Thursday, November 20, 2014

Boating in Holland - Part 6

Boating in Holland

Music festival Kaag Eiland
We went back to the pub at 21.30pm and found the place heaving with Team Orange supporters. Not a spare bit of space. But they were all smoking inside the pub which was a surprise. I cannot bear second-hand smoke so we decided to watch the game through the window. And got chatting to locals in a mix of English, Afrikaans and Dutch. People back home often ask if

Dutch and Afrikaans are the same. The Dutch were the first European settlers in South Africa. The Portuguese got there first but did not settle. Yes. And No. Highbrow newspapers are impossible to understand. If we read coloquial
Kaag Muziekfestival
Dutch we can
mostly understand it. I will give a few examples with the Dutch word first and the the Afrikaans word second. Rice = rijst/rys. You = jouw/jou. New = nu/nuwe. But then other words are completely different. Kitchen = keuken/kombuis. Hospital = ziekenhuis/hospitaal. Chicken = kip/hoender. Lemon = citroen/suurlemoen. Peanuts = pindas/grondbone. But also, it's the way the Dutch people pronounce their words. Leg = is spelled as - been - in both Dutch and Afrikaans.
Amenities Kaag Eiland
The Dutch
say it as bain or bayn. In Afrikaans it's said as bee-in. We get by with a combo of all three languages. Luckily almost every Dutch person I have met speaks English - but also - they are willing to speak English.

The game started at 22.00pm. It was emotionally draining. Costa Rica and The Netherlands ended the game with goal-less draw. They went on to rounds of 15 minutes each way. Still no result. Finally they had penalty shoot outs and The Netherlands saved two goals. Much cause for celebration and our new friend bought us a round of drinks. Our new best friend did say that although Netherlands won, he felt it wasn't actually a victory as they hadn't WON the game through
Laundrette Kaag Eiland
play. We stayed until 01.30am and then snuck away for some much needed sleep.

Kaag Eiland have an annual music festival and the following day was festival day. I have to be honest, most small towns in Holland are peaceful and I wasn't expecting the festival to be all that. How wrong was I? They set up bands all over Kaag Eiland at various pubs, eateries and under stalls. We listened to some blistering blues and solid good old fashioned rock. They had a bit of jazz, swing and pop going on too. We bought a Heineken and some frites from one of the foodie stands. Kaag Eiland is a gorgoeus place. Postcard perfect. Who knew?

Shangri La moored in Kaag Eiland
After wandering around the island taking in various bands we ended up back near our marina where a band was doing covers of 80's numbers from the likes of Robert Palmer and Hall and Oates. The heavens opened and we all scrambled to boogie under an awning. This is why I love the boating scene. In front of me were three ladies dressed in designer duds worth a small fortune. I could see
Hooking up to shore power or Walstroom in Kaag Eiland
the labels on their handbags sitting on the table. I know what they paid for those bags. Next to them/us were the complete opposite folk. Hippy bohemian "couldn't give a shit" type people who live on their ramshackled boats. We all danced in the rain together and had a ball.

Our next destination was Haarlem. There were 11 bridges to pass in total. Our boat would not go under all of them. Also, some of the bridges only opened at fixed times as they were on busy roads/train tracks. We had to factor all this into our journey. We decided to bring down the radar
Coin operated fresh water Kaag Eiland
arch and awnings to help us make better progress. We did 22 kilometres in 3 hours. The speed limit is 9 kilometres an hour but there is always time lost waiting at the bridges.

Haarlem is immediately different to the places we just came from such as Delft and Leiden. It has a bohemian laid back vibe. Blokes walk around in long shorts and pony tails. None of the formal designer scene you get in Amsterdam. Lots of seriously old, slightly decayed buildings but without the twee hanging floral baskets with geraniums one finds in other areas. It also has a large industrial outer area. I have to say as a Capetonian, I LOVED Haarlem. But then I prefer Glasgow to Edinburgh which most people don't understand.

After tying up in Haarlem, we went for a walk to the main
Approaching Haarlem
square which every Dutch city/village has. And had a beer. We managed an early night. Well a not too late night, I should say. We tend to stay up far too late. The next morning we got up and went to find IKEA in heavy rain. We should have caught the
bus or train but we try to walk as much as we can - when we can. It's impossible to exercise on the boat.

Haarlem station
We had an early lunch at IKEA and stocked up on Swedish knäckebröd, Swedish beers, a few other items and walked back in the unrelenting rain. Next stop was the VVV to find out more about what to do in Haarlem. They had a walking tour but same deal as in Leiden - only in Dutch. We bought their booklet with the tour route and info for only €.50. Bargain!

Our next group of friends were arriving later that afternoon. They caught the Eurostar from London to Brussels and then to Amsterdam. There had been a power failure and a few of the train services had been cancelled. Luckily not theirs, but their trip was delayed. We met them at Haarlem Centraal Station, walked back to our boat and
Side street in Haarlem
had supper together inside the boat. Amenities at Haarlem were OK but not well serviced. I prefer not to find pubic hair in the basin.

Read my husband's take on our boating holidays in his blog - Waterway Wanderer.

For more on other places we have visited, go to the top of this page and open - My Holidays and Trips.

I will be back soon.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Boating in Holland - Part 5

Boating in Holland - Part 5

Read about this trip from the beginning by clicking on - this link.

Patrick went and found the Delft  havenmeester (harbour master) and paid €16.00 for the night.
Turns out there is/was a grand plan to upgrade the marina in Delft. The havenmeetser showed him the plan. But the whole deal went flat when the economy took a down-turn. The marina facilities were below the local restaurant. Unfortunately the water wasn't hot here either.

Our time was winding down. We kept getting waylayed in places and feared we would never get done. So the next day we got going toward Leiden. A 25 kilometre trip with 20 bridges and one lock. We could pass under the fixed bridges but we would not pass under the beweeg (moving) bridges without lowering our mast and awnings. Even then, we would still not have gotten under most of the bridges. Kanaalbrug and Reineveltbrug did not respond to our VHF requests to open
En route to Leiden
which stressed us out no end. The bridges are supposedly monitored via video surveillance. It took a while but they EVENTUALLY opened. Perhaps because other boats phoned?

Waiting for bridges made our travel time longer. Our big fear is always that we won't get a mooring. After Delft that was a more than reasonable fear.

We see so few other nationalities on the Dutch waterways. My guess is 98% of the flags flown on boats are
Kandelaar brug stayed firmly down
Dutch. One percent of boats have the German flag and the other 1% a  mix of everyone else. We saw a few Danish, Swiss and the odd UK flag. We saw 1 x Ozzie flag, 1 x USA flag, 1 x Canadian flag and 1 x Swedish flag. This is over 6 months during 2013 and 2014. Clearly everyone goes to Amsterdam. Which is such a huge pity. I mentioned earlier that Gouda was probably nicer than Amsterdam. But after seeing Delft, I would say Delft was even nicer.

Coming in toward Leiden we passed two marinas which had no free passanten (places). If we didn't get a space in Leiden proper we were going to be
Dutch sloep or dinghy
in trouble. Fortunately Leiden has plenty mooring space. Thank God! A super friendly havenmeester and really helpful boaty folk helped us tie up in the box passanten which are tricky to negotiate. Relief!

The facilities were good. No Wifi unfortunately. (The Dutch call it wiffy) But unlimited hot water and electricity via tokens. The weather was fabulous. They were having a heatwave. The Dutch never let a ray of sunlight go amiss. There were barest of bodies on display on the boats as people lay basking in the sun. The marina is next to pubs, cafes and restaurants. It was a Thursday
Doing a self guided walk in Leiden
night. Holland is dead Sunday to Tuesday. Even Amsterdam. Dead, dead, dead. But from Wednesday to Saturday they sure make up. We could hear people laughing and revelry until well past 12pm. Even as late at 2am people were singing with all their might on the quay and in passing sloep (dinghy) boats.

We read the brochures the havenmeester gave us and found a Leiden City Walk for €3.00 per person at 11.30am. Seemed like a great idea, so we went to the Tourism Office and guess what? The tour guide did not speak English. I have to say
Precarious mooring in Leiden
that is the first time in my life I have encountered a group tour guide who does not speak English. And also the first I've heard of a Dutch person in a city who can't speak English. Might explain why so few people travel past Amsterdam.

We bought a book with the walking tour and followed the walk ourselves. With a lunch stop included, the walk took us 3 hours.

Afterwards I stopped in at De Tuinen, a local health shop chain, to get something for my allergies which were driving me bonkers. I battle as I am not immune to the local pollens.
Box style moorings in Leiden

We had been lucky with fabulous weather but the minute we untied our boat to get going - the heavens opened. We drove in pouring rain to Kaag Eiland. We made such good time that we got lost. My other half was looking at the wrong part of the map for bearings. He finally figured it out and we tied up in the rain at Kaagdorp haven (harbour). They have Wifi but our boat was so far from the signal I had to sit at the very back of the boat in the flipping rain to get one bar of signal. Which kept dropping anyway. That's how it is on the waterways. Sigh!

Homes near Marina in Leiden
Kaag Eiland has no supermarket. A boat comes along and sells provisions to the locals. We missed it unfortunately. Holland was playing a game in the Soccer Cup so we showered early and headed up to the local bar. We got to the pub too early so had a German beer and watched the Belgium vs Argentine game. Then went back to our boat for supper. My other half and I used up the spare time catching up on comms, logs, saving photos and the usual stuff.

Cuisine this end of the world is not exactly vegan. Or vegetarian for that matter. The kind of thing they had on the menu was bitterballen (meat balls). Usually some type of crumbed fried meat balls with frites (French fries). Or maybe a cheese, egg and ham sandwich called an Uitsmijter. Desert or sweet is almost always Appelgebak (apple pie) with Slagroom (whipped
Dutch menu
cream). The Dutch love strong coffee. Even the tiniest boat will have some kind of coffee making device. It's not uncommon to smell the aroma of coffee in the morning at the marinas. We prefer to self cater on our boat given our narrow dietary choices.

For more on other places we have visited, go to the top of this page and open - My Holidays and Trips.

And now for something completely different. I've started a new raw vegan blog. Find it - here. I already have an established eco fashion blog called -
Greenie Dresses for Less. I'm juggling three blogs!!

I will be back soon.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Boating in Holland - Part 4

Boating in Holland - Part 4

Mini world museum Rotterdam
This journey starts - in this post.

Another late start the next day. No surprise. Our friends packed up and we walked with them to the tram station. We also went to the central station. They went on to Zandfoort and we went to Mini World to finally see the model railway layout.

Mini World is - without doubt - the best model railway I have ever seen. The attention to detail defies belief. They recreate areas of Holland from sections of Rotterdam's Europort, to polders, to farms, to pre-war and post-war architecture. And they recreate modern day scenes such as a music festival, an archaeological dig with dinosaur bones and a beach with a nudie section. They even have emegency scenes such as a building on fire and a plane crashed into a roof. The lights dim about every 20
River Maas Rotterdam
minutes and you get night-time activities. It's well worth seeing just for spotting the fun bits.

Back at our boat we got cracking with laundry. Fortunately Veerhaven had a launderette. We had four full loads. A wash costs €2.50 and a dry costs €2.50. Much cheaper than most other laundrettes. While that was going on we caught up on comms, our diaries and logs, sizing and saving photos and all the stuff we probably don't actually need, but like to record.

Picasso statue Rotterdam
We opted to stay yet another day in Rotterdam. There is a helluva lot to see and do and on checking the tourist map we realised we wanted more time. So after a late and lazy start to the day, we went walk-about. Why does it always rain when we want to explore a place on foot? This time we walked along the waterfront and veered toward Binnenrotte area where there are lots of eateries. We stocked up at Marqt, one of our favourite eco friendly food stores. Then we walked the other way along the waterfront to Het Park and the Euromast. We passed on going up the Euromast which was €9.50. But there is lots going on there. Have a meal, stay the night, go abseiling or just admire the view.

Rotterdam is so completely different to Amsterdam. It was hit
Euromast from Het Park Rotterdam
hard during the war and has lots of newer and taller buildings. It's the most culturally mixed city in The Netherlands. The current mayor is a practicing Muslim. I really liked Rotterdam and could have stayed another day but we had to keep going. Rotterdam was the most expensive marina to date. We paid €24.00 per night. The cheapest we've paid was €10.00.

Our favourite store - everything is organic
The next trip was to Delft. What a beautiful place. But my goodness the marina is awful. They are busy spending a small fortune upgrading the train station, yet there is space for only 7 boats in the marina. All 7 spaces were full by the time we got there, not surprisingly. We went back and found 4 more parking places on a
busy road outside the marina. There were 2 spare so we took one. No facilities. No services. Half the problem with Delft is big passenger ships hog what little space there is for pleasure boats. And then for some reason they don't allow mooring on about 70% of the actual space within the marina.

Delft is a gorgeous place. A student town, so it has a fun feel. They have preserved their old buildings and kept as much of the history as possible. It has lots of green trees and waterways with lilies in
Belgian beers in Delft
bloom. There is also an IKEA about 2 kilometres from the city centre on a bus route. Very handy since we needed a few more things for our boat and so made sure we stopped by IKEA. We also had a bargain lunch at IKEA and stocked up on our favourite Swedish foods.

Our road side stop outside Delft wasn't great. For some reason our boat water was cold. Icy showers for both of us. We had big barges belting past on the one side of our boat and cars and lorries on the other. The following day we decided to give up on Delft and head for Leiden. As we were going through Delft we saw an open space. We instantly changed our minds and grabbed the parking place. The marina rules say you can only berth for 24 hours but we weren't sure people
Delftware in Delft
would adhere to them. We tied up and went exploring again. We had a lunch at Bagels and Beans - one of our favourite fast food chains in The Netherlands.

I had invited a friend for supper, so we shopped up at Eko Plaza - our other favourite organic food store - and went back to the boat to make a meal. I got horribly carried away and ended up making a 4 course dinner. We had veggie rice paper wraps
Stadhuis Delft
with peanut soy dipping sauce. Next was a curried carrot and butternut soup. Main course was mushroom and tomato wholewheat pasta with a celery, pea and potato salad and crispy fried tempeh. For desert I made ginger honeyed apricots with soy yogurt and caramelised sugar crumble.

Read Part 5 by clicking - here.

For more on other places we have visited, go to the top of this page and open - My Holidays and Trips.

I will be back soon.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Boating in Holland - Part 3

Boating in Holland - Part 3

The start of this holiday is - on this link.

What to do and see in Gouda? Head straight to the VVV (Tourism Info) and get a copy of their map.
Cheese market in Gouda
They have a historical walk you can do yourself. Well preserved old buildings such as the City Hall, Market Square, Sint-Janskerk (St Johns Church) are located along with other key buildings. A bit further out you can visit a hofje (communal garden) or three, a lock on the canal and a couple of museums.

There was a vintage market happening the day we were there. Our boat is 21 years old. It has a CD player. I found a stall selling second hand CDs - 4 for €10. I bought eight CDs. Bon Jovi, Eagles, Level 42, Tears for Fears, Simple Minds, Elvis, Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen. We also topped up on provisions. When we collected our clean laundry my other half was well and truly laden down on the bicycle. He rode home and I walked after him. We had a shower and I got cracking making us a salad supper. Next thing a flotilla of Danish boats came into the marina. Twenty five boats left Denmark but only
Stadshuis Gouda
five were able to tie up in our marina. One boat double banked with us. Very civilised mariners - so my partner said. They dropped their ensign at sunset. And ONLY walked over the front deck. Stuff I didn't even know was important.

Thursdays they re-enact the cheese trading process at the square in Gouda and we were keen to see it happen. Locals dress up in traditional clothing and pretend to make, weigh, sell, do
Street market Gouda
what-ever, with Gouda cheese. We watched for a bit and then went with our friends to a cafe where we did a bit of planning. We collected their luggage, did a mini shop up, and went back to the boat. Supper was veggie and falafel wraps on the back deck. And Belgian beer. And wine.

We got going in the morning and made our way to Rotterdam. The inland waterways and canals are always perfect and calm. No rolling about. But the River Maas is tidal. And very busy. Big working barges create a wash and our little boat was rocking about good and proper. We ducked into Veerhaven and found one of the last spaces to
Skyline in Rotterdam
moor. That said, there is ALWAYS more space if boats start double banking. We finished our on-board lunch and went exploring with our friends.

We found the VVV (tourist info), got maps and info. Then we found a cafe and had not one but TWO rounds of beers. Round One we each had a different beer but Round Two we all had Texels Beers. Texel is the most populated of the Frisian Islands. It's like one of the the Hebridian Islands would be to the United Kingdom. We try to have a different local beer but we also can't help but be drawn to our favourites. It's really annoying when we find a fabulous beer and then can't find it ever again. Kasteel springs to mind and I fear Texels too. Grrrr.

On our way back home we stopped in at Albert Heijn
Lunch on the back deck
supermarket and bought provisions for a braai (bbq) supper. I made an aubergine parcel to bake on the fire and a big fat green salad. The others had salmon seasoned with lemon, olive oil and black pepper. Not going to lie, sitting chatting on the back deck, under the stars, eating good food and drinking wine is not a bad way to spend an evening.

Cube buildings Rotterdam
Day Two in Rotterdam we had a late start. Brekka was toast and cheese or Marmite or peanut butter. And tea and coffee. My other half and I set off leaving our friends behind to do their own thing. We started at the Maritime Museum. Spent at least 4 hours wandering around there. Then we went to find the Vegan Organic Bistro - Gare du Nord - to book for later the evening. After that we went to Mini World, a model train exhibition. We got there too late and decided to rather come back the next day. Our walk back to the boat was via China Town where we found an Asian supermarket. We spent €10 and came out with 1 kg fresh tofu, 400g tempeh, a large handful of fresh ginger plus large packs of seaweed cake, dried mushrooms (or so we thought) and desiccated coconut. We must have walked for almost 6 hours before we got back to the boat.

Back at the boat, we showered, got ready, and walked another 3/4 hour back to Gare du Nord. How did
Tram Rotterdam
we live before We find the most amazing places all over the world on their website. Gare du Nord is an old train brought back to life as a restaurant. They grow their own food. And teach kids from local schools how to make veggie food. They charge €19.50 per head for a 3 course meal. Our starter was a Spicy Sweet Potato Soup. Main was Bulgar Wheat with Wilted Kale, "No Meat" Lentil Balls with Tomato Sauce and a
Trying to read e-mails with one bar strength
Veggie stack with Pea Puree. Desert was a Citrus and Blueberry Tart.
We had an organic wine from the south of France which cost €17.50.

After our meal we took the tram back to our boat and sat talking until, I can't actually remember, but I think it was 1.00am.

Click - here - for Part 4 of this travel blog.

For more on other places we have visited, go to the top of this page and open - My Holidays and Trips.

See you soon.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Boating in Holland - Part 2

Boating in Holland - Weesp, Alphen a.d. Rijn and Gouda

This journey begins - here.

My husband gave me advance notice that we had to leave early the next day. He gets up and makes breakfast and I hold off until the last minute, then rush to get dressed and eat so we can leave in time.

Fortunately our friends on the boat are early risers. They had already been for a walk long before breakfast. We kicked off in good weather and headed for Weesp. Pronounced like waist but with a P at the end. Amazing, when the boat is still, it's quite warm, but the minute the boat moves, the wind chill factor kicks in and you need an anorak.
The back deck

We tied up in the city of Weesp along the canal. Great location except the facilities block was about 1 kilometre away. We all piled off the boat and went walk-about. First we had soup and sandwiches at a nearby cafe, then we found the VVV (Dutch tourist info) where we got a map. The bloke at the VVV suggested we go to the "gardens". Mmmmm, not quite gardens, but an interesting spot.

There was an old fort with a draw bridge going back to 1861. A map showed a collection of forts in an arc located around Amsterdam. After
Soccer Cup fever
walking whatever direction looked interesting, we went back to the boat to relax. Some of us had a nap, others read a book and one was pottering around. I had a nap and went for a short run. We trekked off to the showers and came back to make supper. Veg pasta with a big fat salad. And of course the obligatory sun downer drinks on the back deck talking about whatever. It was 21st June - Midsummer - so the sun only went down around 10pm. We went to bed around sundown.

The next day we had no idea where we would end up. My other half was wanting a wild stop. Not my first choice with a group on the boat! But there
Mooring at Alphen aan den Rijn
weren't exactly any marinas en-route to Gouda. We found a stop next to the side of a road and tied up. A family friend came by to visit us. He took us out for a mini drive and supper. He spoke about life in the Netherlands. I love living in South Africa. Can't imagine living anywhere else. But I can't help but be envious of a country that has infinitely less corruption. The Netherlands have long term plans and funds actually get allocated and spent. They are incentivised to make green and healthy choices. Education is a priority and you can see it. I can only hope that one day South Africa will be like that.

Shangri La at wildstop near Uithoorn
We intended to find what we thought was a marina in Alphen aan den Rijn for our next stop. We tied up next to what looked like a French style cafe. It wasn't. Turns out there were no facilities bar a rubbish bin. But we stayed because we liked the location. We all had a nice hot shower. (There was plenty hot water on the boat from motoring.) We put on our glad rags and headed to the local cafe. Holland was playing the third match of the 2014 Soccer World Cup against Chile. We geared up to watch the game at the cafe and got well and truly caught up in soccer cup fever. Local football fans dressed in bright orange clothes and
off to do laundry in Gouda
accessories filled the cafe. The cafe laid out snacks on the house.

The game began. The first 70 minutes were uneventful. Chile had the upper hand with ball control. They were at the point where they make substitutions . . . . when all of a sudden Holland scored a goal. And a few minutes before the end of the game they promptly scored again. Was lots of fun to be in a country winning such a big game. We went back to the boat and chatted on the deck until late. It's hard to know when to go to bed as the sun goes down so late.

The following day we had breakfast and walked with our friends to the train station. They were going to Rotterdam and then Paris. We went back to our boat and journeyed on to
Gouda. I don't know why I expected Gouda to to be a small historical village. It's actually a really big place. Perhaps because there weren't too many marinas on the map? We found the only marina in Gouda and tied up. The havenmeester (harbour master) kindly lent us his bicycle so Patrick went looking for a laundrette. I went for a mini run. That evening we both had a long shower and caught up on comms. I made us a humongous salad with falafel for supper.

Another round of friends were joining us shortly. We had to get the linen washed. The marina didn't have a laundrette but gave us directions to one. We strapped our big blue IKEA "washing bag" to the bicycle and initially I rode it, but my legs were too short for the pedals. My other half took over and rode the bike while I walked behind him. We left our washing at the laundrette and went to explore Gouda. Do you know I actually think Gouda is nicer than Amsterdam. Why? A lot less tourists. Hardly any Coffee Shops. No Red light District.
Gouda also has canals. And windmills. And cheese tastings. It's full of Dutch people.

Got to Part 3 of this travel blog - here.

For more on other places we have visited, go to the top of this page and open - My Holidays and Trips.

I will be back soon.