Continuing our journey .. from Heusden we took:
- The Andelse Maas through to Gorinchem briefly using the Waal into the Merwde.
- From the Merwede canal to Vianen with a blustery crossing of the Lek and into the Vecht taking us to Utrecht and then down to Weesp.
We had some rough weather during our stay in Heusden, high winds, rain and cool around 18C degrees maximum .. and the day we left this lovely town for Gorinchem was
very much the same.
Visibility was poor which was not a pleasant experience when travelling even a short distance down the Waal.. if we thought the Maas was big we were mistaken, compared with the Waal anyway which was more like being out to sea!
Another short trip thankfully and we were soon tucked away in the 1st voorhaven WV De Merwede marina which luckily we had booked ahead .
Another beautiful fortified town with grassed ramparts forming a star shape and the town protected within.
We couldn’t resist walking into the Grote Kirk church as here again there was a fabulous ramp right up to the open door. What an experience.. in particular being followed by our charming host to where we were having a coffee afterwards at the square to ask if we would take a candle as a symbol of friendship back to Australia .. of course we could.
From Gorinchem we headed up the Merwedekanaal to Vianen, and the following day with the lock finally open after many weeks of work, we shot across the Lek (another big frothy river) and headed for the Vecht – many people had told us how wonderful this canal was.
A few efficient swing and lift bridges behind us and we were into the arched bridges heading for the heart of Utrecht. Well, we had 17 fixed bridges in only a few kilometres and 15 where arched and tricky to say the least.
Easily as bad as Leeds/Liverpool ones.. even though we had put the bimini (canvas over our stern) down we still managed to scrape the outer corner of it as we meandered right into the heart of town through a long curved tunnel. Hugely tricky yet the most amazing experience, this is a unique city with the canal so low down, streets above us.
The challenge was, now through to the northern side of town we found wheelchair access almost impossible. A beautiful and special town but we couldn’t get off the boat! Well.. with some foolhardy determination we finally did.. but getting back on was extremely difficult: The ramp was so steep Stewart nearly shot through the other side of the stern deck as we boarded. Never again we agreed… this one was too steep for safety and we now
know the limit. Reluctantly this meant leaving Utrecht early but in the months to come we will be back on the southern side and explore further.
Brooklyn..rather Broekelyn.. and the stunning Vecht canal.
Along the Vecht there are many lovely towns.. we were especially drawn to Broekelyn. It is the Dutch original name for Brooklyn New York and more importantly for Brooklyn in NSW, Australia, just downriver from where we have our holiday house on the Hawkesbury River. In fact in the town square we had lunch at a restaurant which by coincidence was run by a character like Miss Piggy, ie, Felicity from Miss Piggy Barges at Brooklyn Australia – perhaps the original. This lady had long blond hair in ringlets, tossing her head to let the hair fly .. very much like the Muppet version!
The big excitement was having our first experience with the little red (in this case, they can be any colour) clog on the end of a fishing line to pay the bridge toll of €2. The bridge operator shuffled along with his big paunch, braces holding up his baggy trousers but a nice relaxed smiley man, and manually closed the boom gates and shuffled back to lift the bridge (this with hydraulic assistance).
He then picked up his fishing rod and line with a clog hanging off it and swung it straight into my hand with a “dank u” (thank you) and on we went.. although I needed to say to Stewart “keep going” as he seemed to think we should slow. Most people I’d seen roar through and still make their payment!
Most of this region was incredibly wealthy, especially on the left bank – grand houses and impressive boat houses or rotundas, flash boats and smart shops – we’re not far from Amsterdam.
The canal in places is lined with houseboats, many homely, a few very swish, architecturally designed, and then stretches of boxes that looked like an emergency housing solution.
Continuing along the Vecht and by the end of July we were very happily moored at a marina with excellent access in the vibrant town of Weesp. We even had electricity and water beside us again .. but still no WiFi until we found the one Open Network, at the Bibliotec(library) in town and which was on its summer break so open only a few days a week from 2.00pm.
However, we discovered the signal was strong enough to sit outside and do the essentials at least (email, weather report for Destination Cornwall) although
we did feel uncomfortable as people walking by gave us a good stare. And occasionally we used the local restaurant but then we had to buy a coffee at least!
Weesp is where we finally had a guest on board again, after a long period on our own, Mary Lucas how came all the way from Wagga Wagga in Australia. We couldn’t think of a better time to have someone with us than to share the thrill of going into Amsterdam.. coming up.