In the last couple of months before we left, we have often talked about getting to Amsterdam. Somehow it was the first place we knew for sure we would go to, so it was great when we were finally moored in Sixhaven Marina, right across from the Central Station. On the first day there, we took a walk through the city – quiet a shock for our village kids to be in such a bustling big city with people, bikes and cars everywhere. We had been looking forward to visiting the NEMO science museum, a great place for kids to experiment with physics, and it did not disappoint. Mattis was running around like crazy, with us trying to keep up, and Runa was slowly taking it all in. We investigated how the dutch use damming and pumps to keep the water out, we saved the world from incoming meteors – and much more. On the roof there was a water playground where we could eat our lunch with a view of the city. It was a very nice day.
Many families visit the old Artis zoo in Amsterdam, but we had already been on a previous visit, and instead wanted to visit the Micropia next door. A “Zoo” for microorganisms. Here, many microscopes had been places, and we could see cell phone bacteria, foot fungi, poo bacteria and much, much more. The museum had also made little films and animations about each bacteria or fungi to show how it lives and why it multiplies. It was a real eye opener for the kids to see all these “invisible” organisms that surround us, and although Mattis actually was a bit too young for this place, we still came out with the understanding of why we do not lick random handles in public places. Subsequently, we have had many conversations about microorganisms, like how cheese is made and how the water is filled with algae (yes, Esben and I each have our subjects here ;-). And then we of course had to visit the cheese “museum”. Which was really just a shop with loads of cheeses to try out. Esben and the kids did their best to try all the cheese at least once, and Runa and Mattis each chose one to bring home. Good fun.
The plan was actually to continue down through the dutch inland waterways, but it turned out we could not go to the planned harbour to take our mast off – because it was to tall for the bridges to go there… So we made a quick decision and sailed to Breskens, which is located in the very southern part of the Netherlands, by the North Sea (or maybe English Channel by then, not sure). It was a fairly rough sail there, with us having to deal with large waves as well as the many cargo ships going to Rotterdam, so we were happy when we were finally moored in the marina in Breskens after 24 hours of sailing. We were hoping to relax, but the yacht company informed us that they only had time to take our mast off now, or in three days. So we quickly got the boat ready, and before we knew it, Chip-Chip had been converted to a river boat. We stayed in Breskens for a couple of days to get ready for the inland waterways, buying extra large fenders and making a fender board. Also, our old engine, which has always performing perfectly up to now, has begun to have some issues with the gear box and starting. So this is an ongoing project. Luckily, once it starts, it has no problems whatsoever.
Now we are moored in Antwerp. It was a long and very warm day of sailing to get to here, and we had to keep a sharp lookout for all the cargo ships on the way. The harbour is huge, and it took a couple of hours to get to the Kattendijk lock, where we wanted to enter the harbour. Unfortunately it was closed, and we had to go into one of the big locks with a couple of cargo ships, but it went fine, and we are now properly registered in Belgium. We were not planning to go to Antwerp, so had not read up on anything here, but it turns out that there is many things to see, like a museum for printing, with a Gutenberg bible and several other books that are considered UNESCO world heritage. Hopefully we will get around to visiting.