Friesland 3 - Bolsward & IJlst

Basically we are doing the 11 cities race ourselves, just at a very slo-mo pace! While getting ready to leave our mooring in Workum, we saw circa 100 paddle boarders gliding past on their way to Bolsward, which is also our next stop. We learnt that they were on the 11 cities paddle race following swimmers who had done the same stretch a month ago. 

When we approached the harbour of Bolsward the paddle boarders were long gone! We can’t decide whether these young Dutch men and women are just amazing or a little crazy? And it’s not just the young ones we see working out on the water. We pass many rowers well past middle age!

To say that the Frisians have fully embraced the "11 cities" is an understatement! Currently Leeuwarden is the European cultural capital having brought about art projects throughout Friesland. Artists from around the world have been commissioned to create a special fountain in each of the 11 cities. 

In Bolsward it happened to be a water spewing bat while in IJlst, hand in hand with an Ikebana exhibition, it was a flower fountain. 

Bolsward was having an Open Monument Day which gave us access to churches, an old orphanage and a former “Gasthuis”, a place where in the Middle Ages elderly rich people were being cared for.

Our favourite buildings were the renaissance town hall and the ruin of the Broerekerk, a Franciscan monastery church dating back to around 1300. A fire in 1980 destroyed the church which has now cleverly been fitted with a glass roof making it suitable for weddings, concerts and other functions. 

IJlst is the oldest of the 11 cities having been awarded city rights in the 1200s. The main street is divided by a central canal with hedged gardens, one for each property. It is a tiny place and probably couldn’t be called a city nowadays. The old ice skate factory has long closed and the rich ship building industry making special boats called “cogs” is also a thing of the past. 

There is however a still functioning saw mill, called the “The Rat”. Tourists can visit this windmill and the adjoining timber works museum. Unfortunately both were closed when we stayed there. But then again I have my own saw mill, sleeping right next to me!

Our next stop is Sneek, a town every self respecting boat owner knows of. 

© Austin Robinson 2019