As we have mentioned at Destination Insights, we have found barging through France to be an ideal vacation. Cruising at a walking pace through the canals in the French countryside, we can pull over most anywhere. After driving a stake in the grassy bank we can unload restless passengers and a rented bicycle to ride ahead to the next village to secure a baguette and a well-priced bottle of wine. Or perhaps we might stop and enjoy midi, prepared in our galley with supplies from the village supermarche. We might land in a friendly village to visit their pub and meet new friends. We might even just stop to pick a bouquet or wildflowers to decorate our barge salon table. If you are one who enjoys the journey as much as the destination, all this can be done relatively easily. No worries, few logistical headaches, and ample scenery.
So, it just made sense when our “barge buddies” from Point San Pablo Yacht Club suggested we once again rent a penichette from the folks at Locaboat Holidays and explore the waterways of Holland to say “Yes!” We tried to tune out the fact that we were on the edge of a world-wide financial crisis (October 2008), collected the usual assortment of interested barge-experienced and barge-curious folks from our family and friends, and planned a 3-barge flotilla with 14 crew to meet up and depart from Loosdrecht.
Since we had to fly in to Amsterdam, we decided to spend a few days in the city, exploring and checking off a few sights before we were to settle in to our relaxing barge trip. We stayed at a hotel on the edge of the city called Movenpick, a 10 minute walk from Central Station, where we had a view of the busy harbor.
We spent our first night eating and consuming enough dutch beer at Gollem to leave definite impression the following morning (afternoon AND evening too.) All in all, the first night–even with jet-lag–was a worthy enjoyment effort. We looked forward to another fun day in the city and then our nice, relaxing barge cruise.