Taking the Long Way to Bravo - Netherlands
From Dublin, Ireland we land in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Chet texts us the name of the town where they have the barge docked. We head to the train office and buy the tickets to Steenwijk. Amazingly, the train station is directly below the airport, just an escalator ride down to the platform. In two hours, we are in a beautiful small Dutch town in the northern province of Friesland. Chet and Lynette meet us at the train station, and we walk on cobblestone streets past shops, and lovely brick homes to the canal where the barge is docked.
|This is a typical street that one would see in any of the small towns.|
We drop off our luggage and walk a few blocks back to the grocery store to provision the boat. Loaded up with fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, cold cuts, croissants, baguettes, and wine, we are ready to shove off.
Chet is captain and maneuvers the the 70 foot, 60 ton barge through small and large canals, and locks.
|Nerves of steel!|
|An iPad is used for all navigation!|
|Arrgh!! Lots & lots of tales of wonderment!|
We spend the next 5 days leisurely wandering through the canals, locks, and small towns of northern Netherlands. Lush green fields filled with cows and sheep line the banks. Locals camp and fish everywhere along the banks of the canals.
|Approaching a small town.|
Boats of every size, shape, and color are everywhere. Moving along, or moored waiting for their next trip, we never see a derelict boat. All are in excellent condition.
|A wide variety of boats.|
|This looked like the Darth Vader of canal barges!|
|"Honey, I shrunk the kids"|
The canals go directly through the center of towns where you can tie up and shop while waiting for the lock to open. Note to self… lock keepers take a one-hour lunch. Everyone waits patiently for the schedule to resume.
|The lunch hour traffic jam at a lock.|
|We're next in line for the locks. Locks are just past the lift bridge.|
|Nora taking care of the aft lines as we lock through.|
|Mark and Lynette up front as we go through a narrow opening.|
|This lock gate actually lifts upwards. Looks like a guillotine!|
You walk or bike to restaurants, bars, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, chocolate and ice cream shops, and bakeries. The Netherlands is considered one of the most bike-friendly countries in the world and you can certainly see everyone riding in town, and through the countryside.
|Bicycles are a definite mode of transportation here.|
|Bicycles are everywhere!|
|Chocolate shops seem pretty popular in each town.|
|Shops like this with their wonderful smells, make me hungry.|
Each town has immaculate brick homes, shops, churches, cobblestone streets, and small parks.
|How convenient, a pub right on the canal.|
|This was a very impressive sounding organ!|
Opening bridges are everywhere and are spectacular works of mechanical engineering and/or sculpture.
We relax each evening to enjoy wine, cheese and bread, and good friends.
At our last stop, we had the good fortune to come upon a wooden sailboat festival. the town and canals were packed with vintage sailboats, people and festivities. Food booths, singers, and beer gardens were in full swing. It was a great ending to an amazing trip.
|These boats were all museum quality!|
|They redefined what it means to raft off.|
The next morning we cleaned up the barge, packed our bags and boarded the train back to Amsterdam.Mark and Dawn flew back to Seattle, Chet and Lynette spent a couple of days with friends in Amsterdam. Our return flight was booked to go from Amsterdam to Dublin… to Washington DC… to Hilton Head Island… and finally put us onto Bravo. Let the cruising begin!
|Chet and Lynette were our most gracious hosts!!!|