We arrived at the station in Leiden at 11:30 yesterday morning. Frank and Ada were there to pick us up. I believe Frank is Katherine's dad's first cousin. I really like them. They have been the best tour guides. They took us for a walk around the center of Leiden. It's like taking a step back in time. Most of these buildings hav been here for centuries and are still being used today. Leiden has some EXCELLENT shops, if shopping is what you're looking for. We were on top of the 900-year-old citadel, called de Burcht, when we heard the bells in the tower chime. It was so pretty! It was so nice to hear the bells play an actual song rather than just a single chime (no offense to Big Ben--that was cool too). Frank and Ada took us to a pancake house for lunch. Apparently, Dutch pancakes are much thinner and much larger than our pancakes. Oh, and you're not limited to butter and syrup. Oh no. And if you think chhese is a weird choice for a pancake topping...well, then you are just going to have to try it for yourself. My pancake had cheese, ham, and pineapple. I may never be able to eat at iHop again. I may also never be able to drink coffee from McDonald's again...or maybe even Starbucks. The coffee in Europe is AMAZING! It's much stronger than American coffee. I now understand why they make fun of American coffee.
Leiden is also known for its almhouses. It has 38, I believe. Almhouses are buildings with small apartments and a courtyard--usually reserved for widows or single women. These buildings have been around for centuries. Many of these buildings were left behind by people who had lost a daughter or family member, and wanted there to be a safe living space for those who needed it most.
Today, Frank and Ada took us to north Hollad to the town of Enkhuizen. This 17th century fishing village is now part of the Zuiderzeemuseum. We toured the different houses, which were set up much like they would have been hundreds of years ago. There are people here who continue to work in the shops. We saw one man making rope, and for €1, you cn help make you're own "skipping rope." We came across two mwn knitting a fishing net. (Yes, knitting. It's rare in the States to find a man who knits!) One tried to teach me how to knit, despite me warning him that I'm hopeless when it comes to knitting. I met the nicest postal worker. after we purchased our collector's stamps, he took us behind the door and showed us around. I purchased a small pair of wooden shoes and a Dutch-print handkerchief in the giftshop and a small wheel of cheese at the cheese warehouse.
And, I LOVE the food here. For our morning snack at a nearby "brown cafe," I had coffee with Gvulde koek--kinda a "cookie" with a type of alond filling. I do nt quite know quite how to describe this filling, but it was delish. For lunch I had a kroket. Katherine's dad told me I had to eat one of these. It's apparently a Dutch staple. It is deep fried, and the filling is a mixture of potato, finely chopped meat, and flour--it has almost a gravy-like texture. Ada told me to eat it first because they are not very good when cold. I highly recommend trying one.
I do have great pictures to go along with this post, but I'll be posting from my Kindle until I have wi-fi again. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!