Travels

The corner of Holland

Wednesday 1 August. Why go to the Hook of Holland, Hoek (the corner) van Holland? It’s a place I’ve heard referenced in many contexts and I wanted to see it. It’s hard to imagine this was the frontline of five years of Nazi occupation, but there are reminders.

I’m parked across from Fort 1881 which was utilised by the Nazis as part of their Atlantic Wall defence, and on my walk this morning I passed the Atlantic Wall museum, only open on Sunday, which also brought it home.

The Hook is the gateway to Rotterdam and across the water are the massive docks and processing for the largest ships in the world.

A complete contrast to yesterday’s historical Delft, but an insight into how the world works and recent history, events that involved people alive now.

Tomorrow I turn the corner and start heading north. I need to cover some ground if I’m to be in Helsinki by mid-September.

A few random observations on the Dutch. From previous contact I always said “I love the Dutch.” That still stands. Whereas in Belgium people were very forthcoming with their eye contact, smiles and greetings, the Dutch don’t bother. However, if you talk to them they are very friendly.

The Dutch, male and female, are tall. I’m having to get used to people looking down on me!

Cycle lanes are use by motor scooters too and riders don’t need to wear helmets. This has led to a couple of hairy moments when I’ve been cycling but, as in Belgium, awareness seems better.

Some businesses only take Maestro cards, you can’t assume your Visa or MasterCard will be accepted. It’s about charges. I’ve been caught twice now. Do you remember when Aldi would not accept credit cards – it’s a throwback to that. Hence, I ensure I carry 100€ in cash.

It seems more people smoke, women go in for large tattoos, and there is more obesity. People aren’t fatter than the UK but in contrast with Belgians, and it’s only my observation, they are. It led me to check out the European longevity and happiness statistics. Netherlands tops Belgium in both, so there you go – what do I know.

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