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...
The Biesbosch is a national park in the Netherlands, located about 30 minutes (drive) southeast of Rotterdam. On Sunday, Henk Jan and I hopped in the Beast (his 400k mile Volvo) and drove down to the Biesbosch for a day of kayaking. The Biesbosch is best explored by boat, since it consists of endless channels that weave around low-lying islands. The Biesbosch has a long history of inhabitants and water management. I'll tell you about that at the end of this post. We spent about 5 hours paddling through the channels, ending up with a solid 11-mile paddle for Henk Jan's first time in a kayak...
Water nerd alert! No kayaking in this post.
One year after the deadly floods of 1953, which killed over 1,800 people, the Dutch began construction on the Delta Works - the largest flood protection system ever constructed. The "Delta Works" generally refers to 13 storm surge barriers (stormvloedkeringen) and dams (dammen) constructed between 1954 and 1997.
In a previous post, I described the Maeslantkering, which was the final barrier completed. Yesterday, Henk Jan and I went on a roadtrip through the provinces of South Holland and Zeeland to visit 3 more structures: Haringvlietsluizen, Brouwersdam, and the Oosterscheldekering. Read on...
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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