Sep 26 - Arnhem to NijmegenSeptember 26, 2019 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C
It was another 8:00 a.m. rising. The soft motion of the this ship is making me sleep like a baby parked on top of a vibrating clothes dryer. One of these days, we are going to be relegated to the "Late Risers Breakfast" area!
We sailed all night, having left Veere around 4:30 p.m. It's now 9:30 a.m., and we are sailing past Nijmegen on our way to Arnhem. Any of you who have watched the movie, "A Bridge Too Far" will recognize those names. There was a ferocious battle for control of the Arnhem's bridge during the Allied liberation of the Netherlands in 1944. The British and American forces were fought off by the retreating Germans who then destroyed the bridge to hamper the Allied advance. Operation Market Garden was a crushing defeat. The current arched bridge, named the John Frost Bridge in honour of the allied commander who tried to capture it, is a copy of the one destroyed during the war.
The Waal River that we are on right now is a busy shipping channel. There is a barge loaded with coal passing us right now. Most of these barges have at least one car parked on the rear deck (this one has two) - these barges double as the operators' homes. There is a hoist that can pick up the car and deposit on the road at any port. We saw one barge on our last cruise with a play pen tied onto the upper deck!
Andreea did an “All Things Dutch” talk for us in the morning - talking about tulips, cheese, wooden shoes and windmills. She gave a special nod to Canada for its role in helping the Dutch Royal Family during the war. Princess Margriet was born in 1943 in the Ottawa Civic Hospital. A federal proclamation declared the maternity ward extraterritorial, ensuring that the new princess would only be a Dutch — and not also a Canadian — citizen. Canada also led the liberation of the Netherlands. From September 1944 to April 1945, the First Canadian Army fought German forces on the Scheldt estuary — opening the port of Antwerp for Allied use — and then cleared northern and western Netherlands of Germans, allowing food and other relief to reach millions of desperate people. Since 1945, the Netherlands have sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada every year in deep thanks for its help during desperate times.
We should be in Arnhem around 1:00 p.m. The ship will loop back to Nijmegen after doing a refuelling/restocking/pump out stop.
There are three activity choices for this afternoon - an open air history museum, the airborne museum at Arnhem or a bike tour from Arnhem to Nijmegen (20 km/12 miles). We enjoyed the bike tour (and the associated exercise) so much yesterday, that we decided to try another one. The weather might be our foe today - the Netherlands regularly offers up "liquid sunshine" to its many visitors.
Arnhem was the home during WWII of Audrey Hepburn who walked the streets with messages for the Dutch Resistance hidden in her shoes.
Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands and is built on seven hills, just like Rome. The city dates from 11 B.C. In 1940, Nijmegen was one fo the first cities captured by the Germans. Four years later, Nijmegen was heavily bombed by the Americans, who thought it was Germany. A few bits of the old town survived the war or were reconstructed.
We are now in Arnhem and have had lunch. We leave on our bike tour in 30 minutes. It's pouring rain. I think we are both certifiably crazy. Will post more after this little adventure!
The five crazy bike people met up at about 2:00 p.m. with our guide Astrid and her partner Sander who rode at the back of the pack to ensure that no one got lost. Andreea, the tour director, was along for the ride also. Because of the rain, Andreea and Astrid had hatched a hybrid route - we would ride around Arnhem and neighbouring village of Oosterbeek and then rendezvous with the bus at the Open Air Museum for a drive back to the ship. We set off in light rain which stopped almost immediately. We saw a few sights in Arnhem and then rode to Oosterbeek on fabulous bike paths where we stopped at the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery which contains the graves of most of those killed during the September landings, and many of those killed in later fighting in the area. There are now 1,684 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem was held last Sunday so all the graves were decorated and there were wreaths of flowers at the monument cross. It was a sombre moment.
We continued on our journey, through peaceful forests and huge parks all the while on excellent bike paths. After almost two hours, we were back in Arnhem. The rain had stopped, so in a fit of energy, we all agreed to ride the original route of 21 km to Nijmegen. Thank goodness for electric-assist bikes! Off we went. One and half hours later we were safely back at the ship. We estimate that we rode ~40 km/25 miles. It was a lovely ride with really nice people.
After a hot shower, we gathered with our fellow travellers win the lounge and enjoyed a classical music concert presented by three young people playing piano, cello and violin. Yesterday’s entertainment was a Dixie Land Band. We had dinner afterwards - I had the best salmon I’ve ever tasted and Doug raved about the pasta.
We are sailing right now and will be in Maastricht (still in the Netherlands) tomorrow morning.Read more