Today Toni, Mike, Alejandro, Cassie, Sierd, Marion, and I took to the canals of the Hague to enjoy the gorgeous weather and tour the Dutch food scene. Here's a short post to share a few photos from our casual afternoon paddle. For an approximate route map, see this previous post. Today involved eating/drinking Dutch food interspersed by some kayaking... On the menu were patat oorlog ("war" fries, which have peanut sauce with mayo and quite a politically incorrect name, as I learned today), patat speciaal ("special" fries with mayo and curry sauce), kroket (deep-fried hotdog-shaped gravy stick), meatballs wrapped in bacon, tiny pickles, and beer. Over drinks we pondered mysteries of US grocery shopping: why do a cucumber and 5 muffins both cost $2? Why are red peppers so much more expensive than green? and much more... Short post today since I'm running behind a bit! :)
My alarm went off at 7am on Sunday. At any other time of year, getting up would have been a challenge. Thanks to the long days that the Dutch latitude (52 degrees) bestows us, it was palatable. In what's becoming a weekend routine, I strapped my lunch and dry clothes on the back of my bike and swung a sizable duffle bag of kayak gear over my shoulder. It always takes a bit of extra effort to get the bike moving when it's loaded down this way. But thanks to the lack of topographic variability, the 12 minute bike ride to the kayak club is easy once you're rolling. Some aspects of Dutch life just need reframing to see the bright side.
Tiengemeten, population 10, is an island in the Haringvliet named after its size (tien = 10, gemeten = ancient unit of measurement corresponding to approximately 1 acre). It started out as a sandbar in the Haringvliet estuary (which has since been blocked off from the sea and turned into a freshwater lake), and eventually grew to be an island between 1750 and 1804. After that it underwent all kinds of changes and development. Yesterday, Tom, Amelia, Iede, and I kayaked around it. Read on to see some cool photos of wetland restoration and find out what makes this island unique (from a kayaking and historical perspective)!
The Kralingse Plas is a ~100 ha (~250 acre) lake northeast of Rotterdam centrum. One trip around the square-ish lake is approximately 4 km (2.5 miles), depending how close you stick to the shoreline. The lake is also, conveniently, a 10 minute bike ride from my new apartment, and home to Never Dry, my new kayaking club. Read on to learn about the fascinating history of this seemingly simple lake.
I finally did it! I went sea kayaking in the Netherlands. For the last ~3 years I've been enjoying the vast network of inland rivers and canals that the Netherlands and Belgium have to offer. But without my own boat and a group of skilled paddlers nearby, sea kayaking has been just out of reach.
It felt particularly meaningful when I realized this was also the first time I'd been kayaking on either the Oosterschelde or the Westerschelde. The last sentence of my personal statement for Fulbright - the research grant that brought me to Europe in the first place - was "Enabled by my fluent Dutch, I also look forward to hearing the perspectives of local sea kayakers intimately familiar with the Dutch waterways, while riding the tides of the Oosterschelde and Westerschelde." Though it came 3 years late, it went exactly how I'd hoped. Even better, because if you'd dropped me in a group of Dutch kayakers (with their Dutch accents) 3 years ago, I wouldn't have understood anything!
On top of all that, this ended up being my longest kayaking trip ever (just barely)...
I start a new job tomorrow! So I've committed myself to finishing this blog post, since new jobs have a way of taking over. The past five weeks have been a whirlwind between jobs. I went to the US for almost two weeks, moved into my new apartment in Rotterdam (more on that later!), and spent a week adventuring in Mallorca! A good friend of mine, Inma, moved to Mallorca a couple months ago. With her apartment in Palma as a convenient home base, I hopped on buses every morning to explore different sides of the island... Read on to hear about this kayaking oasis!
Are you longing for warm, sunny beaches and bright, colorful scenery? Then the Canary Islands are the place to be in January/February, when most of Europe is enveloped in darkness and drizzle. While the availability and quality of rental kayaks are limited (at least on La Gomera and Tenerife), the perfect weather and gorgeous views make sit-on-top kayaks bearable. Read on for more colorful shots!
Dinant Evasion: What happens when you combine a log flume, bumper cars, 7000 kayakers, and a sinking kayak on the River Lesse in Belgium.
The magical town of Dinant, on the Lesse River in southern Belgium. The kayaking route does not take you past here, so make sure to include a visit to the city in your itinerary! Photo by Rob.
Before you read this post, I want you to know that Dinant and the surrounding areas are really lovely - I've visited twice and had some great biking and hiking experiences. But kayaking was a different flavor, and I feel it should be documented as a warning to any kayakers thinking about paddling here...
As we passed under the big welcome signs at Dinant Evasion, I couldn't help but feel like I was entering an amusement park. We obediently zigzagged through the queue lines to one of the (many) ticket offices. "Do you have your confirmation letter?" asked the ticket lady in broken Dutch (Dinant is in the French-speaking part of Belgium). I fumbled for my phone, hoping the confirmation email was still cached (I still use my US smartphone, so no cellular data for me). Phew, there it was. I've never arrived for a reserved kayak rental and been told that my last name was insufficient for accessing the reservation... Warning Sign #1. Okay, the super commercial website could also have tipped me off (Warning Sign #0)...
Every year my team at work (called Business Unit Water or BUWAT) has a late summer picnic involving some casual outdoor activities (walks, bikes, playgrounds for kiddos) followed by a dinner buffet of sorts. Last year the picnic was two days before my start date, making it a nice forum for meeting my new colleagues. Apparently all my attempts to get coworkers paddling over the past year have made an impression, because this year our team leader Renaat graciously offered me the chance to organize a kayaking trip as part of our "mandatory" annual team even. Now that's one way to get people in boats!
My friends are real troopers. The forecast warned of intense rain, and that's exactly what we got. But we persevered! From downtown Utrecht to a pancake house about 6.5 km southeast of the city, Sander, Bonnie, and I paddled through almost continuous rain. But the "pancakes," if you can even call them that, were worth the soaking.
This is a blog about exploring the outdoors (mostly by kayak), traveling, trip planning, and coastal engineering. It currently focuses on kayaking in the Netherlands and Belgium, but previous posts cover Upstate New York, California, and much more. See the Complete List of Blog Posts for a history of the site. Looking for something specific? Search the site here.
In addition to the blog, check out the Water Nerd section, where I write about coastal engineering and hydrology.
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Click the "Read More" link at the bottom of each summary for more photos, to see an interactive map of the route, and to read about the adventure.
Maps in each blog post: Click the icons to learn more about the launch site (amenities) and destinations. Click the square in the bottom-left corner to see an aerial photo behind the route.