Houseboat Living Part 2

20180827_180836

Living on a houseboat is not without its challenges. The fact that our boat was once an open deck freighter only added to its quirkiness. Most people we met found it rather extraordinary that four women ranging in age from 70 to 80 would choose this mode of living. After all, the deck was on a 45 degree angle, there were no railings except on the slippery metal gang plank, the stairs were narrow and steep, and we were given no instructions on how anything worked. We were left a list of rules. I still laugh when I read them.

IMG_1571

What could possibly go wrong?

Getting our luggage inside was our first ordeal. We worked like a chain gang passing each piece from one to the other down those stairs.

Our next concern was the washroom situation. We had chosen this boat because it had 2 bathrooms, but the second bathroom might as well have been in another country because there was no way to maneuver along that narrow passage to the far end of the ship in the dark of night or in rain. It’s a given that with age comes frequent peeing, especially during the night. To give some perspective, I took this photo from the doorway of the bedroom. Now imagine making your way in pitch dark (two were sleeping in the bed you can see) from the bedroom to that door on the left side at the far end, navigating furniture, loose floorboards, a substantial tilt, and a multitude of squeaks while under the influence of a little wine. We became experts!

20180827_093001

In the middle of the night, I would stand in the doorway until my eyes became accustomed to the dark then plot my course to miss chairs and tables, and hop over precarious floor slats. Then do the same in reverse. Our worry about 4 ladies sharing only one bathroom was completely unnecessary. We operated like a well-oiled machine.

The bathroom itself offered a challenge. The sink was so high that it required a small ladder to get your chin over the edge to clean your teeth. We nicked this one from the far bedroom since we were not using it. It was needed there to climb into bed.

20180827_193959

To get clean towels or bed linen, you had to climb on the roof of the boat from outside to access a large cupboard where supplies were stowed. Every once in a while the water heater would turn itself off when someone was in the shower, but we called and got instructions for resetting it.

We were very fortunate with weather conditions; however, one day it rained very hard. That was when we learned most of the skylights leaked.

20180829_184332.jpg We grabbed every pot and bowl from the kitchen to catch the drips. Mieke called the owner to report the problem. We were laughing so hard our sides ached. The very next morning, owner Paul showed up with a big box of chocolates and a bottle of champagne to apologize for our inconveniences. We were still laughing. 20180829_184313(2)

My favorite part about living on the houseboat was spending the time together. In a hotel, everyone goes off to their room, you order room service or have to get dressed and go out for breakfast or coffee. On the boat, we made coffee and breakfast together and sat around in our pajamas planning our day. Late in the afternoon, we would sit out on the deck drinking wine, snacking, and watching the activity on the Amstel River.

 

As I mentioned previously, houseboat living is not without its challenges and is certainly not for everyone; however traveling itself requires all of us to step out of our comfort zone and be open to new experiences. I had a fantastic holiday because the people I was with were amazing.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

P.S. Stay with me for more about the trip.

Ship Ahoy!

20180830_144329

It has been several weeks since my last post as I have been busy fulfilling another item on my bucket list…. Amsterdam.

Well over a year ago, four of us decided to plan a trip to Amsterdam. Life temporarily got in the way, but in August we realized our goal. To make the trip even more fun, we chose to rent a houseboat instead of  hotel rooms. This is a normal practice in the city of canals. So back in January, I found a web site called Bookahouseboat.com . There are quite literally 1000’s of houseboats available for rent in this city. The first question we are always asked is, ” Who is going to drive it?” The boat does not move. It is simply a floating hotel minus room service.

Booking a houseboat, sight unseen, can be a little disconcerting even for the most adventurous; so, add to that fact that we are four senior women and you have an interesting situation. We are all seasoned travelers, so we are accustomed to a variety of accommodations from luxury hotels to smaller B&B’s, but nothing could have prepared us for our boat. We had of course seen interior pictures, but nothing above deck. I think we all had in our mind that we were renting something like this….

20180828_150817

When in reality we had actually rented the huge green freighter at the top of the page. Yes, the “Everdeen”, built in 1928 and used to haul sand and gravel up and down the canals, became our home away from home. It was tethered to another huge freighter on the Amstel River in an excellent location beside the famous Magere Brug better known as the “Skinny Bridge”.

After flying all night and arriving at 6:30am in Amsterdam having had no sleep, we were very anxious to check into our accommodations and put our feet up. Unfortunately, our check in time was 12:00 noon, so we stowed our baggage in lockers at the train station and went for breakfast. After eating, no one felt like wandering aimlessly, so we called our contact number and asked if we could move into the boat sooner.  He was very kind and said he would call the cleaning lady and give us permission to wait on the deck until she was finished.

With some difficulty, we found a cab to hold the four of us and our luggage. It was no more than a 5 minute drive. I would love to have had a picture of our faces when we first set eyes on “our boat”. Someone finally said, “What have we done?” Like the blind leading the blind, single file we pulled our suitcases over the gang plank.

There were four chairs on the tiny deck with a gas fire pit in the middle. Sounds lovely, right? I need to mention that the deck is on a 45 degree tilt. I quickly learned to brace my chair legs against the edge of the fire pit lest I sail across the deck, over the open edge,

20180827_182231 and into the water. And there we waited contemplating our situation until the cleaning lady finished.

She finally gave us the okay to come inside. Once through the door, there was a narrow stairway to navigate down to the living quarters. The interior was exactly as we had seen in the advertisement; it was very spacious, clean, and bright.

IMG_156720180827_093001

However, the main reason we had chosen this boat was because it had two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

20180827_092948

We found the first bedroom easily. The second was going to be a bit of a challenge especially after a glass or two of wine.

IMG_1563

The second bedroom was located in the stern of our ship. As the picture demonstrates, one must make a precarious walk along the narrow, railing-less footpath to reach said bedroom complete with its own toilet and claw-footed bathtub. Needless to say, we decided to use the pull out couch in the living room instead.

The initial shock gradually wore off and we looked at the bright side of our rental. Less than half a block away was a great little pub that became our local. Around the corner was a nice little grocery store where we stocked up on breakfast essentials and all the wine we could carry. The tram stop was only two bridges away and restaurants were plentiful in every direction. But best of all, there was always something happening on the busy waterway by our boat.

The morning we were leaving our “old girl” was bittersweet. She had grown on us all with her quirks and groans and loose, squeaky floorboards. We all miss her and would go back in a heartbeat. Sometimes in life you have to throw caution to the wind and just take a chance.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

P.S. More to come on our adventure.