July 30, 2019
Leaving Hoorn is an easy affair, passing by the wonderful old keep at the entrance to the old harbor. From there the crossing to Lelystad takes you across the Markermeer. We skipped the bird sanctuary just off the coast and then found the convoluted entrance to Lelystad. The bouys take you along the break water instead of directly to the entrance. Then there is a lock with a 5 meter (16′) drop to the polder, called Flevoland. The land that was recovered from the sea in the mid- 1960’s, thus all the towns are comparatively new and devoid of the traditional architecture that makes the country so interesting.
After the lock there is a bit of a ride to moorings outside town. We stayed a night at one but finding a poor internet signal we found another, and it turned out to be quite a lovely spot!
There is room for 4-5 boats, it is quiet and peaceful, and just a 5km ride to Lelystad, or you can take the bus whose stop is just 5 minutes by foot. There is a derelict boat, its windshield covered with paint, being the only blot on the scene. Someone is living on it, who is apparenty handicapped. A wheelchair sits on the dock. It came and went several times while we were there. We never saw the person, who must go to town to charge the chair as there is no electricity at this location. There were several friendly people on the other boats. Coming in, there was only room at the end of the dock, a difficult spot to secure. A woman came to us offering to move their boat, having just returned from their bike ride. They then helped us dock, as it was a tight fit.
We took the bus to the Batavialand Museum. It has several significant attractions. The Batavia is a replica of the flagship of the Dutch East India Company. The original was built in 1628. It carried a large cargo including spices from Indo-China, for which the people acquired a taste which remains to this day. Kip sate (chicken with a peanut sauce) is a popular offering. A rice tafel is an elaborate dining experience, with a wide variety of meats and veggies served on a lazy Susan.
Also in the museum is a huge tapestry, reminiscent of the Bayeux Tapestry. It is a history of the area, starting with prehistoric times. Link to video. It was done by a group of about 27 volunteers including artists, embroiderers and amateur historians.
Nearby there is an exhibit with an excellent English guide taking you through the exhibits of early settlements in the area, dating to 5000 BCE. They moved from place to place to find the high ground, often returning to the same locations once the waters receded.
Next we came to Dronten, a forgettable town with a pleasant harbor that is organized as an association, meaning in this case that everything is done by volunteers. One of them came from South Africa. He explained that there were conflicts between Africans and the white population, as well as between the Afrikaners who speak a form of Dutch and the English speaking population, of which he was a part. He was of Dutch heritage however. He also had huge properties in Mozambique. He lost them when the government forcibly removed control of land from foreigners.
Then came Zwolle, which we had visited in our boat Caprice in 2000. They were working on the harbor at the time. It is quite attractively done but from our point of view there are several shortcomings. The piers are short so when you dock you can easily come against the boats next to you. With the wind pushing us that is exactly what happened. However the people on the boat had anticipated the problem and were there to push us off and keep the bow from hitting the dock. Boaters always help one another like this. The second issue is the vertical ladder you need to get to the land. It is about 1.5 meters high. One slip and you could face a serious injury. Getting bikes up is quite a challenge. Fortunately our little bike is light so I was able to get it to the repair shop for a bit of wheel truing, although I had feared I would need a new wheel.
In the morning we went to the street market on Gasthausplein. Lots of vegetables and fruit, as well as the fish truck. A friendly shop owner repaired one of our phones. He spoke no English. We are finding more people here than elsewhere who speak little or no English.