Last weekend I went on my first overnight kayaking trip in Europe! Until now it's been too difficult to coordinate, since I don't have my own car/roof rack/boat. Just checked, and the last times were in 2013 and 2014 on Tomales Bay, California. So it's been a while...
Our destination was West Friesland, a province on the northern edge of the Netherlands that's known for having it's own language (West Frisian - yes, there is also Friesland where they speak Frisian!) and a long distance ice skating race, the 200-km Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour) that takes place on the rare occasion that the canals freeze over. Instead of skating, we did part of the tour by kayak!
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)...
Lake Brienz (Brienzersee in German) is one of two lakes that flank the city of Interlaken, Switzerland. Unlike the Lake Thun (the other lake), Lake Brienz is a vibrant turquoise blue color, likely caused by glacial sediments flowing into the lake. I rented a boat from Hightide Kayak School in Bönigen (next to Interlaken) and embarked on my longest solo paddle yet. As you can see from the photos below, the views and weather were fantastic!
Note: I'm trying out a new layout with this post, with all photos + captions up front and the detailed trip description later on. Let me know what you think!
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.