Our mooring in Amsterdam was at Sixhaven which is across the Noordzeekanal from Amsterdam Central station. Easy access to the city is via the walk on walk off free ferry that runs 24/7 every few minutes. I even found a respectable supermarket with a huge liquor outlet on our side of the river. (Dirks for those who plan to travel this way.)
As Helen and I rambled through the city we discovered that Amsterdam was hosting an open garden weekend. Well I have always tried to image the luxury behind those imposing facades along the canals. Now was the chance to see another side of this beautiful city.
A little history
The canals of Amsterdam were built in the 17th century. Originally the city boasted only narrow slums and alleys with little accomodation for a population that had become increasingly wealthy. This changed in 1612 with the development of the first 3 canals, along which private houses were built. In the design of the canals room was made for a row of trees along the quay and building regulations permitted only 1/2 the block of land to be built on. The remainder had to be a garden with the allowance made for a garden house at the rear.
After 2 days of exploring Amsterdam with Helen we made our way northeast to Sparkenburg. With the weather threatening to be inclement we decided, instead of taking an open water route and continuing north we would take a safer alternative and turned around coming through to lock at Muiden, to cruise south along the Vecht.
The Dutch are a race of seafarers and it seems as though everyone has a boat or 2 to travel around on. With Covid I’m sure everyone went and bought another boat, so the traffic on the Vecht was horrendous. Consequently we left the Vecht taking the Amsterdam Rhine Canal to make our way to the Hollandische IJssel.
The Hollandische IJssel from Nieuwegein to Gouda is a narrow winding waterway, under 12 lifting bridges, through an ancient lock and past a number of villages. The canal is above the surrounding polders so the views are fabulous if not a little disconcerting.
Believe it or not Gouda is a town that made its fortune on cheese, not the making of it, which was done in the local farm lands, but the retailing of it. If you ever visit, it has a 15th century gothic town hall, that was originally surrounded by a moat and the longest church in the Netherlands, famous for its stain glassed windows. As the area was originally swamps and peat forests so the ground would not hold a high church. The answer was to build a long church!
The next to stops on this part of our tour, we’re back to Leiden and Haarlem before completing the circle and returning to Amsterdam. I know it seems strange to retrace some of our steps, but from Amsterdam we were catching the train to Paris for 5 days of retail therapy. But that’s another story.