Saturday, 24 February 2018


Winter has come to Paris

Boating in the Netherlands has come to a standstill as the weather gets really cold. The water on the docks is turned off so the pipes don't burst and David is carting Jerry Cans 250m each way to fill the tanks. 

The trusty Mase Generator, installed in 2003 has finally been consigned to the "no further use" basket and we've removed it from the boat. The waterline hardly noticed! The plan is to replace it in the UK during the coming months, before heading south, then across the Atlantic once again, and west towards Panama.

Soon after we arrived in Vlissingen, some good friends, and sailors, Dick and Anita off "Kind of Blue" offered to take us for a drive to the Flood Museum. 

On a freezing cold night at the end of January 1953, a huge storm from the North Sea combined with spring tidal conditions and extensive inland rains, caused a rise of over 5 meters above high tide, in the seawater level. There were 67 breaches of the Zeeland Dykes which protect the countryside from flooding. Being over 6 meters below sea level in places, it was a catastrophic event and 1836 people perished in the southern Netherlands area of Zeeland alone. 165,000ha of farmland was flooded with seawater in several hours. Countless livestock were drowned.

One of several links to more information on the Flood.

The Flood Museum is housed in several caissons, or huge concrete boxes, which were purchased from the UK and towed to locations in the Netherlands to shore up the dikes and stop the water. It took over a year to close the breaches.

Delta Works New Flood control barriers.

Unfortunately, the museum was closed, so we have that for another day, but suffice to say, it was a monumental disaster and as a result, there has been ongoing engineering works such as flood surge barriers, dams and monitoring systems in order to prevent a calamity such as this, ever recurring.

Adventures in the Antwerp city Market

Andrew and Christine, David's brother and wife, visited again from the UK for four days. It is always such fun and great to have the family so close. We did a day trip to Antwerp to show them the sights and pick up some treats at the excellent Saturday City Market. 

In order to break up the long winter hibernation aboard, we decided to take a quick break, and head to France and Switzerland to catch up with friends and see some countryside. Step one, research...step 2 buy train tickets. Easy enough here, and not too expensive for the shorter, more popular routes. 

Andrew and Christine's departure coincided nicely with ours, so we all piled in the Postpub Van for the trip to Rotterdam ,and lunch catch up with great friends, Evert and Janny. "Moby Dick" We then made our way to the Rotterdam Central Station to begin our winter sojourn.

French countryside.
Frantz and Libby our wonderful hosts in Paris. 
First stop, Paris Nord, past snowy pastures and towns. Libby met us at the station and we made our way to their Apartment in central Paris. What fun we had! How well did we eat! Fabulous French cuisine by Libby. Two days were filled with miles of walking. 

Paris had quite a lot of snow which surprised and delighted the children, some of whom had never seen it. It's not snowed in Paris for some years. Busses came to a standstill. What a picture. Even though it curtailed our exploration somewhat, it was still delightful. The Architecture Museum, filled with plaster replicas of reliefs, building motifs, and models of important architecture in France was fascinating and not full of tourists. And there was no queue to get in!

Notre Dame on a snowy winters morning.

All too soon it was time to board the Thalys Train for Geneva and on to Interlaken, Switzerland where we had booked 2 nights in the mountains. More snow and picturesque landscape. Photos through the train window frustrating as the windows were dirty!! Train change at Geneva was simple and Interlaken arrival, just 2 minutes walk to our hotel. The following day we took a local Cog Train up the mountain to Grindelwald. 

The Firste up the mountain from Grindelwald.
The more pretty scenery, beautiful turquoise lakes and snow everywhere. Then the sun burst through and we had a clear blue sky the whole day. Up the mountain to Firste on the cable car was just postcard perfect.

Moody picture reflection in the trains window.
The whole timing of this trip revolved around Carnival in Lucerne. Our good friends, and sailing buddies Sven and Gerda, also known as "The Mountain Goats!!" live in Lucerne and had invited us to come stay. They met our train and we started what was to be an unforgettable visit to this unbelievably beautiful city. Only 90,000 people, so not large. Centuries of architecture and culture. And Carnival!! 

David ans Kris. Ready to scare away the winter!

“Guggenmusigen”, (brass bands,) lead crowds of weirdly dressed people clad in fantastic masks around the narrow streets of the city to frighten away the winter. This medieval festival takes place annually, 6 weeks before Easter, and lasts for 5 days. The masks are scary! Really scary. With over 100 bands, plus other exhibits and floats, the Monday parade took 3 hours to pass our viewing position. 

Sven and Gerda. Our wonderful Lucerne hosts.

So it's huge! The city had snow on Sunday and more overnight, so in the bright sunlight on Monday morning, Lucerne was sparkling and filled with people enjoying the carnival. We were suitably attired by Gerda and Sven for the occasion and wandered transfixed by the spectacle!! I think we walked or stood for 5 hours, after which we retired to their home where we were treated to another Swiss delicacy. Fondu! When we arrived we had Raklet, a great Swiss cheese delight. And now we have our own Raklet maker! Thanks, Gerda and Sven!!


Three days passed in Lucerne far to quickly and it was time to move on to Vienna. Travelling through Zurich, where we made a very simple train change and headed on into Austria through some more spectacular mountain and lake scenery. Again, all snow covered, as Austria has had some of its heaviest snowfalls in years. Over a meter and a half in places. 

More photos of Switzerland and Carnival

Its always been a dream to see the Spanish Riding School and as we were sort of close.... we booked the train from Lucerne to Vienna.

We stayed just one night in Vienna and will go back one day. The Spanish Riding School was fun but we only saw morning exercises, as the Performances are on Saturday during winter and we decided not to stay the extra 4 days.  Vienna is a really beautiful city and easy to get around. Looking forward to returning.

No its a poster. No photos allowed. I did sneak a few though.

A flight from Vienna to Amsterdam and a train home to Taipan in Vlissingen took only 5 hours and cost total 130 Euro each. Not too bad. The train was way more expensive and took almost a day with many train changes.

Morning Excercises captured.

All told it was more of a toe wetting exercise to get a grip on traveling here and a great excuse to catch up with friends. It's pretty easy, not as cheap on trains as we thought it would be but they are fast and comfortable and you get to see the country. No waiting at airports and that irksome, but necessary, security is not present on trains.

St Stephen's Vienna

Photos from Vienna.

Since returning from break ashore we have refitted the damaged cockpit cover replaced a halyard, made a new snubber and ticked off a few other minor jobs. Now its countdown to departure. Schengen once again intervenes to dictate our movements, irrespective of weather constraints! On the next suitable weather window, we plan to cross the Channel to the UK and back to Ipswich.

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