With dreams of windmills and wooden shoes, our next travel adventure will include two months in the Netherlands. The first month we will stay in Alkmaar in the province of North Holland, and the second month we will settle into the small town of Moordrecht (near Gouda) in the province of South Holland.
Mistakenly, the country of the Netherlands is often called “Holland”, because most of the populous and famous places are concentrated in the provinces of North and South Holland. This includes the capital of the Netherlands (Amsterdam), seat of government (The Hague), and most important port (Rotterdam).
North and South Holland actually comprise just two of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands, a low-lying country populated by the Dutch. Esther was born in the Netherlands (Limburg Province), spent her first 17 years there, and still speaks the Dutch language like a local. Lucky for me, a whopping 90% of the Dutch also speak English.
In English, “Netherlands” translates as “lower lands”, a fitting label given that over a quarter of the nation’s land area sits below sea level. To stay above the rising seas, the Dutch have deftly engineered water control systems to reclaim their lower lands and protect themselves from North Sea storms and the scourge of global warming.
Over the next two months, we hope to keep our feet dry as we explore the Dutch provinces of North and South Holland. If rising waters try drowning our dreams, it shouldn’t be hard to find a good pair of wooden shoes.
Feature Image: Molen de Gooyer, the tallest wooden windmill in the Netherlands, now a brew pub