Archive for September, 2011

Special watery worlds in the Netherlands

September 19, 2011

Giethoorn isn't Venice, but it is cute

We were so lucky. We had to change the day we’d designated for cycling in the Netherlands and the weather cooperated. We had only one rainstorm, and the wind, well, the wind is omnipresent, hence the country’s proliferation of windmills. For hill-loving cyclists like us, it compensates for the flat terrain. And, finally, I made it to Giethoorn, which has been on my list for a while. It’s called the “Venice of the Netherlands” (no comparison) and also got a little attention via a viral email hawking pictures from a Dutch town that has no cars.

 Well, yes and no. Only about a mile of Giethoorn is carless and it’s very, very touristy. But it was indeed cute, and has several places to eat, drink and shop, along with rent bikes and boats. (Bikes were an affordable $10.50 a day.) We enjoyed it, but were also happy to head out for less-populated areas.

Kalenberg was favorite stop of the day

Our 30-mile loop first took us along a very rural bike path (paved, of course) with no traffic and then through marshland and finally to Kalenberg, which I’m guessing Giethoorn resembled before the tourists descended. All houses were along a canal (this one was wider and more open) and one side of town was reachable only by boat or walking. The houses were adorable and everything was tidy and attractive. A little drawbridge joined the two sides and a café there overlooked the canal.

17th-century Blokzijl used to be on the sea

From there we headed for Blokzijl, a 17th-century city with a nice harbor on the former Zuiderzee, aka the South Sea (not to be confused with the South Seas). After they created (in 1942) a polder there, i.e. they reclaimed the land, the city became landlocked. Fascinating!

Lovely Lottie is a touring tekkel

On the way there, another highlight – greeting Lottie, a long-haired tekkel (dachshund) in a rear bike basket. My third tekkel of the trip! The wind about did us in, but we made it to town and thought it was lovely. Even lovelier was the tailwind back to Giethoorn, and the little bike ferry of Jonen that took us over a bridge-less canal. The price of $1.50 seemed reasonable at the time, but when I think about it, for a 30-second ride it was pricey.

All these towns are in the region called De Weerribben in the Overijssel Province. It’s a couple hours east of Amsterdam and a heck of a lot less crowded. Something different!

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