Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tilting at Windmills

Oh yes - the fire hair happened.  :-/
Becky is dicking around, taking two days to finish a single post, so I'm hijacking her blog.  My name is Peppermint.  You may remember me from such epic adventures as when we hiked to the Tiger's Nest in Bhutan, or the time we went to Hakone in Japan, but I haven't actually made the blog since she wrote about Flat Stanley (yes, I thought he was "pretentious," as Becky wrote, and a few other more choice words that she didn't.  She's not the only one with a colorful vocabulary, believe me).  And that kind of pisses me off, because I've been on all the trips.  I even went with her and the shitty brats to Istanbul.  But did she let me take part?  No.  I assume it's because she thinks she's too mature, but with as much time as she spends watching anime, she's only kidding herself.

Anyway, sorry, let me move on and tell you about our day trip to Zaan, the whole reason for my long-overdue guest post.  Yesterday Becky was trying to figure out what to do with herself for the next three days.  I kept telling her she had to get out of the city, because Amsterdam is fun and all, but there's only so much secondhand pot smoke you can breathe before you get high for real (although I wouldn't be surprised if she actually didn't mind the smell.  You should hear her complain about her cigarette-smoking neighbors at home, but has she voiced a word of complaint in Amsterdam???)  She was fixated on Delft and possibly a further trip into Belgium, because she's obsessed with her family history and whatever, but she found out she could do a tile-painting workshop at Royal Delft (the last of the historic factories) if she emailed in advance, and you know she's a sucker for that shit.  So finally - FINALLY - she listened to me when I asked, "Hey, you daft bint, what else is Holland famous for?  Like in that Monet with the tulips?"  It's windmills, in case you're a little slow.  Holland is famous for windmills.  And tulips, but it's the wrong season for that.  After a quick chat with Google we decided we were heading for Zaanse Schans.
Zaanse Schans is this beautiful little tourist trap of a historical village that fucking looks like Rembrandt or Vermeer would have painted if it they had time.  Some genius looked around in the last 100 years and said, "Where have all the windmills gone?" and decided it would be great to preserve Holland's industrial past.  Yep, I said industrial.  All those windmills weren't just there to look pretty (like your mom*) - they actually milled shit, thus, industrial past.  There's a pretty awesome museum that explains the whole history of Dutch milling and production, but Becky just breezed through it.
See, she gets so obsessed with taking pictures and having all the experiences - and breathing the air.  To be fair, the air was gorgeous.  I mean, Amsterdam smelled pretty good, especially after four years living in Ulaanbaatar...bikes instead of cars and the delicate aroma of hashish?  I could get used to that!  But Zaan smelled like motherloving CHOCOLATE.  When we left the station and the scent of the cocoa plant hit us, Becky started feeling nostalgic for the coffee roasty smell of a Kansas City autumn, but I told her to shut her mouth because this was, like, a million times better.  A town that smells like chocolate?   Sign me up for that!**

In the great tradition of historical towns, there are workshop demonstrations you can watch.  By the time they were ready to get started, unfortunately a shload of tour buses had rolled in, primarily populated with Chinese people, so you can imagine how well that went over with Becky, if you've read this blog for any length of time.  She would not be deterred from the clog workshop though, which I have to admit was kind of fun.  Becky got matching clogs for herself and her niece, the Princess (Bunny and Dirt Devil are likewise sorted - at this point she just needs to purchase something for Monkey, so if anyone has any ideas...)

We had a good stroll through the village, checking out the different shops (and by checking out, I mean eating free samples of cheese - it's a good thing Becky's slightly lactose intolerant or she'd be constipated.  Not that I can blame her - the Netherlands do have some deelish cheeses).  There was a weaver's house, which showed us how sailcloth was made, and the dairy, of course, and a chocolate shop, and other houses, which I guess people actually live in.

Finally we headed out along the canal toward the windmills.  We had a freebie for one of the mills, that came with the admission to the museum, so I told Becky I wanted to go to "The Cat."  They all have names, you see - the Spotted Hen, the Four-Leaf Clover - and it should be obvious that we would go there.  Fortunately, the Cat turned out to be a paint mill, so we both won.
She's been in super art teacher mode this whole time, only you haven't heard about it because she's a lazy ass.***  Someday she might tell you about the demo she saw on paint mixing in freaking REMBRANDT'S HOUSE.  But for now, suffice it to say that Rembrandt didn't go to the local Dick Blick and buy his paints nicely packaged in metal tubes, he bought pigments and then mixed his own paints, which were stored in a pig's bladder (a dead pig, that is - it might get a little messy to try and use a live one...)  The Cat was a mill that prepared and ground the raw materials to create those pigments, and it was pretty awesome.  Much more interesting than a wood mill, or a grain mill, or any other kind of mill, really.

We walked past all the others and took a ferry across the water to a less touristy but every bit as pretty street.  All the houses had their backs to the water and were in the Zaan style, so it really had a beautiful feel.  We stopped along the way for lunch, then went back to the station to get the train back to Amsterdam.  It was a nice way to spend the day, but I'm glad we did it on our own instead of getting on one of those stinky tour buses.  The roundtrip fare to Koog-Zaandijk (where you get off the train) was 11.60 euro, in case anyone is interested.  And THAT, Becky, is how you sit down and write a blog.  (mic drop)

Becky's notes (because she can't just let me do this):
*Peppermint doesn't know how to make your mom jokes.  They are supposed to be insulting.  (I do too - telling someone that their mom is only pretty and serves no other purpose IS insulting.)
**Can you imagine?  You'd be hungry all the time!  You'd never lose weight!  (And the irony is, apparently she's never going to lose weight anyways, so what's the problem?)
***Not entirely true - I had an IB workshop for three of the days.  (Whatever.  Remember how many hours you spent in that PCbang across from Monumental Paradise in Kathmandu, trying to catch up your posts from Tibet.  I don't want to hear it.)

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