A couple months ago, while searching for Dutch kayaking info, I discovered Johan's Kano Route website, which describes kayaking routes in the Netherlands and a few in other countries. I clicked around for the routes within biking distance of Delft, and there are quite a few. He always lists the nearest kayak rental shops, which is helpful for a car-less boat-less person like me. Elizabeth and I decided to embark on the Rotterdam route (which only takes you to the center of Rotterdam if you paddle > 16 miles).
|Greenhouses, canals, and bike paths. So far, that sums up the suburban scenery within biking distance of Delft.|
|Along the canals you find rowing clubs every few miles!|
Historically, the Rotte River drained the Zuidplas Lake, before it was turned into the Zuidplaspolder in 1840. A polder is a low-lying area that used to be marsh/wetland/water and was drained and diked by humans for development. At 7m (24 ft) below sea level, the Zuidplaspolder is tied with the Lammefjorden in Denmark for the lowest ("dry") point in Western Europe. I wish I'd known this before our trip!
|Thousands of fundraising bikers passing the Cafe Oud Verlaat|
|So happy to have found coffee and apple cake, 2 miles into our paddle :)|
|Filled with apple cake energy|
|Massive canal houses|
|Can't forget the windmill photo|
Crew shells and many large boats sped past us, and we joked about hitching a ride on the way back (well, it was serious until it came down to putting our thumbs out - then my shyness overtook the situation!). We often caught up to the large boats at low bridges, which we zipped under while the larger boats waited for the scheduled bridge openings.
We paddled until ~1pm, when we looked at the map and realized that downtown Rotterdam and the Kralingse Plas (two potential destinations) were still many kilometers away. Instead, we aimed for the Bergse Voorplas, a lake on the right side of the river. The map showed a narrow blue strip connecting the river to the south end of the lake. To our disappointment (or maybe relief?), the narrow canal was actually a manually-operated lock connecting the high river to the low lake. Instead, we unloaded at a small dock and walked across the levee to the lake with our afternoon veggie snacks. The lake was incredibly windy, so we turned around after a short walk to the marina, where a sailing race was beginning. We watched a small motor boat passing through the lock, which was manually operated by a woman sitting in the adjacent booth.
Not too much happened on the return trip, except a gradual draining of our energy levels and increase in wind. We paid for our kayak rentals and made it 0.5 km down the bike path before veering into a lakeside cafe, where we feasted on tomato soup, french fries, croquet (fried gravy stick), and two massive bottles of water, which I promptly poured into my nalgene bottle (much to the server's amusement).
|Typical canal scenery|