The village of Giethoorn lies on the edge of a large watershed home to many wild animals and prolific birdlife. The village has been around for a few hundred years or so and has a lovely feel with it’s typical Dutch brick houses and narrow canals. The canals provide the streets for the village, so, naturally, everyone owns a boat with their own private canal “driveway.” Of course, you could explore the village on foot, but a boat is the much preferred mode of transportation so why not?
We drove into Giethoorn and parked in the main parking lot at the supermarket right in the middle of the town. A short walk brought us to the main canal leaving the village and the docks where the rental boats can be hired. We had two or three vendors to choose from, but as they all appeared to be about the same in terms of price and boats we just walked up to the nearest and hired our skiff for the next hour.
The teenager who had been manning the kiosk led us down to the dock and onto a brightly painted red boat. He demonstrated the control, push the lever forward to go forward and back to go back. The steering wheel was too obvious to mention. He failed, however, to point out the tiny LED screen behind the throttle lever which would show us how much charge was left on the battery driving our little electric boat. Without a care in the world we shoved off on our one hour tour, a one hour tour.
The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed…wait, that came later. In fact, we had a nice leisurely float through the canals of the village, admiring the neat, clean dutch houses and gardens. We were floating under a cool, colorful canopy of autumn trees enjoying quiet conversation and occasional bumps with fellow boaters. Near the edge of the village we followed the simple map which showed the way out to the lake.
At first, the lake was an open and inviting alternative to the narrow canals and close in feel of the village. We set a course for the nearest island for some birdwatching. We’d been out for 20 minutes of our one hour rental, so I planned a 30 minute journey into the lake and then another 10 minutes to get back to the dock to turn in the boat.
I’m not sure what made me notice the LED screen now. Perhaps the building wind and the threatening clouds overhead, or maybe it was the steadily flashing BATT LOW that finally caught my eye. How long had it been showing this ominous warning? We were already a good ten minutes out into the lake now, and, yes, the weather was getting rough. The clouds opened up and the rain came down in freezing sheets as the wind threatened to push us into the reeds where the more sensible ducks and swans had taken refuge. I turned the bow of the boat back to where I hoped the nearest canal into the village would be found and tried to balance our speed with the idea of saving battery power and escaping the weather as soon as possible.
Our leisurely one hour boat ride had suddenly become an adventure of survival. Those ducks and swans were laughing loudly at us as we finally found our back into the relative calm of the village. The trees helped to stop the torrential rain and blocked the wind. I could feel the threatening hypothermia receding. Of course, the battery charge held and we made it safely back to the docks with ten minutes to spare. The rain stopped with the first gentle bump of boat to dock. But we were still soaking wet and cold so made a beeline to the nearest cafe for hot chocolate and pancakes.
Other Boat Trips You Might Enjoy around the World:
France: The Scandola Nature Reserve
Sweden: Tall Ship Sailing
Croatia: Rowing on Lake Bled
Turkey: Lake Van
Botswana: Chobe National Park
Uganda: The Kazinga Channel
USA: San Juan Island, Washington
Have you been to Giethoorn? What is one of your favorite little towns, a little out of the way have you found?
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.