Monday, June 17, 2019

Zeeland

loved this detail on a Dordecht roof

townhall in Willemstadt

snack stop in Dinteloord  Good thing my watch kept track of where I was. We would have snacks, good ones too, every ten miles  They would fill our waterbottles every morning with lemon water

we had a picnic lunch on top of the Dintellocks. It was so windy by the time I climbed to a bench overlooking the water, a good portion of my lunch had blown away

lots of locks on this trip

the Roosevelt museum in Oude Vossemeer Zeeland. The founder of both lines that led to Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt emigrated from here. They were a powerful family here too

The Four Freedoms statue. Every year an award is given here to someone who epitomized the values. Don't think our Orangeman will ever qualify as he is  destroying the freedoms. Surviving Roosevelts always come here for the ceremony

cute café across from the museum

downtown Tholen. We had an optional ride around the island of Tholen but I passed as it was so windy plus I already rode 38 miles
I loved this house in Tholen

strange truck next to our homestay house

Third day of riding: Willemstaad to Tholen When viewed from above, Willemstaad appears to be a seven pointed star in honor of the seven provinces of the Netherlands though I think they now have nine. It is surrounded by a twenty foot wall in the shape of a star.Some think that Holland and the  Netherlands are one and the same but Holland is just one of the provinces though one that has the greatest historical significance and population.  We started out in Holland but on this day, we crossed into Zeeland, land recovered from the sea. More polders, more canals, more ferries to wait for, more locks...

I quickly developed a routine. I am an early riser. I would bring my phone and charger (needed it to be charged completely for our battery sucking mapping app) into the lower lounge and drink countless cups of cappuccino  (no sugar as it comes in slow to dissolve cubes) I would have liked to explore our docking towns but they pull the gangplank up at night. I could sit on the outside decks and watch the sun come up. There were guidebooks to read along with a book on Dutch birds (in Dutch). I would soon be joined by our chef, Russell, a kiwi of Dutch heritage. He is 33. We became good friends. His girlfriend was on the team responsible for photographing that black hole back in April. So quite the pair: an Astrophysicist and a chef whose role model is Escoffier. I would continue my Dutch lessons. His Dutch is bad as he grew up in New Zealand. I can now read it but understanding and worse, speaking it was a challenge. I had more quickly adopted Italian. I finally had to use it that day. We were directed to a small town but expected to find a museum on our own so in my best Dutch, I asked some teenagers where it was. They gave me a multipart answer in rapid Dutch but pointed in the right direction so I was first to find it   It was also useful with menus. Russell would always make  me a fresh cup of coffee. When it was time for him to make our breakfast, others would come in and I  would retreat to my room to clean up before my late sleeping friend would arise.. Breakfast was at 8:30.  We would come ready to ride though some days we would sail aways before the ride.  

On this day, we took a group ride through Willemstaad, a very cute town. I would have liked to explore it but we stopped only once. Then on our own through potato and sugar beet fields and wind. Dutch snacks are hard to resist: almond and coconut macaroons, real chococolate, fruit. Eventually we made our way to the lunch stop in the middle of nowhere.  Potato lentil salad. Not my favorite though Russell made some excellent rhubarb bread. I sat on top of a dyke with the only possible Trump supporters on the trip. The man owned a company that he thought Trump would help. Through lots of wind and polders to the town that the Roosevelts came from . They opened the museum especially for us. Fortunately not far from Tholen. The wind and all those polders was wearing on me. I didn't do the Tholen ride.  They had a program to learn how the Dutch really live. So off I went with the lesbian couple to a private house which was built just 15 years ago. The couple was nice. The women, maybe 10 years younger than me, is a school teacher who wants to be a child therapist. She took a 8 day course to become this. I had to laugh as one of the Americans I was with had a phd in child psychology and was a therapist. Had a bit more than 8 days training but she just smiled. We discussed politics. Of course there isn't a single person in the country that would understand why you know who was elected. A tragedy for the whole world, not just us.

So I am writing about things that happened more than two weeks ago. I have struggling to keep up with numerous things in the present time. Finally have a handle on that. Will discuss further.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

In the polders

Vianen city hall  On the chimney there was a stork nest but lacking a telephoto lens, hard to capture Saw many storks on our trip

lunch stop in Schoonhoven

A cute town we spent an hour walking the streets



Kinderdijk, a World Heritage site. Lots of windmills

Relaxing back on de Fiep moored in Dordecht. I went for a walk with a new friend

love the shutters

our floating home








We would see this French fry man in every city. Fries, big mounts of them, came with mayonnaise, not catsup
I had strange Dutch snack foods here. Fried curry noodles, fried cheese croquets, fried meatballs (bitterballen)
Normally I avoid all such stuff but....




We did stop to tour one of the windmills. At one point, a family of 16 lived in this one. The mom got caught in the mechanism somehow leaving the dad to take care of 14 kids. Very tight living quarters

inside a windmill
Our barge goes back and forth from Bruges to Amsterdam and back to Amsterdam though it remains in  Amsterdam for the winter as a floating b&b. One disadvantage was as we were heading south and east, often we were battling winds especially our afternoon in the polders. Nothing to break the 30 mph headwinds. Also we were going back in time: Amsterdam's hey day was in the 1600s, Antwerp 1500s, Ghent 1400s and Bruges in the 1300s.

So much of the Netherlands is comprised of polders, reclaimed land from the seas.  This land is below sea level and kept dry through an intricate system of dykes and windmills to pump the water out. They are expert hydraulic engineers. In contrast, the US has only one polder area, New Orleans, and w can't figure out how to keep that dry. Belgium has some polders too though not as much as the Netherlands. They released the water back into the polders to stop the Germans at one point during the war. Hard to get tanks through 6 feet of water.

Before lunch, we biked through a series of pretty villages and gardens before stopping in Schoonhoven, a silversmith center though the shops were closed on Sunday. We waited to cross a ferry and onto the polders. Some farming is done in them, potatoes and sugar beets. Lots of waterbirds; mergansers, storks, pheasants, coots. I am in pretty good shape but the winds sucked the energy out of some. I was trying to teach my friend to draft. We did stop in Kinderdyke to see the windmills. We went inside one of them. According to their meter, we were experiencing near gale force gusts. The windmills were certainly spinning that day. Two young women were walking slowly on top of horses when one of the front legs of the horse buckled and the girl came tumbling down hard. An ambulance was called. Never saw that before.  We didn't have much further to the boat where we cruised to Dordrecht, the oldest town of Holland and where the country was formed by William of Orange. Lots of pretty buildings.We had a guided tour after dinner.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Breukelen Brug

our first windmill  I learned after a while not to stop for every windmill especially as I knew the next day we would go to an area with about twenty lumped together. Note road. This is a two way road but is only about two feet wider than one car. Very disconcerting to have cars coming head on  inches away Fortunately not many cars

2nd windmill. I stopped stopping for them. Even though I was probably the most fit cyclist, my continued stopping for photos slowed me down

In our brief 11 mile ride, we managed to go through several towns

cute drawbridge

Should not have stopped as it went up for about 15 minutes. Now I was way behind the pack

The Breukelen bridge


downtown Breukelen  In Amsterdam they called those traffic posts Amsterdammers



Leaving Breukelen The Fiep is moored slightly ahead

our bikes. Heavier than mine with more gears but who needs 27 gears in a flat country

we had our dessert outside on the deck as we sailed into Vianen
We sailed a few hours from Amsterdam to a tiny town of Nigtevecht where we would get off and ride our bikes 11 miles to get used to them. Right off the bat, my seat was too low. I did tell them how tall I was but I have to say that I am even taller as my legs are long for my height. Steve is 5 inches taller than me but I think our legs are the same length. This was adjusted later. We were to preload maps with step by step guides which were huge battery sucks. It took me two days to get used to them though my trusty iwatch is always mapping everything I do and I could potentially rely on that if I had to. The area was too cute for words with windmills, sheep, thatched houses, flower filled gardens Looked like the Cotswolds only flatter and with windmills and lots of canals. As I got stuck behind a drawbridge, I was on my own but I ended up at the boat first because I missed the turn off for a snack stop. I don't need snacks to go 11 miles.

Breukelen was the little town that the sailors first came to the New World landing in Brooklyn and naming it after their hometown.

At the Fiep, we were greeted with shots of some herbal aperitif. We had dinner (steak) as we sailed to our mooring place in Vianen. A nice day.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

To de Fiep

Amsterdam Begijnhof  These are little villages for religious women. Much more of them in Belgium  Bruges had three of them

Begijnhof chapel

Popstar with popcans

lots of cannabis this and that

President Duck Making America quack again   Or croak

We stopped for lunch in the Nieuwmarkt  Quite the assortment of mushrooms. I had a wonderful crepe

Part of the Red Light District

Lots of houseboats. After the war there was a housing shortage and it was cheap to live on a boat. Now there is a limited amount of mooring space and it is now very pricy

De Fiep moored in Amsterdam harbor

Our bedroom. Small but there was a place for everything
we sail past the science museum with its grassy roof that people sunbathe on

my friends

Honor bar and coffee machine. We were provided with wine and apertifs at dinner but we were to purchase extra

Fruit, candy and cookies were always available Lots of flowers 

Captain Harrie, the owner and captain. He named the boat after his daughter Fiep

Shortly after yet another sumptious breakfast buffet, we were met by one of our tour guides to start the 2 mile or so hike to the barge. Our luggage was transported ahead of us. We got to see parts of Amsterdam that we had no time to see before so it was a good tour with perfect weather again. We also got to meet our fellow travelers while we walked. Nineteen of us in all ranging from ages 54 to 75. We were all Americans. Our tour guides were Dutch as were the captain and his main helper. Another of the crew was from Mallorca and our chef was from New Zealand. I became  good friends with him as we were both early risers.

On the way, we stopped in a pretty  courtyard of the Amsterdam Museum for coffee, toured a Begijnhof, and stopped again at a Farmer's market near the Red Light District for lunch. I chose to get a tasty crepe from one of the stalls.

Shanna as part of the preschool's program (where she works) read a bedtime story streamed online to the students at night recently. A little girl adopts a lonely looking monster in the woods. The only sound the monster can make is Fiep.  So it was funny that that was the name of our boat. The owner and captain named it after his daughter. His little dog, who we were not to touch or feed, came with us for the week. After we met the crew, we checked to make sure our luggage showed up and it was bon voyage. We had two outside upper decks with plenty of seats plus a covered lower lounge. The dining room was below deck as were our bedrooms. We sailed all afternoon  until we stopped for our first bike ride.

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