Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


From Germany into the Netherlands, Haren, Ter Apel, Veenpark, Emmen, Nieuw Amsterdam, Meppel

Tuesday 19 September 2023 2:14 AM

On our way to the Netherlands, we had two more short stops in Germany. One was a lovely marina at Walchum which was surrounded by an estate of small wooden cottages with individual touches and designs. 

While I was doing some tidying of the underfloor storage area, I heard Austin talking to someone outside in English. So far, he hasn’t had many opportunities to communicate in English this season, so I didn’t want to interrupt as people usually notice my accent and revert back to German. Now, Austin can talk when let loose, and so eventually I surfaced from the Lodi and introduced myself to the couple he was talking to. It turned out, that the lady, Meryle, was an Australian from Wangaratta married to German Helmut from Cologne! They were living in one of the cute cottages and promptly invited us over for a cup of tea. Australian Meryle and German Helmut had as much of a chance encounter when first meeting in the Canary Islands as Austin and I had in Rome. They followed on by sailing around the world together in a specifically designed catamaran for this purpose by Helmut. A truly amazing story!  Read more about their story and adventures at 

The next day we met up again at Meryle and Helmut's traditional Friday Fisch-Brötchen Stall in Haren for some delicious Kibbling. From the harbour, it was only a short walk along the canal to the centre of Haren, where we made full use of the great shopping facilities. Haren is a friendly shipping town with a beautiful neo-romanesque church in its centre. 

Back at the marina, it was high time to clean the Lodi who had swept through the muddy waters of the Ems with an additional couple of "mud-showers” raining down from the guillotine lock in Hebrum. We scrubbed and hosed until dusk and were quite pleased with the result. 

Off we went the next morning, turning into the small canal leading into the Netherlands with multiple lifting bridges and narrow locks, so typical for the Netherlands! At the border, a Dutch lock keeper was waiting and travelled with us opening bridges and locks right up to the town of Ter Apel.

The weather was perfect with temperatures in the mid-twenties. So once we had tied up, we went for a stroll to the former monastery of the Order of the Holy Cross, the only monastery in Friesland and Groningen districts that survived the reformation. It is now a museum for monastic life through the centuries with actors depicting people of the time in video presentations. There was also a special exhibition of slightly weird and wonderful sculptures. The monastery is surrounded by the most beautiful forest of towering beech and oak trees with extensive walk and bike paths and a rich bird life. A small cable car serves to cross one of the small side canals!

Maybe it was the town’s name which has, by the way, nothing to do with apples, but we couldn’t resist the yummy Dutch apple cake at the nearby Hotel Boschhuis. It was Austin’s birthday after all!

Later, we met up again with our Dutch couple, Ellen and Hendrik, we had met in Bremen a couple of weeks ago, and followed them the next morning through bridges and locks to “Veenpark”. While they continued to meet work commitments we went to see the park. “Veen” is the Dutch word for peat, “Fehn” in the German language. What we saw on a small scale in Papenburg was here accommodated in a big terrain: displays of all the different types of housing of peat farmers, tool makers, bakers and clog makers of former peat colonies.

But first, we were taken on a teeth-shattering ride on a rickety train to one of the only small areas of peat bog left in Friesland. There we learned all about peat - in Dutch! However, we did understand that peat consists of semi-decomposed plant matter, mainly moss but also some other vegetation, which has been kept from fully decomposing due to very wet and acidic conditions. It’s sitting on a bed of hard rock where the water can’t drain off unless furrows and channels are dug. The layers of peat have built up over thousands of years at the rate of 15 cm per century.

Already in the Middle Ages, peat together with salt was traded in the North-West of the Netherlands and its farming caused some major flooding in those areas. Gradually coal as a fuel took over causing great unemployment and poverty in the peat villages.

We just made it from the park back to Lodi when rain together with very strong winds came pelting down. The strong wind continued over the next few days. 

A bus trip from our next mooring took us to the town of Emmen. The former rural village is now the second biggest city in the Dutch province of Drenthe. Most of the city’s architecture and facilities are quite modern. The pedestrian area has some nice cafés. We stopped for a Hazelnut Latte Machiatto in one of the lunch cafés called “Brownies and Downies" where almost all wait staff were males and females with Down syndrome. It was such a happy place as patrons and staff interacted with great respect and politeness. Great idea we thought!

In Nieuw Amsterdam on the Verlengde Hoogeveensche Kanal, we followed the footsteps of Holland’s famous son, Vincent van Gogh. He lived in the still existing house for 2 months and it was here that he decided to follow his passion and become a painter.

Unfortunately, the Van Gogh House and Museum were under refurbishment (only re-opening on 4.10.23) and so we could only assume, which of his canal bridge paintings and farmhouses were created here.

Now we are already in Meppel together with lovely Ellen and Hendrik, whose company we really enjoyed. We have another few days in the town harbour before we take the Lodi to her winter quarter in the Yachthafen Meppel.

Today an international women's cycle race started in the historic town centre and the German team just happened to be introduced as we passed. Winners in first and second place of the 131 km race were the Dutch cyclists! Right opposite from our mooring, we look at a historic working windmill and 50 metres away a fish-van is selling herings. You couldn’t get it more Dutch than that!

Previous  | Index |  Next