Monday, July 16, 2012

GIETHOORN: Venice of the Netherlands

One month after my 67th birthday and two months after we celebrated it, I am finally ready to tell you about Giethoorn, the Dutch Venice of the North.

As with the Moses Bridge back in April, we first heard about this Little Venice from my daughter's father-in-law in California.  Imagine that.  And ever since, I've been dying to visit it.  So THAT was what Astrid gave me for my birthday this year!

First things first, we drove straight to our Fam. Groen B&B...approx. 90 miles from home.
We LOVE B&Bs because of all the stories and personal touch:
She (sadly) has cancer; her mother had just fallen and she was on the phone with her daughter;
both she and her husband had owned a café in town for years and traveled around the world during vacations;
 their other daughter is gay and in a loving relationship; now they are retired with this darling B&B.

Our hostess recommended a place for lunch which was on our walk to our reserved boat.
Hollands Venetië = Holland's Venice.

Astrid had reserved a small motor boat for 4 hours, starting at 1:30 p.m.
It was a nice walk from the B&B with the café in between.  Perfect timing.
Astrid did all her research ahead of time and chose 't Zwaantje (the Little Swan).

 And thus began our 4-hour tour of one of Holland's best-kept secrets.

Actually, it's not a secret, which is why we went in mid-May before tourist season.
During high season (now!) there can be 700 boats at a time on these very narrow canals.
But while we were there in mid-May, all the boating was leisurely.  
So much so, the kids were able to do their thing after school!

 Did I mention only residents are able to drive cars in the town center?
Everyone else gets around on foot, bike or boat.
And if you want to go visit someone by boat, just pull up and dock yourself!
That includes going to the restaurant or grocery store.
You can see the pride of ownership here, can't you!

One reason why we chose 4 hours instead of 2 was because of the nearby Bovenwijden Lake.
A loop including the lake would take us through the town, out onto the lake and then back into town.
It's a man-made lake only a meter deep, 2 km long and 1 km wide...another playground for the kids.
The house out in the middle (top-left image) is the Kraggehuis, a place you can rent.
And yes, that's a windmill (left-middle) without its sails!  Lots of windmills, as you see.

 As we rode back into town, these friendly cows greeted us.

 And then just like that, before we finished saying "MOO MOO,"
we happened upon this wedding photo-shoot!

 Astrid stopped the boat's engine and docked nearby so we could watch and shoot.
Listening to the photographer's instructions was half the fun.
At this point, he was having them run back-n-forth across the bridge.
And yes, that's the one church in town as the backdrop.

Of course, they ended up in the Love Boat!
All before our very eyes.

Truth be told, they probably got married in the Gemeentehuis = Town Hall,
which we passed as we returned the boat.  Not in the church.  Or maybe both?
(click any collage to enlarge)

 After returning the boat, we walked back to town to see it on foot.
It was totally different, of course, from another POV (point of view).

Is it enough to whet your appetite?
It's a birthday present I'll never forget!

And with enough weathervanes to put frosting on the cake!
Happy Birthday to me!  :)  Thanks to Astrid!


  1. Thanks for taking us along and sharing your birthday present! Beautiful!

  2. Robin: You're welcome, of course! It was a splendid birthday present, to say the least!

  3. Happy birthday to you indeed. How far is this from your place? So many beautiful spots to still explore in our neighborhoods isn't it?

    I would really enjoy a little cruise too.

    Have a great week, you two.

  4. PC: Giethoorn is only 90 miles away from us, Maria. For me that's nothing. For Astrid, it's almost the other side of the world. HA! It still amazes me how proximate everything is here in Holland. We can easily get to anywhere in a day...and back home again. You and Hubbie would love it here. :)

  5. Maery: HEY! I thought you were supposed to be taking a break from reading our blogs??!! I do NOT expect you to follow me here while you're trying to figure things out, seriously. Thank you anyway but please be good to yourself!

  6. Looks like one of the most romantic places on earth!

  7. Mad: You can definitely see why people get married there. :)

  8. Happy belated birthday, Ginnie! Giethoorn reminds me of Vinkeveen, not far from Amsterdam, where my elementary school "juf" lived all her life.

    I adore all those sailboat weathervanes.

    So nice to pop in here. I've missed the blogosphere.

  9. DB: Astrid says she'll take me to Vinkeveen one day when it's not tourist season. She says it does have similarities because it is in the lake district. One big difference, however, is that non-residents can drive there. I'll let you know if we're ever there!

    I adore the sailboat weathervanes, too. Who knew there could be so many different ones!

    I miss you in blogosphere! I wonder how your mother is doing?

  10. It's lovely being able to do some virtual touring through Holland with you. Also ... I am very impressed with your prowess at STANDING in that little boat AND keeping a steady hand on the camera :)

  11. In a country a little bigger than half the size of New Jersey, they sure do squeeze a lot in! Your wife knows how to treat you on your birthday, and I'm glad you were able to get the weekend posted before your next sister's birthday. :) Isn't it fun how we start in May and go all summer?

  12. Anne: I love that you come along with me/us for the ride! Thank you. And yes, the things we will do for that image, right? :)

    Ruth: Truer words couldn't be spoken for how much is packed into this wee country, sister! It would take more than the life I have left to even crack the surface...but I sure am trying. HA!

    Yup. Nancy is next, this week, and then comes YOU. I love it. Actually, we started with Susan in May. I never thought about the fact we're all 4 within that 4-month spread (while the boys are spread out from January to November)! How cool.

  13. What a great birthday gift. I was amazed in the shots to see the thatched roofs which I came to think of as English. Some great photos of a special birthday.

  14. Wow ... a visual feast! Lovely birthday present too ... Happy Birthday btw ;-)


  15. It was great to be back in Giethoorn, I was about 10, the last time. We rowed the distance in that time. We took turns. The wedding couple did a great job and to think of it, we often see couples like that, on our photo hunts.
    A wonderful series again. It was fun to have this as a birthday gift for you. IHVJ

  16. Cuidado: Thank you, Mary. And to think I thought the thatched roofs were Dutch when I saw them in England. :) It's funny how that happens.

    Geoff: Thank you, kind sir. It's a birthday present I'll never forget. :)

    Astrid: It was such a splendid birthday present, MLMA, which I'll never forget. I'm glad THIS time you had the electric motor so we didn't have to row. Better for taking pictures. HA! And yes, it amazes me how many times we come across weddings on our photo hunts, especially at this time of the year!

  17. How beautiful! How cool! What a great idea to rent the little boat, your wife knows you so well.
    I was so happy that the bride didn't tumble off that bridge!
    Thank you girls for sharing your birthday.

  18. WS: HA! The bride tumbling off the bridge would have really been something, Susan. I never even thought of that. Oh dear me. It was so fun to watch. What a birthday. Yes, that Astrid sure knows how to treat me well. :) Thanks, Susan.

  19. This is a gorgeous place to visit and celebrate a birthday! You certainly seem to find unusual places to visit. I like the way most of the weathervanes represent boats.... very suitable for a place with so much water. Your hosts at the B&B must be very hardworking people.... I think running a B&B is probably quite hard work especially during retirement. Isn't that when you're supposed to relax after a busy life?

  20. Sham: This was a perfect place for my birthday celebration, which I'll never forget. The day was gorgeous, with no rain. The B&B was fabulous, with good personable people. We awakened to rain the next day and felt so cozy. Yes, I'm sure it's hard work, always entertaining. But since they owned and ran a café for 25 years, I'm guessing the B&B feels like retirement to them!?!

  21. Oh Ginnie, what a lovely post! Those homes on the edge of the canal are gems - how beautiful, especially the roof, so typical (we have them in Northern Germany as well). The wedding photo shooting is the icing on the cake, I guess.. although the weathervanes aren't bad at all, either. I hope one day we'll go there when we're over in Europe.

  22. Carola: I would love for you to come visit us here in the Netherlands, if ever you go back to Germany for a visit. How fun. I love your country, too, of course, and want to see more of it! Danke.

  23. With all the traveling and watching the Tour de France I am way behind again. I read all your posts. I loved the orange tee-shirt of the guy in your post of July 2 – it looked like a tiger or lion then he opened a flap and it showed the animal throat and teeth! Loved it!
    What a delightful birthday gift – a lovely place and with so many photos begging to be taken. Astrid has a gift for gift giving – I know you had a ball. You show so many great pictures – I really like the cows. I also like the wedding shoot – I have seen several too and need to make a post on them someday.

  24. Vagabonde: Yes, that orange shirt was a flip-up shirt, which I had never seen before. Very clever for a sports function!

    Astrid and I usually plan our birthday gifts to each other together because they're more often trips than material things. For us it's a great way to do it and we love it. Her birthday is in August and we're planning to visit Antwerp, Belgium! The planning is half the fun, as you'd guess. :)

  25. Absolutely gorgeous Ginnie! I will put it on my bucket lst for sure!

    1. You will love it, Lotta. The fun thing is that you can rent a boat and get around to see everything!