Sunday, September 14, 2008

Canal tour in our own dinghy

We had one day of nice weather last week (before today) and celebrated by visiting the Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s Central Park. We really enjoyed wandering the paths in the sunshine. When we arrived in early afternoon, it wasn’t crowded, but before we left, school had let out and it was quite the happening place. It reminded me of Golden Gate Park on a sunny weekend afternoon.

Later that day another sailboat came to the marina. They didn’t fit in the slip that the harbor master had planned on, so we had them raft up with us. It was fun to have neighbors for a few days. Maria and Lex are about our age and live in 's Hertogenbosch, in the south of the Netherlands. They were on their way home from a five-month summer voyage in the Baltic. We all got along very well, and we enjoyed getting together every evening they were here to have a few drinks and visit. They’ve invited us to visit them in 's Hertogenbosch for a regatta later this winter and for Carnaval in late February. Carnaval is the Dutch version of mardi gras, and it’s really celebrated in the south, which is predominately Catholic. 's Hertogenbosch is supposed to be one of the best places for Carnaval, and we’re looking forward to the adventure.

Despite the rain that has fallen almost every day we've been here, the canal has been busy with canal boats filled with Dutch people having fun. Today after John reset a stanchion, we finally put the dinghy in the water and went for our own tour on the canals. We had a canal map with the routes (truly a map, not a chart), but at one point we got lost anyway. It’s difficult to see the names of the canals from the water because they’re posted on the sides of buildings. Often on the water the view is blocked. Then when I could see a name, it wasn’t on the map. I figured we would run into a canal off of the one we were on eventually, but it dead-ended due to bridge construction before that happened. We ended up retracing our route back to where we had turned off. Finally we found recognizable territory and made our way home.

If the weather is still good tomorrow (and it’s supposed to be), we’ll go out again. This time we’ll bring the map I use to get us around town. It has all of the streets on it. We’ll also bring a leash for Märzen, and a blanket. Today she needed to stop, and I didn’t have her leash, so I had to follow her closely lest she escape. Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to get ashore, and we were somewhere without a lot of street activity.

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