Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 20, 2011 Middleburg to Zierikzee

First stop today was Veere, a one time fishing village turned into resort town,
quaint and pastoral with a smell of salt in the air.

Ever wonder what a dike was? This photo shows a good example complete with sheep which you can't see to keep it well groomed.

The second leg of today's ride had cross these barrages, billed as the most
difficult ride of the week we were indeed blessed by a steady tail wind.
The barrage is made up of a series of hydraulic lifts that control the flow of water from the North Sea, quite the engineering feat.

This church tower is all that remains of Koudekerke, a village destroyed by the flood of 1953.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 19, 2011 Ghent to Middleburg Nl.

Today we got a late start as we were sailing to the Holland border but had to wait for a bridge to open. Strangely, it opened at 7 AM on Sunday but not until 8:30 AM on Monday.
Everywhere we went today seemed to be closed and there were no people to be seen. I mean 10:30 AM in a small town and the only sign of life were 21 people riding bikes
in search of rest rooms.
Also I can find almost no photos taken that day...some kind of "bank holiday" time warp was occurring!

View of a power station taken during the cruise.

I do remember cycling through the polder (reclaimed land) area where we saw many farms growing corn, apples and two types of sugar beets.
Also we had a strong head wind ("dutch hill") for most of the day.

Blacksmith shop/cafe where we had lunch

Another shot for my bicycle series.

Houseboats on the canal in Middleburg.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sunday, September 18 Bruges to Ghent

We were greeted with a beautiful sunny day for our first day of serious cycling. The path along the canal was perfect. Every so often we would pass concrete bunkers ("pill boxes") constructed by the Nazis in the second World War. We also saw numerous corn fields and pockets of industrial areas.

The skies opened up as we reached the city of Ghent, we managed to find shelter but not before getting soaked. I wonder if these tourists all just happened to like colorful umbrellas or if it was the tour boat driver's fancy?

Gent is another Gothic city that dominated in the Middle Ages but unlike Bruges, Ghent is still a thriving port and University town.

Ron and I found shelter from the rain in the local package store.

The Barge, the bikes, fellow adventurers and the trial run

The WENDING, our home for the nest seven days. This deck proved an more than adequate spot for post ride conversations and libations.

Our bikes lined up and ready to roll, I'm sure we looked like a mother duck with her ducklings as we rode in a row of 21. Our tour guide Albert is quiet and all business.

Our guide Albert

Captain and cook, Jan and Nicole

Our test ride was to Damme, a small town seven Km outside of Bruges along a picturesque canal complete with working wind mill. We were all impressed with the consideration of cars and other cyclists we encountered.

Damme at first glance appears like a miniature Bruges but has it's own charm. We encountered our first rain as we rode into town. Cobblestones are even trickier when wet! Part of our group preparing for the ride back to the boat.
We are a group of mostly North Americans with a couple from Austrailia and a girl from Germany.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 16~17 BRUGES continued

Dogs live a civilized existence in Europe.

In Belgium, beer is more than just a beverage - it is a culture. With over 450 different varieties, many Belgian beers have personalized beer glasses in which only that beer may be served. This was my favorite local brew, enjoyed on a lovely patio by a canal.

Belgium is also famous for chocolate. I managed to eat all the chocolate I
bought for gifts before I came home. It was so good!

Woke up really early the first morning in need of coffee, the young man setting up this cafe let us in before he opened and saved the day. I liked his display of jams and nut butters. Best coffee in Bruges!

All this talk about food and I forgot to mention the fries. Belgium invented the french fry, there's actually a Frites Museum in Bruges. They are wonderful. We had ours with la sauce proven├žale, the natives eat theirs with mayonnaise. YUM!

random window display...

September 16~17 BRUGES

Bruges leaves one feeling as though they've stepped backward in time, with it's Renoir canals, Gothic architecture, cobbled streets and cheerful chimes ringing every 15 minutes from the Bell Tower which has been standing since 1300. Bruges had it's heyday in the 14th century as an important textile center, by the 16th century the economy was in decline and Bruges was frozen in time. It's Old world charm is captivating.

The cobbled streets are narrow and navigation amid the hoards of tourists, bikers, horses and the infrequent cars is challenging although it all occurs seamlessly. Traffic on the canals is equally busy.

Scenes like these await around every corner