The Netherlands 2008 and 2011

The Netherlands
We have been to The Netherlands twice in three years to go on "holiday" with Ferdinand and Thea van der Gun our GREAT DUTCH FRIENDS !!  See the notes in "The Caribbean 2007" section of how we met. 

They live in the city of Arnhem in the eastern part of Holland close to Germany and about an hour east of Amsterdam.  They have a condo on the River Rhine.  In the photo below, you can see their condo complex as well as the river AND the bridge made famous by the book and movie "A Bridge Too Far".  See photos with captions for the Arnhem Battle cemetery and bridge.

In 2008, we visited several cities in Holland including Amsterdam.  In 2011, as a part of our France and Holland holiday, we visited several cities and towns including Groningen, where our hosts were raised.  We also went to the lovely resort island of Schiermonnikoog that is home to Holland's first national park.
Now, a little bit about The Netherlands.  We in the States commonly refer to this country as "Holland".  Actually, Holland is not a country but is a region in western Netherlands made up of North Holland and South Holland - two of the twelve provinces.  While the term Holland is generally accepted as the "country of Holland" in many parts of the world, it is disliked by many of the Dutch in the other ten provinces.
The Netherlands is a country rich in history, particularly shipping and the science of land reclamation.  They have reclaimed hundreds of miles of land from the sea, as recently as the 1950's.  The country is about half the size of the state of Indiana !  Yet, it has produced many famous people (van Gogh, Rembrandt, Anne Frank) and commercial giants (Shell Oil and Philips Industries).

Let's start out in Holland with my wife in a wooden shoe - seems appropriate.
Lots of canals in the Netherlands as you should expect.    Holland is a major diary region with beautiful cows (Karen loves the cows in Holland - I have lots of photos of them, but will not burden you with any of them!) and lots of cheese.  Haven't seen cheese delivered to a store in this manner before!!
This is a cemetery in Arnhem to memorialize the soldiers who died in the Battle of Arnhem - part of WWII's Operation Market Garden.
This photo was taken near the museum for Operation Market Garden next to the bridge.  The battle fought here was disastrous for the Allies.  A book and movie have the title "A Bridge Too Far".  This refers to the comment made by Lt. General Browning during the planning stages of Operation Market Garden, that trying to capture so many bridges before heading east into Germany, was not good and that trying to capture the bridge at Arnhem would be "a bridge too far".  He turned out to be right as thousands of British soldiers were killed, wounded or captured.
Our friends condo complex on the River Rhine and THE BRIDGE in the background.
Light house at night on the island Schiermonnikoog.   Typical Dutch building - this one is the oldest tavern in Holland established in 1478.  That's BEFORE "Columbus sailed the ocean blue".
While this photo may look "non-descript", it is of land that was reclaimed by the Dutch people. This was the sea until 1969 !!!!!
A cruise ship and cows outside the picture window at our friends home.  I loved watching boats and ships of all kinds sail past !!!
Bikes and bikes and bikes.  They are a major source of transportation there, the roads are flat and the going is easy !!  We were told there are 450,000 bikes in Amsterdam and that 150,000 are stolen each year - so I guess everyone gets a new bike every three years !?
German bunker on the island Schiermonnikoog.
My "giant" pal Ferdinand - tired from a long walk, resting his arm against the top of the light house.  We had fun with this where we were "pushing" and "leaning against" the light house.

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