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Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Last Province!

Swolgen - Venlo (21 kms)

Not much to report today. Lots of forests, unpaved roads and trails. After an hour I started to look for a place to have coffee, but that did not show up until after about two and a half hours and I was tired by then.
Had two coffees at Grubbenvorst, just to have an excuse to sit down for a while longer. Took a small ferry across the river Maas and ended up in the province of Limburg. The last day and a half I had been hiking through the province of Noord Brabant. The trail followed the river for quite a while and finally ended up in Venlo, one of the largest cities in Limburg, not particular pretty. Sat down in a park for lunch and called Margriet for a ride to our friends' place that is 25 kms off the trail. I'll have a day of rest there and then there are only five more days to go, it promises to be relatively heavy though because now the hill country is starting in earnest.

(Margriet: I enjoy the variety of walking a day here, then spending a day there. I enjoyed staying in the different places, so far, and now housesat for friends. It's fun to ride my bike into town and blend in with the locals - shopping at the bakery, the butcher, the green grocer. I've so enjoyed spending time with my sister and her family, with friends, with a cousin. I find groceries quit cheap compared to Canada. But that's also because the portions are so much smaller. In restaurants you get a tiny cup of coffee, a small glass of pop. Everything is small here. Or have we been supersized?!)

Yesterday was election day in Holland. Over the last few days I had been following the debates on TV and the discussions in the newspapers. Last night I fell asleep in front of the TV watching the returns. Dutch elections are interesting because there are about a dozen political parties trying for one of the 150 seats in parliament. A couple of large parties (one right of center and one left of center won the election and will likely make up a coalition government in the next few weeks. But there are many small parties: one for the 'protection of animals' !! (it got 2 seats) and one for people over 50 (it got 2 seats, too). The party which was against the Netherlands being part of the European Union and against immigration by peoples from countries with other religions lost big time. Very interesting to see a parliamentary system at work that is so totally different from the Canadian and US systems. Frankly I like it better because it forces politicians to work together much more than what is happening with the North American system, much more democratic then the 2 party system in my mind. Anyway, it was an interesting last few days to be following it.

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