Monday, May 4, 2009


The major attraction of this little town between Leeuwarden and Harlingen is the oldest functioning planetarium in the world. We figured it was worth a stop. We arrived Saturday afternoon after six bridge openings—three to get back out of Leeuwarden and three that were new to us—and tied up to the wall at the entrance to a side canal just past the last bridge. The electrical hook-ups require 50-cent pieces, so we used that as an excuse to check out town and find a pub to get change. Sunday we visited the planetarium.

We had planned to leave for Harlingen this morning because I was concerned that the wakes from weekday barge traffic would be uncomfortable. (As it turns out, they’re much less obnoxious than the passing motor yachts, especially the ones who are racing to catch the bridge before it closes for lunch or dinner.) But I’ve been a little uncomfortable about where we would stay in Harlingen. There’s not a lot of information available on the Internet, and what there is shows significantly higher rates than the €10/night that we’re paying here with an open Wi-Fi hotspot nearby. So we took the train and went exploring in Harlingen this afternoon with the result that we’ve decided to stay here until we’re ready to leave for Terschelling later this week or this weekend, depending on wind.

It was great to smell the salt air again after months in fresh water. And it was good to see the lock and bridge that we’ll pass through to get to the Waddenzee. We also saw a line of boats in the distance clearly showing the marked channel to Terschelling. The Waddenzee (wadding sea) is very shallow, and we won’t be taking any shortcuts. Although we had planned to go to Texel instead of Terschelling, we changed our minds when I finally looked at the charts. There’s no simple way to get to Texel from Harlingen. You have to either go out to the North Sea or back into the IJsselmeer to do it, so Terschelling it is.

Oh, about Queen’s Day. I don’t remember it at all from when I lived here in 1970. It turns out that it’s a day when everyone tries to sell their surplus possessions—like a countrywide garage sale on the streets and sidewalks—because there’s to tax on private sales that day. Mostly people wander around looking and talking, and when everyone goes home, there’s a huge mess to clean up because things do get left behind. You can read more about it in this Wikipedia article.

Here's the video of our exciting trip from Sneek to Leeuwarden.

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