After two nights in Groningen it was time to bid our host farewell as we headed towards Almere Stadt with a stop at Geithoorn, The Venice of the North. The weather looked a little iffy as I packed the bike but its hard to tell what the weather will be like. Usually the clouds burn off to a scorching midday before late storms roll in.
Heerenveen was our first stop this morning, what a beautiful little town. We wandered thorugh trying to find an ATM, and found a great cafe for coffee. The town was gearing up for a volleyball competition in the streets so there were nets being set up for the teams to compete from all over Europe. Looked like it was gearing up for a great day but we could not stick around.
Geithoorn not far from Steenwijk. Geithoorn is known as the Venice of the North as the town has no roads just a bike path. The town is broken up in a grid pattern however instead of streets they have canals. There are no cars and everyone gets around by boat. The town is home to 2620 inhabitants however it recieves 150-200,000 Chinese tourists annually. It seems a bit strange that a little village like Geithoorn would receive all these tourists. However, we’ve discovered that China has built a heap of replica villages and towns. With the increase in Chinese tourism in Europe the Chinese tourists are doing the grand tour of the real sites.
Arriving in Geithoorn we found a boat hire company and shelled out fifteen euros for 30 minutes. The small boat was easy to operate with a two speed electric motor pushing it along. It was nice and relaxing cruising along the canals out into the lake.
The Bovenwijde Lake was pretty busy with hire boats, sailing boats and locals roaring around.
All hell broke loose when we left the lake and joined the traffic on the waterway through town. The hire companies don’t vet the people who hire out boats or their actual ability to drive a boat because all sorts of peanuts were crashing their way along the canals.
Soon a nice relaxing cries along the canal became almost like a scene out of a bond film with boats crashing into each other. A boatload of Chinese came powering around the corner bounced off our boat before ploughing into the bank of the canal.
Despite the pandemonium on the water the old houses in the town looked so peaceful with thatched roofs and surrounded by flowers. It really was a beautiful spot. There were lots of people on foot wandering through the town and over the bridges. I suppose off season or late in the day when the crowds have gone the place would be idyllic.
We arrived back at the boat hire just on the hour so it was well planned.
As we headed east along the canals we were surprised at the amount of camper vans parked side by side. Hundreds of people had descended on the area and were taking advantage of the sunny day enjoying a picnic or sunbathing. It seemed quite unusual why they’d pick this area as the canal was use with boats.
The ride east was quite nice as the weather was quite warm. The road criss crossed canals and more than once we were stopped by boats passing through lift bridges.
Eventually we arrived at our housesit in Almere meeting our hosts Ron and Sheila. We are staying in Almere for a week looking after their dog and cat. They were really nice people and we are really looking forward to checking out the local area.
The city of Almere Stadt is Hollands youngest city with the first house being built in 1976 and the municipality proclaimed in 1984. The land was reclaimed between 1959 and 1968. It’s quite fascinating that the city lies five metres below sea level and the city is actually protected by a series of protective dykes. Like most cities in Holland there are extensive waterways throughout the city.
It was fascinating walking the dog around the nearby lake and through the forest realising that in less than 60 years ago nothing existed. These days Almere is home to close to 200,000 people many of whom work in Amsterdam. During our time here we are hoping to replace the rear tyre which is overdue for replacement and hopefully visit a few sights nearby.