As the ferry pitched over each wave, the ominous peaks of the Lofoten Islands loomed closer. Once again, I hadn't expected there to be snow: "They're islands! Being close to the water means we'll be warmer!" Wrong. The mountaintops were enshrouded in thick dark clouds. We had both snoozed through the nauseating 4 hour ride from Bodo. While we'd originally intended to stealth camp, we bee lined for the campsite next to the Moskenes ferry terminal. The price was right (160 NOK, ~$20), and the first of many squalls (super high winds and heavy rain for 10 minutes) was blowing outside reception. We'll take it! WiFi and a warm kitchen common space awaited us.
A short paddling trip through the city of Trondheim, Norway (spoiler alert: we did not see any Vikings but we did ear whale..).
Nena and Bailey kayak in possibly the most beautiful place on earth and almost get run over by a cruise ship.
Our second adventure in Norway took us to some fantastic stealth campsites and kayaking and hiking on a glacier. What we thought would be a simple kayaking trip and glacier walk turned into quite a suspenseful event involving crevasses and ice caves. Read on... :)
Norway might be the most beautiful place I've ever been. It's not that there aren't equally beautiful places in the US (or other places I've visited), it's the fact that everywhere you go there are incredibly dramatic landscapes: fjords flanked by vertical rock walls, mountain tops covered in 3 meters of snow just a 15 minute drive from the fjords, glaciers, dense woods, and more that are constantly changing. Take this with a grain of salt: we've only been here for 4 days and driven about 15 hours from Bergen. But I'm excited for the adventures coming up, and also excited to tell you about the ones we've already survived (yes...).
Click Read More to see photos and read about the Trolltunga hike!
Sadly, my time in the Netherlands is coming to a close, but only exciting adventures lie ahead. In September, I'm moving to Antwerp (Belgium) to work at Flanders Hydraulics and continue my coastal engineering world tour. During June, July, and August I'll be wandering around Europe with a medley of friends.
Stay tuned this summer for a resurgence in posts! I hope to post casually every few days with anecdotes, photos, and of course, kayak posts. I recently purchased a tablet, so I'll be posting updates from the road. The posts won't be as detailed as usual, so expect more of a stream-of-consciousness.
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I'm hoping to paddle at least once in each country:
Norway - the Western Fjords and the Lofoten Islands with Bailey
Belgium - near Antwerp with Emilia
Portugal - the Algarve with Henk Jan, Emily, and Brian
Spain - North Coast and Barcelona with Emily and Brian
Ireland - Maybe a quick dip in Dublin with Emily
France - Provence and Les Calanques in Marseille with Emily and Alice
Switzerland - Maybe another paddling trip on a mountain lake with Henk Jan, Emily, and Sara
Italy - Cinque Terre, Sardinia, and Corsica with Emily
If you happen to know of good sea kayak rental companies in (or near) any of these regions, please let me know. It's hard to find quality sea kayaks for rent.
A lot has gone into organizing this trip, including:
Alwin (fellow member of the Windhappers kayak club) and I spent Thursday afternoon kayaking around the city of Leiden. I haven't been to Leiden before, so I'm happy I got to visit before my departure from the Netherlands in a week. It's similar to Delft in size and ambiance - a small city surrounded and divided by canals, with many old buildings lining its narrow streets.
It's always been one of my dreams to ride along on a fishing boat and see fish being caught first hand. I just never expected this dream to manifest itself during one of my sea kayaking trips. This weekend it was accidentally realized when we found ourselves on a big fishing boat (sea kayaks on top), plowing through the waves of the English Channel towards Les Iles Chausey - a beautiful archipelago (52 islands at high tide, 365 at low tide) about an hour boat ride from Granville in Normandy.
Nestled in the southwest corner of Delft lies Abtswoudse Bos. It's part of the Lage Abtwoudsche polder, which is on average 10 feet below sea level (it's surrounded by dikes). Contrary to it's name, which means something like "Foresty forest," Abtswoudse Bos is considered "land art," with grids of trees interspersed by well-manicured lawns. A massive Moeder Aarde (Mother Earth) is sculpted into the landscape - her body and limbs made out of elongated hills. She is easily identified in the air photos (see the Google Map at the bottom of this post). On Saturday, eight U.S. Fulbrighters in the Netherlands convened in Delft for a successful kayaking outing on an incredibly windy day.
Between mid-April and early-May, the rectangular fields of North and South Holland transform into a striped carpet of yellows, reds, purples, and pinks. Narrow canals, seemingly drawn with a ruler, meticulously separate the stripes. Tourists fly in from all over the world to view this annual spectacle between Haarlem in the north and Leiden in the south, where the flowers are most concentrated. Keukenhof is a world-renowned garden where hordes of visitors walk the narrow pathways, visit the windmill, and smell the flowers, especially this time of year.
On Sunday, a group of Windhappers (Alfons - trip organizer, Marianne, Willie, Elly, Twan, and I) set out to view the tulips from a less crowded place: our kayaks. Click Read More to see endless flower photos and hear about a minor mishap that almost resulted in carrying 6 kayaks over a busy railroad track...
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.
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