Holland by canal barge

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Europe » Netherlands » South Holland
May 26th 1984
Published: July 16th 2011
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Mom, Linda and Carol ready to cast offMom, Linda and Carol ready to cast offMom, Linda and Carol ready to cast off

That first night we "parked" across from a bakery so breakfast was easy
Our last trip from our home in Boblingen was to Holland. I had been accepted for a job at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, where we would be moving in July. Joining us on the trip would be my sister Carol, who recently graduated from college and came to visit on her way to Thailand. My Mom also came. She was returning from the States on an emergency health trip with my Dad, whose previously undiagnosed high blood pressure had started to affect his health. Dad returned directly to Thailand, but Mom stopped for two weeks to join us.

26 May 1984 Saturday. We drove from Boblingen to Woerden, the Netherlands, where we arrived mid-afternoon at the boat dock where we would begin our week long journey on a barge through the canals of Holland. The first mistake that had to be corrected was replacing the Union Jack flag on the rear of the barge with the Stars and Stripes. Then we were shown our accommodations, three rooms and a bath down one side with a hallway on the other. In the front was the captain’s bridge, and in the rear was our living room/dining room. We learned how to operate the boat; start the engine, heat the water, etc. We then took a half hour instructional run on the lake to make sure we knew how to go forward, turn, and reverse. We were given a book with all the canals, and most importantly, the location and operating hours of the lochs and the heights of the bridges that we would have to go under. Then we were off. Our maximum speed was 5 miles per hour. We headed west to Nieuwerbrug and then south to Hekendorp and west to Oudewater, where we docked across from a bakery for the night. The best thing about seeing Holland by canal is that it passes the oldest communities along the way.

27 May 1984 Sunday. Breakfast was easy. We just walked across the street to the bakery. Departing the dock was a bit more difficult. As Captain, I had the wheel and engine controls, and Linda, as the First Mate, was responsible for untying the lines from the bollards. She did that very well, but forgot to jump on the barge when I put the barge into forward motion. I left her on the dock. Mom and Carol panicked as did Linda, so I had to reverse to pick her up. Then we continued west, opening and closing lochs, until we arrived in Utrecht, a major city with a lot of traffic on the canal. We pulled up to a dock in the center of town and walked around to find lunch and groceries for the rest of our trip. Following an Indonesian reistafel, we loaded our provisions on our barge and headed up the Vecht River, opening and closing more lochs and ducking under low bridges, until we arrived in Breukelen, the town where Brooklyn gets its name, by late afternoon. The low bridge that would have given us access to the town was not manned, and so couldn’t be raised, so we were stuck in the middle of a small lake with no dock. It was also raining, so we made the most of it, breaking out our provisions to make supper, and then spent the evening playing table games.

28 May 1984 Monday. They raised the bridge so we made it into Breukelen for a sort stop before continuing north on the Vecht River, which terminated on the Ijmeer, the large inland sea, at Muiden. We stopped to walk around the small quaint town of Muiden which has nice castle worth visiting. We then proceeded into the Ijmeer, which was like being in open sea in a small boat, and headed west towards Amsterdam. The approach to Amsterdam is formidable for a small barge, having to compete with large freighters in the large canal. We made it into the city and navigated through the smaller canals that ringed the center of the city. However, we didn’t dock or walk around the town, preferring to return to the peaceful canals in the countryside. And we had to make time to get through the various lochs and bridges before they closed at 5 pm. We proceeded north towards Monnickendam, Marken, and Volendam. However, when we arrived in Broek in Waterland, the bridge had closed early and we were stuck on another little lake. However, this one, although not having a dock, did provide access to land, so we walked into the town. We were fortunate that the bridge was closed because the town turned out to be a 16th century gem with an old church, and most importantly, a pannekoeken restaurant. Pannekoeken are large crepes with any number of toppings.

29 May 1984 Tuesday. We made it through the bridge and arrived shortly in Monnickendam. We walked around the town briefly, and then crossed the Ijmeer to Marken. We docked and visited a cheese factory and wooden shoe factory, and people in the shops wore old fashion costumes, which of course were all for the benefit of tourists. We had pannekoeken for lunch, and then crossed the Ijmeer again to Volendam/Edam for another walking tour of the town. All three towns are very touristy, but still worth a visit. However, I am happy that we had the chance to visit the untouristy town of Broek in Waterland. We docked for the night at Zaandijk.

30 May 1984 Wednesday. We visited the Zaanse Schans Open-Air Museum, a 17th century village that has everything Dutch in one place, including a large collection of windmills. We had lunch at the Pannekoeken Restaurant de Kraai, and amazingly had pannekoeken one last time, at least on this trip. It was a pleasant place to sightsee and relax. After lunch we headed west on the major shipping channel to the North Sea, dodging freighters on the way, and were relieved
Linda, Carol and Mom with the barged tied up on the side of a lockLinda, Carol and Mom with the barged tied up on the side of a lockLinda, Carol and Mom with the barged tied up on the side of a lock

we had to slowly adjust the length of the ropes as we went up or down in the lock
when we could cut south at Ijmuiden onto smaller canals going towards Haarlem. We docked next to the old town where we visited the Corrie Ten Boom House, the Grote Markt, and the church. We returned late afternoon and continued to Leiden, where we spent the night. We had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant.

31 May 1984 Thursday. We came full circle, returning to the boatyard in Woerden before noon. Although we had the barge until the next day, we cut our cruise short so we would have time in Brussels to look around. We arrived in Brussels late morning and checked into our hotel. We then walked to the Grand Place, and had lunch on one of the side streets. After walking around town awhile we returned to our car, and drove to some of the suburbs east of town where most of the international community lives, to get an idea of the neighborhoods where we might live. That evening we returned to the area around the Grand Place for dinner and then to our hotel for the night.

1 June 1984 Friday. We spent the day touring around Brussels, including Waterloo and the site of the 1958 World Fair; and then saw some more neighborhoods.

2 June 1984 Saturday. We drove home to Boblingen via Luxembourg. Mom and Carol left for Thailand on Tuesday, May 5th.

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