Published on June 11 2015

Paddling in Amsterdam

Dans le port d’Amsterdam, il y a des marins qui chantent...Times have changed since Jacques Brel sang this song describing the dutch town. Now in Amsterdam, what you can see are...paddlers!!

This is where Gilles - our famous animator of Le Grand 8 in Paris - decided to bring us for a weekend in order to explore the canals of this amazing city. Amsterdam has over 100 kilometers of canals, 90 islands & 1500 bridges, so it seems like a perfect destination for SUP. So here we were, twenty Frenchies gathering on a Dutch sailing ship in the middle of the campus area.

Time to go taste the water: at first sight, the environment is a bit dark and we can see a lot of plastic litter ... but we’ll soon forget about that, Amsterdam being so welcoming & cosy. Not only is the city splendid - maze of channels and beautiful bridges, colorful facades, Flemish style, carved doors, tulips and flowers everywhere - but as a lot of people live on boats and travel by bike, the atmosphere outdoor is really nice. Add some sun to the scene and you’ll see everybody outside, having breakfast on their stairs, organizing unexpected barbecues on the banks, always a wurtz and a beer in hand! This is the north: so warm!!

I start chatting with a tourist boat driver as we’re waiting for the red light to turn green (see the scene again!): according to him, the water is not as dirty as it appears. Every year, a triathlon competition takes place in the canals, nobody being reported sick. Does that explains why one of our crew members ended up in the water? no clue! but indeed one of our fellow really tasted it.

Gilles our great organiser has also planned to go paddling at night. This turned out to be magical! With all those floating houses with beautifully lit cosy rooms, while I paddle the canal it feels a bit like I’m crossing their living rooms really!! I even make friends with the neighbors! Jeannette and Rainette - 2 young girls who live on a ship with their parents - watch me pass several time and would love to join! it is absolutely amazing to be chatting as we're sailing around! Such a great city that I've always loved. Well, all that was... before an agent asked us to stop and escorted us back to our departure point…warmly inviting us to come back with pleasure the next day being better equipped to paddle at night. Buddy turned out to be so nice! Plan has now become to go and explore local pubs.

Sunday turned out a real sun day, so we're back on water, stopping in an overcrowded terrasse to fetch some drinks. Can you imagine being downtown watching 20 weird people wearing weird colors getting off the canals with a board under their arms?? well, that was us and that was fun. There is something terrific about arriving somewhere from the water indeed, so imagine that when it is in a hipster-bobo-trendy part of town…surreal!! Another bike tour and a last " "hagelslag" sandwich and our perfect weekend is over...

Please do go and explore Amsterdam paddling, navigation is allowed there - sometimes dense and windy - but ideal to discover the city. There are not so many SUP to be seen yet, but they are welcome. Remember bringing some light with you in case you want to go when it’s dark, be careful with traffic on sundays & do get lost!! Amsterdam has a weird horseshoe shape, making it difficult to exactly know where you are, but who cares…getting lost there is probably the best way to enjoy it!

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