We are safely holed up in the Town of Lelystad Holland, the home of the Batavia (well the replica anyway) She was built in 1628 by the Dutch East India Company and was shipwrecked on her maiden voyage. The crew mutinied off the Coast of Western Australia and subsequently murdered a lot of crew and ended up on a deserted Island starving.It’s a fascinating true story and worth reading about if you enjoy Naval history.Geese and countless canals, waterways and Dikes……the ones you ride along which keeps the land from getting flooded not the other type, although the gay community is well represented accepted here. They are a clever lot these Dutch with water management, in parts, the countryside sits at an incredible 8 metres BELOW sea level. Now that’s seriously impressive.
If you don’t like cycling up hills(like Amanda) then this is the place to ride. Everywhere is cycle friendly. Not the go fast carbon fibre bikes and Lycra suit riding type, more your bottle of wine and baguette in the basket type riding with no helmet required. First day we cycled around the area over dikes and around lakes, through villages etc and we were passed regularly by scooters…..HELLO …. that looks good, so next day Grigio was deployed and we tootled around Lelystad bikeways on our scooter….mucho fun 😆
We had gone for a walk in the evening as the sun was setting and thought we were in a pretty isolated little area by the lake, the water was so inviting I decided to have a skinny dip. Water temp was perfect and there’s something more pleasurable swimming in fresh water than salt. Amanda declined to join me unfortunately. Anyway I’d just climbed out and was hoisting my Reg Grundies when an elderly lady appeared with a camera ooops and we thought it was isolated haha.Anyway she very kindly took some snaps of us silhouetted by the setting sun and emailed them to us the next morning. Very sweet… she must have kept the naughty ones for herself🤣🤣 Our campsite is surrounded by lakes which are all fresh water and known locally as sweet water and it’s a playground to local fauna and the kids of course. Yachting, wind surfing, stand up paddle boarding and great fishing. They have serious volumes of Geese and Ducks…..oh and little bunnies too everywhere. Geez I think I’m losing it, I mean rabbits.We happened to be In Town when the Old legends motor festival was on, so the entire harbour was bumper to bumper with cars from every decade and I loved just walking around ogling at them. Cars from the “old days” really were handsome compared to today so here’s a small sample in the picture below of some of them. Oddly enough some lunatic has built his imagined version of Noah’s Ark in Batavia harbour. It’s some 70 metres long and to be honest a bit of an eyesore And inside it’s complete with a petting zoo and animal replicas. He built it himself with some volunteer helpers at a cost of $1.2 m from bank loans. Barking bloody mad If you ask me. We’ve been spoilt with the weather here, with temps over 30 for days on end. Quite unusual in The Netherlands apparently.
SeriouslyAmanda didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! The big guy in red is the fire chief……and that Barbie is just for him 😉The next day we moved pitch, So we cleaned Pinot and asked our neighbour if he wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on things as we are booked for a week on a Rivercruise. I’d read about this Dutch cruise from another blogger who seemed to enjoy it so I found it online (all in Dutch) and bought 2 tickets a couple of months ago. Anyway our neighbour kindly drove us to the Port and we boarded Along with 62 Dutchies who speak NO English. The passengers range in age from late 50’s (us) to 70 plus (them) oh and as I write this from the sun deck I can see 9 Zimmerman frames parked in a corner and 3 wheel chairs haha…..seriously. On day one I went to my cabin to find an elderly gent trying to get into our cabin and a lady behind me shouting I’m sorry he has Alzheimer’s in broken English. What the hell are we getting ourselves into.
In all seriousness, the weather is fantastic , our twin bed cabin with ensuite is great and as we get to know this lot, we are having a hoot. Daily Routine is like this. Breakfast at 8 and lunch at 12.30 ( soup is usually a starter as it’s easy for those without teeth to eat 🤣) We dock in different City at 2.00pm and have the rest of the afternoon to explore before returning for Dinner at 6.30pm then bed at 7.00pm …. only kidding, they start the entertainment in the main bar at 10.00pm and everyone just gets loose and starts dancing lol.
The whole thing is such great value and we are seeing places we wouldn’t normally visit and the food is pretty pretty good and a lot of it. Plus no driving for me. There are bikes on board which we rent for 5€ per day. There is no rush by the other guests to jump on board funnily enough.The passing traffic on these waterways is amazing, everything you can imagine is being shipped past us. This big cruiser being taken for fit out. There are loads of ship builders on the banks of the waterways here. The carrier had over 600 cars on board apparently.As I write this, we are about to enter the largest lock system in Europe. It has 240,000,000 tonnes of shipping pass through each year and the lock is 340 metres long. Unfortunately we are stuck in a bottleneck and will be around 3 hours late into our overnight port of Antwerp, so it looks like we may have an early tipple today. “Such is life” the last words spoken by an Irish born Australian Ned Kelly, before they hung him in Melbourne jail. an update, we were 6 hours late!Came across this old castle during an evening walk in the delightful little village of Dorecht a theatre performance was in full swing along with music. The cute horse below was waiting for its cue.
Antwerp was a beautiful, vibrant city.The beautiful Cathedral of our lady.. Antwerp. Over 700 years old and 130 metres high. We arrived late evening and it was bathed in the soft golden tones of a setting sun. Sadly Belgium like many other Countries is on high security footing because of the recent atrocities committed around Europe. There is a strong presence of very heavily armed army. Unfortunately we only had a few hours here and made the most of it with a tour of the old City on foot ( our fellow passengers went on the little tourist train) they left their walking aids on the boat. Getting old really isn’t much fun! Our independent tour ended in the City square enjoying some very nice Belgian beer. Our wander back to the boat took us through the red light district where all the young ladies displayed their ample wares in glass booths on the street. I hope the little train didn’t pass this way….far too many pacemakers on the old boys to risk this type of excitement I suspect. Back to the boat after midnight and not a sole around haha……. maybe the train did go that way and they rushed back to the boat for a bit of rumpy pumpy 👏👏UPDATE ok it’s day 4 on this little time warp cruise and I am starting to feel like shooting myself. If I have to listen to another feckin Abba song then I will jump overboard. Even the sweet old white haired ladies are starting to get on our wick. Sorry That’s naughty and I should have known what we were getting ourselves into when we saw all the feckin wheelchairs, a nurse and a bloody undertaker hiding in the wings, so nobody to blame but me. We are sat in the lounge drinking our second bottle of vino, deciding whether to play scrabble, dance the Pasadoble or jump. “Another bottle please waiter”
I’m sure I’ll feel a little more positive tomorrow….. who am I kidding! Well our little holiday is drawing to an end. Last night was the Captains dinner and as usual the meal was excellent as was the Irish coffees to finish. We have been very lucky to have some great company at our dining table, they spoke pretty good English and the eight of us were by far the loudest and our little section was affectionately known as the naughty corner. This morning we were up early for breakfast and after quite a few farewells to some of the happier travellers and bolted off the boat before the crew started unloading all the zimmers and wheel chairs and various other walking aids we were in a cab and are now sat on the train back to pick up Pinot.
Until next time, take care and love to all x