We'd been working so hard for the past few days, we decided to take a day off and, since we had the car, put some more euros in the oil sheiks pockets and see some of the parts of Holland we hadn't visited.
Up north is another university town, Groningen, again, impossibly medieval. Just like Haarlem there are several of the old "almshouses," set up to house the poor and infirm. They are small houses set up around courtyard gardens, impeccably neat, of course.
One of the great things about these old cities is that they are forced to use the principle of "adaptive reuse." The old buildings are no longer useful for their intended purpose so they are reused for another. One of the greatest examples we've seen so far is the old Corn Exchange, or Korenbeurs, that has been turned into a grocery store. The original designed required alot of interior light so the merchants could judge the corn. The result is a light-filled grocery store.
After Groningen it was on to Kampen, if possible even more medieval.
We love this story from the "Lonely Planet Guide to The Netherlands:"
"Once upon a time, a local farmer mistook moss growing atop Nieuwe Toren for grass and wondered aloud if he could get his cows up there to graze. So what he did was, he hoisted one of his cows up to the top via a dodgy system of pulleys and ropes. The cheering (and no doubt beery - dc) townspeople below saw the cow's tongue protruding from its mouth and assumed it was indeed having a good old feed. And there was much rejoicing. Unfortunately, the poor animal was actually choking to death, the ridiculous episode that made Kampen the butt of Dutch jokes for many, many years.
Credit, though, to the town: it has turned stupidity into a virtue, and these days, on a summer's morning in July, the incident is celebrated as Kampen Cow Day, with the ceremonial hoisting of a stuffed cow up the tower, accompanied by live music, where the bovine symbol remains for weeks."
Unfortunately, the tower is undergoing some restoration and was covered by scaffolding but we can report there is a statue of a cow directly below it. There are also tons of beautiful old buildings.
We're still planning to leave the dock this coming Monday so it's back to Kudlestaart for some last minute cleanup and preparations.
A side note ... in theory an improvement over last year, when you click on the picture in the post you should get the full size picture. We'll see.