"" Writer's Wanderings: A Sunny Start to a Morning in Hoorn

Friday, April 28, 2023

A Sunny Start to a Morning in Hoorn

 After the rainy, windy and cold day in Nijmegen, it was a welcome sight to wake to sunshine out our window. Eagerly we ate breakfast and then readied ourselves for a good tour. The weather was still a bit chilly but it felt so good to feel warm sunshine on our backs as we followed our local guide along the waterfront.

We stopped in the sunshine as she told us a bit of her background and how she came to live in Hoorn. Then she showed us maps that explained why the water we were on was now a lake and not part of the sea. The Dutch had built a dike that walled off the sea and the water behind the dike became fresh water rather than salt. A portion of the lake was then made into land for farming. It is amazing how much land has been made dry or raised to make more land in the Netherlands. Another map showed us that one third of the country would still be underwater if not for dikes and canals and windmills.

Hoorn is a lovely town. The modern has mixed well with the old. As we began, we passed a gate to the town that was round on one side and flat on the other. The guide said the round shape would help to bounce the cannonballs off. One side of the gate that faced the water was in limestone because it would wear better and the other side was in brick. Why? Well, as she chuckled, you know the Dutch, always looking for the cheaper way. Brick was cheaper than the limestone.

Three statues on the wall represented three boys who wanted to go to sea and stowed away on a ship. If I heard right, two of them jumped off before the ship left but one boy was still asleep and ended up working in the kitchen. As the story went, the ammunition was stored next to the kitchen and the boy was careless with lighting a match. There is a book and also a movie about the boys.

A little farther along in our tour, we happened upon a building that was leaning forward. The leaning was on purpose. At the top of the building, you could see the anchors for the pulleys that would bring goods up and in through the doors that were there on the second floor. The reason the building leaned forward was so that whatever was being pulled up would not hit the windows below. Windows were quite expensive back in the day.

Along the canal we saw house boats that looked just like small homes you would find on land. One of them even had a garage!

We walked to another city gate and looked down a park like setting along a canal. Ducks and geese played in the water. I noticed a bit of a darkening sky in the distance but thought nothing of it. It wasn't supposed to rain this day.

As we walked further on and stopped to hear the story of the Dutch resistance during the war, our guide pointed out a picture on the outside wall of a building where a communications center had been set up in the basement. It showed a woman manning a radio station, two grenades were on top of the rig so that if the Germans were to find it, she could quickly destroy it before they could do anything with it.

About this time a light rain began to fall. A little disappointing and it made it a bit chillier but still bearable. Our guide was in the middle of telling us about a house where some Dutch women had hidden Jews when all of a sudden the skies opened up and it began to hail. We hustled to a restaurant with an overhang to seek shelter. It only took a moment for our guide to continue her story. Hearty stock. 

The weather passed but Bob was looking a bit like a frozen wet puppy. He hadn't worn his jacket that was weather resistant and had a hood. I asked him if he wanted to just head back but he wanted to soldier on. We were near the end of the tour anyway.

Our last stop was at Red Square. In the front of the church there is a memorial stone that denotes the spot where bloody executions took place after judgements in the courts. The church is no longer a church as is the case with a lot of them we're finding. This church has apartments in the upper part of it. You can see the skylight windows.

On our way back to the boat, we passed once again the old jail which is now apartments as well. As our guide put it the doors are the same but now you can have a key to them. 

At lunch time we headed up the lake to Enkhuizen. Guess now you can call us a lake boat instead of a river boat.

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