We started the day with some more Dutch history and the first stop was the Ruine van Brederode, built in the late thirteenth century. As far as ruins are concerned, the castle is in relatively good shape; there are many walls that are missing and others with massive holes as a result of sustaining repeated cannon fire, but there are still a few towers and rooms that are in tact. As I walked through the ruins, I could see the thickness of the brick walls and imagined what it would have been like to be in such a fortification when under attack. I think it is safe to say that it took many rounds of cannon fire before the structure itself was in any jeopardy.
Next, we headed up to the Panorama Mesdag to see what Holland would have looked like in the late 1800s. We climbed up a few flights of stairs and found ourselves in the center of the panorama, which gave the appearance of being atop a large sand dune, and as I looked around me, I genuinely had the feeling that I was looking out over the beach and the small fishing village of Sheveningen. The cyclorama is greater than 14 meters high and 40 meters in diameter, and the curvature of the canvas creates the three dimensional effect. While the popularity of panoramas was waning when Mesdag painted this masterpiece, it is important to realise that it was painted prior to the rise of photography and this was the closest medium they had to conveying the actual surroundings. Since we were not allowed to photograph in the museum, we went to a giant hilltop, which are quite rare in Holland, and I gazed upon the country from above (third picture from the top-if you enlarge it, you will see the giant windmills on the beach used to power some of the factories).
From there, we headed to a small port city where I ate herring as the old Dutch sailors (and many of the toughest modern sailors as well) once did: raw, all at once, and with a giant Heineken. It was awful, but one hell of an experience!
Later that night, Roderick and I biked into the city (as you can see from the picture, everyone bikes everywhere in Holland!) of Haarlem for some nightlife at de Koning (the king), Roderick's favorite club. And it was here that the most surreal event, in all of my travels to date, occured: The dancefloor had gotten momentarily quite; then, from the giant, booming speakers overhead, I heard the spoken introduction to the 1980s American television drama, The A-Team. At its conclusion, a techno-beat began, and as it increased in speed and volume, the entire dancefloor, in what appeared to be choreographed unison, began jumping up and down, waving their arms and singing-'da, da-da, da; da, da, da; da-dada, da, da; da-dadada, da!" I almost dropped my beverage as I was introduced to the musical genre know only as 'apres ski.'