Netherlands – Day Six – Easy sailing

Netherlands – Day Six – Easy sailing

asual day today. Woke up, had a light breakfast with the family (and, as always, other old folk whose names I don’t remember) and then we walked over to the north street market (about a half mile away, just up the road, under the low, century-old railroad bridge, up a couple of cluttered streets, and there it was, filling a church yard with all manner of wares (and, need I mention, keeping a careful eyes for the literal hundred bikes that passed us). This is Amsterdam at its best; a warm sunny April day, a light breeze, the residents out at their cafes, on their bikes, or just walking through their streets. Just being part of this is enough to put a little light into one’s soul.

Yes, there might be Dutch folks sitting at home watching TV all day. But pretty much every American is.

An open-air market, not as a cutesy suburban gimmick but a natural social exchange.,

Anyway, I casually strolled the market, nosing here and there (my sister, as always, was conducting a full-scale assault on the stalls). There were stalls of flowers, fabrics, cheeses, produce. Also, glass beads and chandler dangles, ornate wooden boxes, pickles (both out of the jar and arrangement of a delivery service), pressing stamps, coats, t-shirts (resisted the bicycle icon), hand-made toys, books, anything. Even watching the people, the gorgeous, weathered, worn citizens, some smiling, some dower, some distracted, some looking into the distance (probably for cross traffic, likely bikes) was sport in itself.

And yes, I did buy something. At a stall selling prints, I got two old ones. The one that first caught my eye was one for Royal Dutch Airways, of an early twin-engine prop plane (like a DC-3) blowing past an old sailing ship marked “Flying Dutchman”. The second was impulse – a 1930s print of a cute cat freaking out as it looks at a fish on TV, seemingly staring in curiosity back at him. It was just cute and clever, and as my sister said, they didn’t cost much (8 euros each) and I’ll kick myself in the butt if I hadn’t bought them (actually, I’d have probably rushed out by now to pick them up before the ship clears the dock at 2pm (and probably gotten my stupid self left behind).

JB loved this street musician and gave him a couple of Euros. The next thing we know, he’s serenading her. She loved it!

Came back to sit on the fantail and look over the Amsterdam Harbor, watching the ferries slip back and forth, the river barges go past. Then it hit me that the train club was back in Orlando at O’dark thirty, trying to build their layout for the April train show. And I’d admit I felt a guilty pleasure at goldbricking so magnificently, absent in style. Sorry, boys.

About 2pm, we pushed off and started up-canal, belting along at 20mph or so (guess). Watched the vestiges of Southern Amsterdam sweep away, the passage of riverboats. On the banks, innumerable cyclists, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, were out knocking out miles. I felt jealousy that their bike path did not share pavement with cars, or even cross roads, for miles. And I felt inadequacy at some of the thigh-masters who paced and even outran our vessel (which moves at a surprisingly good clip). Impressive. Also on the west bank, train after train blew past. You know, back home everyone makes a big deal about Brightline, and how cool it is if you see one. I’d see Eurorail trains pacing and passing each other on the shore.

Eventually we retired to the cabin, booted the window wide open and watched the bank slide past. Being bunked to starboard, the raillines were fully visible and I lay there, watching more train in an hour than I’d see on an Amtrak route all day. Fell asleep.

Work for find a coarse concrete wall filling our open bay window. For the love of God, Montressor. Oh, but we’d just pocketed into a lock. Without a touch, snuggling right in as these riverboats are made to do, we sat for a while, then slowly rose, rising over the top of the concrete walls like some sort of U-boat. Then the rumble of the lock and then we eased out, water dribbling down from the overhead door (they raise over you, and don’t fold open to either side).

Otherwise, the usual stuff. Tomorrow’s briefing, dinner, meeting new people. JB and I finished it with a turn around the upper deck in the dark, watching the dark world scroll past. Then I sat in the aft lounge while far away, the train club starts to break down the layout. Again, sorry boys.


>>>NEXT DAY<<<


Topside view as we slide along this canal at about 20mph, trees moving past to either side. Luke, you’ve turned off your tracking computer.