Two years ago, the group built a snack bar and small

Bikes and ferries combine for a freewheeling Dutch adventure

canada goose clearance A traditional windmill on a dike in Goengahuizen. More than 1,000 of them are scattered throughout the Netherlands. ( Selina Kok / ) canada goose clearance

canada goose black friday sale “Wil je een dropje?” asked the cheerful captain’s assistant as we crossed the Princess Margaret Canal, an inland Dutch waterway that carries both recreational boats and freight barges. canada goose black friday sale

uk canada goose outlet Yes, please, I answered, despite thinking how it was a little early to be chewing on the pungent, black Dutch licorice. But we had a long day ahead, so best to accept an energy boost when it’s offered. uk canada goose outlet

canadian goose jacket The “Dropje Ferry” as it is called which, it turned out, is famous for sharing candies as well as for being solar powered was the first ride of our five ferry, 45 mile bike route. The following day, we mapped out a 20 mile ride incorporating three more ferries Canada cheap canada goose Goose sale (and a few windmills). canadian goose jacket

The multiple water crossings were not accidental. Since moving to the Netherlands two years ago with my wife, Selina, who is Dutch, I’d become smitten with “voetveren,” or foot ferries small boats specifically for foot passengers and cyclists. (There are car/bike ferries throughout the country as well.) Some small ferries are run by municipalities, others by private operators, and still others by volunteers, with costs usually ranging from free to $2 a person. The most charming ones are the hand cranked do it yourselfers.

buy canada goose jacket cheap I figured that in this country promoting hundreds of bicycle routes, there must be some that are ferry centric. Who best to turn to than Vrienden van de Voetveren Friends of the Foot Ferries, a volunteer association with some 2,000 members devoted to preserving this quaint mode of transportation. The group started in 1982, spurred by a growth of motor traffic and bridge building, which caused the number of small ferries to shrink. Thanks to members’ efforts, the number has tripled, and now totals nearly 170. buy canada goose jacket cheap

canada goose uk black friday On the Friends’ website (in Dutch), you can find many bike trips incorporating ferries, but only one is nicknamed “the ferry route,” and that’s “De 8 van Grou,” or “The 8 of Grou.” Wherever Grou was, I was going. canada goose uk black friday

Canada Goose Online Fortunately for us, Grou turned out to be a lively (at least in the summer) historic town of about 5,700 in the province of Friesland, a region known for having almost as much water as land. Because Grou is situated along a lake, Pikmeer, and the Princess Margaret Canal, summer boaters easily can reach its busy harbors. Canada Goose Online

canada goose I’d assumed the “8” in the route name was the number of ferries, but it refers to its shape when it was first buy canada goose jacket mapped in 1995. Back then, it included canada goose coats on sale only six ferries, but has since grown to 10, with a couple more expected to join in 2017. Most cheap Canada Goose of the ferries are seasonal and run by volunteers, with the nonprofit group Grou Aktief coordinating the system and making sure schedules are in sync. Individual ferries report up to 15,000 users from April through September. canada goose

Because of the 8’s expansion, there is no one route. Instead, there are canada goose clearance sale five suggested loops ranging from 20 to 40 miles, all laid out in a booklet available at the Grou tourist information office. (We mixed and matched to custom design our own routes.) Though the text is in Dutch, the directions follow the country’s “knooppunten” system of marked, numbered routes at intersection points and are generally easy to follow by number. ( Selina Kok / )

The “dropje” ride, our longest, lasted about 10 minutes, as the flat bottom boat took us from a Canada Goose Jackets harbor in the village of Warten, up a river and across the canal to the canada goose deals shore of Alde Feanen National Park, a peaceful area of wetlands, forest meadows and peat bogs, crisscrossed with waterways and bicycle paths.

uk canada goose Before heading into the park, we detoured to one more solar ferry a few miles north along a narrow trail flanked by tall marsh grasses waltzing in the wind. We spied the boat on the other side of the channel and summoned it over by ringing an old fashioned, earsplitting bell hanging from a pole along the path. uk canada goose

canada goose uk shop The captain, Eelke de Jong, zipped across the canal and took us over to the village of Suwald, where he lives. In 1997, he and other volunteers started carrying passengers on what they claim is the world’s first completely solar powered ferry. Two years ago, the group built a snack bar and small campground with a harbor and fishing pier and welcomes visitors to sit and enjoy the view. canada goose uk shop

My ferry fanaticism amused de Jong.

cheap Canada Goose “In Holland, it’s totally normal to use a ferry, but people in other countries think it’s really special,” he said. “There are small ferries like this, but also big ones, of course. But the small ones are Canada Goose Parka more fun.” cheap Canada Goose

He transports up to 12 people and Canada Goose online bikes at a time and said that on warm, sunny days (ours was neither, unfortunately), people sometimes have to wait in line for the next boat.

Canada Goose Coats On Sale In Grou, passengers ride one of the 10 foot ferries on the “De 8 van Grou” bicycle route. ( Selina Kok / ) Canada Goose Coats On Sale

Canada Goose Outlet After de Jong took us back across the channel, we headed south toward the national park, first making a quick stop in Earnewald at the for a primer on the history and craftsmanship of the skutsje (pronounced SKOOT shuh), a traditional Frisian flat bottom sailing vessel. The boats were first used in the 1800s to transport peat and manure to farms. These days, they’re celebrated at the Skutsjesilen, a well attended summer racing series. Canada Goose Outlet

canada goose factory sale From Earnewald, our third small ferry, a canadian goose jacket commercial one, deposited us on the other side of a waterway at the park’s visitor center. Next door was the endearing Friesland Agricultural Museum, where we saw a surprisingly creative array of cow art, learned about the history of American windmills in the Netherlands, and studied up on the folksy wooden swan carvings we had seen on farmhouses. canada goose factory sale

Canada Goose sale As we cycled south through the park, we passed a canada goose clearance small herd of ponies, flowering meadows canada goose coats and peat bogs, feeling thankful we didn’t meet too many other cyclists on the narrow, crushed shell path. Canada Goose sale

cheap canada goose uk Our next ferry, also a small commercial one, took us over a wide body of water apparently popular among sailing schools as we passed clusters of identical small sailboats helmed by youngsters practicing techniques. cheap canada goose uk

Canada Goose Jackets The park led us to another nature area, this one along “petgatten,” a group of canals initially dug for removing and transporting peat, but now part of a restored wetlands area. Canada Goose Jackets

For some time, our route overlapped Domela’s Path, a bicycle and walking route with landmarks to honor the 19th century folk hero Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis. Called the founder of Dutch socialism, he fought for labor rights and was beloved by peat workers.

Our fifth ferry a bright yellow hand crank model proved a fabulous finale. Not much more than a small platform with railings on each side, the ferry, which could hold 10 people and their bikes, moved between the canal banks along an underwater cable. The fuller the load, the more buy canada goose jacket cheap resistance, but with just the two of us, operating the crank was fun and easy.

canada goose coats The Restaurant De Vrijheid, across the harbor of Grou, can be reached by using the Gastvrij Grou ferry. ( Selina Kok ) canada goose coats

canada goose clearance sale From there, we followed a Canada Goose Outlet path flanked by a canal and the intoxicatingly beautiful nature reserve De Deelen, a landscape of marshy inland lakes with walking paths to the water. Once used for peat extraction, the area is an ideal spot for nature worship, or a happy hour, evidenced by the foursome we encountered sitting by the trail. One of the men, a local who wore beat up wooden clogs, a rare sight despite the Dutch stereotypes, offered us a beer. But with canada goose another hour of cycling still to go, we regretfully canada goose black friday sale declined. canada goose clearance sale

Canada Goose Parka That evening, feeling fit and well ferried, we toasted with our own brews from a cafe patio in the center of Grou. canada goose store Just as we walked to the harbor to watch the sunset, yet another “8 van Grou” ferry motored by, this one taking passengers to the other side of the lake offering us a new idea for the next day’s ride Canada Goose Parka.

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