When we recieved an invitation to Tanya and Ken's wedding in Switzerland, I jumped at the opportunity to go on another kayaking and hut trip in the Alps! My first kayaking trip in Switzerland, on Lake Brienz, was (and still is) one of my most beautiful paddling experiences, and I hoped to recreate it on another Swiss lake. We planned to attend the wedding on Saturday, do a hut trip on Sunday/Monday, and go kayaking on Tuesday before flying out Tuesday evening - busy to say the least! Before building it up too much, I'll warn you that the paddling experience was a bit disappointing, but the wedding and hut trip were wonderful!
In this whirlwind of a weekend, we camped and kayaked in Friesland, crossed the Wadden Sea to Ameland, camped and biked, paddled back again, and made it back to Rotterdam in time for dinner. We encountered a bit of wind and waves, some friendly currents, big ferries, and a (real!) message in a bottle.
Greece, how you exceeded my expectations! When I first began brewing up plans to go kayaking in Greece (shout out to Doug!), I pictured steep coasts peppered with bright white houses and blue decorations. I had imagined that these dense developments would cover the Greek islands, and we would paddle from dense village to village, eating delicious Greek food and sipping red wine. So, when we began paddling away from the little town of Vasiliki on the Island of Lefkada, I was struck by how vast and natural the surrounding islands really were. Aside from some small villages in pocket beaches, we encountered undeveloped shorelines of steep cliffs, rocky/pebble-y beaches, and olive groves.
Last weekend (my birthday weekend!) I spent two extremely sunny days paddling along the IJssel River in good company, with plenty of assistance from the currents. We encountered sandy and very muddy beaches, swirling river currents, a little bit of wildlife (including a partying kayak-polo team), and an evening circus! Read on for photos, a map, and the story.
This is the final post in a 6-part series about trip planning. If this is the first time you're seeing this series, I recommend you start here! For an overview of the complete series, please visit the Trip Planning 101 page.
Since this is the final post, the Google spreadsheet template is now available! Check out the main Trip Planning 101 page to get a copy. This post presents a few additional (and optional) tabs in the spreadsheet: Flights, Lodging, and Rental Cars.
This is the fifth post in a 6-part series about trip planning. If this is the first time you're seeing this post, I recommend you start here! For an overview of the complete series, please visit the Trip Planning 101 page.
What do you think of when you hear "packing list"? Does it invoke stress or a feeling of control? How often do you leave something important behind? When traveling with friends, do you try to coordinate so everyone can pack as lightly as possible? In this post I'll share my approach to packing, which involves a simple spreadsheet and step-by-step process for filling it in.
This is the fourth post in a 6-part series about trip planning. If this is the first time you're seeing this post, I recommend you start here! For an overview of the complete series, please visit the Trip Planning 101 page.
Do you make an estimate of trip expenses before going on a trip? How do you keep track of who-paid-what? In this post I share the next tab of the "Best Trip Planning Spreadsheet Ever": the Budget! I'll explain how it can be used to estimate trip costs, log transactions during the trip, and keep all travelers happy and content by keeping costs low, transparent, and well documented. Here in the Netherlands, it's a cultural norm to split costs equally (e.g. "going Dutch") and keep track, sometimes to the cent, via easy bank transfers and payment request apps. I hear this is also catching on in the US, so hopefully this precise approach won't alienate any of you readers!
As a bonus, I also share the ways that I keep my travel costs low!
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)...
After starting out the weekend with a fantastic cabrewing tour of Lauwersmeer, it was rise-and-shine at 6am on Sunday for a truly Dutch adventure: WADLOPEN. Wad = mudflat, lopen = walking (in Dutch. In Flemish it means running, which would have been ridiculous). While I've done my fair share of mudflat walking as part of my job in California and the Netherlands, I've never attempted it in a recreational way. We put on our rainbow basketball shoes and trudged 16km across bare mudflat to get to Schiermonnikoog, the easternmost Frisian Island in the Netherlands.
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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