Yesterday, as we were leaving De Streekmarkt, we noticed that one of the drawbridges was being raised. Moving closer to the canal to get a better view, we soon realized that there was no tall ship coming through, they just seemed to be testing the bridge. Oh well, it was a nice reminder for me of the drawbridge we used to cross to get to my grandparents’ house on Daytona Beach Shores. The sunny weather and the quality of the light, with the water nearby, had certainly brought Florida to mind for me a few times that day.
As we were walking back home along the canal, we reached another bridge, this time a bridge we needed to cross to get home. As we were standing on it, discussing the stepped seating nearby, a warning bell went off and the barriers came down as at a railroad crossing. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of the bridge and had to quickly limbo my way under the barriers! The next thing we knew, that bridge was also being raised. This time, there was a boat coming, but it was a simple motor boat, too small to need the bridge raised. We soon realized that they seemed to be working their way down the canal, testing the drawbridges.
I was reminded of the joke I made to Invader Stu last week when he wondered if there were any bridges in all of the Netherlands that didn’t have bikes parked on them. I figured maybe the drawbridges might be free of bikes, at least on the move-y bit. It turns out I was right! Of course, I was also right in that bikes were locked up to the parts of the bridge that remained stationary. Parking is at a premium!
It was a beautiful day, so we decided to stop and enjoy the sunshine on the steps. We also got a bit of a show, because the boat that had just passed, was entering into one of the locks. In the photo above, you can see them docked for a while as the water slowly rises. As they were tying up, we got to watch the lockmaster (?) close up the gate they had just entered.
Once that northern gate was closed, he headed down to the next gate where his “office” is located and took care of whatever needed to be done on that end. We could see the water bubbling away and got to see certain parts of the lock area eventually covered by the rising water.
It was fun watching the whole process (although it was also a bit slow and I gave up taking photos). I’ve never actually watched it all before, so it was nice to finally see all of this machinery in action. Not a bad way to spend some time in the sun!
Recycling here isn’t quite as easy as it was in the US, oddly enough. There’s no curbside pickup like I was used to, and to recycle plastic, we’ve got to go further than the paper and glass recycling stop that’s on the next street over. Fortunately, there’s a plastic recycle bin over by Lepelenburg Park, which means a lovely walk along the canal.
Coming back from dropping off the recycling today, I could see the wake of a boat approaching, but couldn’t see the boat behind the tree trunks. G saw me looking and started telling me about a boat he sees sometimes that has a dog accompanying the owner. Sure enough, it was them! Perfect timing!
The dog sits there quite calmly as the boat pushes the large storage hold in front of it. G said sometimes he’s seen the dog on the roof of the little cabin on the boat, but he’s always calm and seems to enjoy his life at sea, er, on the canal. He’s a lovely dog, but then I might be biased, since he’s somewhat similar in build to our dog. Regardless, it was a wonderful sight to see on a beautiful, if chilly, day.
Last night while taking the dog out, I couldn’t help but notice the large barge/boats in the Wittevrouwensingel (that’s the name of the canal). This is hardly an unusual sight, even though the majority of boats through the canal are of the tour boat or kayak size. Periodically, these boats with large machinery come through, cleaning and dredging the canals as they pass through. Other times, they’re sticking around to put in wooden piles to shore up the land, as you can see a bit here in a closer shot of the boats.
Anyway, they were still there today, so I managed to get a few shots. It’s another grey and rainy day, with some strong winds, so that was about as far as I felt like venturing out. Tomorrow is Cultuurele Zondag, so hopefully the weather will be nicer and maybe I’ll have something a bit nicer to show you. At least the tree in the first photo looks nice in a mossy kind of way.
As I posted yesterday, the remains of a boat have recently been found in the Leidsche Rijn part of Utrecht after the heavy rains washed away the cloaking dirt. A good story was promised to be revealed in today’s press conference and they didn’t disappoint. Not only is there one boat that’s been uncovered, but there are actually two boats. More impressive is the fact that these boats date back to 750 AD and 950 AD respectively. Amazingly, these are the first boats from this era to be uncovered by archaeologists in the Netherlands. Score!
The older of the two boats measures approximately 50 meters long, while the newly discovered boat from 956 measures in at approximately 20 meters long. This newly discovered ship is so well preserved that some of the moss that was used to keep the ship watertight is still in evidence. There are even marks still visible in the wood from the shipbuilders themselves.
The ships lie in the bed of what was the medieval Rhine River, which flowed through Utrecht on its way to the North Sea. The river was a busy spot during these early years, with Viking incursions, as well as Utrecht’s role as a principal market town. The route of the river has changed since then, so now the Leidsche Rijn, the old site of the Rhine, is providing quite a bit of archaeological bounty. Previously, the remains of six Roman ships were discovered in the area.
You can see some of the photos that have been released of the ships and the site at the Gemeente Utrecht website.
Now that the weather has turned so nice, all of the canals around town are filled with boten (boats), from small kayaks to larger motorboats. With that in mind, I thought I’d look up the word for sailing. It’s times like this that I need help. There are a ton of words for the verb to sail: varen, bevaren, zeilen. Then there are different words for the gerund form, sailing: afvaart, bootreis, vertrek, vertrektijd, zeilsport. It all gets a bit confusing. Looking up each individual word doesn’t particularly help, at least not with my dictionary. I’m hoping someone else will be able to explain if there’s one use that is better than another in certain situations. I’m particularly interested in the right word for describing sailing in a canal, rather than on the high seas.
I did finally remember to look up Plompetorengracht, which is the name of the canal pictured above. From what I gather, it basically translates to Floppy Tower Canal. Even if plomp has some other meaning in this case, floppy tower is more fun to think about. The canal itself is quite old, dating back to around 1392, when it seems to have created along with the Nieuwegracht, the Kromme Nieuwegracht and the Drift canals to help with drainage. At one point, the canal was the headquarters for tradesmen, and around the middle of the 19th century, it was a neighborhood of the nobility. The somewhat grand buildings that line it now are used primarily as offices and the Cathedral Choir school is located there, as well. I think they had an open day recently.
by John Masefield
I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
All I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trip’s over.
Giovanni and I took Pippo for a walk this morning before the heat and humidity got too bad — and before the storms finally arrived. These are just a few of the many boats we saw tied up as we meandered around the north eastern part of the centruum.