Thursday, March 17, 2011



Monday, September 25th, 2000 Northern Germany

Up at 7 am…rain during the night. Kept the drunks off the street a little bit. But they still put the Market up in the Plaza starting about 5 am. But, they were lots quieter in doing their work! Sun was out by 8:43 as we left after a very nice breakfast in the hotel. Jim thinks that we may still have sprinkles all day.

At the hotel, I traded my novel for one that another guest had left. They keep a mantle top full of paperback books so that you can exchange one you’ve finished for another. Jim exchanged one of his tour books for one that someone else had left. Nice program! Later discovered that the novel was in German!!! I'll save it for another trade....

We drove all morning and made the following notes:

All bikes have bells. There are some three-wheel bikes with flatbeds to carry things. There are modern windmills similar to the ones that we use in California as wind machines for generating electricity. They are all over Holland. The old ones are national monuments and must be retained but they don’t work anymore. The new ones are much larger than the ones that we have. Although they also have many that are the same size as our wind machines. There is an earlier edition, which only has two blades and is gray metal.

There are lots of houses built on flat barges that are permanently fixed in the canals. There are areas in the countryside designed for city people to farm. Each plot has a tiny house, about the size of a garden shed at home. You’ll see up to fifty or so together.

They have atomic power plants still working all over Europe which are used to produce electricity…Jim says they are a time bomb as they are slowly deteriorating. Also, they haven’t really made plans on how to retire them and replace the energy.

We are headed towards Alkmaar….the birthplace of Emanuel De Witt. He’s a famous Dutch painter that Jim thinks is related to his grandfather. He lived several generations before George was born.

Side note: My cold is much better, still sneezing, but then I always do!

We went off the main highway to take photos of a real windmill near Hoogwoud which is south of Winkel at about 9:40 am. Got some really good photos.

Finally reached the big dike across the North Sea. It is thirty miles long. They even have a gas station half way across. Lots of fishing boats working the inside of the dike.

Roofs: Mostly tile, but some have a combination of tile and thatch. Some are all thatch. Many of the windmills have thatched sides and tops. House barn combinations usually have thatch over the barn roof.

Arrived in Leeuwarden, the ancestral home of the Van Jelgerhuis family. Jim’s Mother’s family. Spent about an hour there. Found one old bell tower, church is no longer there but they had an outlines of it in yellow bricks on the parking lot. The tower is leaning to one side quite a bit. We found several old churches. Parked the car in what we thought was a legal parking area for a few minutes while we went to take photos of St. Bonfice’s Catholic Church. As we returned we saw a policeman in back of the car….Jim took off running and got there before he had actually started to write the ticket up. We apologized and used lots of sugar & spice and ended up with no ticket! We were in a private area that required a permit.

We found the Grout (great) Church of Leeuwarden which was built in 1224, rebuilt in 1700 and then restored in 1972.

Back on the road on our way to Oldenburg in Germany. Ate our sandwiches on the road (we’d made one each at breakfast). Did a leisurely drive on the country road bypassing the main highway. Lots of farms, pigs, sheep, cows and horses! And of course, more of the old windmills. Made a special stop to take photos of an old windmill that we spotted from the highway.

We arrived at Gronigan, the birthplace of George Wit (De Witt) about 1 pm and decided to go around and continue on to Germany. It is a very large industrial town and would take forever to find the old part and any pertinent information.

As we neared the Germany boarder we got diesel and converted the rest of the Netherlands money into German money. Cost us a little bit, but it was worth having it taken care of. Germany money is worth a little bit less...2.25 compared to 2.50 in Holland. There was about a 25% fee.

Arrived in Oldenburg and drove north looking for Lohne….didn’t find it so headed south on side streets into residential area of Oldenburg. Finally found the old centre and parked while we followed signs to the Information Building. After a ten-minute walk we found it and they arranged for a hotel for us and gave us directions all at no charge. Very nice service. Back to the car, went the same way so as not to get lost…like Hansel & Gretel going through the forest! Did make a pit stop at Mcdonalds for a water closet visit! On the road and had no problems following their directions to one of the nicest three star hotels in the suburbs. Very reasonable, nearly new and with a restaurant attached. Room is absolutely silent! Located in back of hotel.

We had a great dinner at the hotel restaurant, soup, bratwarst & fries. Washed down with excellent German beer. We thought we were getting a sausage & potato salad…Germans don’t know or won’t speak English as easily as people in Holland. The bratwurst was like a very good and large hot-dog! Oh well! But the soup…the traditional goulous soup was outstanding!!

Time to go to bed early. We’re both very tired from not sleeping all that well for the past three nights! Tomorrow we’ve off the find the family heritage as both of our fathers' ancestors come from Germany.

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