by Annalise on May 16, 2010

Canal  Boat - Holland The canal boat was a fantastic first step into this beautiful country. We saw all of those things thought to be typically Dutch but from quite a unique perspective; windmills along the canals, cyclists wizzing by, just one field of flowers but then we were usually well above the surrounding farmland when we were on the canal. We also saw the towns and cities from this unique view point. Often the canals would travel right through the centre of the major towns; we’d be busy navigating and sometime not really see where we were until we were waiting for a lift bridge to rise or a sluis (lock) to be readied for our passage. Then we’d stretch and look about and fill our eyes.

Canal  Boat - Holland
We came through Amsterdam twice and enjoyed the challenge of boating through this historic city. We also came through the city of Utrecht by boat and here it was the maneuvering of our 11 meter boat along almost 20 bridges, most of which were not lift bridges but ancient arched city-centre bridges. So I had the pleasure of helming our boat through what felt like mouse holes while crowds of cafe-goers relaxed to drink and eat at that lower canal level, watching. I was so happy not to have had any incidents and of course worked hard to maintain a calm expressions but there was some adrenalin involved!

The thing that continue to impress us as we move about Holland is the sheer number of bicycles here. I know I’ve mentioned this before but it is delightful to see people of all ages going about all manner of their daily business by bicycle. Amsterdam Amsterdam Amsterdam

Now we’re enjoying a wonderful visit with family. We’re based in Zundert and of course will go see the Vincent Van Gogh House this week; he is Zundert’s greatest claim to fame. Robin continues to press through the last of his school work and David has already been gearing up to start his work when he returns to Canada. Me, well I’m so enjoying seeing and catching up with everyone and stretching my dutch skills for all their worth. So far they’ve all been most generous, no one has laughed. I’m savoring the last of this extraordinary travel time and simply the opportunity.

Tonight I’m writing from Emmeloord where, along with Sophie, our cousin and primary Dutch hostess, we’re seeing the NorthEastPolder (reclaimed lands from the 1940s). My cousin Sjef and his wife Dory live here and they’ve graciously offered us their home while they’re off on a family weekend vacation. We came across the 30km damn which shut out the North Sea from this area as a part of the grand reclamation project at the start of the last century. Today we saw Schotland, an island surrounded by land and due to its archeological and historic significance, a Unesco World Heritage Site. It was at the centre of the Zouderzee (’southern sea’ in the north of Holland) that lost its long and challenging history with its stormy, watery surroundings when the reclamation began. We took a fascinating cycle around this slightly raised old formation of island. From Emmerlord we’ll travel tomorrow to the northern most point of Holland on the small island of Schiermonnikoog (I’m still working on the pronunciation of that one!!)

Still traveliing, still learning and still grateful although we’ve done the math and we are counting the days until we see our own home, family and friends again!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

LeeAnne May 16, 2010 at 6:54 am

I just love the multitude of colours in bicycles! I guess what you drive/ride really does speak volumnes :-)
I could use some of these as desktop photos, they are wonderful!

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