To read this travel blog from the begining – click here. To go to the previous post – use this link. – See more at:
Dutch food menu

To read Barging through the Netherlands from the start – use this link – and to go to the previous post – click here.

Public mooring outside Sluis de Punt

The next morning we got going fairly early to resume our trip north toward Groningen. There are a few early birds on the waterways, but most people only untie and motor off from around 9.00 as the bridge operators and lock keepers start around that time.

You get used to the grating sound of bow thrusters, boat engines (which are often recycled

Kitchen/galley on Shangri La

truck engines), and the wash of water as people gear up to travel along the canals. It’s nice to be part of a group en masse. Particularly with locals as they know how the bridges work. We follow right behind them.

Bridges are big, small, lifting, swirling, for cars, for trains, and on and on. Some bridges open fixed times, which are determined by the time of year. On the hour or every half hour. Even only three times a day. At some bridges you have to push a button or use your VHF

Mass exodus of boats shortly after bridge opens

radio to request them to open. And other bridges open on demand. You often see someone lurking in a tower keeping an eye on things. You also get the odd toll bridge where they lower a Dutch wooden clog on a stick for you to put money in.

We knew the trip to Groningen would take a few days. Mainly because of the restrictive speed limit. What was surprising is how few boats were traveling along this unbelievably picturesque route. Maybe the slow speed put them off?

A friendly chap in a tired looking boat was also heading for Groningen so we tailed him. We have yet to encounter a Dutch person who can’t

Lock keeper collecting bruggeld/bridge money in a clog off a rope

or won’t speak English. This chap told us he bought his boat a decade ago. It wasn’t in good nick then. A friend had promised to restore his boat and it just never happened. He had recently retired and decided to take the boat up to Groningen and rather fix it himself. This conversation all happened in the locks as we traveled.

A sluis is a lock in Dutch. Locks are the equivalent of an elevator on the waterways. You drive your boat in. They close the lock doors/gates. The boat goes up or down. The doors open and your drive your boat out.

Fruit and Veg Savers

All the locks we encountered had a lock keeper or a lock keeper-ess. Sometimes two of them. Unlike the French lock keepers, if they see you, and it’s 2 minutes past their lunch time, they will still let you pass. And your lunch time break is often interrupted but the early arrival of a lock keeper back on the job. Mon Dieu!

We over-nighted just outside Sluis De Punt. After a hectic day. For us. Four locks and 22 bridges in 38 kilometres. Our average traveling speed is so slow that a runner comfortably ran past us. Around 8 kilometres an hour.

Our overnight spot was yet another no services public mooring place. After tying up the boat, we decided to do a bit more spring cleaning. The wooden shower grating, the boat ladder we discovered under the seats, a section of the boat cover and some metal mooring stakes all needed a good clean. You can’t use ordinary cleaning agents and

Organic food

dump them into the canals. Not allowed. These items needed a rigorous clean. We could dispose of normal cleaning agents, plus water, on the banks of the canal. It was a lovely evening. I made a monster sized salad with vegetarian ‘balletjies’ or meat balls from the local supermarket chain – Albert Heijn.

Food on this trip was a pleasure. Well, for us it was. We both prefer to eat organic vegan food. Most of our family and friends find our diet austere and a bit extreme. Back home when we eat out with family and friends the wheels unfortunately come off. But on our own we easily stick to our eating habits.

Groningen harbour under a full moon

Most eateries in The Netherlands serve meat and seafood dishes with a portion of ‘frites’ or French fries and a container of mayonnaise. Not our kind of food. We found raw nuts, soy mince, stevia and egg replacer in a health shop. And we found flax seeds, hemp protein powder and cereal coffee in a pharmacy. Even in the smallest town, the local supermarkets had unsweetened soy milk, tinned beans, organic olive oil and honey.

The food markets are excellent. They stock all sorts of fresh produce; mooli (large white radish), Lingen berries and even various coloured onions. It’s usually cheaper to buy fresh produce at the markets. Ten lemons or 5 limes cost €1. We came home with a huge big bag crammed

VVV or Tourist Info office

full which cost us around €14. However, I can’t be sure all of it was organic.

Since we eat a LOT of fresh fruit and veg, my husband bought us a box of Fruit and Veg Savers (find link to them here) which really make a difference. And the previous owners left plastic crates in the hull which is a cool dark place and perfect for additional storage. Our beer and wine, long life soy milk, potatoes, onions and garlic live there.

Move on to Part 6 – by clicking 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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