BIKES & BOATS IN THE NETHERLANDS

I arrived in Amsterdam on an early flight from Dublin, took a train to the main station and cabbed it to my brother (Peter) and sister-in-law’s (Kathi) home on Keizersgracht, one of the main canals forming a belt around central Amsterdam.

The 4 primary canals that surround city center.  Peter & Kathi live on Keizersgracht

The 4 primary canals that surround city center. Peter & Kathi live on Keizersgracht

Peter & Kathi's House

Peter & Kathi’s House

This was my second visit to their house, and I was greeted by Kathi, Albert (the dog), and JP (the cat) when I arrived.  After a day of walking around the city, we met up with my brother and jumped aboard their little boat for a ride through the canals and a riverbank picnic.

Kathi pointing out the sights with Albert looking on

Kathi pointing out the sights with Albert looking on

Approaching an Amsterdam bridge by boat

Approaching an Amsterdam bridge by boat

The next morning, we awoke bright and early to take off on our bikes for the northern part of Holland.  Most Dutch residents have several bikes, and I believe that Peter & Kathi have 6 between them.  We’re talking upright, proper Dutch bikes, made from indestructible steel (or is it iron? They feel like iron when your lugging them on and off of trains) and 3 gears if you’re lucky. Kathi was riding what is affectionately named the “bunny bike”, since instead of a bell, it sports a rubber bunny head that squeaks when you squeeze it.

We hopped on a short bicycle ferry near the Amsterdam train station, then rode our bikes along the west coast of Lake Markermeer, cycling north through some adorable Dutch villages, and then jumped on another ferry from Marken to Vollendam.

The Netherlands - Markermeer is just above Amsterdam & the Frisian Islands are at the top

The Netherlands – Markermeer is the water just above Amsterdam & the Frisian (Wadden) Islands are at the top

Cute Dutch village houses

Cute Dutch village houses

Seaside town of Vollendam

Seaside town of Vollendam

After passing through the town of Edam (yep, where the cheese comes from), and pedaling against the strong wind along the dykes of Markermeer, we came to the station in Hoorne and boarded a train for Harlingen Haven where we left our bikes and boarded the Passaat, an old school wooden sailing schooner that would be our home for the next couple of days.

Sign post in Edam

Sign post in Edam

A cheese shop in Edam

A cheese shop in Edam

The Passaat ready to sail

The Passaat ready to sail

I had no idea what we were in for, but it turns out that we would be actually working with 8 other guests as the crew of the ship, which was sailing up to the Frisian Islands (also known as the Wadden Islands) in the Waddenzee (east of the North Sea).  So much fun…We set sail the next morning on a gloriously sunny (yet windy) day – perfect sailing weather.  We got to work right away, under the direction of first mate Fiona and Captain Frank, raising the 5 sails of the boat, and cruising to the lovely island of Vlieland.

Armada of wooden ships

Armada of wooden ships

Peter & Kathi working ropes

Peter & Kathi working the ropes

Getting ready to release the front mast

Getting ready to release the front mast

Waves splashing across the Passaat

Waves splashing across the deck

Never heard of Vlieland before, but what a gem of a place.  Who knew that there were white sand beaches in the Netherlands??  When we arrived, we rented bikes and cycled through the sand dunes (and crazy wind) around the island, visiting the island’s little village and coming back for dinner aboard.

Beach on Vlieland

Beach on Vlieland

Bicycle path on Vlieland

Bicycle path on Vlieland

Our bikes on Vlieland

Our bikes on Vlieland

Dinner on the boat

Dinner on the boat

The next morning, we sailed back to the mainland and returned by train to Amsterdam.  After a couple more days of exploring the city, it was time for me to say goodbye and jump on a plane for the beautiful city of Prague.  “Dank u” Peter & Kathi for a great time!

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One Response to BIKES & BOATS IN THE NETHERLANDS

  1. Jane says:

    What a fantastic time, wish I could have continued on with you! So lovely to see those wonderful sailing ships!
    xx Mum

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