Around in circles in the Netherlands

There is only one thing I can say about these last 2 weeks, and that is, ‘how do you pronounce the name of that city’!! However, the haven master at Leerdam gave me a good hint, if you see a ‘g’ pronounce it as an ‘h’ as in hospital, but then he confided that most English speaking people don’t even try.

So we left Nijmegen (pronounced nighmaygan), for Tiel, then up the Amsterdam Ring Canal to Wageningen (the ‘w’ is pronounced as a ‘v’), to Arnhem. This is on the Nederrijn, which is a tributary of the Rhine. Then back to Culemborg. From there we left the major rivers for a trip down the Merwedekade to the Linge and the town of Leerdam and Gorinchem. (There’s that ‘g’). We rejoined the commercial route of the Bowen Merwede to Dortretch, then up the Noord to the Lek, stopping at Kinderdyke, then Schoonhoven. Sounds confusing? Well don’t run off to find a map, I have included one below. And if it looks as though we have been travelling around in circles, well yes we have!

Map of travels

Each town or village has its own unique character. Arnhem was the site of a major battle in the Second World War. The town was heavily bombed, but the church was in its final stage of rebuild, with the reopening scheduled to coincide with a 75 year commemoration of the battle at the end of September. We went to the top of the tower by lift, to admire the view and stand on the projecting glass floors.

Glass floored outcrop from the church tower. A bit more like Disneyland than a church!
No I’m not going out there

Gorinchem gave us the opportunity to unpack the bikes, to ride along the top of the dikes and take a ferry to the other side of the river to explore further a field. Who said bikes weren’t a good investment?

Windmills and cannons
Windmills and defensive walls
The historic harbour of Woudrichem

The church in Dortrecht boasts beautiful stained glass windows, from past centuries and from present time, and of course an opportunity to light a candle.

Modern stain glass windows in the church at Dortrecht

We planned a visit to Kinderdijk and and the world heritage listed windmills. The nearest harbour to the windmills was across the river, so it was out with the bikes again, and onto the ferry. After the peaceful seclusion of the towns along the rivers and canals, it was a bit of a shock to be back in the land of the tourists and even though we are late in the season, there was still plenty of them.

The windmills are not only a museum, but still operate dragging the water from the land below sea level, and pumping it out into the river. You really have to admire the Dutch ability to manage water. Perhaps some should go to France to educate the VNF.

The Kinderdijk windmills

We have admired windmills, ancient fortification, (this part of the world has been fought over for years), lovingly maintained listed buildings, harbours full of historic barges and of course the river traffic, both the monsterous barges that dwarf our Joie de Vivre and our fellow pleasure boats.

With the auto pilot on Peter spends his time taking photos of the commercial barges
Still a little sail

And finally, it was fun discovering the small statues hidden in obscure places in some of the towns.

The medieval lady in Woudrichem

These fellows guard the town gates at Gorinchem

And this in Culumbourg

From Kinderdijk we cruised up the Lek stopping at Schoonhoven for a sleepless night on the town wall, suffering from the seemingly continuous wash from the commercials, who still ply the river at night. This wash surged into the harbour and threw us against the wall. This combined with about a 1 metre tide, saw us up and off early to dive off the Lek and back into the quieter environs of the Mederweder canal and our journey to Utrecht to meet the Mellets on Tuesday.

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