June 23, 2019 – Haarlem, The Netherlands

Tired from my 15 hour day in Amsterdam yesterday, so slept in, piddled around washing “small and delicates” (or “moderately sized and substantial,” as the case may be), then took the bus to Haarlem for a few hours. Had…WAIT FOR IT …mustard soup (I know, right? Brilliant Dutch people, so delicious), a smoked salmon sandwich, and a beer and enjoyed the breeze and people watching, then went and signed up for a tour of a historic mill. The only other guy on the tour was a recent LSU grad from New Orleans named Clyde. The tour was about what you might expect. The tour guide reminded me of Alyce Beasley, jumped a few times at noises, commiserated with me about the heat. Pointed to the nearby prison and said she used to work there as a security guard for 7 months, now she’s not allowed to work there. I tried not to draw a connection between that and her jumpiness and aversion to heat, so decided something was lost in the translation.

Haarlem prison in the distance…fancy architecture…PS, guide’s grandma lives on the street in front of the prison, guide lives over there (points off to right in the distance)

Haarlem is quiet and beautiful, wish I had more time to explore there. Rode the train to Amsterdam to try and by a bus ticket for tomorrow, couldn’t do it so rode the tram+bus back to Aalsmeer.

Word to the wise: people will tell you that you do not need to learn Dutch before you go, because “everyone speaks English.”. I found this is not as widely true as in Denmark, though most have some, but people are very friendly and will try to help, EXCEPT don’t count on this with bus drivers. While some are helpful, most will let you know in no uncertain terms that they are not here to play tour guide or be your babysitter. (Though one gruff bus driver refused to let me wait at a stop in a junkie haven at midnight last night, and instead made me come on his bus to a safer waiting place, then made sure I felt comfortable finding my connection. Old grump. ❤️)

People, if you learn anything, learn Bus Dutch.

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