09/27/2010, Callantsoog, NL (6m below sea level)
Photo: bike-riding yesterday along the dikes near Callantsoog, NL
Am still slowly catching up with blog entries. Today we will leave our hosts Ivo and Fenneke, as they themselves are soon off to Curacoa to rejoin their sailboat "Rebel" and continue their cruise down south. We will head into Amsterdam and swap our temporary campervan with the one we shall use for the next three months and change. From there we will head east to Terborg to look into a Dutch family that Judy's father got to know during his service over here in WWII. The next planned stop is Dusseldorf, DE, where Steph hopes to meet up with some of her summer camp friends she met in August in Munich.
09/25/2010, Callantsoog-Hoorn-Breezanddijk-Den Helder-Callantsoog NL
Photo: Steph and Marine help Paul Tingley display his newly-won hardware!
Today we took our temporary/interim rental van and drove SE to Hoorn, a coastal town on the Ijsselmeer that was playing host to the World Championship 2.4-metre regatta. We hoped to arrive in time to catch the prize presentations, and our timing was spot on: within minutes of our arrival we watched Paul Tingley, gold medallist in the 2.4m event at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and fellow member of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, claim the World Championship trophies for top para-athlete and overall winner! Paul posted superb results: eleven top-ten finishes, but the competition was tough, and the championship was not decided until the final race. Paul also beat out six-time champion Stellin Berlin from Sweden, and Paul told how he had seen the trophy years ago and aspired to have his name on it....fantastic to see his hard work and commitment pay off!
After a celebratory beer with Paul, we took our leave and headed off on foot to explore more of Hoorn. Many of the buildings in the old section of town date back to the 1600s, and there has obviously been some settling of the ground; as one looks down the street there are quite a few buildings leaning either out over the street or reclining back somewhat, and it gives the street a rather cartoonish or tipsy feeling to it...
From Hoorn we drove north to the 30km-long Afsluidijk, which now separates the Ijsselmeer from the Waddenzee, and whose sluices pump out the equivalent of two olympic-sized swimming pools of water per minute to keep the Ijsselmeer below sea level.
From the Afsluisdijk we drove back to Callantsoog via Den Helder, and we are now busy trying to work out our route/timings/stops on the way to Riga. I think I prefer nautical passage planning, although one does not have to wait for a weather window!
Sorry there hasn't been an update for the better part of the week, but travelling and internet access have conspired against blogging. However, we have gone from: St-Agnan les Halherbe, to Juno Beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer; to Le Mont St-Michel and St. Malo (where we saw the arrival of West Island College's Class Afloat in the Norweigan tall ship Sorlandet with a Nova Scotian at the helm); then southwest to the neolithic stone alignments at Carnac; back northeast to Beignon; and then via Rennes-Avranches-Caen-Le Havre to Pourville/Dieppe, to the chateau ruins at Picquigny in the Somme region (ancestral origins of my mother's family) and we are now at Arras, near Vimy Ridge.
Since Marine is studying the Middle Ages for school, and Stephanie is studying WWI and WWII history, our itinerary has at least been ideal for seeing lots to do with those eras!
We will visit Vimy Rdige this morning (we arrived there yesterday afternoon, too late to do a tour of the tunnels, so we will do that today), and the plan is then to zip over to Belgium to visit Zonnebeke and the 85th Battalion NS Highlanders' memorial (my grandfather's battalion in WWI, and I was involved in the project to restore and rededicate that memorial in 2001). From there we will head into Lille tis afternoon, return the rental car, and take the train to Amsterdam and then on to Schagen (80km to the north) to stay tonight with yet more sailing friends!
It has been a bit of a rush these past few days, driven mainly by our desire to rendez-vous with our Dutch friends before they leave the country near the end of the the month, so we haven't explored the areas we have visited at the leisurely pace we usually travel at, and that our destinations have merited. We could spend weeks alone in Bretagne!
Our next timing to meet is 12 October in Riga, Latvia, to meet up with our neighbour who also has a commercial/residential building there, so we will be no doubt booting it northeast in whatever campervan we manage to rent in Amsterdam. Hopefully in the next few days I will have a chance to retro-post on the blog with photos and more detailed descriptions of our travels so far!!