17 May 2016

Enjoying Amsterdam

Among the reasons I wanted to visit Amsterdam, was to take my iPhone to the Apple Store. During the late winter its battery had began expanding and the pressure caused the case to exfoliate. My online presence for the past two years has been through the phone's hotspot, so I was pleased that even with its questionable appearance, the phone still worked.

I made an appointment online with the Genius Bar for 1210 on Saturday. The tram across the bridge from Zonder Zorg led with one change to a stop directly in front of the Apple Store in Leidseplein, in the heart of Amsterdam's fashionable shopping district.

I was directed up the free-standing circular stairs to the huge loft a spiral and a half up. I was received, and within minutes, my appointed Genius told me he'd replace the phone at no charge. I had anticipated this, and had done a full backup of its contents through my computer. I then spent three hours restoring the content into my new phone and updating all my apps using their wifi and my MacBook Air. Love you, Apple.

On Monday I used my museum pass to visit the Rijksmuseum. It's located at a tram stop, one change from my mooring.

As expected, there was a large crowd in the Hall of Honour in front of Rembrandt's Night Watch.

I chose my time and finally got a clear shot with only the top of one head in the way.

There are many of Rembrandt's monumental works on display, such as this brilliant group portrait, showing the Syndics of the Drapers' Guild being surprised by our intrusion into their private meeting. Using action poses, rather than stilted ones, was one of the marks of Rembrandt's genius.

Among my favourites is this 1661 self-portrait as the Apostle Paul. He shows himself at age 55 as a worn man. This was shortly after near-bankruptcy had forced him to sell his house, his huge art collection and most of his other possessions. He died as a poor man and was buried in an unmarked grave.

The Rijksmuseum is much more than Rembrandt. It is filled with great works of most of the Dutch and Flemish masters, plus those of Italy, France and other great art centres. Here's Van Gogh's 1887 work titled: Self Portrait With A Grey Felt Hat, one of three of his twenty-four self-portraits thus titled.

By the time I had left the museum mid-afternoon, the sky had cleared and it was hot, with many people enjoying mid-spring as I walked through Oosterpark on my way back toward Zonder Zorg.

09 May 2016

Northward From Gouda

Zonder Zorg's special winter moorage rates in the historic ship harbour of Gouda came to an end on 01 April, when the rate went from fifteen cents per metre per day to fifty cents. The canals were still closed until 15 April, with reservations required for each lock and lift bridge, so I decided to stay and pay the higher rate until unrestricted navigation began. Over the winter the moorage including water and electricity was €102 per month, but my two weeks of April cost €135 all inclusive.

On Saturday, 16 April, in a cold, light drizzle, I headed through three lift bridges and a lock to the Gouwe, then turned to follow it northward. The cool weather continued with overnight temperatures at or near freezing. Late April was colder and wetter than January and February. Rain was a daily occurrence, usually with blustery winds. I hunkered-down on a free three-day mooring at the edge of Alphen an der Rijn to wait for better boating weather.

In a brief spell of clear weather, on Tuesday I continued northward, then branched into the Amstel, the river which flows through Amsterdam. The lift bridge at Vrouwenakker was closed for repairs when I arrived, so I moored on the waiting station. By early afternoon, it was apparent the repairs were more complex than initially thought. I had a good solid mooring, so I decided to wait, rather than taking a circuitous route. On Wednesday, the engineers said Friday, so I pedalled into Uithoorn for groceries. The bridge finally opened on Saturday morning, so I continued to Uithoorn and moored in the centre of town.

The sign on the Havenkantoor showed that it opened on 01 May, so I stayed with free moorage and enjoyed the small city as the weather slowly improved, then continued north before moorage fees began. I found an open moorage in the heart of the small town of Oudekerk, the last isolated community on the Amstel before Amsterdam. The sign read 3x24, meaning there is three day limit, and it was adjacent to a supermarket, so I decided to stay a while.

Wednesday, 04 May is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands, marking the sacrifices during World War Two. Thursday, 05 May is Liberation Day, celebrating the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Canadian Army and ending their five-year occupation of the Netherlands. More than seventy-six hundred Canadians lost their lives in the final push to free the Dutch. Zonder Zorg's Canadian flag invited many offerings of thanks.

On Friday I continued north down the Amstel six kilometres, then east three and a half kilometres up the Weesper to a free three-day mooring in Diemen. This small town, only five kilometres from the heart of Amsterdam, is isolated from the urban build-up by fields and marshes. Across the Weesper from the barge is the stop for a tram directly into central Amsterdam.

The temperature rose to 25.5º Friday afternoon, but my shaded mooring and the light breeze made it very pleasant. The forecast shows many fine days to follow, and since the moorage isn't busy, I think I'll test the limits of the three-day signs.