Day 31 Ė Go north, young man, go north

Got up bright and early and feeling refreshed despite a short nightís sleep. Went downstairs with the intention of getting my moneyís worth since breakfast was included in the price but only ended up drinking a little orange juice and a croissant. Across other tables you could hear Dutch (or Flemish) conversations from fellow guests. It sounded like they were choking on chicken bones and needed immediate assistance. I just ate my sorry little breakfast quietly then scurried away to get ready.

Headed north today through the Netherlands and though I thought the country was small spent what seemed like too many hours driving without getting anywhere all the while trying to make sense out of signs that read like a bad hand of Scrabble. Though I looked, and looked hard, I could find no grocery stores despite having gone through what felt like dozens of little towns. I came to the conclusion that the Dutch donít buy their food at grocery stores and must instead feed themselves from whatever they grow out back in their gardens. Their homes are much different than the ones I had been seeing in France and Spain. In those countries houses looked ancient because they probably were ancient. They were made from stone and imbued with the character only hundreds of years can add and their layout was crowded and irregular, further adding to that charm factor. In Holland though the homes were modern, neat and tidy like an upscale neighborhood in New England or upstate New York. The front lawns were impeccably tended and the preferred material of construction was an attractive red brick with white-trimmed windows and black roofs sloping on steep angles making them look playfully ginger-breadish. And out back I imagined is where they kept their huge gardens, cows and a chicken coop to feed the family.

Another day where I accomplished little more than driving, I slipped into Germany late that afternoon and was glad to once again find grocery stores in the towns. I was less glad, however, to find their stock selection distinctly uninspiring. No cheese bonanza like in Italy or France, no knock-your-socks-off hanging hams like in Spain. Just your basic menu of foodstuffs is all. Even though I hadnít eaten much all day I didnít see anything I felt was appetizing enough for dinner and just spent some time flirting with the deli clerk before leaving and looking for a spot to spend the night out in the car.

I made sure to find one such spot which was not muddy in the least.

Day 32