August 15th, 2018
Experiencing the Netherlands by Boat
In May of this year, we arrived in Amsterdam to start our journey though the canals of Northern Holland. After a short drive to the small town of Makkum, we boarded what would be our home for the next 8 days, “The Vertrouwen.”
In the early 1900’s, barges were used for transporting goods all over Europe. Today, some of those barges are still in use, but have been converted into cruising boats that you are able to sleep on. I first learned about these boats from listening to stories from my fiancée’s uncle, our boat’s owner, of cruising through the canals all over Europe. I was instantly intrigued and had to get out there as soon as possible.
Boating is a way of life for many people in this part of the country because of the number of waterways and canals that weave their way through the region. There are even some towns that are only accessible by boat. Having this boat to travel on was definitely, not only a treat for us, but also a necessity for some of the places we went to.
After a day or two on the boat, we began to settle into the routine of things. We’d wake up in a new city, grab our handy backpacks and bikes, and ride into town to find fresh bread like “suikerbrood” (Dutch Sweet Bread). While we were traveling though the canals, we’d pass many small towns and farms along the way. The boat had a large deck where we could all soak up the sun or take an afternoon nap, if you felt like it. We played games, we told stories, and we ate lots of bread. So much bread we just had to stash some away for later in our Wayfinder Waistpacks. When we finally arrived at our next destination city, some of us would bike around, some would go for a walk, and some would just grab a beer at the nearest pub. We had free range to explore our new surroundings however we felt like.
We were typically the only Americans in the cities we stopped in because the towns were so small, so we were able to fully immerse ourselves into their culture. We noticed that the Dutch people are very relaxed in their ways. It never seemed like anybody was in a hurry, they took time to enjoy their food and their drinks, and we didn’t run into a single rude soul while we were there. Everyone was such a delight to be around! If I learned anything from the Dutch people, it would be to slow down and appreciate the important things and the important people around you.
Before this trip, I had actually never been to Europe. I always wanted to experience the rich culture and history that this region holds, but simply never got the opportunity. Looking back on this trip, I can’t think of a better way I could have experienced The Netherlands. We really got off the beaten path, away from touristy regions, and found our unknown.
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