First Dutch Impressions – not artists!

Bikes and boats.

We knew Holland was flat, but didn’t realise someone had taken an enormous iron to flatten out the creases! The highest land we saw after arriving was the bridges. We also knew there were lots of canals, but it seemed there was more water than land. As regards boats it seems that every man and his dog is on the water. – from huge barges to traditional small steel dorys puttering along with a small diesel……..and everything in between –

Traditional Dutch boat
Traditional Dutch boat

– traditional gaff riggers with leeboards, modern yachts and even the odd ‘plastic’ cabin cruiser, though the vast majority of the boats are steel.Blasting along the motorway at the 130 km/hr speed limit, suddenly the whole motorway came to a stop. We thought there must be a major accident ahead. When we started moving ten minutes later, we realised the motorway bridges had opened to let a 30 ft pleasure yacht through. Good to see the Dutch have their priorities right – boats before cars!
However, one thing seems to take priority over everything – bikes!


Never seen so many, with everyone riding from children to pensioners. Of course they mainly cycle in dedicated bike paths. Heaven help a motorist who knocks over a cyclist – the car is assumed to be in the wrong. Outside the primary school at about 3pm, all the mums were waiting on their bikes with “kiddy carriers”, a little later the bike paths were full of older children leaving school. So different from NZ or the UK.

After seeing the first boat in Leiderdorp, just after landing in Amsterdam, we drove to a quaint Airbnb near Giethoorn. This was fairly central location from which we could travel to see other vessels. Giethoorn is known as little Venice and quite touristy. Most houses are on a canal, and goods are often delivered by boat .

house access is by water

We saw cows, horses, bundles of reeds and machinery all being barged around. Along the main canal on one side are pretty houses, shops and restaurants crowded with people, the other side is a field which absolutely stank of manure……..seemed a bit out of character for such a quaint spot. It seems that if you go anywhere away from the cities, there is often a strong manure smell – presumably due to the intensive farming.

crossing the drawbridge

We were staying a few kms out of Giethoorn. The nearest carpark was behind a pub and we had to walk over a small lifting bridge to the farm. Absolutely charming spot, a canal a few feet away from the front door

Reeds for thatched roofs

The whole area was marshland, and the only thing they could grow were reeds to thatch the roofs.In days gone by only the rich could afford tiled roofs – the mayor, lawyer or doctor! These days thatched roofs are far more expensive – for the mayors, lawyers and doctors! (or more likely bankers and estate agents). Since the area is heritage all houses that historically had thatch must be repaired with thatch.


5 thoughts on “First Dutch Impressions – not artists!

  1. How did the survey go? Are you liveaboard boat bums now? How are the hash cookies?
    Look forward to hearing of your adventures. Cheers David and Pam


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