Oh! The Places I’ve Been – “H” is for HEERHUGOWAARD


Although I’d traveled to Amsterdam in the late 70’s, while a student in Switzerland, I returned to The Netherlands in the early 90’s, this time to visit a friend in the little town of HeerHugowaard.

photo by M. Reynolds
photo by M. Reynolds

The town is named after “Lord” (“Heer” in Dutch) Hugo van Assendelft, who died in 1296.

It’s a small, quiet town (about 45,000 residents when I was there in the early 90’s), very walkable, not far from Amsterdam. My friend and I attended a concert in the capital one evening. Classical music. The concert hall was filled to capacity and everyone was dressed to the nines. Young people, old people. No one crunched on chips or unwrapped cellophane-covered lozenges during the performances. No one chatted. And it was too soon for texting, but I’m sure no one would have been doing that, either. It was a very genteel event.

However, Heerhugowaard is no utopia. Since 2004, there has been a coffee shop in the town; its appearance was met with fierce opposition. If you’re wondering why, it’s because “coffee shops” in The Netherlands are establishments where the sale of cannabis for personal consumption by the public is tolerated by the local authorities. Some inhabitants realize that the establishment is there to make sure the laws are respected and to make sure there is no cross pollination between soft and hard drugs. Still, others saw fit to throw stones at the place.

Of all the places in this month’s group, this was probably my least favorite. Nothing against Holland, of course. 🙂