We've been to a number of World Rowing Championships over the years including Doug has been to a couple Olympic regattas. In an Olympic year, like this one in 2016, the Rowing World Champs is typically a sparsely attended affair. World Rowing, in their good judgement, created a "Super Worlds" by combining the Senior, U23, and Junior regattas (all non-Olympic boat classes) into a single event to try and draw folks in when the Olympics vie for most of the attention.
The 2016 regatta was held in Rotterdam, and after leaving the kids with the grandparents, spent a long weekend exploring The Netherlands and watching some rowing. While we lived in Germany a couple years ago, we did a fair amount of exploring in Belgium, France and Luxembourg. We passed through The Netherlands over the years, but never spent significant time there outside of Amsterdam. Doug went to the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam in 2014, but he was in and out. We also did a short weekend in Amsterdam and The Hague right after our daughter was born, and you can see the travel diary here So this trip we drove around a bit and explored some of the smaller towns, while giving the heart of Amsterdam a pass.
All in all we had an amazing trip, and we hope you enjoy our photo journal from our visit. You'll notice some reoccurring themes: canals, wooden shoes, cheese, windmills, bridges and rowing.
Click Here for all of the high resolution photos from the trip.
Why people are generally attracted to Old Europe is that there are hundreds of quaint, old towns with unique city centers with a bit of history. While in the Netherlands, we sample a number of these small towns. Just hopping around the map and seeing what we could see.
The first stop was the town of Gouda. Now if you know Erynn at all, you know she likes herself some Gouda cheese. Like most small, semi-historical towns in Europe there is a dedicated, preserved and touristy bit in the city center. Then the rest is surrounded by suburbs and council housing. Gouda's center square was dominated by the magnificent town hall. Around the square were elements of the historical cheese making industry that paid for the town hall.
Across from the Town Hall was the Waag, or cheese weighing building. It now houses the Cheese making Museum.
Did I mention that Erynn likes cheese? In the town there is even a Cheese Express (Kaasexpress) horse-drawn wagon -- for the tourists.
Gouda was really a cute little town with a nice cathedral (Sint Janskerk) and pretty canals. Worth a couple hours of your time.
At the end of our first day in country, we strolled along the river front in Rotterdam proper before grabbing dinner. I must say we didn't explore too much of the city of Rotterdam. It's a big, modern city with good museums. But it seemed a bit spread out and we focused on the rowing regatta and visiting some of the smaller nearby towns instead.
Erynn liked the Dutch meat balls so much we went back a second night. They can be found at the restaurant De Ballentent.
We spent almost an entire day walking around Delft. Delft was the home of Johannes Vermeer and a large pottery industry. The wealth from that era is evident in the old town.
In the main square it's hard to miss the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and Town Hall.
On our vacations Erynn really (really!) likes to climb towers. If it's in the middle of summer then even better. So we climbed the tower of the new church and the views of the town were amazing.
The left photo is looking down onto the town hall. On the right is the Oude Kirk (Old Church).
William of Orange is buried in the New Church (left photo), and Vermeer is buried in the Old Church (right photo).
The Oostport area of Delft is lovely.
We knew Leiden would be good right from the minute we parked our car!
Leiden is a university town, and the old city center is surrounded by a network of pretty canals. It was a beautiful day to stroll.
Some more shots of the canals and cool bridges. The Dutch specialize in their unique bridge designs. I took lots of photos of bridges, but will try and limit myself in this travel log. Click through the full gallery of the trip here.
Above a couple of the more photogenic areas in the old town. On the left is the old market, which is now a bunch of shops and restaurants. On the right is the Koornbrug, which was an old bridge with market stalls.
The good news was that Leiden had a nice cheese shop, and Erynn was able to get her fix.
I took a ton of photos while in Leiden. We had a very relaxing stroll and a nice lunch overlooking the canal. There were churches and other nice things to look at so check out the full gallery here.
We swung by Haarlem for a quick walk around the main square and lunch. On the left is the town hall, and on the right is the Vleeshal or meat hall.
The Haarlem market square and Grote Kerk van St. Bedo.
Erynn also found some more wooden shoes and, most importantly, the SuperDry store!
The last major stop on the cheese highway was Edam, home of Erynn's other favorite Dutch cheese. The town center is long and skinny and runs along a main canal. We parked on the outskirts and walked in enjoying pretty canal views along the way.
The main commercial area is called the Damplein.
Here is the Edam Cheese Market (tourist version) and a representative cheese cart. We were there on a Sunday so most of the town's activity not related to tourists was closed.
The Edam Grote Kerk (Big Church).
Just some fun, beautiful pictures of Edam.
Edam is near the sea so we went to go check it out. On the left is the main lock to the sea. On the left of the canal leading to the sea.
Erynn dipping her toe in the ocean in Edam! Not actually since it was a bit brisk.
We shifted our base from near Rotterdam to the north and IJmuiden. The town itself was nothing to speak of, but it had a nice, cheap hotel (Augusta Hotel above) and one of the major sea locks connecting Amsterdam to the North Sea.
There were a series of locks built over the years. Some were older and smaller and you could walk around them. Some were much bigger...
Much, much bigger!
I must say that it was fascinating walking around the locks and seeing how they operated. Plus it was a beautiful evening, and ended up being one of the highlights of the trip.
I'm a sucker for a good "industrial rowing" photo...
Zaanse Schans is a bit touristy, but still super interesting. It's a historical recreation village in North Holland where a number of important windmills were relocated and preserved. There are a number of tourist attractions and a museum contained within the compound as well. If you're American, the comparison to Colonial Williamsburg is appropriate.
Wooden shoes as far as the eye can see!
The windwmills were actually pretty neat.
The last stop on our little Dutch holiday was the North Sea resort town of Zandvoort. It's one of the beach towns close to Amsterdam and gets a ton of local tourist traffic on the weekends. We weren't there on a weekend, and the weather wasn't particularly warm so we just walked around a bit and dipped our toes in the water.
The photo on the right is the town hall.
Panorama photo of the beach.
A couple more pics from the beach.
The main reason for the trip was to attend the Rowing World Championships in Rotterdam. We typically attend the Saturday and Sunday finals, cheer for the USA, and then make a holiday out of the trip a couple days before and after.
The location of the 2016 Worlds was the newly constructed Willem-Alexander Baan. The genius of the course was that Rotterdam needed flood control, and someone had the bright idea of carving the canal and flood control features into a rowing course. While you're digging, why not dig it for rowers too!
I mentioned at the beginning that 2016 was an Olympic year and World Rowing combined all of the Worlds - Junior, U23 and Senior -- into one big event. In a non-Olympic year those three events are separate and held in different locations. We had booked the tickets almost a year in advance, and in the interim, a women's junior double from our home club qualified to represent the US at the event, and they ended up winning! More on that later...
The entire area was flood. It's meant to flood. So aside from a couple bridges and some regatta/boathouse buildings there wasn't much to see.
Here's the finish tower and party area. There were a few places to drink, which is pretty typical for a European regatta setup.
Emily Delleman and Caroline Sharis rowed for our home club, Y Quad Cities Rowing. Caroline's dad is the head coach, and the women made it through all of the US qualification to represent the US. They then marched through the Worlds and ultimately won gold! It was amazing to watch to people you see training every day win on the world stage. Two women from the Quad Cities against the world.
© 2016-2019 Doug Rathburn