YOU MIGHT WONDER JUST WHY THERE IS NO STARBUCKS IN BLARICUM. And no other franchised eateries. And no hotel chains. The busiest place in town, and favorite local gathering spot, is Ijssalon de Hoop, a family-run, home-made ice cream parlor, operated in the same location for generations. People line up all the way around the corner sometimes and cordially wait their turn to buy a cone and top it with real whipped cream; then they sit outside—in sun, in rain, in snow—at the over-sized picnic table or atop antique, metal milk churns and discuss the daily news, or the weather, which constantly changes from blistering sun to cloudy to chilly to monsoon downpour and back to sun in one afternoon. Or, they debate just how their garbage truck works, and they wonder if their glass actually gets recycled into three different colors—um…I made that last part up.
But I’m not making this up:
The area around what is now the village of Blaricum was initially a settlement of farmers, recorded at least as early as 970 CE, living in turf huts and simple farm-houses. Even later during medieval times, the land was still fairly wild, and living here consisted mainly of cultivating the land for farming, growing food, breeding cattle, and surviving winters. The people raised sheep on the moorlands. They cut hay for cattle in their stables and sowed and harvested the fertile fields with vegetables and grain, including hops. The farmers perfected the technique for growing and harvesting asparagus underground, which leaves it white instead of green; the asparagus gets longer, thicker, more tender, and it tastes lighter, smoother, sweeter (it still affects the aroma of your urine, but it too, if not exactly sweet, is less pungent). For many centuries, farming was the only way of life and the main method of survival in the region. There were few stores, and no coffee shops. Actually, coffee had not even been discovered in this part of the world yet. But during the Renaissance when coffee finally did arrive in Europe in the 1600’s, some people—perhaps those pesky, staid and unadventurous Dutch Reformists?—reacted poorly to coffee and called it the “bitter invention of Satan.” Obviously, anything that good had to be bad—like sex, drugs, Rock & Roll, and croissants. Makes you wonder why when people disagree with something—or want to do something or don’t want you doing something—they invent or interpret words from their god that make them feel righteous and content, while forcing everyone else to feel malaise and pain (wait…how did that sentence find its way to Blaricum? Maybe, it’s still the ordeal in Orlando on the brain?). At any rate, Blaricum maintained its agrarian ethos until the 1920’s, and today, some folks consider it the loveliest village in North Holland.
During the mid to late 20th century, numerous artists moved to Blaricum—to leave the pother and bother of Amsterdam and to be closer to the artist colony that was thriving in the nearby village of Laren (today, the second-most-expensive town in which to buy a house here). The artists purchased land from the local farmers in Blaricum, and built houses; a little later, other artists and then businessmen discovered the appeal and also built houses; they created the village of Blaricum with no real plan, one house or lane at a time, so the streets now wander across the land, weaving themselves together over a tapestry of ancient footpaths and caprice.
This is one reason Blaricum is such a beautiful little burg, nothing linear about it. But don’t look for it in your travel guidebooks: Blaricum offers a tourist nothing—no funicular, no over-sized Ferris wheel, no slot machines, no bridge over troubled waters, no seashore. You will, however, get an eyeful of history and architecture and doors and windows and forests and hills and dales and moors and elms and trained lime trees and a large dollop of double-Dutch allure. Nothing you’d need to pay to see. You might not even be able to find a bicycle to rent, which in Holland, almost borders the absurd. And although Blaricum is the most expensive place to buy a home, you can rent a nicely-appointed room in the Blaricum B&B or the classic Bellevue Hotel at very reasonable rates, far lower than Amsterdam.
One thing you don’t need to wonder about, though, is the class of the architecture in Blaricum. Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re riding a bike here in the burg. Imagine you haul your aging German Shepard around town in a nylon trailer behind your bike as you peddle your aging body around town, or down to the Ijssalon de Hoop ice cream parlor to sit on a keg of milk and talk trash. Perhaps you notice a tourist standing on the opposite side of the street. You can tell he’s a tourist because on a summer day at 16 degrees Celsius (60F), any local Blaricumian would be wearing shorts and a T-shirt. This guy’s carrying an umbrella, wearing fleece and shivering. He seems to be photographing you as you peddle by. Now, imagine what the windows might look like in houses in the most expensive burg in the Netherlands. Imagine you and your dog are riding down Huizerweg, the main street running from the nearby town of Huizen into Blaricum. You might notice any number of houses and decide to photograph curved roofs and quaint windows in Blaricum.
Have you seen fun windows, or dogs in trailers, in some place you’ve visited?
You can find more entries for DP Photo Challenge here: Curve
You can find more entries to Lucile’s Rehab here: Photo Rehab