France Adventure, Part 13

9-30-08 – Haarlem, by Jodi

We wake up to rain, our good, clear weather has finally run out. And of course it rains when we want to visit an outdoor museum. We walk down the 3 flights of stairs to Margot’s ‘in kitchen’ dining room for breakfast. She pulled out all the stops for her great breakfast, we didn’t know where to start. There was granola, milk, drinkable yogurt, regular yogurt, a huge basket of all kind of warm breads, jams, butters, a platter of 3 different kind of lunchmeats and 2 cheeses, a basket of wedge spreadable cheeses, a bowl of strawberries, soft boiled eggs, coffee, hot chocolate, and OJ. YUM – our best breakfast yet and we stuffed ourselves. We were glad to have such bellyful knowing we would be walking the museum all day.

Streetcar Tracks, Netherlands Outdoor Museum

Streetcar Tracks

We thanked Margot for her hospitality and drive the 2 km to the Netherlands Open Air Museum. This museum is a collection of historic buildings from all areas of the Netherlands, relocated to this wooded land to form it’s own little historic village. The buildings included mostly farm homes, windmills, businesses, a train station and roundhouse, a doctor’s office, blacksmith, milk and cheese factory, and a brewery all from different eras depicting the lifestyle from that time. The center of the town are buildings converted to be used as a bakery and restaurants to buy food. Some of the buildings had people dressed in period dress that would answer questions, it was very interesting talking to them. Other buildings were well signed in several languages explaining their history or function.

Netherlands Outdoor, Museum

Street Car

We also took the little old fashioned tram that circles the whole town, for the round trip tour. The rain fell gently all day as we toured the whole museum for 4 hours. By this time, we were cold, damp, and ready to eat something light. We went back to the cafeteria near the entrance and had a bowl of soup and shared a sandwich in the nice warm surroundings. (Text continues after Gallery)

Back on the road for the rainy, 2 hour drive past Amsterdam to our next 3-night stay in Haarlem. We find our B&B easily, located right on a canal in the middle of town. We luck out and grab a parking space on the street right out front. Inge greets us and shows us our room, up 3 very steep staircases. It is a beautiful, comfy room with 2 twin beds, a dining table, microwave & coffee making supplies, internet access. One whole wall is windows so we have a great view of the neighborhood and interesting rooftops.

It is raining hard as we unload our luggage and Inge explains the parking meters to us. Our jaws drop as she tells us it is E2.50 an hour from 9am-11pm for a total of E30 a day just to park anywhere in the town of Haarlem!!!!! She suggested trying one of the hotel parking garages as they have cheaper rates. There is a Carlton Hotel around the corner, we talk to the parking attendant and learn they have a weekly parking pass for E35 – much better than paying the E100 we would have to pay to park on the street. Plus the car is in an indoor, security garage, we’ll check on it from time to time. We don’t plan on moving it at all the next 3 days because everything is walkable and we will be taking the train into Amsterdam. We feel better now after the initial shock of parking prices wear’s off – LOL! Went to the ATM, and notice it is across the street from the cannabis shop, ha ha!

Haarlem Street

Haarlem

Laundry time! We walk the ½ km to the Laundromat in the rain, checking out all the restaurants along the way thinking ahead for dinner. The Laundromat was spotless with an attendant on duty to help us figure out the confusing token & pay machines – good thing she was still there before she left for the day.

Got our laundry started and so did the weird, bizarre side show. First, there was an old woman doing her laundry, dressed strange with lots of make up, messy hair, that was slightly crazy and saying weird things to everyone. Then we heard a loud crash just outside the door, we turn to see a BMW SUV out front with people inside, with a bicycle crashing from the top of the car, down to the hood and then to the ground. A deranged looking; shaggy middle-aged man was standing next to the bike. At first we thought the car hit him while riding, but no we think the weirdo was mad and threw the bike onto the car in anger and walked away. The shocked driver sat there at first and then just drove away, never getting out to see if he had any damage to his car. Then the weirdest of all – we start to hear glass breaking nearby. We look out the door and some crazy person was smashing and breaking out all of his upper windows about 4 doors down. It sounded like he was using a hammer, glass flying everywhere on the parked cars, sidewalk, & street as people walking and biking all stopped in shock to see the spectacle. Was this the same man who threw the bike at the BMW? It went on for a couple of minutes, looked like a guy from the restaurant across the street called police and we stayed inside out of the way. OK this town is so quaint and neat as a pin but I think there has been too much legal pot smoking going on – LOL!

We gather our laundry, and head across the street to an Italian restaurant recommend by Rick Steves. Terry got mushroom pizza, me ricotta tortellini – just OK. It’s raining hard as we walk back to the B&B to settle in for the evening.

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