacy and other stores.

The Zuider Zee no longer exists.  Following a disastrous flood in 1916 [or was it 1919?], the government began plans which ultimately resulted in a dam across the mouth of the Zuider Zee where it met the North Zee.  Until this time, the Zuider Zee had been a salt water tidal body of water.  The inhabitants of its coast line earned their livelihoods by fishing for cod and sardines [herring].  With the closing of the Zee, the fishing industry dried up and the residents had to adapt or move.
The Zuider Zee Museum has brought together houses and stores from the nearby area and formed them into a new village.  They represent typical buildings from the turn of the 20th Century, just over 100 years ago.  They are arranged in streets so that all of the buildings are from the same town.  As in Sturbridge, there are craft shops, retail shops and housing.  Like Plymouth, there are people repeating the tasks of 1900.  We were particularly taken by the broom maker who was making push brooms by hand.  He took the time to explain what materials he used for the bristles and why different bristles were used for different types of brooms.

A block of 1900s houses on display
Interior of one of the houses
We went through the Museum in our groups, listening through headsets to the guide’s narration.  We were doing fine until we finally got to the first building, a typical house.  The house was so small that only one half of the group could fit inside while the guide was explaining the design, floor plan and furnishings.  Another Museum worker, pretending to be a typical housewife preparing dinner, yelled at her that there were too many people in her house and told her to get some of them out.  Our guide took the hint and started out but stopped to answer questions and made no effort to hurry those inside outside.  Of course, we were toward the back so that the guide was outside before we got to see anything and the people finally coming out stopped to talk their friends or rudely pushed past us.

The broom maker at work
We decided to jump ship at this point.  There was no way to catch up with the tour, the guide having continued to something else before we could exit the first house.  We started wandering on our own, looking here and there until the rain started.  It was sprinkling, but the forecast had held out the possibility of more serious rain and MA had no rain gear [David had a hooded rain jacket]. 

Our solution was to walk in the direction of the ferry which had brought us. On the way, we saw the reconstructed shopping district, a windmill, sheep and a swan.  We also saw a period play area where the children were bowling, tossing and playing ring toss as if they were at a county fair.  We waited about 9 minutes before boarding the ferry and going home.  Others stayed in their groups for the duration, but some went off on their own before the official end of the tour.  Many stayed and wandered through the little town before back to the ship and some went shopping for waffles, ice cream or beer.

After lunch, we assembled in our new groups for what we thought was one of the highlights of the trip.  We were to spend time this afternoon with one of Enkhuizen’s residents.  The three groups noted earlier designated passengers who would ride to their hosts because of mobility issues; those who said they could walk for 10 minutes [short walkers]; and those, like us, who said we could walk 20 minutes [the long walkers]. 

Anna's backyard garden
Anna and part of Skip
We were lucky enough to be in the same group with our dinner companions and playmates, Skip & Fran and Barry and Nancy.  Once we realized that, we schemed to be sure we stayed together for the visit.  There were 18 in the original group and we were being delivered in packs of 6.  We hung back to become the last group to arrive at our host’s and we were glad we did.

The feast set out by Anna
Anna, who did not proffer her last name, was our age, 65.  We began our visit by going outside to admire her garden which was full of flowers and herbs.  When we returned to the house, she inundated us with snacks [marinated beef wrapped around egg, smoked salmon and eel, cheese, and herring [of course!].  To go with that, there was a variety of alcoholic beverages.  MA and the other 2 men had gineever, the precursor to vodka; its most famous brand is Ketel One which did not sell well in the US until it called itself vodka.  Later in the afternoon, Anna served an orange-flavored concoction which was thick, almost like pudding, on which she put whipped cream.  We were stuffed by the time we left and several in the group were very happy.

Tulips in Anna's backyard
We asked Anna lots of questions, mostly about herself.  She is well-educated and said that at one point she studied to be a geography teacher.  However, most of her working life was spent with her husband operating a freight barge in the rivers of Western Europe.  She told us about her husband’s mini-strokes and its effect on her family and his employment; spoke about her family both in the Netherlands [daughter] and in Canada [aunt and cousins].  There was a discussion of a trip she had taken to visit relatives in North America while she showed us on a new map she had bought for the occasion.

We decided as a group that we were her first visitors from the ship.  She told us this was the first year she had done it, but the map was brand new as was the book she asked us to sign.  On the map, we each circled where we lived and talked about where we were raised. 

And then it was 5 o’clock and we needed to return to the ship.  She insisted on walking with us even though we assured her we could find our way.  We made a beer stop for Barry and Nancy and arrived at the ship around 5:30.  The Captain’s Reception was to start at 6:00 but we knew that no one would notice or care if we were late, which we were.

The reception [vodka for her, Diet Coke for him]  was very low-key. We sat toward the back with Skip and Fran so we could get to the dining room quickly and snag a table, but Barry and Nancy left before the party was over and got there first.

Dinner tonight was the Captain’s Dinner.  Just as the drinks had been free at the reception, wine was “on the house” throughout dinner [red for her, white for him].  The entrée was veal and dessert was crème brulee.  Afterwards, the chef himself brought a plate of assorted bonbons to the table.  We had eaten so much today that even David passed on chocolate.

And suddenly it was 9:00 again, our regular dismissal time. 

Tomorrow -- Hoorn

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