I'm sure that when I was young and living in Holland in the early 1950s, we made some trips from Amsterdam to the towns on the IJsselmeer.
But frankly, until Bea and I were on the cruise in Holland last month, I'd never heard of Hoorn, Medemblik and Enkhuizen. Now I can say these are lovely, charming towns -- and such a change of pace from the big cities such as Amsterdam and The Hague.
We loved -- as I noted in the past couple of blogs -- the harbors/marinas everywhere. These are adjacent to, or nearby, the IJsselmeer, a shallow freshwater lake that is the largest lake in Western Europe and was created from the Zuider Zee (South Sea), which branched off the often violent North Sea.
When the Afsluitdijk (shutoff dike) was built in the early 1930s -- a 32-kilometer (20 miles) dike/roadway in North Holland -- the Zuider Zee was no more, and it became the IJsselmeer, slowly going from a salt-water sea to a freshwater lake. (And the roadway became a testing ground for automobile speeds in the 100 mph range.)
The Amsterdam harbor and several rivers branch into the IJsselmeer. So it's a prime area for the tour/cruise boats leading to the little towns that we visited.
Going into Medemblik, on the third day of our five-day cruise, we experienced the worst weather day of our two-week stay in Holland -- a rainy, cool, windy day that had the boat rocking. But it calmed down enough late in the day for Bea and I to leave the boat and walk into town.
We were admiring the marina there, near dusk, and Bea pointed out that most of the yachts there were probably quite extensive and expensive. Then we came upon one man busily working on his yacht.
I asked if he spoke English, and he said he did -- a little. I told him I spoke Dutch -- a little -- and asked him to tell us about his boat.
He said his family sailed on it often, most weekends, and that they had taken trips on it to Australia and New Zealand and the Caribbean. Impressive.
It was still cool and rainy the next morning when a group from our boat took a 1.2-kilometer walk to a guided tour of the Radboud Castle, a castle/fortress built on a hill above the dike that protects Medemblik from the IJsselmeer. http://www.castles.nl/rad/rad.html
Or at least, what's left of the castle that was built in the late 1290s -- two residential wings, two square rooms and one round tower. The museum there and the tour guide -- who conducted the tour in Dutch but kindly came over and interpreted in English for us several times -- tell the story of the tower's history and life in the Middle Ages in this northern portion of Holland.
It was one of several castles built on the edge of town to protect the residents from possible invading forces.
Enough writing. See the accompanying file with photos from our cruise ...