Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Elfstedentocht

One of my professors is from Friesland, a region in the north of the Netherlands with tons of canals, but not particularly urban and with only eleven official cities. The region even has its own language, Frisian, which I only recently learned is the second official language of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. (And, for those who do not know, the country is still a monarchy with Queen Beatrix as the current head of state.) Anyway, Friesland is apparently a very beautiful area of the country of which the people there are very proud as evident by there enthusiasim for giving tours -- by foot, bike, bus, boat, and occasionally by ice! It does not happen often, but at least once every ten years or so the canals freeze over completely and the ice skating tour of the eleven FrieslChristmas, decorations, Dutch, Holland, Netherlands, picturesand cities begins...and the people go nuts! Dr. Slootjes says it has only happened three times in her life (she is probably somewhere in her thirties), but their are rumors it may happen this year. The 'Elfstedentocht' as it is called, is cerca 220 kilometers (about 150 miles) and can be done either as a race or just for fun. Feel free to check out this website to see the route, maps, and other information. 

Also, Prof. Slootjes sent out this video in an email (she thought it was funny and had told the class about it). The music is kind of weird, so just ignore it, but it gives you an idea of what Friesland looks like, the ice skating culture, and what Frisian sounds like. So, all around it is worth a look and/or listen. 

Truly, the 'Elfstedentocht' is a rare experience that seems like so much fun. Needless to say, if the canals freeze up, I will take my professor's advice -- skip class and head for the ice!

Until next time,

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