Our Barge, Odysseus

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Utrecht ... and the Bridge That Ate the Running Light

Utrecht is The Netherlands oldest city. The Nieuwegracht (the "new" canal) was built in the 14th century. The fixed bridges on it are too low for us so we used the Oudegracht through town; it was built in the 11th. There are 16 fixed bridges between the entry sluice (or lock) and the transient dock and the charts say there is 3.25 meter of clearance. With our mast down we need about 2.8 so we figured no problem. Unfortunately, these bridges are arched and the 3.25 measurement is in the middle. As they say in Holland...Let Op! (watch out!).

Everything was fine, if a bit tense, until the dreaded (we found out later) Stadhuise Brugge (near city hall) that was on a turn. Apparently many a boat has come to grief there and we were among them.

Minor damage to the boat and major damage to Don's ego was done. The starboard running light was sacrificed ... the sound was much worse than the actual damage.

Later we watched as other boats maneuvered under the bridges.

You can see that the old warves are actually below street level, similar to the setup at San Antonio's Riverwalk. And like San Antonio, they're full of cafes and lots of spectators. Also, on nice days, hordes of paddleboats, kayaks and small private boats with outboards that work most of the time.

The transient dock was very close to the center of town and we enjoyed three days there. It has heads, showers and free water for boat tanks. The cost was only about E6 per day for the spot.

Friday was raining (surprise) so after a trip to the Albert Hein (Vons equivalent), we took in a movie. After two months of no movies (we watch about 8-10 a month at home...thanks Netflix!) it was really great. The theater was like a home screening room, complete with clacking projector and, since the Dutch, unlike the Germans, hate dubbing, the movie (Venus with Peter O'Toole) was in English with Dutch subtitles. Highly recommended.
Utrecht is a university town with lots of cafes and some great museums. We visited the Catharijneconvent Museum that features the greatest collection of religious art in the country. If you ever visit The Netherlands, we would recommend Utrecht.
Sunday morning it was off down the Hollandse Ijssel

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