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Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Haarlem
May 16th 2014
Published: May 16th 2014
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Thursday



Our first day without any rain! It was a beautiful ride through the countryside and several small villages. The one we stopped in for a break had a very active shopping area with lots of caf├ęs, clothing stores, gift shops, grocery stores and, of course, bicycles everywhere. We had the ever-present quest for bathrooms; this time Marjan directed us to a cafe with free facilities.



One of our stops was to the last of three large steam engines that were developed in the mid 1800's to drain land areas between Leiden, Haarlem and Amsterdam to prevent flooding and allow for connecting of the areas. It is now a museum as more modern technologies have taken over. At the time this was a huge improvement from dozens of windmills that had previously been relied upon to do the work.



We docked in Haarlem overnight and as usual took a stroll around the city after dinner. Willard and I went by ourselves as we have had enough of being part of a group. Does anyone really find that surprising? Anyway, we went to the Great Church which really is quite magnificent. They have the most enormous and ornate organ I have ever seen. You can clearly see the Roman Catholic influence and where they tried to remove any remains with the onset of the Reformation. Apparently we were the only ones in our group to actually enter the church--the doors were open so we walked in; the others walked up to it but since there was a program scheduled Marjan didn't take them inside.



Friday



Our last day on the barge and for riding. It is again beautiful and sunny but chilly. I am choosing to ride the barge today instead of riding my bike. It is a very different experience but a most relaxing and enjoyable one. I am taking the time to read, sit in the sun on the deck and watch the other boats go by, marvel over the locks and bridge system, wave to people in passing boats and generally relax.



We will do k in Amsterdam early afternoon and have the rest of the day to explore once again. At least this time it will not be raining! Willard will arrive between 3:30-4:00 and we will have our farewell dinner on the barge this evening. I'll try to post more later. I haven't said much about our fellow passengers, let's just say we were a mixed bag 😊. Two French Canadians, two Italians, two other Canadians (English speaking), two octogenarians who didn't ride after the first evening, a couple from St. Louis, one from Toronto (Russians who are transplants), a woman from India now living in Chicago; we are mini-UN. Anyway, it's been an interesting week but the stories are best kept for in person narratives lest anyone object to something I write as insensitive (who me?).


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