We were delighted to be invited to join Peter and Alison on their newly acquired 1/3 share of Burrabilla, an English built canal boat, not a barge like Anja (see France holiday). It was quite roomy and comfortable for the four of us, be a bit squeezey with more.
After sorting out flights, accommodation and car we flew out of Langkawi to Amsterdam via Kuala Lumpur at the end of August. We arrived in Schipol at 5:30am, cruised through Customs and Immigration then looked for breakfast. Also bought a couple of local SIMs to get on the air. Our B&B wasn't expecting us until 9am, so we had plenty of time to wander about before catching the train to Amsterdam Centraal. The Barangay B&B is literally 5 minutes walk from the station. It was quite comfortable and welcoming, although the steep, narrow staircase was a challenge. We had been aware that we would have to climb them, so had left our bulky suitcases in the lockers at Centraal.
After a walk around the immediate area of Jordaan, and a visit to the Rijksmuseum, we had a sleep. Woke up before midnight, so headed out from something to eat and a look at the Red Light Area. Lots of people walking around, and lots of young (and not so young) ladies displaying their wares in the windows.
Next morning we reclaimed our
luggage and caught the train to
Leiden where we were met by Peter and Alison. Leiden is quite a large
University town with lots of young people. We spent a couple of days here
looking at museums, shops and an interesting windmill museum, the De Valk.
Rijksmuseum in Leiden has a very
extensive and interesting section on ancient Egypt.
|From Holland 2011|
From Leiden we travelled north along the canals to Haarlem, another large old town. On the way we stopped to visit the Cruquius museum which was an old steam pumping station that was used to drain the polders. In Haarlem the weather turned nasty with strong winds and rain. The route north crossed a major canal with lots of commercial traffic (big ships) and Burrabilla doesn't handle too well in those conditions. Peter wisely decided that we stay in Haarlem until the weather settled. One night we went to the cathedral to hear an organ recital on the huge organ. Mozart had performed on it. The program was a bit mixed with lots of unfamiliar pieces, but ended with Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D, which everyone would recognise.
There were some very interesting museums in Haarlem, the Teyler and the Frans Hals. Teyler's Museum displays an eclectic collection of fossils (among which the first ever discovered, if not recognised, of Archaeopteryx), minerals, scientific instruments, medals, coins, and paintings.
We had planned to pick up our
car in Alkmaar, but had to change that to Haarlem because of the weekend.
So Judy and I set off to do some exploring in Edam while Peter and Alison
brought Burrabilla half-way to Alkmaar. Edam was a charming little town
with cheese shops of course. The town centre has been very well preserved,
and it was not very busy with tourists - we loved it. We re-joined
Burrabilla that night.
Next day we managed to find a place to park the car in Alkmaar, just in time to welcome Burrabilla. It was festival time in Alkmaar and the ancient town centre was a bustling, noisy place.
Here we made contact with one of my relatives, Gerard and wife Karin. Gerard then arranged for us to meet his mother and uncle, my cousins Rieke and Henk. From Alkmaar we left Burrabilla and all went by car to Friesland via the Afsluitdijk that keeps the Wadden Sea out of the IJselmeer. Before crossing the dike, we stopped at the Museum at Enkhuizen. It was absolutely fascinating, showing a village and it's inhabitants from long ago. Well worth a visit and a longer stay.
We met another relation Dolf and his wife Margreet near Leeuwarden, then went off to stay in a cottage in Ternaard, arranged by Dolf.
Ternaard is quite close to the sea and the off-shore islands. We were going to get the ferry out to Amerland but it was blowing 25kts and we decided that it wouldn't be too pleasant cycling in those conditions. So instead we went to Franeker to see the planetarium, then on to the port at Harlingen. Peter and Alison returned to the boat by bus while we went off to visit cousins Rieke and Henk in Heerenveen.
It was lovely to meet them - Rieke had lots of photos and facts about her family when they lived in Suriname. My father also lived there when he was a teenager. After lots of talk and lunch, we returned to Ternaard via Sneek where my grandfather was born. It has a famous maritime museum which we briefly visited.
We did eventually get to Amerland when the weather cleared, and we cycled to the western end with a nice breeze on our backs - easy pedalling! However, when we had to come back into the breeze, not so easy! The trip by ferry from Holwerd is very slow and sinuous because of the many sandbanks.
Dolf kindly invited us to stay with him and Margreet for a couple of days and also invited another "cousin" Roloef to come over from Groningen. It was great to meet him after exchanging lots of emails. He had been responsible for locating Rieke and Gerard for me.
We spent one day driving
around the Groningen area visiting Neuwolda and then Nieuw Scheemda where my
father was born. We had a few "discussions" about where we were as we got lost a
few times. So to keep our travels calm, we borrowed Jane, Dolf's TomTom GPS.
Soon it was time to leave Friesland and go and meet my Uncle Wim who is 92 years
old! and still lives by himself. It was great to meet him and cousins Willem and
Mieke and her daughter Marjolein. We found out that there would be a
family gathering in a week's time so we decided to go off to Belgium and come
back for the event.