Val Ease Central Railroad by Jeffrey MacHan

Eurospoor The Eurospoor 2003 AdventureZ

Report #3: On the road to Eurospoor! October 12, 2003

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Breakfast at Maes B&B with Terry and Helen. Cold cuts, cheese, strong coffee, croissants etc. and we're ready to go! - We woke to another beautiful sunny morning (I'm not kidding!) and went over our plans for the day at our breakfast gathering on the 3rd floor. Helen had outdone herself. She had discovered a magnificent multi-modal trip to Enkhuizen's living museum via commuter train to Hoorn then a two hour steam train (0-4-0) ride to Medemblik where the passenger ship "Friesland" would ferry us to Enkuizen.

Jean-Philippe planned on connecting with a couple of his friends living in Amsterdam whom he had not seen for some time. After taking our leave of Jean-Philippe at the Centraal Station, Terry handed me my excursion tickets and we boarded the speedy electric train for the short ride to Hoorn.

Our daytrip to Enkhuisen via Hoorn on antique steam train took us along typical lowlands. The historic little 0-4-0 steamer was just across the mainline tracks from us at our arrival in Hoorn. We made our way across the overpass and entered the beautifully-restored station building where we picked up brochures and our Stoomtrain tickets. Soon we were on our way, rumbling slowly across the flat countryside in the last carriage of the train. We started the journey seated but it wasn't long before Terry and I were firmly wedged into the ironwork of the carriage landings so that we could take pictures of the entire length of the train as it rocked gently around curves along the way. The train stopped regularly at level crossings so the conductor could jump down and manually lower the barrier. The countryside was simply gorgeous and we marvelled at the farmhouses, the livestock grazing in narrow ditch-limited pastures and the large number of pheasants the train startled into flight.

One of 5 tiny standard gauge locos at the railway museum. The ride on the train ended at Medemblik. We had a terrific ride, even stopped at Twisk for a bathbroom break along the way. When we finally arrived at Medemblik we had to shake the cinders out of our hair since we had spent the entire trip with our faces to the wind on the carriage platform. Helen must have thought that we were just big kids.

At Medemblik we took a few minutes to photograph the little steamer before making the 10-minute walk to the canal where the "Friesland" was docked. We boarded and selected a cumfy table on the main passenger deck on the port side, aft. Terry and I made separate tours of the entire publicly-accessible areas of the ship then joined Helen for iced tea and Dutch apple pie...Mmmmm, goood!

From the train we walked across Medemblik to board the Friesland for the IJsselmeer journey to Enkhuisen. The cruise along the IJsselmeer was relaxing and informative. Terry made the acquaintance of a gentlemen originally from England who now worked as a tour guide in Holland. He told us an intriguing story of how he had travelled to Burma to save the last steam locos that had been used in the building of the notorious "River Kwai" railway. The story is too long and the twists too many to provide here, besides I can't remember half of what our new friend had shared with us. The overall effect was one of complete astonishment by what this man had been up to for the past several years restoring and operating these and other vintage locomotives.

Another beautiful sunny but cool day. There were large numbers of sailboats taking part in a regatta. The living museum of Enkhuizen offered a slice of Dutch life when herring fishing was king. This tiny windmill caught my fancy.

The Enkuizen museum village was like a place out of the 18th century, come to think of it, that is exactly what it was. There were authentic structures collected from various fishing villages that were restored and placed in a typical community setting. The employees of the museum were dressed as villagers and performed the daily tasks from the time period. Terry and Helen had left me to make my own way around the site. I took my time eating smoked herring, making rope, chasing chickens, watching wooden shoes being crafted and making a few purchases in the souvenir shops. We had made plans to meet at what we thought was the South end of the museum at 3:30 pm. In reality, the spot we had chosen on the map was the town of Enkhuizen, about a 2 kilometer walk from the museum!

The Friesland docked beside the coke furnaces where the visit to the museum began. The tiny resort town of Enkhuisen had its share of lovely canals and private boats and barges

It turned out that none of us made the rendez-vous point on time. I loitered around the train station from 4:30 pm until 5:30 pm when I finally made my tired way back to Amsterdam on the inter-city train. The Sutfins, it turned out, had snuck past me on the shuttle boat and boarded the 5pm train. Of course they were wondering where I had disappeared to.

Back in Amsterdam, I made my way to the apartment only to discover that I did not have a key to the B&B and that my ground-floor apartment was occupied. How could I have been so absent-minded? I should have returned my apartment key that morning and gotten the new key. Didn't, so now I was out in the cold since nobody was answering the door. I decided to find an Internet café and see how Marthe was doing. I walked easily for an hour before I came across the "Xtreme Cafe" where the clerk was kind enough to let me surf the Net for as long as I wanted for the price of a cup of espesso. He was busy selling "weed" (pronounced "wheat" in Holland) to the occasional customer, usually of teenage vintage.

The news from home was alarming. I found out that Marthe had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance for a severe infection in her leg. Strangely enough, it wasn't even the leg that had been injured several weeks before. She was back home on intravenous antibiotics and her doctors were investigating the cause. While this news worried me greatly, Marthe pointed out that she was happy to have had this incident in Montreal rather than in Holland. How true! So now I was worried about the condition I'd find both my layout and my wife, the next time I saw them!!!

I figured that it was late enough to be able to return to the B&B and find someone to open the door for me. When I reached the Maritime Museum, I came to the conclusion that I had been walking in the opposite direction than where I had intended. I had actually walked all the way aroung Herengracht canal and parts of Prinzengracht as well. I tried to cut across downtown to make a beeline to Herenstraat but I found myself entering the same courtyard time after time. I was lost! How could that be? I was a Queen Scout (Canadian equivalent of Eagle Scout in the US). This wasn't supposed to happen to me...I had a reputation for my keen sense of orientation. Nope, I was lost! Nothing left to do but head to a landmark where I was certain to get my bearings and make my way home even if it meant taking the long way round.

My strategy worked! I dragged my tired feet up to the door of the B&B but stopped short of ringing the bell. Instead I poked my head round the corner into the Thai restaurant next door and, lo and behold, there were Terry and Helen enjoying their supper. I strolled in and made myself comfortable, all the while pretending to have been out for an evening stroll. They were kind enough to offer me their leftovers, which I gladly accepted. To celebrate our reunion I ordered a bottle of sparkling mineral water, which I kept to later replenish my dwindling supply of H2O from back home.

Terry informed me that Vlad had given them my room key and that my back pack was waiting for me in their room. Whew! I wouldn't have to sleep on the street after all. Thank goodness for good friends!

Don't go too far away. The action continues in Monday's report...

Stay tuned for Report #4 of the Great Eurospoor AdventureZ | Return to Eurospoor 2003 Home.