What a crappy day! We woke up to rain and so on with the rain gear first thing.
At least it was a light rain as we started out.
The first thing we did was ride into Gouda (again) so that we could visit St. John’s church.
Marcel had arranged for a volunteer (a very lively and interesting man) to give us an informational talk about the church.
This church is dedicated to John the Baptist, who is the patron saint of Gouda. Its claim to fame is that it is the longest church in the Netherlands at just over 400 feet. The beginnings of a church at this site go back to 1280. It was a Catholic church up to the time of the reformation in 1572 and is now a Dutch Reformed Church. There are tombstones in the floor of the church, although the last burial was in 1832. The church’s claim to fame is it’s stained glass windows, which account for 50% of all of the remaining 16th century stained glass in the entire country. Ten of them depict the life and death of John the Baptist. Some time before WWII the windows were removed and stored in a cave to keep them safe. There is a small side chapel that contains seven small stained glass windows that came from the monastery where Erasmus was ordained into the priesthood. They date from the mid-1500s.
After the brief talk, we walked through the church to get a closer look at everything.
Then it was time to go out and face the tempest. I hadn’t yet seen the front of the church, so I took a moment to ride my bike up there for a photo. I was quite surprised to realize how nondescript it was…just part of a narrow street.
The group caught up to me and we continued around the other side of the church heading out of town. But before we really got rolling, Marcel made sure we dropped by the cheese shop just in case anyone was willing to buy some to snack on tonight. Some definitely took advantage of that opportunity.
I have nearly perfected the art of taking pictures from my bike without stopping – and that skill came in handy on this trip. When it’s just Mike and me, I can tell him STOP! anytime…but when riding with 18 other people it takes a bit of strategy to stop for photos without running someone else off the road or losing the group. When I did stop, I had to work extra to catch back up to the group. So on a rainy day like today I took quite a few pictures on the fly.
After we left Gouda, we went through very pretty countryside. The camera doesn’t come out as often on days like this!
This isn’t Marcel’s first rodeo through the region and as we came to a crossroads of sorts, he pulled into what looked like a driveway. We were stopping at an old windmill that had been converted into a house. The owner was quite friendly and willing to show us around the property –even inside. I didn’t go inside because my feet were wet and I didn’t want to take my shoes on and off.
After we left there, more scenery and then we found a spot for lunch.
We eventually arrived at a ferry crossing over the Lek river.
We were on our way to a place called Kinderdijk, which is a world heritage site for windmills. There are 19 windmills here that were built in the 1740’s to drain the land. It is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands.
Did I mention it was a crappy day? It really rained pretty hard most of the time we were riding. It didn’t let up while we were visiting Kinderdijk either. I decided to recreate my “Cliffs of Moher what the heck? ” picture. Now we’ve been to two amazing and interesting sites when mother nature was throwing the kitchen sink at us.
Someone in the group pointed out this basket floating near the shore. It looked like a baby basket and I found out that there’s a story about it. Kinderdijk is Dutch for Children’s Dike. The story goes that in 1421 there was a big flood in the area. When the storm was over and the waters receded, someone went to the dike to see what could be salvaged. In the distance he saw a cradle floating on the water with a cat jumping side to side in it as if to keep it balanced. When the cradle got close enough for the man to pick up, he found a baby sleeping inside warm and dry. The cat was said to have kept the cradle balanced and afloat. The folktale has been told in a book called: “The Cat and The Cradle”. I found a version of it on line: http://www.compassrose.org/folklore/dutch/Cat-and-the-Cradle.
Today’s riding plan was supposed to be a choice of either 20 or 30 miles (at the 20 mile mark there was an option to take a ferry to Dordrecht, our stop for the night). At the ferry, our choice would have been to ride 10 more miles or to hop on the ferry and call it a day. By the time we were arriving at the ferry, Marcel decided that the weather was bad enough to stop everyone at the 20 mile mark. We all took the ferry, landing in Dordrecht.
It was a short ride to where the barge was moored. As we rolled up, I noticed that the bridge was somewhat eye level (low tide) with the dock and I was able to snap a picture of our captain watching us arrive.
There is a small higher deck on the back of the barge, which I’ll refer to as the “sun deck”, with chairs for the passengers to sit outside and enjoy the weather (when its good). Today the gangplank was placed in a way that we walked over it to the sun deck and then had to descend the ladder steps to the main deck below it. After a bit, they moved the gangplank so that the bikes could be loaded as we were not going to be biking first thing in the morning.
We had our dinner and then were able to take a short walk around town after because the rain finally stopped. I didn’t take many photos of meals mainly because they were often served family style. I have to say that, as a fussy eater, I thought the food was very good (except the fish!) and I didn’t go hungry (except on fish nights!) Dordrecht is practically an island as several rivers come together in the area, one of them being the Rhine.
This is the city gate from both sides. The fancier side faces the river.
At the end of our walk, Marcel suggested a stop for a refreshment. Several of us sat down near a nice fire (took the rainy chill off) and some went straight back to the boat. Very nice evening!