The Venice of Holland

Time has been flying lately, and suddenly I find I’m being faced by impending deadlines – deadlines that seemed so, so far off that once upon a time, I actually laughed about how much time I still had to meet them. Needless to say, my virtuous plans of finishing everything well ahead of time didn’t quite pan out, and I’ve been spending an awful lot of time trying to rectify the situation this week!

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Back in August, my friends and I got the itch to get out of the city. After some very laborious meetings and heavy discussions, held on sunny terraces and accompanied with all manner of coffee-themed beverages, we finally reached a consensus: we were going to spend a day in Giethoorn.

Giethoorn (pronounced like ‘heat horn’, but turn that first h into a very guttural sound) is known as the Venice of Holland. It’s a teeny tiny village built entirely on canals, and many tourists flock to it in the summer to rent a boat and take in the sights in style. Also very important to note: cows can occasionally be seen crossing pedestrian bridges over the water.

We arrived at the rental agency around noon, and after some nervous exchanges over whether or not to lie about our previous boating experience (or lack thereof), we caught our first glimpse of the available boats.

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Our worries quickly evaporated. We excitedly hopped in, snacks/candy in tow, and revved up the engine … to a comfortable 5 km/hr. Max. We took turns steering the little boat along while avoiding colliding with other tourists, bumping into the edges of the canal, and freeing the motor of squishy algae. (Confession: I somehow skipped this last duty during my turn!)

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A highly skilled self portrait

A highly skilled self portrait

When it wasn’t our turn, we lounged. It was rough. Fortunately we’d brought plenty of fuel to keep our energy levels high enough to enjoy the scenery.

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After roughly an hour spent fighting the algae, getting laughed at by passing boaters, and generally following the outlined path through the canals, we emerged onto an open area.

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I can’t find a picture to support this claim, but within a few minutes of our arrival, it seems, we were joined by dozens of other boats: frat guys on club trips waving flags, happy couples picnicking, promotional teams …

We dropped anchor (/tied up our boat) at a heavily populated dock, at which point Nicole created a loud diversion during this process by crashing into several of the other boats in an attempt to steer us into an empty spot.

Soon clouds were looming overhead, and it was time to get going. That didn’t stop us from enjoying a quick visit with some very charming – not to mention forward – boys.

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They were very friendly, and even blocked our exit when we tried to leave! We finally escaped when an unsuspecting wanderer caught their attention on the other side of the enclosure.

Suckaaa!

Suckaaa!

The boat safely returned to the agency and our bellies grumbling once more, we finished off a very traditional day with a very traditional meal: pannekoeken, or Dutch pancakes. These are basically very big, thick crepes cooked with just about anything you may desire: cheese, onion, tomato, bacon, smoked salmon – or, alternately, chocolate, banana, and all things sweet. I didn’t get a picture, so I guess another pannekoek dinner is in the cards. Siiighh …

For now, it’s back to reality and this cruel pile of work!

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