Tag Archives: Friesland

A reminder of just how wonderful life can be

HOORN

Tuesday-Friday, March 18-21

Another crew member hopped aboard JUANONA Tuesday night, an adventurous free spirit with her feet on the ground and now on the water.

We’re fortunate to have so many amazing young folk in our life, Danielle being one of them. She joined me the night before Max returned from Maine, so we had a girly night sharing two huge pizzas (which her mom was glad to hear the two of us did not finish off :) ) and talking into the night and early morning.

When Max arrived he was lugging rented scuba gear for checking the zincs on the prop*, which he did on Thursday. Danielle and I acted as his assistants, rowing a raft around like Huckleberry Finns to serve as a platform,

IMG 1700

then peppering him with questions such as “how do we know if you need to be pulled out because you’re stuck down there?” and “did you warm up your wet suit with the traditional liquid?” (the latter being Danielle’s father’s question as well).

It was brisk but with a great surfing wetsuit given to Max (these are the times I’m so glad it didn’t fit me) by our nephew Iain. Of course, the trial run of getting into and out of it required some emails to Iain and my brother Cam who provided excellent advice.

So, aptly prepared Max entered the water and within 20 minutes of bobbing down and up, he announced the zincs were still intact and doing great.

Danielle and I rowed the raft back while Max showered and then proceeded to dry the wet suit, hood, gloves, and boots. The boots required extra ‘drying out’ due to smelling like a really gross fish swam in there and died. My attempt of stuffing an empty coffee bag into one of them didn’t quite do the trick; so, Max researched how to make their odor less offensive. We’ll see how well that works. Fortunately, there’s always the cockpit locker for storage…

* I won’t go into the scientific explanation here but, basically, you should have this less ‘noble’ metal attached to more ‘noble’ metal submerged in the water. With water, especially salt water, acting like a battery, you want to attract the electric current to the zincs so they get ‘eaten’ before your steel/aluminum bits and pieces do, such as your prop. To ensure you have enough goody food for that big bad electricity, you need to replace any zincs that are corroded; and, the cycle starts all over again until they’ve bit the dust and you replace them with new ones…

 

HINDELOOPEN

(with some day trips sprinkled in)

Friday-Friday, March 21-28

Friday morning we left our winter berth in Hoorn, but not before Max performed some fantastic bow-sprit gymnastics to retrieve our chafing gear on the bow line.  With both him and the gear back aboard, we headed up to Enkhuizen to go through the lock with our new crew member handling the lines like a pro.

An easy, two-hour sail across the IJseelmeer

landed us in our next port, Hindeloopen (JUANONA is on the far right).

We last visited this lovely Dutch town July 2016 on our way back from Norway. It was here we met up with Deborah, Thijs, and Tika, our friends from Hoorn; and, we were looking forward to introducing Danielle to this quintessential (an adjective I find myself using a lot around the Netherlands) Dutch town.

In spite of the chilly weather with multiple showers on and off during the week, the sun shone enough times for us to enjoy wandering around Hindeloopen. Several days we braved the wind and cold temps to walk the yellow-bricked streets with a self-guided brochure.

I hadn’t realized that this town once served as the main timber port for Amsterdam ship owners importing wood from the Baltic. At one point the population grew to 2300 during the 17th and 18th centuries; however, the closing of the Zuiderzee (South sea) by the large dike in 1938 played havoc with the fishing industry with the town’s population dropping to 870 . Now, visitors from afar, such as the bus of Wisconsinites Danielle and I met one day, stroll the streets of this storybook village to ooh-and-aah.

And, we’re among those enjoying Hindeloopen’s ambiance. With spring beauty surrounding us we posed for photos on picturesque bridges and streets.

More portraits were snapped when both Danielle and I spotted this flowering tree, a perfect backdrop to document our time together.

As a cousin of Max’s who’s from the Netherlands stated the photos reflect a Dutch spring in Friesland, aka Freeze-land, perfectly:  blossoming trees and winter coats.

Speaking of Brrrrr weather, Hindeloopen is one of the towns featured in the famous Elfjstedentocht (“Eleven Cities Tour”), the 200km skating race held in Friesland. Unfortunately, due to the ice not being thick enough these past years, the last race was held in 1997, which is another fatality of climate change. Fingers crossed for next year!

Tied to the town dock provided easy access to the town; and, one, two, or all three of us would hop off a various times to stretch our legs. It was when Max and I did so that we happened upon a small MDT (Max Disaster Tour) component:  the patch of land where they use to execute people on Galgepolle (translated as Land of the Gallows) in the Middle Ages…

Ahhh, one happy-man smile.

We couldn’t be in Hindeloopen and not visit our favorite kibbeling restaurant thanks to sharing a meal last year with Thijs, Deborah and Tika. Ordering both our usual (kibbeling) we added a sampling of smoked eel, a local food around here. After a taste I was content with just the kibbeling.

We met the owner and the man responsible for such fresh fish:  Spike Bootsma .

It began when Max commented on what a great shirt he had on (one Max later tried to find to purchase but to no avail). Spike promptly brought out several books, one featuring photographs and stories of locals, another being a cookbook. Both books had photos, and one related in Spike’s own words his love of the sea and fishing. Pretty powerful especially when he spoke of how the dyke wiped out not only the fishing industry but also the traditional culture of Friesland’s shore towns.

Just down the street from Spike’s stands the Fries Museum, which documents the way life use to be. The museum captures local history, similar to Enkhuisen’s large Zuiderzee Museum, which covers all of Friesland’s coastal villages.

Must say, one of the highlights was Max’s comment when looking at a traditional room display. While I was peering at all the items filling the display, all of a sudden out pops “That baby has a fat head” from Max’s mouth.

Well, that’s all it took for peals of laughter to erupt from Danielle’s and my bodies. And, that remains as one of the best memories of the day, one we didn’t let poor Max forget.

It seems free coffee with admission is common; and, we imbibed some cups after our walk-through while speaking with the woman managing the ticket counter. She proudly showed us her photograph dressed in the traditional Hindeloopen costume from yesteryears,

which mirrors the one in this 1860 portrait of Meinke Willems (1773-1855). Willems is either not too happy or didn’t have any teeth but the dress is fabulous in its uniqueness.

On another day Danielle and I roamed the streets and found more opportunities to document her time in Hindeloopen…

And, one of my favorites:

But, walks weren’t the only activity for Danielle’s explorations. Being a marathoner (she had just completed the Paris race two weeks prior), she took off running a lot of the mornings. We’d wave good-bye to her while lounging with coffee in our v-berth only to have her return two hours later…

Thankfully, we never felt the need to escort her as she proved perfectly capable of finding her way around the tulip fields and canals.

 

WORKUM

The surrounding towns offered easy day-tripping, many we’d visited last summer. One, contained a true gem, the Jopie Huisman Museum.  So, we caught the bus to Workum. Actually, the bus could have been our personal jitney as we were the only passengers. The guy reminded us of a Hobbit-Leprecaun blend and couldn’t have had a bigger smile. That, alone, was worth a trip.

Waiting for the museum to open we wandered to a square featuring the Waag (weigh house), a ubiquitous building in most Dutch towns due to centuries of bartering goods such as cheese and butter.

On the square was a church we also had toured last summer. Not seeing any signs saying when the public could visit, Max pulled on the door, it opened, and in we went.

The light in this church is amazing, most likely due to extremely generous, ie., HUGE, windows and no stained glass but alternating plain and light-green panes. What one misses in brilliant colors lit from behind is more than offset by the airiness created by day light streaming in.

We checked out the impressive pulpit,

penned our names in the guest book, and headed out only to be greeted by three guys who laughed and said good thing they were here doing some tasks otherwise we couldn’t have gotten in. In other words, we opened a door and just walked in when we probably shouldn’t have. But, no harm done!

I have to say the Dutch appear pretty tolerant of others’ mistakes. For example, you rarely hear horns blaring at other drivers, and you’re more likely to be politely corrected if mistaken than forcefully implied you’re an idiot. Makes traveling here relaxing vs. stressful (except for docking and undocking!).

Back to the museum, which was officially open.

Jopie made his living collecting and selling used metal and rags. In his spare time he reverently documented people’s lives by painting their possessions.

He also used his art to express his own feelings, such as these overalls painted after a despondent period in his life. The realistic detail is hard to believe.

He loved this area, and a short video showed him catching eels with a friend and later smoking them. Seeing those eels made both Danielle and I rethink ever sticking our toes into what once seemed inviting water…

Being back in this museum reminded me of how much I liked this guy. How great would it have been to be able to drop in for a chat during an afternoon walk? He just seemed that welcoming of a person.

Fortunately, Jopie’s art impressed Danielle as much as it had us. The three of us enjoyed an hour of art gazing, then left to stand at the windy bus stop for our ride back to Hindeloopen.

 

SNEEK

Another day we headed to Sneek (pronounced ‘Snake’) lured by photos of the town’s water-port gate

and the Fries Scheepvaartmuseum. The maritime museum gave us a place to eat our picnic lunch before touring multiple rooms in this three-story building.

Unfortunately, the majority of displays explained themselves in Dutch only. The English audio guide provided some highlights of major artifacts but not enough to let us truly absorb the history of Sneek and its maritime tradition. Still, just viewing objects from long ago and hearing that this town was a major city for silversmithing made it worth the entrance fee (and the free coffees that came with our admittance fees :).

HINDELOOPEN

Being in Bike Land means a bike ride is a must. Danielle and I rented two on one of the sunnier and warmer days (55º?).

For three hours we cycled a circular route south. Stopping at a bridge we met a nice woman walking her small pup.

Come to find out she was leaving soon for their vacation cabin in Bulgaria. That prompted both Danielle and I to ask how it was, which she responded ‘lovely.’ I then asked if she spoke the language, and she replied she was learning it. God, she spoke English perfectly, obviously Dutch, and now Bulgarian. Talk about feeling like a lamebrain American! If we had more time, I’m certain the three of us would be sitting around her table sipping tea and discovering more about Bulgaria.

But, back on our bikes to continue east, then north and finally south back to Hindeloopen.

Of course, the Dutch mountains (wind) kicked up and into our face for the last 10 kilometers. As my sister once commented to me during an outdoor adventure, “I don’t know if you realize this, but I stopped having fun a long time ago.” That expressed my sentiments exactly as the young marathoner pedaled breezily while I pantingly kept up (barely). Turning those nasty beasts back to the rental shop was (almost) the highlight of my ride…

Several nights were movie nights showing LION followed by an Austin Powers flick the next evening. You can tell which one they were watching when I took this pic.

In addition to christening Danielle with AUSTiN POWERS, Max promoted the use of his favorite health item:  the nety pot. And, here, also, the photo captured the true feelings with one exhibiting more nety-pot enthusiasm than the other.

 

LEEUWARDEN

Our last full day with our crew happened to be Koningsdag or King’s Day, a celebration of the king’s (was queen’s until she abdicated in favor of her son) birthday. Last year the blustery, freezing rain made for a pretty abbreviated walk around Haarlem. With a better weather forecast we made plans to visit Harlingen, a city north of us. Not finding much action there we took the train to Leeuwarden, and we knew it was ‘the’ destination for locals by the kids piling onto the train for the same destination.

And, with sun providing some element of warmth, we enjoyed wandering amidst the crowded streets. About ready to call it a day, Max heard some live music down one of the alleys we were walking by. And, what a great find that was! It made our day as we joined a small but exuberant audience standing in attendance of a wonderful brass band.

But, don’t take my word for it.  Just listen to this and tell me you, too, would have been dancing in place :)

Content with finding at least some wholesome partying, we left to catch the train but not before Danielle found an abandoned crown that begged to be tried on by all:

I think we know who looked the best, especially with her new-found Austin-Powers move:

Our last Koningsdag pic was in front of the Waag where a butter-churning-maiden statue offered Danielle and me another opportunity for a pose (I think this is catching…).

 

Early the next morning the three of us walked the mile to bid farewell as Danielle left for Bordeaux where she’d been teaching for the year.

Soon, she’d be returning to the states but we were so thankful she put us on her itinerary. Having her as crew made the start of our 2017 cruising memorable in the best sense ever.

with love and hugs to you, Danielle,

xox

Lynnie & Max

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bits and Bobs of the Netherlands: PART III

FRIESLAND

Sunday, March 12

We are so lucky! Our Ipswich friend Anne, a fellow cruiser now in Cartegna with husband Peter, arrived with no problem and she woke to a picture-perfect day in the Netherlands :).

With sun out and wheels at hand we ventured off to Friesland, the northeast province of the Netherlands. Max and I sailed there summer 2016 on our way to and from Norway. When cruising there last July we had taken advantage of traveling via bikes and trains. This time the three of us traversed the IJsselmeer in our rental car via the famous barrier dyke, the Afsluitdijk, landing in Harlingen where we had last been with JUANONA almost a year ago.

Oddly enough we spotted a creature not usually seen in the Netherlands, or, for that matter, in most European countries.

IMG 1917Why it was there, who knows, but it made for an exclamation and a ‘what-the-hell’ head scratch.

For the first time in a while we could enjoy a coffee outdoors,

IMG 1918

then managed to visit a Norwegian sail-training ship alongside one of Harlingen’s quays with very personable trainees aboard.

From there a clockwise drive took us along polders and acres of farmland along roads made for teeny cars. Believe it or not, the lane below is two-way, and this was the case for many of our back-country drives.

IMG 1919

Out of all the towns we visited Dokkum was the highlight with its working windmill. Our friends Gus and Helen had stopped here in their Sabre 38 and tied up in front of one of the windmills. Unfortunately our draft is too deep to easily travel these particular canals, which is why we decided to visit by car. We purchased mustard ground there… and, I took a shot capturing the ‘windblown look’ at the top of the mill. Behind you get a glimpse of the picturesque setting where we strolled soon after.

IMG 1922

A local restaurant recommended by the windmill operator served up excellent kibbeling (fried cod) for lunch before we hopped back in the car to continue our circular route.

IMG 1924

Our Sunday drive, which included Holwerd and a drive-by of Sneek, provided Anne with a feeling for this part of the Netherlands, often missed if one isn’t heading northeast of Amsterdam.

We could have expanded our trip to visit Hindeloopen, a lovely little port where we stayed end of last July, but our stomachs were starting to grumble for dinner. If you thought all we did was drive from one refreshment to the next, you wouldn’t be far off…

AMSTERDAM

Monday, March 13

The one and only time Anne had been in Amsterdam was as a baby, so she and I trained down to explore this canal-ringed city. All I can say is we walked and talked, and talked and walked, interspersed with coffees of course.

The day being sunny and not too crowded with tourists, with the exception of school groups, we ended up doing a counter-clockwise tour of the city. Thankfully, Anne’s navigation skills came in handy as I became completely turned around when approaching the Museumplein from the opposite direction. But, since Amsterdam’s streets are fascinating anyhow, no matter. At least that’s what I told Anne and myself.

Poking into shops, stopping for a lunch at the Rijks Museum cafe, and just experiencing being in a lovely urban culture was enough for both of us. By the time late afternoon rolled around we were both ready for home and one of Max’s meals, a great way to end any day.

WATERLAND REGION

Tuesday, March 14

Another day of exploring before we had to drop Anne off in Eindhoven. And, another glorious day of sun, so we drove south to Waterland, located between Hoorn and Amsterdam. Allegedly this area provided the grid-layout of Manhattan in New Amsterdam when the Dutch settled there in the 1600s. By the way, If anyone is interested in how the Dutch established Manhattan’s culture, and its continuing influence today, read THE ISLAND IN THE CENTER OF THE WORLD by Russell Shorto. Max enjoyed it and passed it on to me. The information is not what we get in our history books, possibly because the Dutch (or the Native Americans) didn’t write the history of this area.

Our first stop set a high standard. Di Rijp enchants any visitor with its storybook streets and homes. And, it definitely felt well-taken care of. But, first, the regular stop:  our koffie break.

It was at the cafe that Anne noticed a whaling mural. When we asked about it, the owner said the inland town used to front the ocean, and had been a major port with ships sailing regularly to Spitsbergen. FYI: as per the Rijks Museum about a display we saw last year:  “In 1980 archaeologists investigated the graves of 185 Dutchmen – whale hunters and workmen of the train oil refineries – who had died on or near Spitsbergen during the 17th century. The skeletons were still wearing their knitted woollen caps. Each cap was individualized; the men recognized one another only by the pattern of stripes on the caps. The men were bundled up so tightly against the fierce cold that only their eyes were visible.”. 

Who would have thought it?

The cafe owner mentioned a whaling museum, which we tried to see, but it was closed until later this spring. Yet, like in most of these Dutch villages, just slowly slowly ambulating down the bricked lanes peering at and in houses through their un-curtained windows provides entertainment. Oh, yeah, and having your photo taken next to an old lock :)

IMG 1928

Monnickendam, established by the Benedictines in the 14th century, was our lunch spot. This also use to be a major port but now you see more pleasure craft than trawlers berthed at the local marina.

Max had been here before in search of a boat part, and the Tourist Office had given him a map of the gable stones adorning many of the old homes. These plaques identified the owner by trade, interest, or family name. As we walked down the streets we searched the brick facades matching the stones with the brochure’s description:

The Golden Hand:  hewn by the current owner of the house, the hand represents the “Golden Hand of God” with the palm holding the initials of his beloved.

IMG 1944

Pirate ships:  This one dates from 1763. Pieter Winkes changed from captaining a pirate ship in the West Indies to inspecting the Het Lanselvaare, one of the local, rope-making yards. The reason? To care for his sick wife who took ill while he was sailing.  

IMG 1942

And, this one tells of the five Jews grocers Leo and Lies Hordijk hid during WWII. Fortunately, all survived.

IMG 1940

Since we obviously looked like tourists…

IMG 1948

it’s never surprising but always welcomed when a local stops to ask if we need help. This time our impromptu guide informed us of the 17th-century glockenspiel in the former town hall (from the 15th century). He mentioned the bells were a little off tune (he couldn’t tell and we didn’t care) but in ten minutes some horses would come out and the angels would sound their trumpets. Sure enough, we heard the bells

and then we saw the hooves of the prancing horses with the angels tooting.

Our last waterland town was known for its 17th and 18th wooden houses, some painted a specific grey called ‘Broecker grijs’ like the one in the photo I pulled off the Internet. Interestingly this color, they say, came from the landscapes painted by Monet and other artists. I haven’t found any other reference to that, though.

Broek in Waterland 02072012 7461

Broeck of Waterland (there’s also a Broek op Langedijk further north, which we visited last fall) is known for its cleanliness but, frankly, all of these places look spick-’n-span to me. (Actually, throughout our touring of the Netherlands this past year, litter seems to be just a sprinkle of trash every now and then versus a widespread occurrence.)

We needed to head south for Anne’s flight so this was our last stop in our tour of Waterland. Must say, it’d be great to do a bike trip around here. Of course koffie stops would figure prominently…

Seeing a friend off is always a bit sad, but she promised to keep in touch regarding her and Peter’s cruising plans. They’re headed into the Mediterranean. Hopefully, more reunions are our in our future!

One more ‘Bits and Bobs’ on its way…