Sunday, August 3, 2014

I arrived at the the Ahoy Vakantie Vaaten, (translation: Ahoy, Bicycle Vacations), at about 9:30 PM, the evening before the cruise.  Captain Teun Hoelistra and his wife Margreet greeted me.  This charter boat has been run by this lovely, hard working couple for 48 years (this will be there last season). 

The Ahoy

(The Ahoy is a120 ft converted steamboat, built in 1914, at the Dir. H. De Ridder yard in Rotterdam. It is 5 meters 25 centimeters wide (do the math),  and has a draft of 1 meter 50 centimeters or about 5 feet.  It carries 1500 meters of diesel, 12000 meters of water, has two rows of solar panels on the upper deck and carries 44 passengers, although there are only 17 oldsters on our eight day cruise.  The Hoelistras used to cruise with 16 and 17 year old youngsters on bicycle tours which is a great idea. 

Some of the guests inside the main cabin

Others studying charts of our trip

 Because the boat will be for sale after their last September cruise, it would be a great idea for a USA travel agency to add this to their student tours for high schoolers (or adults cyclers) from the US and Canada to add to their itineraries.  A good bike tour leader would really make this a great trip for kids.  Captain Hoelistras is selling out because after 48 years, he is ready to retire. Their email address is:

During the first morning, I observed the sixteen other passengers arrive, fourteen women including me, and three men.  Except for two female teachers, all the other passengers are retirees.  Ten of the guests brought their bicycles, while the rest, like me, were on board just to enjoy the countryside, and our visits to the quaint Dutch villages along the way.  

Although most  of the cabins have four bunks, other than the couples, each individual traveler had their own cabin, which gives each of us a great amount of space.  

Breakfasts and lunches consist (with small additions daily) of an assortment of breads, cheeses and meats, with a large bowl of fruit added to our breakfast fare.

The first dinner consisted of roast pork, a slice for each (I am not a pork eater), a lovely endive, apple, raisin salad, buttered potatoes and one of my favorites, cooked spinach.  This was all topped off with a very light, delicious banana pudding; recipe below. 

A Dutch bridge and lock

a raised lock

video of a lock gate in action

The first day we left Utrecht at 1:30, and traveled on two canals, one the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal passing through two locks.  Once we entered a lock and secured the boat to the inside cleats, the water was raised about a foot in each lock.

Vianen city gate over a small stream

Another building in the town - I think the town hall

  Our destination was Vianen, which was declared a city in 1335 A.D.  This small village community about 30 Kilometers from Utrecht is full of many charming, old fashion, very well maintained houses.  During a quiet after dinner walk with a companion passenger, we were amazed by the beauty and evening silence of Vianen, which appeared to us to be a bedroom community for the larger city of Utrecht.  

A large bardge we passed on our way

After my first day experiencing sailing on the Dutch canals, it was off to my bunk and a night of I hoped, deep sleep.  

Banana Pudding Recipe
(for sixteen)
2 bananas mashed 
1 liter of lemon yogurt
a pinch of citron 
a pinch of sugar 
and chill


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