The reason we ‘did’ Muiden is due to our original house-exchange was to be in southern England for a month and one of our hosts became ill and was not able to travel to Australia. As we had already paid for tickets, insurance, hotels along the way, we scurried about and found some alternatives to make up for our first month in the UK, a couple of weeks in Holland and three weeks in Liverpool in our exchange world.
Firstly, today, 26th January 2023 we are in a caravan park in Adelaide, South Australia with the temperature rising – tomorrow it will be about 38C / 100F.
I looked up Muiden to get a feel for the place – this is what the internet says:
Muiden is a city and former municipality in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. It lies at the mouth of the Vecht and is in an area called the Vechtstreek. Since 2016, Muiden has been part of the new municipality of Gooise Meren. Wikipedia
I looked up images for our street…I’m excited – but we will wait until further down the page to see the ones we actually took when we finally got there.
That’s it. The rest is now. In real time, as of today, the…
As usual, italic notes are Narda – the other type is moi…
Etihad flight was good, I slept quite a bit. It seems my new combo of bringing extra padding (little pillows) has done the trick, without a pill! I had window seats both times.
Off to O’Leary’s Abu Dhabi Airport for an English breakfast (they called it an American breakfast, which it is NOT!)
Heathrow was quick and with the help of a friendly ticket guy we got instructions and purchased tickets to Paddington. People offered us their seats. Not sure if we are looking so old, or the English are just incredibly polite. Both, I think!.
Balmoral House Hotel, https://www.balmoralhousehotel.co.uk/ was just around the corner from the Paddington Train Station. This is definitely a hotel I would return to. The room was small and warm, reasonably priced with a fabulous hot brekkie. We slept well. A couple from Colorado travelling with their grown-up son joined us, and we chatted about home exchanging. I gave them our card.
Dinner in a nearby street. It’s a buzzy place, nicer vibe than the tourist areas around the Thames.
Finding Kings Cross Station was a bit of a challenge as there were train cancellations and limited access to some lines. But we got there, asking for lots of help. The train was great, good seats and some nice company.
Then there is Newcastle. What an amazing city! There were so many people around I asked someone if there was a festival. He replied, “no its always like this”. The old section is beautiful, a small castle, lots of winding streets.
Later in the evening (after we had checked into a somewhat average, but well-located hotel, called Motel One) we venture out again, found some food (pizza and beer in the library of a sports bar!) Accompanied by a very drunk couple who were there celebrating the artificial insemination of their twin boys. Too much information there. Liberty House…
Slideshow of some of our images of Newcastle. Not on ‘autoplay’ just click through, about nine images.
And there were the drunk (teenage) girls who threw spaghetti at me. Their aim was off, it was meant for someone else….so they said. “Oh, I am sooo sorry” repeated many times as they followed us for a while. In the end I said they can make it right by explaining how we can find our hotel. Pretty funny.
Next morning no brekkie at the hotel, so we slunk off to Maccas. The porridge was sensational, but the rest, not so much. Still…. friendlier staff than at Motel One!
The food on the ferry makes it worth taking it. It was incredible. Despite the waves rocking us all night. No sea sickness though. Best to stay lying down…which we did.
Departure was delayed by 4 hours, as the ship waited for 300 soccer fans from the Netherlands and Germany to board. We were allowed to board early so we got a good start on that buffet.
I always considered myself quite nimble. I took the top bunks when necessary and always rode the man’s bike when there was no other choice. This however has changed. Unfortunately! Now I’m 68 and the legs are stiffer. I climbed onto the top bunk in our cabin and was unable to get down. The ceiling was too low and I could not reposition myself. After a lot of giggling, Terrell helped me down. I went to the office and was able to get an upgrade for 45 Euros… 2 beds on the floor level and a window bonus. I manage the giant bike by mounting from a raised curb. Blimey. Though it’s a little disturbing.
That last line is out of context – Narda is writing about when we were in Muiden…following day and I rode the “girl’s” bike as it has a step through as I always do – too old to get over the bar so to speak, and Narda as usual takes the “man’s” bike.
There plenty to do on these ferries, it really is a mini cruise. Duty free shops, night club, cafe lounge with live music and a cinema with crap movies. I met an interesting woman travelling alone name Ellen, from the Isle of Man. She invited us to visit but the ferries are really expensive, so we’ll have to pass on that. But she had plenty of interesting travel tales to tell, including going to Greenland in the winter.
We took the shuttle bus into Amsterdam Centraal. A friendly coffee server helped us download an app, like Uber called Bolt and ordered a ride to Muiden. The driver was from Yemen.
We both love cruises, even if they are this short – 17-hours, though a lot longer than taking a ten-minute ferry across the Murray River back in Adelaide. Longer than the three-hour ferry we recently took in New Zealand. It was a great ride. We were on the eleventh floor – that is how big this boat is. The food was really top stuff. I don’t remember eating so much at one time. We got to repeat our gluttony fun the following morning at brekkie. Sleeping was OK for a while – but we were both wide awake at one am as the sea was getting a bit choppy. We took a sleeping pill and slept through until breakfast.
March 13, 14
Muiden is beautiful but quite isolated. The house is stunning, designed by an architect I’m sure, with the old exterior and amazing interior, decorated with an African theme.
Our first night was a bit difficult, no food in the house, shops nearby closed, so we walked about ½ hour in the dark searching for food. Finally stopped at a “fine dining” hotel and blew 50 Euros on some small plates of very fancy food. But it did the job.
Muiden is isolated in that its hard to get public transport. The trains are so expensive here. For us to spend a day with our friends in Nieuwerkerk tomorrow will cost 71 Euros, and that’s riding our bikes for 15 minutes to the station in Weesp. The buses come once an hour. Still, it’s a charming village, with its own castle on the river Vecht. We’ve enjoyed walking around it very much. There’s a grocer 5 minutes away who has everything we need. BTW 70 Euros gets 79 USD
We thought we could find a grocery shop as the one in Muiden closes at six and we found that out at 6:15. On Google we tromped off into the dark to what we thought would be a Spar Grocery Store only half an hour away. After walking on some walking trail through woods we got to a road that had nowhere to walk alongside it. Google was still egging us on but after a few trucks came close to knocking us off the road we turned back and found our trail though the woods we had been on in the dark. Eventually we came across this “fine dining” restaurant mentions above. Fort H – https://forth.nl/ – we were grateful to be in a place that was warm and lit. We each got one thing for 19.95 Euros. They were both vegetarian, mine had a small slice of avocado and a couple of vegetables squashed into a two-inch square slice. It was very tasty and four bites later was gone. We also got a small order of fries. The bill was 50 euros – no credit card please, luckily we had a fifty euro bill from last year’s trip to Holland. Fortunately, we didn’t get anything to drink, just tap water. We did get home fifteen minutes later, still a bit hungry but we had the next day to eat. Lucky us.
Next day we found, at the end of our street, Weesperstraat, a few blocks, a great little grocery store, De Muidernier, with all we needed. You can read about our street below…of course, if you are like me, who knows no Dutch, I had Narda read it to me, sorry, but I forgot what she said, however, one can see the date 1600, so let’s assume this street started then.
Here is me standing in front of our house – on Weesperstraat (let’s call it Whisper Street to make it pronounceable).
Next days we’re exploring the village, bit of washing, “Better call Saul” on Netflix, getting a Lebara sim card working…..took way too long. They still had my email on record so I could not recharge. After several frustrating hours I found a 3rd party recharged company called surprisingly Recharge.com. Worked instantly. Note to self….keep the bloody sim card for next time.
Today on Brens birthday we rode to Weesp and checked out a giant book sale in the local church. I bought a cool little music book called “Nederland Bevrijd, even muzicale terugblik op de meidagen van ’45”. Some songs in there that mum and dad used to sing. Look out, sisters, we’re having a sing-along at Carolin’s. She doesn’t know yet.
Our host had bikes we could use. We needed to fill up the tyres and have the bikes checked out. In our very small town, there happens to be a bike shop. The proprietor was so knowledgeable and got us all safety inspected, fixed a flat tyre, raised handlebars, and informed us he would closed the next afternoon. He was going to have a bit of a birthday party, his 84th. I asked how long he had the bike shop, “more than sixty-years”. He spoke enough English for us to have a conversation of sort. He had such a good bike shop, everything imaginable. In the back he had a pulley system to raise the bike up to have a good look. From now on when I need a bike repair, I will only go to people who have been fixing bikes for a minimum of sixty-years. What are my chances for success?
What a great town. A canal, well a few, go through this town. See the slideshow. I don’t usually cut and paste a bit from Wikipedia, but in this case I will do just that to give an example of how old this hood is…
[The first known reference to Muiden is from 953 when Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, granted the settlement and its toll rights to Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht. It was called Amuda, meaning "mouth of the (river) A". "A" was the old name for the Vecht river. In 1122 Muiden was, together with Utrecht, granted some city rights by Emperor Henry V. After the lands around Muiden were given to Count Floris V, he began building Muider Castle at the mouth of the Vecht river. Muiden once again received city rights in 1296. The first defensive works date from the first half of the 15th century. In 1590 the walls are replaced with earthen mounds with bastions after a design by Adriaen Anthonisz. Muiden was the northern end of the Dutch Water Line. In 1673 the sea lock in the Vecht river was relocated from Fort Hinderdam to Muiden and in 1676 it was expanded with a sea wall along the Vecht mouth to prevent flooding. To learn more go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muiden]
We rode our bikes, now in top form, somewhat, to the next town, Weesp, a town of over 20,000 folks with a train station and larger grocery shops. For some reason it is referred to as ‘Little Amsterdam” don’t know why or who does – it’s online, so it must be true. It too is an old city grabbing their rights as a city in 1355. The ride takes us about twenty-minutes, Google says 12-minutes, obviously they don’t take into consideration the elderly puffing and panting all the way.
As one would expect, we came across a book sale, sparked up Narda heaps.
It was in this gothic church built in the 1200s. I was more interested in the interior than the books, probably because they were in Dutch. Fascinating is that there are graves all over the floor. Like five-hundred years old. I took a few photos of some, see below. From the history of tombstone covered floors in churches; “It was seen as a privilege to be buried inside the church (the closer to the altar, the better). These are not cenotaphs, these are actual tombs, with people slowly decomposing under them.” No one seemed concerned that people were looking at books above a graveyard. I thought it was all quite morbid and worthy of an Edgar Allen Poe type of poem that I will write next week. Narda was happy and that all one would want in life, a happy wife.
Took the trains to see our previous hosts and now friends from last year’s long visit to Nieuwerkerk. It was a celebration trip, our first train connection was disrupted by someone jumping onto the track. Terrible. We saw the medics rush down the steps with a stretcher. Hard on everyone, especially train drivers.
Needless to say, the trains through that station were cancelled so we took the Metro, a subway system to Amsterdam and then a long slog on the Intercity to Rotterdam. A trip that should have taken under 2 hours became a 4-hour trip.
But we had a nice time, sharing stories with our friends in Nieuwerkerk an den Ijssel , and eating croquettes. The last ride home from the trains was by bike with no lights. Hairy scary. It’s 15 minutes through the countryside with little street lighting. Oh well.
The bike ride home was a bit difficult, like in the dark, with no lights on our bikes and we don’t have helmets. In Australia there is a big fine for not wearing a helmet, but in Holland no one wears the. Last year we were in Nieuwerkerk for three-months, see our story for that at https://neuage.me/2022/05/15/holland2022/. Fred and Chantal may catch up with us in October of this year in Valencia.
Today we had invited the Albers clan for lunch, Hans, Miriam and Linda. We dashed out to Albert Hein and got some nice stuff to make a spag bol dinner. Veg version too which only Terrell ate. Lots of nice catching up with these guys. Then a walk in this charming little village, and Hans with his new toy, a drone. Wow that kept us all entertained for a while
Narda’s cousins. Fortunately, we get to catch up with them almost on a yearly basis. Considering we live in Australia and they don’t, that is quite the effort, on our part.
Hey, I was entertained. Heaps. Now I want a drone like this. Narda points out I would 1. Get into trouble flying over something I should not be flying over, like a military space in Pakistan or some such place 2. It would get out of my sight and land in the sea or someone’s backyard 3. We have too much stuff to travel with now already…there were a few more objections but I forgot them. There are many restrictions on these according to Hans. Can’t fly over residential areas, flight paths, crowds/groups of people, and on and on. Well then what’s the point of having one? I guess I don’t want one after all. We aren’t allowed to fly over the castle either so Hans flew around it – see the video – incredible.
And that is it. We took the overnight ferry back to Newcastle then the train to Liverpool.
Liverpool and Wales and more UK are the next blog.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. We are now in a fantastic flat overlooking the docks. More, plenty more, of that after we leave Liverpool. See ya then. Below some snapshots of our train Newcastle to Liverpool. Cheers
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