Barging through the Netherlands – Part 12

Barging through the Netherlands – Part 12

To go to the start this travelogue – click here.  To go back one post – use this link.

Oldehove leaning tower

Leeuwarden is the capital of Friesland. It’s a city with a rich history. You will find a nice big VVV (tourist info) at the south end of the old city where you can get a free map with all the must-sees.

We went to Oldehove leaning tower which has free access. Apparently on a clear day you can see the Friesian Islands. The tower is 1.68 metres off true so you can easily see that it leans. I’m a claustrophobe. The stairs up to the top were dark and full of people so I gave that a miss.

Boomsma’s Distileerderij do a guided tour, but it’s closed Sundays and Mondays, so we never got to do that. There’s also Grote Kerk, Prinsen Tuin and various museums to Friesian history and culture that you can explore. Even just walking along the canal/moat is great. Every town or city seems to have a Pannekoek Schip where you can eat Dutch pancakes. They love their pancakes savoury or sweet. You can even buy take-out pancakes at the supermarkets.

Pannekoek schip

And every town or city has church bells that chime long complicated tunes. As we were leaving Leeuwarden we passed a free standing bell statue come artwork that played a tune with the varying bells. Yet another thing the Dutch love to do is erect statues or artworks all over. The theme with Leeuwarden was the resistance movement. In Appingedam they had statues of people kissing. We saw a massive metallic mural right next to one of the canals. Next to the motorways, even under the bridges in Groningen, you will spot art, both classical and contemporary.

Pik Meer

We left Leeuwarden and overnighted at a public space in Pik Meer. I LOVE middle of nowhere spots. Nothing but the sounds of water slapping against the boat, ducks and perhaps people on their boats. It is so tranquil and peaceful. Only thing is you need your own source of power for warm water and light. And you can’t eat out or shop.

Friesland is a mecca for boats and water-sports. If you include all the waterways, it’s the largest province in The Netherlands. Excluding the waterways, it drops to third place. There is a LOT of water in Friesland. Naturally there are myriad water related festivals and events in the region. We just missed the Sneek Week or as

Dutch barge passing through Vrouepoortbrug

it’s pronounced locally “snake vake”.

Heaps of boats gather in Sneek town and on the Sneek Meer (meer is lake in English). The Dutch were great explorers and in Sneek you can visit another museum dedicated to the history of their early seafarers. Apparently many of the exhibits in the museums were found when they pumped water out of the Zuider Zee. It was popular with the old ships but today in it’s place are fresh water lakes and reclaimed land.

Friesland lilies the flag emblem

The usual old buildings in the distinct Dutch style of architecture can be found as well as the Kerk (church). Sneek prides it’s self on being a premier shopping place. We saw lots of unique boutiques with everything from the mundane to quirky. One thing we hadn’t seen anywhere else was the model train museum next to the station. A local enthusiast had acquired trains and layouts and decided create a shrine for enthusiast. My other half is an N-Gauge model train aficionado so that was a MUST for us. The architecture in Friesland can at times be a little Scandinavian with high pitched roofs and wooden cladding.

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Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

The Captain having supper in Sneek
Barging through the Netherlands – Part 11

Barging through the Netherlands – Part 11

Go back to beginning of this journey by clicking on – this link. Or you can pick up from the last post by

Card machine for services in Leeuwarden

clicking – here.

We encountered three toll bridges en route to Leeuwarden. This was new. Altena Bridge was €5, next was Burdaard – €3.50 and coming into Leeuwarden we had to cough up €6.50 at Eebrug. They have a sort of fishing rod with a clog at the end which they throw in your direction and you place your money in the shoe.

The mooring in Leeuwarden was fabulous. Right on the banks of the Prinsentuin which is a lovely

Bridge keeper collecting toll money in a blue clog

park right next to the happenings and goings on in town but still peaceful. That was until yet another festival started.

There was a Jazz festival and the very next day they had an Uit Markt. The Dutch sure know how to celebrate. Anything will do. In two weeks they were having a pampoen (pumpkin) festival in Leeuwarden.

My husband managed to find another physiotherapist thanks to the kind people at the VVV in Leeuwarden. We got up early to get there in time. This guy did much the same as the last except he put strapping on to hold his body in place. I wanted to do a spot of shopping but

Prinsentuin in Leeuwarden

nothing happens on a Saturday until 10am so I waited for my other half and then we went exploring. We had something to eat at Bagels and Beans. They cater for alternative foodies like us.

Shopping in the Netherlands is cash or a Dutch credit card. Only big chains like H and M or The Body Shop accept other credit cards. The Netherlands are under pressure from the European Union to revise their policy on “foreign” credit cards such as Visa etc as it is viewed as anti-competitive. The marina and ablution facilities at Leeuwarden are paid for at an automatic machine,

Toilets in Leeuwarden

which thank God, accepts all cards. But no cash! It gives instructions in a choice of Dutch, German or English. You type in boat size, amount of people and add a bit of extra money for electricity or to use the facilities.

The more time I spent in The Netherlands the more I liked the people. They are straight talking, down to earth, wholesome and fun loving. We would speak Afrikaans and they loved it. They are well aware of their role in the history of South Africa and many had travelled there. It’s not unusual for them to make conversation with you and if you ask for help or advice they fall over themselves to provide it.

Hans came onto our boat and pointed out scenic routes on our map, the lorry driver let us follow him all the way to Groningen and another crowd took on a grumpy a bridge keeper for us.

Their mantra is ‘No problem’

Washing machines and dryer in Leeuwarden

or “It’s not a problem.” Whatever you ask, nothing is ever a problem.

One of my best things to do is sit at a cafe and watch bicycles with multiple people, children and pets stacked on them, along with scooters, disabled people in mobility vehicles and pedestrians all vying to move past each other. No helmets. No health and safety procedures. Just plain common sense.

Trying to cross a road is terrifying. They come flying at you from all angles. Pavement, road, pedestrian lane or bike lane or

Waterside eatery Leeuwarden

even a combination of them. No problem to these people. Everyone is all over the place. But somehow, no-one gets hurt. They swerve, slow down, say a quick ‘Sorry’ and move on again. No swearing or road rage. Nothing! It’s amazing.

Since we’re not meat eaters, we were limited in what traditional foods we could eat. Dutch people LOVE frites (French fries) with mayonnaise.

Pancakes, savoury or sweet are also firm favourites with the locals. Stamp pot, if you can find it is yummy. It’s potatoes plus a veggie such as beans, boiled and mashed, with pepper and maybe butter. Dutch people LOVE, LOVE

Shangri La bathroom

coffee. They do serve Italian style coffees but we like koffie verkeerd (coffee wrong) a milky coffee but definitely NOT a latte. Coffee and Appel gebak (apple bake) go together and each establishment prides itself on their version. It’s apple, baked with sugar and cinnamon, in pastry. Often served with slag room (beaten cream).

Belgian beers abound, along with Heineken and Amstel. We like the dark, nutty ones such as Duvel, Afflingem, Leffe and Westmalle. My other half will not eat licorice. I am mad about it. I found gelatin free versions in the health shops and gorged myself on it.

To move on to Part 12 – click right here.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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