National Geographic : 1929 Sep
A VACATION IN HOLLAND BY GEORGE ALDEN SANFORD AUTHOR OF "A VACATION IN A FIFTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLISH MANOR HOUSE," IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE ONE who has a bird in his heart, they say, can see a flock in every bush. The same law holds true for one who has a vacation in his heart, who looks forward to seeing interesting places and things of the world; he is keen to see and recognize the possibilities of a "prospect." It was Jan, our moon-faced Holland cook, who was always telling us about people and things in the Low Countries, who was responsible for this vacation. He interested us so much that in due time we leased for the summer, at approximately $Ioo a week, silver and linen included, the furnished Zee Droom Cottage, on the North Sea, where Jan had once served the family of a Rotterdam lawyer. Thus our dream of a vacation in the Netherlands was to come true. After a preliminary swing through France, Switzerland, and Belgium, we bumped over the imaginary line which separates Belgium from the Netherlands and found ourselves in a new environment. Rosendaal (Rose Valley), on the bor der, where baggage is examined, with its clean and tidy buildings and bright setting of roses, gave a hint of what we were to see in the land of our summer adoption. The ugly, prosperous smoke of Belgian factory towns gave place to peaceful mead ows, where black and white Holstein cattle grazed contentedly and where an occa sional windmill flirted us a welcome with its whirling arms. ROTTERDAM, FIRST PORT OF CALL Rotterdam was our first "port of call," but Rotterdam is a big commercial city and not nearly as "Hollandesque" as the smaller towns and villages, where old cus toms and costumes survive. It is well grid ironed with canals. Sloops, barks, and boats of various types carry flowers, vege tables, cheese, freight, and passengers hither and yon; some are propelled by man power, some by horse, and others by wind and motor. There is little danger of nervous prostration from boat travel in Holland, but it is good fun. We saw the Boompjes, which we judged, by the name, would at least be a fort, but beheld a street lined with little bushy trees. In Dutch, boom means "tree," and the final syllable je or jes is the diminutive "little," or is a term of endearment; so Boompjes means "little trees." After a night in Rotterdam, we took train for Amsterdam; thence on to Alk maar, in North Holland, where we trans ferred to a double-deck steam tramcar, which bumped its way along through hamlets and fields glorious with heather. A SOCIABLE TRAM CONDUCTOR These steam trams serve the small and outlying communities and are a great in stitution. The conductor became our friend, and when collecting our fares gave us a military salute and addressed me as Mr. America. He would linger for crumbs of information about the United States. He asked if we knew his cousin who lived in South Dakota. After an eight-mile ride the train deposited us at our summer home town, Bergen, on the North Sea. If you have never been, even for a short time, a quasi-citizen of a strange country, you have interesting experiences coming to you. Tourists who tear through a coun try by motor car or on express trains miss many of the interesting sights and espe cially contact with the people. I agree with Mrs. Murphy, a protegee of Bishop Potter. In order that she might know the charms of the country, he transferred her there. In a few days, however, he met her back in the congested city. "Why, Mrs. Mur phy," said he, "what are you doing here ?" "Oh, Bishop," she replied, "people is bet ter than trees." Which may be said of Hollanders. They come from a wonder ful ancestry, the Batavians, who were great warriors and equally great in patient industry. Nearly one-half of the country being be low sea level, constant vigilance in watch ing the dikes is necessary;* otherwise it * See, also, "Holland's War with the Sea," by James Howard Gore, in the NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC MAGAZINE for March, 1923.