When we arrived in the Netherlands our plan was to take Messenger into Amsterdam. We first pulled into Seaport Marina IJmuiden to meet Grandma Baba who was flying in for a visit. We also needed to check the locks which we would need to cross to enter into the North Sea Canal or Noordzeekanaal in Dutch, and for this, on engineless Messenger there needed to be some planing. This canal connects Amsterdam to the North Sea, it is a man-made channel constructed in the 1860’s. The drainage of the canal to the North Sea is done through the locks at IJmuiden, with the largest pumping station in Europe, this system is vital to keeping Amsterdam from flooding.
Jay and I rode bikes to the locks, to check it out, while the children played on the beach with Baba. Conditions would need to be just right for us to be able to sail through the locks. This dance would entail tying up twice, once before the lock while we waited for it to open and another inside while we waited for water to be leveled with the inside of the canal, and of course do so under sail or sculling. We looked at the wind predictions and there were no days coming up with the wind in the direction and strength we needed it to be. We had to change our plans, leave the boat at the marina in IJmuiden and travel to Amsterdam by land.
After a few days enjoying the beach near the marina we took a bus and tram to Amsterdam were we spent one night with Baba and then a few more days visiting friends whom we met in the Caribbean four years ago. We rented bikes and got to see Amsterdam, the city of bikes, the right way. I have never seen so many bikes in one city but it’s very flat which allows for it. Jay toke our toddler Caribe on a traditional Dutch cargo bicycle or bakfiets. Sol and Luna had their own bikes and Ártico road on me in his Ergo carrier, no one was required to use a helmet and we “ruled the streets”, we always had the right-of-way.
We discovered while visiting our friends in Amsterdam that calling the Netherlands Holland is incorrect but “accepted” or more like something that the Dutch resigned themselves to over the worlds ignorance. Holland means wood land and refers only to North and South Holland, two of the nation’s twelve provinces. Here is a very nifty video that will explain how the Netherlands is mistakingly referred to as Holland.
Amsterdam is the capital and most populated city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and has more than one hundred kilometers of canals, most of which are navigable by boat and linked by more than 1,200 bridges. We saw many house boats, and large barge canal boats making deliveries of goods to the city, even bicycle parking lots on fixed barges on the water. Captain Jay, who is not a city boy, mentioned that if he had to live in a city he would pick Amsterdam.
We kept in touch and this past year on their way back to Netherlands after spending Christmas in Canada they made a stop in Iceland to spend New Years with us. During their sail back from the Caribbean to Europe they visited Iceland spending about 3 weeks there, they loved it and the Coconuts being there was just another excuse to return and visit. Anyone who does visit this beloved island is for ever in love with it. During their visit by boat, which was in summer, they had gone to Hveragerdi Geothermal Park where numerous hot springs can be found along the river which runs over a lava field. We decided we would all go together, though it was January 1st and covered in snow, we knew the water would be hot enough for us to go for a swim. As we started the hike up to the pools it was a clear day but suddenly, as it often happens in Iceland, the weather turned on us and a blizzard enveloped us, visibility was reduced to just a meter or two and the sticks that mark the trail were quickly covered by snow. We had to turned back and made it back down to the car, it was an adventure even if we didn’t make it to the hot springs. The following spring when my family from Costa Rica came for a visit we returned and made it to the pools. These two fun videos show the different climates of winter and spring in Iceland, but although the second visit was in the spring we still experienced a brief hail storm that surprised us as we reached the pools, it quickly passed and we were finally able to go for a swim.