22.7.17

giethoorn.


















Imagine a fairytale village in the remote Dutch countryside: lush and green, full of wildlife, it has footbridges and canals instead of streets, boats and bikes instead of cars, no Starbucks, no KFC, not even an Albert Heijn. This is Giethoorn, population 2,620.

What Giethoorn does have is Asian tourists. Lots of them (200,000 Chinese tourists a year according to Wikipedia). You can't really see it from my pictures, but for the first few hours we were there, there was a constant, logic-defying stream of obviously foreign people clogging the tiny sidewalks and bike paths. Walking from the general parking area, the first restaurant menu you see is in Chinese. There are Chinese signs all over the place, half welcoming ("Daily specials! Cheap prices!") and half threatening ("Keep out", "Private property", "This is a mailbox not a garbage can, you ignorant tourist scum").

Of course we don't really know what most of the Chinese signs say. The signs about the mailbox not being a garbage can is real, though, because it was written in like four languages on more than one mailbox. When we first got there, the initial reaction to Giethoorn was puzzlement ("What are these throngs of badly-dressed, overweight people doing here, shuffling zombie-like from one end of the town to the other, or incessantly taking selfie after selfie") and sympathy ("My god, this would be a really beautiful place if it wasn't for all of these tourists, how could you possibly live here.").

And then around 18:00, we rented a boat from the one place that let you rent boats after 18:00. And you kind of got why people would have first started to come to Giethoorn. The buses of tourists had left by then, the canals were mostly empty, we saw four other boats the whole time I think, it had just started to drizzle, and everything was really quiet and tranquil. It was a bit like a fairytale village. Insert witty/pithy closing sentence here.


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