Day 4 Leeuwarden

July 3, 2015

Does anyone remember this meme from Day 2?


Well, jet lag did come … big time. We had planned to go to Schiermonnikoog Island today, which is basically an all day trip; an early rise is necessary to catch the right ferry. However, when we grogged out of bed, we found it was already 10:30!


Change of plans.

We re-ordered things in our heads and decided we would stick close to home, go to the Aqua Zoo and the Frysmuseum and leave the Island for another day.

Good! So decided, we ate a leisurely breakfast (read: horked down Mia’s bountiful bread and pastry offerings with eggs, yogurt, meat and cheese), then waddled down the pyramidic staircase to the car and set out.

Jeeps was in a chipper mood, leading us flawlessly to the Aqua Zoo.

While on the way in to the Zoo entrance, we spotted a sign that conjured up wonderful images in my head; ones that are not socially respectable or PC-oriented, whatsoever. And which served as a reminder that what may be taboo in one country, is not necessarily taboo in another:


Of course, I know that it is the same as ‘mini golf’, or in our area of Canada: ‘putt-putt golf, and that it doesn’t mean this:MIdget-golf-296x400

Nor does it signify a Lewis Carroll-ian style version of the game where Little People are the balls and Flamingos are used as clubs …


“The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo”. Illustration by John Tenniel, 1865.

But I digress …

There was virtually no-one at the Aqua Zoo when we entered, so the whole experience was like a lovely walk in a jungle or nature park. With the exception that we started off in an enclosed building where some of the animals were kept. This was the moment we realized that in our rush to get up and get out and about we had forgotten our good Nikon camera, so we have only photos from the tiny point-and-shoot Sanyo to show for it.

One could see the Zoo was valiantly attempting to recreate the habitats of the animals it had in captivity and whereas the outside exhibits were impressive in this manner, the inside ones were a bit depressing even though the same care was given. It just seemed in my eyes less humane somehow, although I think that is a tad hypocritical of me.

In any case, we were on holidays and animals are cool, so …

We entered the building and one of the first exhibits to catch our eyes was the bats:

For the sake of SIL (you recall wise SIL who drove us to the airport), who has a phobia when it comes to snakes and any reptiles that look like snakes, I will forego pictures and descriptions of the snakes, monitors and crocodiles we saw here. (And of big spiders, to prevent a loud scream from our son #1 or SO1 as he may be called later on).

We stepped outside and saw the potential golf clubs for the previously mentioned taboo game:

We were to follow the green signs saying ‘Zoo’ and so started off on our mini (or midget, if you will) safari.

I apologize for not recording the names of many of these animals, as we were caught up in the moment, but … here are a large group of European White Storks nesting on what appeared to be a solar panel. I wondered, was this a working solar panel for the zoo (in which case I seriously doubted if it worked any longer)? Or was it a handy derelict unused panel that the park used to create a tall habitat for the birds.

White Storks

White Storks

Here was a South American coatl. Note the shovel-like snout.

South American coatl

South American coatl

Here are some South American bush dogs, creeping warily from their den  and waiting for the groundskeeper to be gone from cleaning their scummy ponds.

South African Bushdog

South African Bushdog

These fellows need no introduction …


Next up was a South American Capybara, having a snooze with his back to us) and a South American lowland Tapir.




Fun with monkeys:


We walked down a path and turned the corner and saw, as if waiting for us …

Ring-tailed Lemurs, very pretty and totally unafraid.

We took a bunch of photographs and it was if they were waiting for us to do something else. They had a kind of ‘move-along, move-along’ expression.

Eventually some sort of signal was made and a baby Lemur leaped down from the tree and began riding on another’s back, walking up the trail, looking back as if making sure we would follow.

Naturally we followed them, and soon, the baby dismounted

We turned a corner and came upon the reason why the lemurs were there and why they wanted us to keep going …

a (pay) feeding station.

As soon as I grabbed some of the feed from the machine, this fellow jumped up on my back.

MLW wanted to feed some too …


It’s not a holiday until you do a selfie, so here is me with my new pal Lemmy.

Once they knew we weren’t feeding them anymore, they walked off in a huff.

Next was a familiar face.


And Some of Julia Robert’s friends



One practicing to be a matador or maybe the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come



A large sea lion

and finally Humboldt penguins

From here we made off to the Frysmuseum, which had an easily accessible underground parking lot. We drove down and punched a button to receive our ticket, just like at home!

As we headed up and out of the parking lot, we ended up walking through a farmers market which is held every weekend in the square in front of the museum. It looked like fun but we were on a schedule so didn’t stop.

The museum was an extremely interesting place with collections and exhibits dedicated to the culture and history of Friesland and pertaining to questions of how Friesland originated and developed and what defines the character of a typical Frisian person. It seems that the Frisians have suffered from poor self-image for reasons I wasn’t able to distinguish at the time, possibly due to being conquered and divided throughout history and treated as the poor northern cousins of the Dutch <only an observation not fact>.

Unfortunately we were unable to take photographs, as our camera had died…

 The English guidebooks and laminates provided were instrumental in deciphering what the exhibits were about, as nothing other than the Frys and Dutch languages was used on the displayed items themselves.

There was a huge exhibition on gold: Old Gold, The old boys network in the Golden Age, and  Found treasures form the middle ages. Fantastic medieval coins, fibula (cloak brooches), pendants and other workings made in Friesland of gold and silver, many found in England as well as in burial mounds in Holland were on display.

Face to face with the lady from the mound: The mounds are the treasure rooms of ancient Friesland and this exhibit showed a remarkable find from the mounds, the tomb of a woman who lived in the 7th century and was buried in the trunk of a hollow oak tree in the tallest mound in Friesland in Hogebeintum. The Fries Museum has performed facial reconstruction form the skull and given this lady a face. It is a remarkable job and you can see the character of the person in the reconstruction.

Another small exhibit pertains to the infamous Margaretha Zelle, otherwise known as Mata Hari, who was born in Leeuwarden, became an exotic dancer and was executed as a spy by a French firing squad in the middle of the First World War. Apparently, there was not much proof that she was a spy other than she liked having affairs with German officers.

Mata Hari

Mata Hari

Then there was the Hindelooper period room, which shows the interior of a room of a typical wealthy Friesland merchant of the Golden Age, filled with  objects collected from all over the world during his trading voyages. The Hindelooper has been exhibited around the world for centuries, being deconstructed and reconstructed for each exhibition.

Finally there was an exhibit of the Kameleon and the riddle of the silver fork famous Dutch children’s stories. The images struck us very amusing, but it was extremely popular here, something like the Tin Tin books.



We wanted to go eat at the Pancake Shop, which we had heard was excellent. I was all for staying parked at the Frysmuseum as we were already there and probably could walk to the ship. MLW wasn’t sure when the parking lot might close and thought the pancake ship was a fair distance away, so we decided to leave the museum parking lot and drive closer to it.

And so began out first parking fiasco.

I drove up to the exit gate and put my ticket in, expecting to pay with a MasterCard or cash right there.

Nothing happened. Cars backed up behind me.

”Uh Oh” I said.

I opened the door and got out, heading to the car behind me, which a middle-aged Chinese lady drove, whose eyes got wider the closer I got to her.

Stock Image -

Stock Image -

I said to her. “Where do we pay?”

“Not know, not know” she waved at me frantically. Then she pointed over towards a set of stairs. “In the mall. Go pay!”

“In the mall?” I asked incredulously. “What mall?”

“Look, he help, he help.” Said the lady, by now frightened out of her wits, pointing to another man who was approaching us. He wore blue parking lot attendant coveralls. I asked him the same question, as I eyed the growing stream of cars at a standstill behind our car.

“Where do I pay?”

“Pay? You have not paid yet? You have to pay!” He said crossly.

“No, I’m sorry, I didn’t know where to pay. Where do I pay?”

He waved over towards the same set of stairs. “In the mall ______” with some word I didn’t recognize.

“In the mall, my God!” I said and ran towards the stairs.

Right there I saw a parking machine.

“Oh in the mall foyer,”  I thought. “That’s what he said; that makes sense.”

I hurried to the machine. I could see no way to pay by card. I ran back to the car and MLW, who was still sitting in the passenger seat, with a look beginning to match the Chinese Lady still trapped behind us. The blue coveralls man was directing cars that were more than three behind the Chinese Lady to another exit.

“Give me all the coin you have!” I said calmly and coolly to MLW. (Her version is slightly different from mine, but I am the blog writer damn it).

MLW did as I asked, still managing to fit in a glare..

I took the coins, scurried back to the pay station and put my ticket in (praying it would come back out when I paid) and paid the four Euros it asked for. Thankfully it did pop out.

Dashed back to the car, put the ticket in the toll, the gate lifted and I sped up the ramp to the top, at which point I realized we had not programmed Jeeps and had no clue where we were going. I pulled over when I thought it was safe and sat back to discuss in a measured and controlled manner our next move with MLW.

Eventually, I programmed in the Pancake ship address and readied to follow Jeeps’ directions.

Jeeps, not wanting to be upstaged by my dramatic parking lot exit, decided at that minute to lead us on a merry-go-round in the old town.

Several times we could see the pancake house as we criss-crossed the old town, but we just couldn’t get there from where we were.

Finally, we decided to just park somewhere, anywhere. After a time we located a parking stall on a street. When we got out to have a look at the parking sign directions, it stated the maximum was 1 hour.

“One hour! What the hell can you do in one hour around here?” MLW asked.

Well, we didn’t think we could walk to the pancake ship,order, eat and walk back within an hour, that’s for sure. So we decided to eat at a pub that was just a block away from where we parked, in plain sight.

As we walked towards the pub, we noticed that it was at the opposite end of the square from the Frysmuseum, where the farmers market had been held and was just packing up.

And from where we had tortured the poor Chinese lady.

“I guess we could have stayed parked under the Frysmuseum.” Said MLW sagely, not looking at me.

I chose not to answer.

At the pub we had a lovely meal of fish and chips and white wine and beer. It hit the spot and the burly tattooed waiter was very polite and apologized for not realizing we did not speak Dutch.

“You look Dutch!” he said with a laugh.

We apologized to him for not being able to speak Dutch and thanked him for thinking we fit in.

When we got back to our B&B we saw Mia’s husband had gone out and got us an adapter, which unfortunately wouldn’t fit our Canadian male … um … parts, so we had to ask her to take it back, which she said was no problem.

As we relaxed on the deck,

another lady checked in with her daughter and asked us where to go to eat that was nearby and quick. I recommended Toms cafeteria, and they scuttled off.

Later that evening I saw that the lady was sitting by herself in another small terrace, so I invited her to come out to the bigger one with us and we had a nice chat. Well, MLW chatted with her; I sat and listened and drank wine.

The lady’s name was Hannah and she was from Denmark, down to bring her daughter to her residence from where she would attend the university in Leeuwarden, learning Wildlife management. Apparently this university is the only place she can study this topic. They had been the previous year to Namibia and experienced the big animal ranches there and Hannah’s daughter, who had been recommended to take up medicine due to her grades, discovered that instead she would rather work with animals.

Hannah worried for her daughter being here on her own in a strange residence so had come to help get the residence ready, which her daughter would be sharing with three others. Apparently it was very dirty and the bathroom grout was moldy and Hannah had scolded the landlord, saying she will not pay if he didn’t fix it up, so Hannah was satisfied that she had done her duty and could leave the rest of the cleaning to her daughter.

we guessed that not every landlord or host was as clean and picky as Mia.

It was getting late and we were weary so we bid her good night and retired.

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6 thoughts on “Day 4 Leeuwarden

  1. Pingback: Day 7 – Schiermonnikoog | Colin John Keats

  2. Pingback: Day 5 –Zwaag and Family | Colin John Keats

  3. Pingback: Day 3 | Colin John Keats

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