June 5 – Thursday. The drawbridge blocking our moorage was scheduled to be raised at 0730 so our timing to leave Dordrecht was dictated for us. We cruised north on the river for about 5 kms, docked briefly at Alblasserdam to off load, then cycled from there. The forecast for today was rain later in the day so the original plan to cycle over 50 km was changed to do a shorter distance and hopefully beat the rain. After 5 km we entered the Kinderdijk area, which has many now non-functional windmills of the old design. In the past, these windmills were used to pump out the water from inside the dykes (very few of the windmills in Holland were used for milling grain). Thomas said that there used to be about 11,000 operating windmills but now there are only about 1100 of the classic design left. The pumping from this area is now handled by huge Archimedes screws.
Fortunately, the weather forecast for rain was wrong and we were able to stay dry while riding. We rode leisurely through the windmill area, stopping often to admire the views as well as stripping off layers as we went. When the sun peeked out it through the clouds, as it did often, it was strong and everyone had dressed for a cool day with rain! Proof positive that weather forecasters the world over still have trouble getting it right We stopped for coffee at Nieupoort then biked over to the ferry landing for the short trip across the river to Schoonhoven. Once there, we all spread out to different places to have lunch (and beer) and while away the time until the Gandalf was due to pick us up. Good timing, since the rain then started up in earnest. Ironically, the only time we got wet was when we were walking around the town – didn’t get wet while riding at all. Schoonhoven is a historical silversmithing town and Thomas took us to one of the shops that also functioned as a silver work museum. The manager took great pride in showing us his most elaborate and expensive items, not that anyone of us could remotely afford them. As expected, even the trinkets were overpriced.
Once back on board the Gandalf, we motored on the Lek River for a few hours to Vreeswijk, just south of Utrecht, where we moored for the night. Across the river from us, there were what appeared to be houseboats. But after a second look, some appeared to bi-levels. Concrete boxes sunk in the water so the house can have a lower level? Rooms for hobbits? Hope they float or that the water level doesn’t fluctuate. After supper, Tom led a short bike trip to Viannen to see the historic part of the town. On the way back to the boat, we stopped at a beach bar for (expensive) drinks and a group picture. In France, two years ago, we had our group picture taken on a play structure, so we figured why break with tradition? Tom was bemused with all these seniors clambering atop a jungle gym but he humoured us anyway.
Rode 33 km before supper, 12 km after supper.