Dutch trivia: Did you know…

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1….that there is a pyramid in the Netherlands? The Pyramid of Austerlitz in the province of Utrecht was built by Napoleon’s soldiers under the command of a French general Auguste de Marmont.  Marmont was inspired by the pyramid of Giza that he had seen while on assignment in Egypt. He had his soldiers build the pyramid after months of training to keep them occupied.  The pyramid is in a clearing in a wooded area.  Following the trail in the woods leading to the pyramid makes for an interesting afternoon walk.

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the pyramid of Austerlitz
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trail to the pyramid

2…that there is a star-shaped fortress in the Netherlands? The Vesting Bourtange can be found near the German border in the province of Groningen. It was built during the Eighty Year’s war by William I of Orange to break off the communication between Groningen, controlled by the Spaniards and Germany.  Today, the fortress has undergone reconstruction and one can visit and see how it was in its heyday.

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Bourtange as seen from Google maps
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old bridge
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electric blue canon
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windmill inside the fortress
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ridges and canals

3. …that a little town in Holland called Giethoorn is in the international edition of the Monopoly board game along side big cities like Sydney, Amsterdam and New York?  Thanks to its relentless campaign.  Its popularity with tourists won votes for the town.  Self tour with rented motorized boats along the canal is a must.  For kids, a visit to Deoudeaarde to see different types of rocks and gems could be fascinating.  Be careful of the crocodile – it’s real.

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photo and news from NOS.nl
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boat ride in the canal
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self drive
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guarding the house
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town Church
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canal walk
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canals draining in the big lake

4…about the Dutch folklore ‘The Cat and the Cradle’ (not related to the song)?  During the St. Elizabeth flood, the Alblaserwaard polder where Kinderdijk is situated remained unflooded.  After the storm passed, a cradle was seen floating in the water kept balanced by a cat.  A baby was said to be quietly sleeping inside the cradle.  Like the cat balancing the cradle to ensure the baby remains dry, several windmills have been built in Kinderdijk to drain the polder when needed and prevent flooding.  To get there, one can travel by train (stop: Rotterdam Lombardijen station) and from thereon take a bus.  Check out 9292.nl to plan your travel.

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a stroll in Kinderdijk

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5. …that there is a small town in the province of Zeeland called Philippine?  Yup, just without the ‘s’. There are similarities to my country, The Philippines, too.This town used to be a strategic harbour fortress (see the striking similarity with the star-shaped fortress in the fortification plan in the photo below), while my country is in a strategic location in South East Asia.  The town was under Spanish rule for 70 years, my country was under the Spanish rule for 300+ years. The town is popular for its mussel restaurants, my country has an abundance of sea food!  And for that last bit re: mussels, I may just visit Philippine, the town, someday.

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from the Universitheitsbibliotheek Utrecht
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