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Thursday was a day to explore more charming Dutch villages. We started in the harbor town of Hoorn.

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You can tell it’s a harbor town because there’s a boat on the steeple.

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The main attraction in Hoorn is the Westfries Museum. Tons of artifacts from the Dutch Golden Age, a time of great trade and art and life.

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Hey look, dollies!

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And it’s always fun to see historical paintings of places you visit. Here is the main square in Hoorn:

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And for whatever reason, there is a dodo outside the museum. I took a photo, of course.

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After the museum we rode a few more stops on the train to Enkhuizen.

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And the main attraction in Enkhuizen is the Zuiderzee living history museum. The museum was founded in the 1930s, when the sea was diked off, in an effort to preserve pre-dike ways of life.

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There are all sorts of exhibits, like the barber,

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the sailmaker,

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the butcher,

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and my favorite, the pharmacy!

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I found this living history museum a little lacking in life. Most of the staff was either at lunch, or speaking Dutch.

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Once we had poked around enough of the museum, we grabbed a ferry back to the train station. Back at the hotel just in time for dinner.

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A few final photos. In the “you don’t see that every day” category, Goats in a Boat.

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and a little taste of home at the train station!

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Are you ready to hear about another beautiful day in the Netherlands?

On Wednesday we took a train to Amsterdam, then transferred to a bus to Edam. I had read that Edam has a cheese market on Wednesdays, but discovered it’s only a big deal in July and August. And we were there in June. The market was just a few stalls selling produce.

But don’t worry, Edam was still a beautiful town worth visiting. We started our day at the Edam museum, located in the oldest house in Edam.

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And then we walked around the village. Gorgeous.

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I strolled by adorable homes…

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…and was a bit surprised to see that most of them had cows in their backyard!

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I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; it’s not like cheese grows on trees!

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From Edam we got on another bus to Marken, a charming fishing village. A bit sleepy, but amazing.

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Then we headed back to Haarlem. Here’s a nice photo of the church that dominates the main square.

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Dinner was Indonesian food. Did you know that Indonesia is a former Dutch colony?

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And as I was walking back toward the church, I noticed that it sold ice cream! All hail the church of Ice Cream, in the name of frosty treats, amen.

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We woke up on day 4 in Delft. With a few hours before museums opened, we explored more on foot.

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Then we took a short train ride to the Hague to visit the Mauritshuis Gallery. Beautiful building.

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Ceiling art:

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We saw more beautiful Flemish paintings:

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And this one is from an unknown Dutch artist, possibly Jan Mostaert. Joseph explaining the dreams of the baker and the cupbearer:

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This one is a Rembrandt portrait! Anatomy lesson of Dr Nicholas Tulp:

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Besides Rembrandt, we saw some works of other Dutch masters, like Jan Steen.

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And, of course, Vermeer. Here is his View of Delft:

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Do you see any similarities to my views of Delft from this morning?

This is one of his earliest paintings:

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And his most famous!

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Vermeer was the best part of the Mauritshuis, but I also liked these paintings of Brazil in the 17th century:

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And this really big painting of a cow:

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After all the beautiful paintings, it was back to Delft for a quick visit to the Prinsenhof.

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At the Prinsenhof we learned all about William of Orange, who was responsible for the Protestant revolution in the Netherlands, leading the crusade against Catholic Spain. He was assassinated in the Prinsenhof. You can still see the bullet holes.

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Then we picked up our luggage and boarded a train to our next hotel. It was in Haarlem, near the train station. Haarlem is super-close to Amsterdam, but accommodations are way cheaper there.

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With nothing planned in Haarlem, and favorable weather, we headed to the beach! Welcome to Zandvoort.

In 1910:

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In 2017:

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Relaxed for a while, then had dinner with really slow service, and returned to the hotel just as the sun was setting. Beautiful day!

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On the third day we left Belgium and headed to the Netherlands. Our first stop was Delft. After checking into the hotel, we took a fairly long walk.

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The destination was the Royal Delft factory. We took a tour to learn all about how the famous pottery is made.

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The tour was part factory, part museum.

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And of course, the shop!

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After looking at plates we couldn’t afford, we did more exploring.

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^That’s where the first Dutch bible was printed in 1477. I don’t think they served sandwiches back then.

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We went into the Vermeer house and learned all about the artist. They had copies of all of his paintings, and exhibits on lighting techniques and historical pigments. It provided great context for paintings we would see later in the trip.

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Ended the day with dinner; a very large pancake with cheese and bacon!

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Our first full day in Europe was dedicated to exploring Bruges. In the morning we followed the walk described in the Rick Steves guidebook.

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Chocolate!

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And that’s the last we’ll see of Grace’s right shoe. I actually thought they were a bit loose when we left home, but I only had time to find one rubber band. So her left shoe was rubber banded on, and stayed on for the whole trip, while her right shoe was lost on the second day, somewhere in Bruges!

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The highlight of the morning was the Groeninge Museum, where we learned about the Flemish Primitives. Not what you’d expect from the word primitive; these paintings were amazingly detailed. The word primitive refers to times before the renaissance.

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We took a break in the afternoon, stopping on the way to the hotel to buy gelato (banana and speculoos!) and chocolates to take home.

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Dinner was a street waffle!

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After dinner we took a free guided walking tour. A beautiful way to end a beautiful day in Bruges.

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Hello everyone! I’m back from a really great vacation, and I brought mini Grace. June 9-19, Grace and I went to Belgium and the Netherlands.

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We left early on a Friday morning. Ferry, then bus to the airport.

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Telling our facebook friends:

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We flew British Airways to Brussels via London.

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Then we took an unnecessarily long (track construction) train ride to Bruges.

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Feeling pretty worn out, after arriving at my hotel in Bruges, I went out for dinner (Flemish stew!) and a short walk.

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And that’s it for day 1! There’s a lot more to share, Grace and I hope you’ll enjoy it!

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Charlsea’s Hometown!

Back in May Charlsea and I took a little trip to Salt Spring Island! Do you know where Salt Spring Island is? It’s in Canada, well below the 49th parallel, just a little north and west from where I live.

Our journey started with a ferry off our island and onto San Juan Island.

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We hung out in Friday Harbor for a little bit, enough time for breakfast and some quick exploring.

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From Friday Harbor, we had to catch another ferry to Canada.

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Here’s our first photo in Canada, just off the dock in Sidney, BC:

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Our priority in Sidney was groceries! Specifically, my sister wanted quite a variety of Canadian candy bars. I also picked up Maple Bacon Potato Chips and Canadian Fanta.

Here are a few photos around Sidney:

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From Sidney we had to ride a bus for just 10 minutes to the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay.

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And we rode our third ferry of the day!

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It wasn’t long before we were all ashore on Salt Spring Island!

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We were able to catch a bus to our hotel.

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Check out the guy who sat next to us on the bus; he has the same shoes as Charlsea!

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We checked into the hotel, then headed out to explore town and find dinner. It was a lovely evening.

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The next morning we started with the Salt Spring Island Saturday market!

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The market was nice, and it sold all sorts of stuff. Didn’t buy anything (well, except for some poutine later from a food truck), but it was fun to look.

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After we had thoroughly explored the market, we went hiking. But first, this bit of Salt Spring uniqueness:

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We hiked around a park close to town. It had a few different trails, a Frisbee golf course, and carved up trees.

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After hiking, Charlsea suggested we go kayaking.

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But Charlsea wasn’t allowed to go because she left her PFD at home, and the store didn’t have any available in her size! So I went without her, and had a ton of fun, even if my arms were crazy sore later.

And the next morning we headed back home. Here are our last few photos of Canada:

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before we got back on a ferry to Sidney,

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then back to Washington. It was such a nice day for being out on the water!

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This is Charlsea reading the ferry schedule, trying to figure out when we’d get home.

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We had quite a lot of time to wait in Friday Harbor. We spent most of it eating Chinese food. But we finally made it home.

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Salt Spring Island is a beautiful, almost magical place, definitely worth three ferry rides to get to. Until the next adventure!

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