"Staphorst - Found Myself in a Strange Town" Staphorst by JohnnySpangles

Staphorst Travel Guide: 36 reviews and 82 photos

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Staphorst is a village in the middle of Holland somewhere. I’m still not quite sure where it is. I know the aeroplane landed somewhere in Holland, after that it was all a bit of a blur. The blindfold and the tinted car windows didn’t help. There’s a great deal of secrecy surrounding Staphorst. Nobody knows where it is and it doesn’t appear on maps. Tall reeds grow all around the village boundaries and there are those that say strange things happen there.

Incidentally I was supposed to be impressed by all this. I’d gone to Holland to see a company in nearby Meppel. They’d volunteered to arrange all my accommodation for me and they said I’d like it. The driver, who wasn’t a company employee, told me all about the village. Apparently it was a religious community and very strictly regulated.

“Sounds like it’s going to be a laugh a minute,” I murmured to myself in the back of the car.

He went on to tell me that they disapprove of most modern things including cars, television, abortions and blood transfusions. They wear traditional Dutch costume and go to church not once, but twice, on Sundays just for fun. The roads into the village are closed on Sundays and no work at all can be carried out on the Sabbath. Like wise all the shop windows must be shuttered, both to ward off temptation and to stop the goods on display ‘working’. I had no doubt that they would probably disapprove of a lot of my bad habits as well.

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At this point I’m probably expected to say how wrong I was, and what a wonderful time I had. I’m afraid I can’t although I had a reasonably pleasant afternoon. Rather than talk business in his office, the owner of the company insisted on ferrying me around the local canals and then a man-made lake that goes on for miles but never gets any deeper than two feet. So there was bugger-all chance of the tedium being interrupted by a killer whale attack, or even killer sticklebacks for that matter.

My lodgings were interesting enough. It was a large double room above a restaurant, in fact I think it might be the only guest room they had. I also believe it was the bridal suite, so no doubt whole generations of Staphorsters had been conceived upon my bed. I looked for clues, but they’d obviously changed the sheets since the last wedding. The bed was unusual in that it was in a dark hole in the wall. Shutters closed out all the light apart from two tiny pinpricks in the eyes of the portrait painting on the wall.

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The restaurant was good, nay excellent. Upon the owner’s recommendation I had a thirteen course meal, and it was probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had. He also brought me bottle after bottle of fine wine. I was the only one dining there that evening and I’d occasionally catch a glimpse of the kitchen staff staring at me from across the room. The owner, though, never looked up from the obsessive sharpening of his knife on a grindstone. I retired early as the meal and the wine had made me sleepy. The kitchen staff were silent as they watched me ascend the stairs, one of the girls genuflected. I smiled at her uneasily and, rather than return my look, she hastily cast her eyes down to the floor.

I awoke in the morning, covered in sweat, and immediately noticed that I was missing an arm. My shock on discovering this was short-lived when I thankfully remembered that the nocturnal amputation of a limb is a local custom in this part of Holland. In this increasingly globalised world, where people and places are becoming standardised we should all respect local traditions and not complain too loudly should they cause us any slight inconveniences. For this world is composed of many beliefs, religions and creeds and we should be tolerant above all else, lest one day we lose those essential differences and thus we lose the need to travel.

I wish I hadn’t brought two suitcases though.

  • Last visit to Staphorst: Apr 1995
  • Intro Written Sep 21, 2002
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JohnnySpangles

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