Today we got of the boat Prinses Christina (photo) and returned to The Netherlands.
Since our tourbus trip took six hours on the way to Germany - we were the first ones picked up by the bus -we would also be the last ones dropped off. We also had to be in Zwolle in the afternoon to pick up our rental car and the drive/navigate to our next destination of Giethoorn. So, planning ahead last Friday when we were first in Cologne, we went to the Hauptbahnhof (cental train station) and bought train tickets back to The Netherlands. This way we did not have to sit and wait/wonder when the bus would come to take us back, nor would it take six hours. We had breakfast on the boat with Niko and Yvonne, our tablemates and we exchanged information so we can stay in contact, it was very nice to share the meals with them and catch up on a lot of Dutch things, everbody on the boat was Dutch, Steve really enjoyed this and felt inculturated.😊)) Niko and Yvonne spoke English to him ofcourse.
See the photos of our time in the train station in Cologne, also the
matching luggage at the McClean Station, ..it needs to be mentioned that the WC's (water closets..aka bathrooms) are super duper clean both in The Netherlands and Germany because you pay anywhere from 50 cents to 1 euro to use the WC and they have staff cleaning up right after you. Note the words on the door, for 7 euros you can also take a shower (duchsen) awesome.
We took a fast ICE train to Arnhem where we switched to a local intercity train to Zwolle. From there we had to take a bus to get us to the address to pick up the rental car, a very very rude busddriver would not confirm for me that we were in the right bus, he pointed at the sign above his head, a lady in the bus then took pity on us and explained to us that the streetstops were shown electronically on an announcement board in the bus, we thanked her! It was very annoying to be treated so rudely because you dont know how things work, the busdriver apparently felt i should have know since I am fluent in Dutch, it doesn't always pay to speak the language, lol,
so when we got to our stop we were already standing with our luggage by the rear door,and he hit the brakes really hard so we almost fell over, yeah he was an authentic jerk! ...thank goodness there are more kind and helpful people we run into than the other kind.... The man at the car rental place (5 minute walk) was great! I had asked for a small car, a Peugot 208, he told us a brand new one had been delivered that day, (great), we got in and took some time to program the GPS, I LOVE GPS. I cannot say this enough. (We never had any problems finding our way around through the maze of roads.) I was a bit afraid at first to get on the narrow roadways, but it became almost an instant pleasure, very very smooth roads clearly marked, all lines freshly painted, beautiful driving. We did take a lot of inside roads as well through all the little towns along the way (scenic route) and the roadways were really only wide enough for one car, nevetheless a great experience.
We found our Hotel in beautiful Giethoorn, (like the Dutch Venice) and got
settled in. Our hotel stay includes both a full breakfast and a 4 course dinner, amazing food, we took some photo's..
That evening we were treated to a 1 hour cruise by the owner of the Hotel, he took a group of us on one of the boats and told us about the little town's history, and gave a wonderful explanation about the thatched roofs on all the old little farmhouses along the mainstreet/canal. They are made of reeds that are grown along the canals here, twice as expensive as regular roofs, and the insurance is quadrupled and.....if you own one of these old homes, it is mandatory that you have a thatched roof only, to maintain the architechtual history.. Keeps your home warm in winter and cool in summer (not to mention high fire risk hence the higher insurance rates) ..but judging by all the rain we've had here since we arrived, that will not be an issue during our stay here. In the past, people settled here to escape their enemies, they were so poor that they made their thatched roof out of necessity and it was a sign of poverty to have such a roof, nowadays
it is ofcourse the opposite, it is a sign of prosperity (I would say just owning a home out here would be a sign, lol).
Steve was appreciative of my planning and felt Giethoorn and the hotel De Harmonie made for an excellent third leg of our venture following the big city experience of Amsterdam and floating down the Rhine and Mosele.
We sign off with this beautiful picture of the little farmhouse next door that we see out of our window, like a painting..
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