I thought our departure from Grand Rapids by taxi got the d’aventure part of the adventure out of the way early. Little did I know that today would be a bit more interesting than it was supposed to be.
Plan A: The first part of this morning was supposed to be another short ride on the barge before we began our ride.
The only thing between us and where we were starting the ride was a lock/dam. As we approached, someone was looking out the window and said… “There’s a group over there all dressed in red -wonder what they’re doing.”
S T R I K I N G…thats what!
The lock was C L O S E D.
None shall pass.
Plan B. Get us and the bikes off before the lock and make a big 33.5 mile circle through the countryside to give the captain and the bike company time to figure out how to deal with the Anna Antal being stuck. They had a bit of extra pressure because the return trip to Amsterdam was scheduled to start in Bruges tomorrow – and the new passengers would be arriving there expecting to see a boat to board.
The circle included us returning to Ghent to spend some extra time in the historic district. I had to laugh because Mike didn’t have a choice about going or not this time.
Off we go.
Signs like this didn’t really seem to worry Marcel! I’m sure the owners were surprised to see 17 bikes in their driveway! 🙂
We were going across a small lock and met a large group going the other way.
Why not take a break on the bridge and enjoy the view?
Coffee break. We were looking for an ATM -so we wandered off and found a bank, but the machine wasn’t compatible.
Another interesting house.
Hey let’s go ride on a muddy, puddle-strewn farm road to make the day more fun!
We stopped for lunch at a little park at the edge of a small town. It was basically just a small grassy area with two picnic tables -but it was all we needed and pleasant.
Going through a bike underpass. I liked how the bike/pedestrian trails kept us apart from traffic as much as possible.
We had another break in the afternoon at a very nice sports park on the outskirts of Ghent. Some of the group jumped in the lake for a swim. We stretched out
Go that-aways for downtown Ghent!
Yes, there’s plenty of room for our bikes here.
We were given a couple of hours to go wherever and do whatever – Mike and I were still working on solving our ATM problem… We found a spot to sit down while I made a couple of phone calls.
While we were sitting there, I noticed a couple floating around on the river in an inflatable -with a tour boat getting ready to pass by.
When we’d done our walk the night before, the city was pretty quiet due to it being later in the evening and the weather; today was a different story. Lots more people out enjoying the day and the scenery.
Word came through that the strike was going to be over by around 6 and that the Anna Antal would make it through the lock sometime after that. The poor crew sat at the lock all day waiting. Time to head back and get ready to go to Bruges.
Craig had found a Belgium flag on the ground somewhere and decided to put it on his helmet for decoration. We had stopped on the way out of town so we could group up and make sure no one was lost when everyone finally noticed.
We loaded up our trusty bikes for the last time.
Last photo of my trusty ride for the week.
And FINALLY we’re in the lock. They loaded quite a few boats in with us. This was one of the first times we’ve gone through a lock on a boat instead of a kayak!
The lock had an unusual lift barrier. We’re used to seeing doors that swing open and closed.
Down it goes
We were raised a few feet -it didn’t take too long and then we were on our way to Bruges.
Dinner was being served in the middle of all of this. We got so excited about the lock that they had to remind us we hadn’t had dessert yet!
The captain had told Marcel to buy us some champagne as an apology for the trip derailment. After dinner we went to the sun deck for an end-of-trip celebration.
I took this picture thinking -the sun is setting on our d’aventure in the Netherlands and Belgium.
But the fates weren’t quite through with us yet. The other concern for the barge ride into Bruges was one lift bridge along the way. It was quite possible that we wouldn’t get through it before it shut down for the night. Evidently based on the time we got through the lock and how long it normally takes to get to this bridge – our chances weren’t very good.
And so you can probably guess that we arrived at the lift bridge after it closed. The Anna Antal had to cozy up to the bank and tie up for the night. The captain asked us not to leave the barge. It looked like there wasn’t really any easy way to do that anyway.
As we chatted and settled down for the night, we had another gift from mother nature… a really gorgeous sunset. This picture shows the lift bridge and the sun was actually visible through it -but every time I zoomed in to try to photograph it, the picture got washed out. I had to settle for the “long shot”… The colors were amazing!
Our last night aboard was fun. More people stayed up a bit later than usual and we had some laughs and some card tricks. The younger “kids” knew a sort of guessing game that had a trick to it and they spent a long time demonstrating it to us and us trying to figure out how it worked. Mike finally figured it out -but it took awhile.
Mike went to our cabin to get packed. I decided to wait until the next morning. My part of the cabin looked like a tornado had redecorated for us.
We’re looking forward to finally arriving in Bruges!