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Old August 23rd, 2010, 06:15 PM   #1
High there, what's up!
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Trip to Holland

01. I decided it was about time to find out what my ancestors have made of the place so I rented a car and drove up to Holland, Michigan. It's a good 2½ hour drive from Chicago.

02. The moment you hit town you indeed see many 'Reitsma Funeral Home' and 'Van Buren Carpenter'. Seeing quite a number of Van -'s, De -'s and -sma's and other Dutch references in street scenes is actually quite a common thing East of Lake Michigan, and it starts the moment you cross the southern city limits of Chicago.

03. The first order of business was a visit to the Holland Museum, which due to some classic architectural trickery looks a lot bigger from the outside than it is on the inside.

04. One of four exhibitions was a The Dutch Galleries room. This is a modest but nice collection of old paintings giving you an idea of what life in the Netherlands was in previous centuries.

This exhibition and the three other ones could have been nice if it wasn't for the one guard on duty, who's idea of showing she was available for questions was to follow me around everywhere. Or maybe she was just excited to see anyone walk into the building, or maybe (probably) she just didn't like the look of me. Either way, as this makes me as nervous I decided to instantly write off the $7 and pressed on.

05. Nelis' Dutch Village is ranked #2 of Things To Do in Holland according to my beloved TripAdvisor. It is 'conveniently located' in a some commercial area in between a state highway and a outlet center.

06. The park is exactly what you would expect it to be. Most of it is based on historic small town folklore. It's nice to see they really did make the effort.

07. Cheese, of course.

08. Here's the thread starter having a blast.

09. You would think that by now someone must have told them what else tiet means in Dutch, besides old speak for 'time'.

10. Interior scene.

11. And of course a zweefmolen, still in service!

12. Dutch girl in klederdracht. Although if she really was Dutch, she probably wouldn't have smiled at my compliment and posed for a picture. Reminds me how much more easy approachable Americans are just by saying hi.

13. Nice that they made the effort to introduce Dutch street names. They might want to run a spell check on some of these though.

14. The biggest space in the park was, of course, the gift shop, naturally including a fine collection of Delfts Blauw…

15. ...and clogs!

16. Of course there are plenty of opportunities to try Dutch food and beverages. Being Dutch, of course I wouldn't spend $8 on a Saucijzenbroodje, but at least I just realized that Saucijs might be derived from 'Sausage' although Wikipedia reads it's not quite the same.

17. Drop! Also on sale: De Ruijter vlokken en hagelslag, Bolletje Echte Beschuit en Wilhelmina Peperpunt.

18. Across the theme park was a huge outlet center architecturally decorated with a Dutch Touch, but aside from three or four units it stood completely vacant.

19. The other 'big attraction' of the city is Wind Mill island. I didn't really know what to expect, but as the brochure promised life performances and reenactment, I figured I headed over there to see what I would get for my $7. The answer was: not very much. The whole thing is centered around a Dutch windmill in a park like setting, which must appeal to some during the Tulip season but didn't have much to offer during the regular season. Here are some buildings at the entrance, which are basically just facades of one large souvenir shop.

20. That's a nice picture, but it's not like I have never seen these things before you know. (note for the non-Dutch: no worries about me bickering, Dutch people generally feel they have the right to do so when they feel someone is taking the piss at them, which is: quite often).

21. Here's a video of the life entertainment. It's only 11 seconds but you'll get the picture. Obviously they couldn't find any guys to do this so the two thin girls are dressed up as blokes. I'm also not sure where in the Netherlands they did this stuff. Probably the deep south.

22. I decided I had had enough entertainment and went for a stroll around downtown and surroundings a bit. Holland is situated South of Lake Mactawa. It has a nice park in between downtown and the water.

23. Dutch heritage.

24. Downtown Holland centers around a pleasantly strollable part of 8th street, with a look and feel that is typical for a Main Street USA. Like in any other city, most shops and businesses are to be found in the large commercial areas around town, but the tourism and the nearby Hope College luckily allows for compact but quaint Main Street.

25. The heritage is visible in the names of some of the stores, like this one:

26. Those who don't have a Dutch surname can always coin something like this (being an American Breakfast place by the way)

27. Building on 10th street, which seems like one of the largest the town has on offer. Besides from the Romanesque entrances, it could pass for a early 20th century Dutch building.

28. Next to it, a more typical American Building named 'Masonic Temple', like many large brick buildings at the time. Seems to have been converted to condos.

29. On 8th street there's a brewery/bar/restaurant called The New Holland Brewing Company.

30. They don't do tours on a Sunday, but I'm happy to report that the beer was excellent.

To sum up, Holland is a snug and quintessential American village which on the surface tries to monetize a bit on their name and heritage, which is fine. It was nice to stroll around the place for a day with the brilliant whether that I had.

31. On the way back I imagined having a beer at some lakeside pub watching the sun setting in Lake Michigan, a pleasure Chicagoans can't enjoy. Michigan City seemed like an option, but instead I ended up at a place called Blue Chip. When driving up the parking lot the place looks more like a busy airport terminal than a casino / hotel / conference center / etc. It appears to be desperate attempt to create some kind of business in an otherwise down spiraled city. Here is the 85 meter tall hotel tower.

I'm not sure what drives people into these places. I've seen a couple of those, and they all seem to be exclusively populated by the old, fat and the ugly (or all combined), i.e. not your winning types. But: drinks and snacks are always for free!

I also took the opportunity to drive along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive at dusk on the way back. The pictures of that didn't work out, but it really is a splendid route to enter the city!

Anyway, thanks for reading, cheers.
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Old August 23rd, 2010, 09:46 PM   #2
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I think they prefer the name "Netherlands"...oh wait.
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Old August 23rd, 2010, 10:28 PM   #3
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hehe! Great fun! I had no idea this town existed!
'Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood."
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Old August 24th, 2010, 12:48 AM   #4
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cool photos!!!
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Old August 24th, 2010, 11:26 AM   #5
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Very nice photo-tour around Holland, Jan
Urban Showcase: Athens Kalamata Trikala Thessaloniki
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General photography: Castles of France - Chateau de France and, since May of '08: Greece!
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Old August 24th, 2010, 12:38 PM   #6
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Seems like a really kitschy disney-like place. But interesting nonetheless.

Did you encounter some fellow native Käseköppe there?

🔥 Tradition doesn't mean to look after the ash, but to keep the flame alive! 🔥
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Old August 24th, 2010, 04:49 PM   #7
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^ goodness no. I'm Käseköpfavoiding when abroad.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 08:45 PM   #8
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Im sorry but that's disgusting. Plastic world!
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Old August 24th, 2010, 09:37 PM   #9
Aaron W
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Originally Posted by Vincedem View Post
Im sorry but that's disgusting. Plastic world!
No need to be so offended.

So they play up their name... not that big of a deal. It actually has a pretty nice downtown, so they must be doing something right.

Jan, thanks for the photos!
"A city exists, not for the constant passage of motorcars, but for the care and culture of men." -- Lewis Mumford
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