3-6 April, 2015
Friday. It was our first time to fly from LCY, but in spite of it being only 20mins away, the 3 hour delay (via Cityjet) is not something we’re keen to repeat again.
Arrived at Schiphol eventually, rested for a while, and bought train tickets from the machines as we left the Arrivals area. We got off at Zwolle, bought some food, and took a taxi to Dwarsgracht (Euro95, Steenwijk station would be nearer – but we did not get on the direct train and you had to call a taxi from Steenwijk as there will be none waiting at the station – train times from www.ns.nl).
We reached Dwarsgracht around 9pm, thankful that our friends are already there as it was a bit hard to find. 4 footbridges across the canals and we were at the cottage.
Al wasn’t feeling well since the flight and almost immediately went to bed. The rest of us had light dinner, cleaned up and chatted for a while.
Saturday. In the first morning, I had a chance to finally get a good look where we are. We had a thatched cottage (rented from airbnb) surrounded with canals on both sides. 2 bedrooms in the loft with quite spacious living areas downstairs. Separate toilet and baths. Small, but well-equipped kitchen area (I am glad they provided us with the basics – lots of toilet rolls, towels, kitchen linens, plates, glasses, cutleries, and even coffee, tea and sugar as there was no grocery nearby). We only had the sounds of birds to wake us up in the morning. Tranquil surroundings. And hardly any crime in this area.
We had cakes and coffee at De Otterskooi (no hot food for breakfast), walking distance from the cottage, and rented a boat to get around (Euro15/hour, Euro60 for the whole weekend). It is possible to drive here, but it is more scenic on the canals. It was a small boat, enough for 4, though I’ve seen more people on it. Travels around 5km per hour, very slow, and very quiet. The staff explains the routes (we were given a map) and how to use the boat. We were told the battery lasts 6-7 hours, but we noticed it was slowing down after around 2 hours.
We had a very tranquil, but very cold morning exploring the canals, taking the long way around to Giethoorn. We reached Giethoorn, found a place to moor (look for wooden planks with metal rings to tie your boat into, no ‘Prive’ sign, and preferrably with a way to charge your boat). Settled into a cafe to defrost ourselves, and explored Giethoorn on foot (maps available from the tourist info office for a few euros).
Dinner was back at De Otterskoi after returning the boat for the night and an hour’s rest back at the cottage. We had seafood served with loads and loads of different veggie side dishes – it was amazing – only problem was how to finish it all.
Sunday. Opted for breakfast at the cottage. And headed to the restaurant to get our boat. Tried a different route into Giethoorn and moored in the northern part. The sun was out and so was everyone else. There were traffic in the canals and footbridges and the restaurant were almost full.
Returned the boat around 6pm and had dinner again at the restaurant.
Monday. We had prebooked our taxi the night before and promptly left the property before 10am. Boarded the train from Steenwijk to Schiphol. Lunch at the airport, seen our friends off and stored our luggages.
Bought tickets (at the bookstore before the Arrivals 4 exit) and proceeded outside where the bus was waiting to take us to Keukenhof (30mins away). This place would have been amazing if the tulips were all out. But we were there a week too early. I couldn’t work out how to plan when to arrive when plants are involved (like the sakuras in Japan). Anyway, there were plenty of tulips in the indoor pavilions – outside, they were just starting to open but no fields of tulips in sight.