We’re on our way to Amsterdam today! Or as PC likes to call it: Hamster’s Dam… either way it means more driving.
But, before we left, we stopped at another village in the Rhine Valley to go to a Cuckoo Clock shop and a Beer Stein shop. Both of them were really neat! It was so cool to see all the craftsmanship that went in to any of these items. The Cuckoo Clock shop had dozens of clocks of different sizes, shapes (the cuckoo surrounded by leaves, a steeped-roof German cottage, or a flat roof Bavarian cottage), music, and themes (musician, wood-cutter, beer drinker, etc.). They also had the world’s largest free-hanging cuckoo clock outside the shop.
The Beer Stein shop had so many intricate and detailed designs on their steins! They had several steins themed by country, occupation, hobby, and many others. They also had steins from the Oktoberfests of the last couple decades. I saw occupation-themed steins for nurses, engineers, bus drivers, chimney sweeps, and the unemployed. There were steins that commemorated the fall of the Berlin Wall, and included pieces of the wall. (These are limited edition, because they are running out of wall.) They also had large animal horns made into beer mugs with metal decorations added. Some of them looked like dragons! But my favourite stein was the FIFA world cup stein, which (among many other details) included a large sphere that was half a football and half a globe. It was almost a meter tall and cost around €800!
After a long drive to the Netherlands, we stopped at the home of a cheese and clog maker, who was probably the happiest man in The Netherlands. He was very nice and super excited about what he made. He had just over a dozen cows on his property (which PC was very excited about). He told us about the cheese making process and said the flavouring was a secret family recipe. If you wanted to know it, you‘d have to marry his brother (which he does not recommend because, apparently, his brother is lazy). Then he showed us the wood carving and cutting process to made traditional Dutch clogs. He then gave us some samples of cheese and showed us to his shop so we could buy some souvenirs.
Once we were in Amsterdam, after we settled in to our hostel, we made our way to the city center via the tram system. The people on board did not look too impressed that 50 people suddenly all boarded in the same door. We had a nice tour of the shopping areas, local palaces, and landmarks. We learned that the Dutch are very literal. For example, the square that houses the dam is called Dam Square. After the tour, PC and I searched for food, only to eat in an Italian restaurant in Amsterdam. Nevertheless, the food was delicious! We finished of the evening with some sweets from a candy shop nearby and a tram ride home.