We made it without incident to the nearby rest stop just outside Amsterdam, and had the most exquisitely restful six-hour nap imaginable.
We woke totally refreshed and shocked that such could be the case under the circumstances – broad daylight, no blankets or pillows, awkwardly upright – and in a car after twelve hours of marching aimlessly through a foreign city.
Magnificent! Isn’t it nice when life surprises you that way? The next hour or so was spent making use of our well serviced ‘accommodations’. Showers and a very clean bathroom, a restaurant and gift shop with cute toys, gas and snacks. What more does a traveller need?
In Canada, I live in a floating home on a very active tidal river. The little bit of land that is a part of the entrance to our marina is actually a dyke, so I tend to notice dyke-y things – bodies of water, tides, embankments, soil erosion, you get the idea.
I was very interested in the differing ways that The Netherlands and Holland manage their issues with the ocean. They have developed many versions of ‘the wall’, which made me wonder which I would rather trust my life to.
Either way, the monstrous Dutch structures make our dyke at home look like it was built by wee hobbits.
Holland and The Netherlands are also full of irrigation and drainage canals that were traditionally powered by windmills, and usually still are.
The canals are generally placed within close distance of each other in a very linear manner, and full of water. Driving through The Netherlands and Holland always brings me to an appreciation for human ingenuity and tenacity.
Still mostly well below sea level, still dealing with water drainage and soil management issues on a daily basis, yet thriving in every way available.
Generally happy, healthy people, comparatively low crime rates, excellent standard of living, good education and health care, beautiful green country side…
Many people (namely us North Americans!), do not understand the difference between ‘Holland’ and ‘The Netherlands’ and wonder why both names are in use.
Simplified, it would be comparable to referring to Scotland solely as ‘The UK‘ or ‘Britain’. Amsterdam is in North Holland, below it South Holland with its capital ‘The Hague‘, and everything else to the right (the majority of land) is known as ‘The Netherlands’.
At one time, Holland was its own country but gave up its independence in the 1600’s. So if you are in Holland, a Hollander might not want to be referred to as a Netherlander and vice versa – though you will see a lot of friendly back and forth – much more friendly than the countries of my example, Scotland and England!
This is not the only time you will hear of the Netherlands and Holland from the Habitual Runaway. I was able to spend some time in a beautiful Dutch village (Egmond aan Zee), have enjoyed an impressive winter tour of ‘The Hague’ (Den Haag) and once went to Amsterdam just for New Years (oh goodness…!).
Stories for another time. For now, we were on our way to our next destination – Brussels, Belgium.
Additional photos in the slideshow.