09/27/2010, Amsterdam, NL
Photo: The main means of transport in Amsterdam
A busy day, as today we picked up our new rental campervan (the one we will live in for the next three months), and then headed into central Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank House museum. A steady stream of people progresses through the narrow halls and staicases of the museum, which receives over a million visitors annually, and it is of course a haunting tribute not just to one of the many who perished in the Holocaust, but also to those who continue to suffer discrimination everywhere today.
Walking anywhere in Amsterdam, one is struck not only by the number of people out on the sidewalks, but one needs to be aware of the bicycles that are everywhere, and that one is more likely to be run over by a bike than by a car! Some of "bike parks" around the Centraal Station are truly impressive, as there are thousands of bikes parked all around. It is also impressive (but not a practice I would recommend) to see how some riders manage to pedal while holding on to an umbrella and talk on a cell phone at the same time!
We met up in the evening with Michel and Robert, two sailors we met when they sailed into Halifax in Michel's boat Pas de Deux, and whom we met again in Luperon in the Dominican Republic when we sailed there in Semper Vivens. We had a great chat at a local bar, and learned that Michel was also in Hoorn the day before us, at the World 2.4M Champioship regatta....and he knows Paul Tingley....the world gets smaller!
After dinner we took the van and drove to the eastern edge of the city at Muiden, near the Royal Netherlands Yacht Club, and spent our first night in the van....more blankets required!
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!