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Thursday, 1 October 2015

Enkhuizen - Amsterdam (2 October 2015)

On Wednesday 23 September we left Enkhuizen and motored 19nm south to Monnickendam in warm sunshine and little wind. This was especially annoying as our friends Jenny and Norman were arriving in the evening and the forecast for Thursday was not promising. Indeed the deterioration in the weather began on Wednesday afternoon! We again moored at Waterland and had a very enjoyable Dinner in the old Weigh House in the centre of Monnickendam that evening.
Thursday delivered as forecast with strong gusty winds and plenty of rain. Nevertheless we motored the short distance across the Gouwzee to the former island of Marken (now linked to the mainland by a causeway) which we had visited a couple of weeks earlier. We were able to moor alongside in the small harbour and spent a few hours meandering around the village and enjoying coffee and then lunch before returning, in driving rain, to Monnickendam. That evening we said cheerio to Jen and Norm after dinner and the next morning, in sunny weather of course, headed north to Hoorn. There is a choice of marinas in Hoorn including the old harbour, but we opted to try the sailing club, WSV Hoorn, which turned out to be the right choice.
On the Friday afternoon we explored what is another very attractive town which was settled in the 14th century by merchants from Denmark and Germany and which still has many fine 16th century and later buildings which visibly show the importance of the original residents.
Impressive coat of arms on historic house
In the 17th century it was a regional office of the Dutch East India Company and the regional capital of West Friesland. So to protect itself there are city gates and a tower all still in evidence, It was one of Hoorn's famous sons, Jan Pieterszoon Coen who first rounded the southernmost tip of South America in 1616 and named it Cape Horn so there is a strong sea faring tradition. But his statue also records that some of his achievements are now regarded as controversial including attacking and killing natives of some of the islands who resisted the activities of the Dutch East India Company.

Town square with statue of Jan Pieterszoon Coen and Town Hall
After seeing the preserved steam railway and re-provisioning at a supermarket, on the Saturday afternoon we decided to cycle inland to the village of Aartswoud, which used to be on the edge of the Zeiderzee. Unfortunately we didn't realise how far away it was! However we initially cycled through many very pretty and well designed villages all of which had been built from the 1930's onwards after the completion of the dam that created the Ijsselmeer.

Village near Horn
Apart from an obvious grid pattern for the roads most of the buildings were very individual and helped to create an attractive environment. En route we came across an extended house that professed itself to be a tram and other historical artifacts collection and which was a little surprise in the middle of the countryside.
Tram in the garden!
Aartswoud was obviously older that the previous villages and also attractive but apart from seeing the church tower where bonfires were lit at times of poor visibility there was no evidence of its previous existence next to the sea! By the time we returned to Hoorn we had covered 43km (26.5m) on our Bromptons and so were glad to be back, especially as Andrea's bike had developed a  slow puncture. What was noticeable when we returned was that the warm weather had brought out the crowds and that the old harbour was very full with boats rafted out. we were again glad that we were in our own box in the sailing club.
Sunday was also sunny and a very easy downwind sail of just over 8nm took us to Edam. a small port with a very narrow entrance. The opportunity to stay at another sailing club, WSV Edam, presented itself and we found the last spare space in their small harbour. After lunch we walked into Edam and found it to be one of the most attractive of the very many attractive small towns that we have visited.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon at the end of September there was a really vibrant atmosphere and we wandered around looking at the lovely bridges and buildings.
Outside the Weigh House
Edam back street
Naturally there was plenty of Edam cheese of various types available including at the Weigh House where there was a reminder of days gone by when merchants gathered each week to discuss prices and weigh the cheeses.
On Monday we cycled the short distance (about 3km) to Volendam. This has character and tradition but has, regrettably, become a tourist magnet. It seems that coachloads of tourists (predominantly Chinese and Japanese) are brought here on day trips from Amsterdam where they may have been as part of an around the world trip or on a cruise ship calling there. As a result there is an industry in dressing people up in Dutch costume to have their pictures taken and countless souvenir shops. What a contrast to Edam!
The next day was again sunny and with a F4 E wind we were able to sail first SE and then, once around Marken, SW to Muiden on the S edge of the Markermeer. Here we berthed under the Muiderslot, a castle dating back to 1280 and which in later years formed part of the defences of Amsterdam.

The castle and river at Muiden
The town centres around the Vecht sea lock which gives access to the river running to the S. There are a host of attractive historic buildings on both sides of the waterway.

Near the lock in Muiden town centre
The next day we cycled. This time the round rip was a more modest 23kn (15m). We went east to Naarden. This is a historically important settlement being a fortified town from the fourteenth century and in the seventeenth century becoming part of the defence ring "Hollandse Waterlinie" which protected this part of the Netherlands and in particular Amsterdam. The defences are of a star form with double walls, gatehouses and bastions.

Original fortifications in Muiden
Within its walls the town has many fine buildings including the City Hall (Stadhuis) built in 1601 and the main church (De Grote Kerk) with a tower built between 1380 and 1440, We enjoyed traditional coffee and apple cake in the warm sunshine before cycling back to Muiden along the coast through the suburb of Muidenberg.
The following day we motored the short distance to Amsterdam passing through our final lock and bridge for this year, both of them without waiting! In total, during the five weeks that we were in the Netherlands we negotiated 16 locks, 47 opening road bridges and 11 opening railway bridges as we travelled along the canals and the Ijsselmeer and Markermeer.
On our final day tomorrow we have just had the short motor to Orange Nautical Services where Whileaway is to be accommodated until the spring.
It has been an interesting summer with first (sea) visits to NE France, Belgium and the Netherlands. NE France presented new navigational challenges with the extensive sandy foreshores and bays but also revealed some very interesting and characterful towns off the beaten track. Belgium was a little disappointing with generally bland flatted coastal resorts - and much rain(!): the Netherlands through the Standing Mast route has been a revelation with so many attractive and historical buildings in villages, towns.and regional cities.
The weather has been variable but the last 10 days of high pressure and sunshine ends the season on a good note!
Now we have to plan for 2016 ...................