Friday, March 18, 2016


89                                                  HOLLAND CANALS


The train from Amsterdam to Sneek was pre war, not sure which one.  Probably the first steel railroad cars, no one had invented Air Conditioning at the time. Man, was it hot! We couldn’t even open a window to cool off, Hard trip.
Hot, hot, hot! Took us three trains, called taxi from free kiosk at Sneek station, dropped Joy & Jean at boat, BJ & I taxi’d back to a liquor store & Super Market. Loaded up on booze & supplies for our week long trip. Received instructions from Port tech, start, horn, run generator when needing 220 v., asked if I had experience; “ of course, in mid France canals”. Showed how to change controls from cabin to upper deck (Piece of cake!).
 So he leaves, we cast off bow & stern, I’m at controls inside, BJ topside for the scenery. I can’t seem to get thrust but boat moves out off dock & BJ says “We’re off!” & I realize she has control of boat does not know first thing about it. I race topside, take over steering & throttle, and make our first two left turns out of the yacht harbor & eventually are cruising on a canal out in the country. No damage so far.
  Having started about five PM we needed to find a place to stop for the night as, unlike France, there are only designated places to tie up. A couple of hours we came upon a spot and tied up between a couple of other travelers. It being pretty hot, we moved the table & chairs to the bank, broke out the wine & cheese & fruit & supped in a peaceful pastoral setting.
  Stopped at a small town and Jean & I got the bikes out to find supplies. First thing is my bike had two flat tires but I rode the thing anyway. Rode two blocks to edge of town, turned around & Jean hollered “Here’s a store!”. Sure enough, we had went right by it and didn’t recognize it as such. We entered and it looked like a very small meat shop with a cold case of meats. We weren’t looking for that and asked if he had any milk. Sure , right there on that shelf in a paper container. Not refrigerated, but it was milk for our coffee. Any bread? Sure, got a frozen loaf from the back, Beer?, brought out a six of cold Heinekin. Pretty much had all we needed, but did he have a tire pump? He brought it around & pumped up my tires (Talk about full service!) and we were off to the boat. That store must have had a backroom the size of Costco.

 Came upon a small town of Eikhorn, waited for the little bridge to open, then putted through as the bridge man had a fishing pole with a small wooden shoe dangling over us. We didn’t know what the hell that was until he started hollering at us and telling us to pull over. We managed a quick stop along the quay and Joy ran back with some Euros, to give him E1.40.  Finally got the idea after watching the other boater catch the line and put in their money.
  Arrived in the old town of Kampen, but not before running aground on the huge sea en route. No perceptible damage. Found a small but difficult pier to moor & nearly ripped the dock apart as I was trying to nose into it get tied up, then roll the aft over to it but my line handlers didn’t get it plus there were only small rings instead of bollards on which to tie onto.
Walked across the great old lift bridge and found a little café for Petit Dejeuner. There were glass floor areas that showed old burial vaults plus a bubbling hot spring right in the front room. A great old Kerk (Church)  that used to be Catholic but now Protestant. Fortunately they were tuning the fabulous old organ with 1200 pipes so we sat and reveled in the vast sounds. Tuning consisted of hitting it with a huge sledge hammer.
 Found a cheese shop with a wall of shelves with 12" wheels of different cheeses. Displays of Chilean wine for e3.00 a bottle, so picked up a few.  I found a shop that sold art supplies and bought some sketching materials.

Caught a performance by "Boom Chicago", had fun and a dinner & bottle of wine and lots of really good laughs, mostly trashing Bush.  The Handicap laws are  not as crazy as in USA, as accommodation is easily accomplished with simple methods. At Boom Chicago the hall is stepped 3 times with 6" steps. The server brings over a small wood ramp, sets it down for the wheelchair person, then takes it back up to the Matre de station. I didn’t know what she did about the toilet on the next floor.

 There was a big construction project going on in front of our breakfast cafe.
We talked with superintendent who informed us they were digging a new Metro tunnel in order to get some fast Metro to the outlying areas. We were intrigued by the equipment as they had two large cranes each with a 90' tower and were drilling about every 3 meters, and pumping in concrete grout under enough pressure so that the grout would blossom out to 3 meters in diameter. this is how they were forming the bottom of the tunnel. They had already dug the side with a slurry trench.  When they had all the bottom pads set, the will excavate the 90' deep tunnel, pour a solid bottom, middle floor and then the street level. Since this is all well below the canals I would assume de-watering is a major factor in all this.


  While riding the new metro one day Joy noticed a sign right in front of us that they would be on strike the next day. This is the first we heard of it so we thought we would be clever and bought a canal boat tour for the next day for 14 e each. We were able to get down to the station but since the boats came by every two hours it was not so easy. We did a lot of walking, thru Chinatown, red lite district, finally got to the Marijuana Museum to watch them grow several different varieties of pot in the back rooms. Didn't seem like a big deal that there was a 4' tall pot plant sitting out in front of the store, on the sidewalk.
 We usually walked along the canals to our hotel, passing lots of quant scenes, like the lady busily vacuuming her front steps, of granite! I'd heard they were really tidy folks. One evening we were hungry and went out to find a bite to eat at some local, low cost venue. It looked like rain so we took our little folding umbrellas and strolled out into a tremendous heavy rainstorm, all the way to a corner bar/cafe where we ducked in totally drenched. Found a corner table and ordered a couple glasses of vin ordinaire and sandwiches. Just what we were looking for. It being a Sunday, most places were closed, but they always have a few bars open for the Dutch quafers.
 Stopped by the OLD MAN'S, the ultimate head shop, replete with a n entire line of cannabis clothing., Joy had to buy some pipe lighters for you know what.

 We spent a few hot hours searching for the fabulous canal with all the great 16th cent. warehouse that are restored/converted into modern use. The clear beauty of these are really remarkable. We didn't find them but we now know they are on the Brousgreet canal for next time, and there will be a next time.

 Of course the highlight of our trip was finding the ARCAM building, where we were given literature about Java & Borneo Island. We forthwith caught the proper bus and walked through the Dutch's idea of hoe to design and execute new towns. I suspect their type of government is leaning towards socialism with a monarchy in the form a Queen Beatrice? They seem to have it pretty well organized.
 BJ and I went to walked over to the Van Gogh Museum. It was pretty hot so we had to stop at the huge reflecting pool to put our feet in and cool a bit. I was anticipating going into the new adjunct to the museum by a Japanese ‘Starchitect’ but we were relegated to the existing one. I don't know what they use the new expensive one for. On the way back home we stopped at the VG Cafe for a good Belgium beer. To cool off, of course.