Urk & Leeuwarden – The Netherlands


18th April 2019 – 22nd April 2019

Now we would never have gone to the town of Urk if it wasn’t for meeting a friend of David’s. Gert-jan supplies seafood to businesses all over Europe and this is how David and Gert-jan paths crossed over 20 years ago. David had promised to visit when we were anywhere near Urk and we were and so we did. Wow, what a beautiful little town, we stayed right on the marina which we always love as it is a continually moving picture all the time. There is always something going on. Urk was a former island with more that 20,000 people and a huge fishing fleet. The picturesque town, mazes, small alleys (ginkies) with houses all unique to each other, pretty squares, decorations and the best fish and chips we have tasted on this trip. We met Gert-jan in the late afternoon and he took us on a personal tour around the town. What was so lovely, that everybody seems to know each other, stopping to say hello and having a chat. We learnt that Urk is a thriving town with no unemployment due to huge fish processing businesses together with the marina, which is the centre for the large fishing boat repairs. We were also so lucky to step onto an original oak fishing boat, that had been in the same family for three generations. It is such a beautiful piece of workmanship and the current owner was happy to tell us all about it. We went inside the cabin area and the gorgeous smell of the wood and oil, took you back in time. On the quay there was a group of men sitting watching the world go by, eating freshly cooked smoked salmon, which they had cooked themselves in their burner. Of course we had to try it and it was delicious. We spent the evening with Gert-jan eating wonderful tapas and enjoying the lovely company. We parted promising to visit hopefully on our way back in July. We were up early (for us) the next day as David had been having trouble with a crown tooth and Gert-jan had kindly made David an appointment at the dentist. What I was more worried about though, was when the appointment was made, they said bring cash ! Gert-jan had shown us the dentist the day before and my God, did it look plush and so when the bring cash was relaid I began to worry. We cycled to the dentist, which resembled a mansion, set in the most luxurious of gardens, into the reception and duly planted our bums on the most expensive leather chairs I have ever sat on ! David was promptly called in and I got my purse out and started counting our cash. I thought was €220 enough ? 20 minutes later tooth fixed and to our utter relief a cost of €60, cheaper than at home. We might get all our dental work done in Urk from now on. We cycled back to the town via the bike shop to purchase a nice sheepskin seatcover for my bum as it is suffering from all the miles it has been covering. To celebrate the dentist’s reasonable cost and on Gert-jan’s recommendation we enjoyed delicious fish and chips in the most fantastic fish delicatessen. My Dad would have absolutely loved to see all the smoked eels, mackerel and herrings. The fresh fish display made our mouths water, together with the homemade fish dishes that were available to buy. I know I sound like an old record, but I wish we had this back in the U.K. Anyway, we left with pickled herrings and a pot of delicious and very fattening cocktail of prawns and crab.

We left Urk the next day, passing all the amazing tulip fields and oh my they are stunning. I was in complete and utter awe, just beautiful. If you love flowers, try to get to this part of the world one day because it is breathe taking.

Next stop was Leeuwarden, basing ourselves just outside with views of the canel in a little boat yard. It was fascinating, the boats are stored in little wooden garages on the water. It was Easter weekend and we cycled into the town on Saturday, enjoyed a healthy fruit smoothie each, meandered around the shops and took a leisurely cycle back again. The sheepskin seat cover has been worth every penny, my bum has been saved. Easter Sunday saw a flurry of motor cruisers on the canal in a day of perfect sunshine. We departed the next day, stopping for one night near Veendam, right in the middle of a forest with a beautiful lake which Chloe absolutely loved running round. Poor David didn’t love it so much though, as he has been suffering badly with hay fever and staying right in the middle of a forest with trees bursting into life wasn’t the greatest of ideas. Next stop a city we think, with no trees !

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