Close call with resident’s card, The Netherlands and on the road again

After ten chilly days aboard our catamaran in Viaport Marina, Istanbul, I can confirm that a yacht isn’t the best place to be when the temperatures are literally around freezing! Nevertheless, we were counting our lucky stars that we had managed to get there at all because at the end of last year it looked touch and go as to whether we would be allowed back into Turkey again.

A yacht is not the best place to be when the temperatures are freezing!

We had started the application process to renew our Turkish residency way back in July but come October we were still waiting to hear if we had been successful. We had already booked our flights back to Australia in November assuming the process would be all done and dusted well before the time we were due to leave.

Just weeks before we were leaving we finally heard that our applications had been successful. That was all well and good but the regulations state that you cannot leave Turkey until you have obtained your physical residency card and we certainly wouldn’t be allowed back into the country without one!

Finally we had our applications approved but no residency cards yet!

As the time of our departure grew nearer we became very concerned and soon it became apparent that we would need some assistance. We contacted a local Immigration agent and after much signing and stamping of documents it was finally arranged that the agent could pick up our residency cards at the post office on our behalf. The agent promised that they would courier our cards to us in Australia once they had arrived.

So we left Turkey still not a hundred per cent sure whether our dodgy (and probably rule-breaking) strategy would work and just a little nervous that the post office wouldn’t release the cards or that they would get lost en route to Australia. In the end, they arrived in Brisbane early in December – to our great relief!

We had much to celebrate at christmas – including receiving our residency cards at last!

After Istanbul our next destination was The Netherlands where we were staying with our daughter Hannah and son-in-law Pieter for a week and a half.

We had an uneventful flight from Istanbul to Amsterdam and had no problems meeting up with Pieter (Hannah was at work).

Winging our way to Amsterdam

Fortunately the following day was the weekend and Pieter and Hannah decided to take us to Kasteel (Castle) Duivenvoorde just a short drive away from where they live in Pijnacker, near Delft.

Kasteel Duivenvoorde is only a short drive from where Hannah and Pieter live

The original castle was built in 1226 and until relatively recently, had been lived in by many generations of the same family for centuries.

The ”new” front door built in 1637
The castle was completely
surrounded by a moat

Unfortunately, the house was closed for a private function so we weren’t able to go round it but we did have a lovely walk in the grounds and a coffee and pie in the stylish cafe.

We had a lovely walk around the grounds and saw lots of snowdrops!
Although the Castle was closed fortunately
the stylish cafe wasn’t!

On the way home we took a small diversion to Stompwijk to look at a row of three 17th Century windmills originally built (with a fourth one) to keep the nearby polder (reclaimed land) drained.

The three 17th Century windmills
The windmills were originally built
to drain the polder

In 1951 electric pumps were installed to take over this job and the three windmills were decommissioned and gradually restored to their full glory. Now they are all used as dwellings and as a tourist destination.

The windmills are decommissioned but are lovingly cared for
The windmills are now a tourist attraction and are used as dwellings

Even though the weather was really cold there were definitely signs that spring was on its way in the Netherlands – lots of snow drops, colourful primulas and vibrant narcissi on display.

Spring is on its way in the Netherlands
Colourful primulas found at the windmills
Beautiful narcissi letting us know
spring is on its way

Over the rest of the weekend we had a great catch-up with all Pieter’s immediate family at his niece and nephew’s 4th birthday celebration which was good fun.

During the following week we went walking in the open spaces near Hannah and Pieter’s, wandered around beautiful Delft and discovered a new mosaic depicting the a historic city, had a relaxing time at home and prepared the van for our departure.

Walking near Hannah and Pieter’s place
Visiting beautiful Delft
The amazing new mosaic that tells t
he story of Delft
We enjoyed discovering the new mosaic that depicts the city of Delft
The oldest stone house in Delft
(built in 1555)

Then suddenly it was the weekend again and we were off on our next adventure – heading for Montenegro to check out marinas for the winter months of 2023/24.

Stocking up for our road trip
Daffodils on the road out of Pijnacker

Our first stop was Cologne – our first time there – and we were fortunate enough to find a great camper stop right on the mighty Rhine.

Crossing into Germany, Cologne here we come!

It was fun being so close to the barges that were making their way up and down this, the second longest river in Central and Western Europe and one of the world’s busiest inland waterways.

We noticed that most of the barges were from the Netherlands which is hardly surprising as the Dutch have roughly 6,000 ships sailing on its inland waterways at any one time and the Dutch inland waterways account for nearly 80 per cent of all the vessels that sail inland within Europe.

Most of the barges were from the Netherlands

The day after we arrived we decided to go for a walk along the river side in the morning and then ride our e-bikes into Cologne in the afternoon. However, we were enjoying the walk so much that we decided to keep going all the way into the city.

The path alongside the canal leading to the centre of Cologne
One of the bridges across the Rhine
A view of the centre of Cologne
Signs of spring on our walk
It was wonderful to see so many daffodils

Once there, we had a delightful stroll around the reconstructed old town – the 2,000 year old city centre was almost completely obliterated by allied bombing in World War II but select buildings were reconstructed due to their historical importance.

The reconstructed church of Saint Kunibert – one of the twelve Romanesque
churches of Cologne
A very grand building we passed walking into the centre of Cologne
The trolley bus that takes tourists
around the centre of the city
Another of the Romanesque Churches, Great Saint Martin’s soars above the other buildings
We weren’t sure what this relief was about but we think it was something to do with beer (it was next to the Beer Museum)
The sign speaks for itself. It was closed so we didn’t go in
A typical cobbled street of Cologne

We heard a band was playing not far away and like the Pied Piper the music drew us towards the town’s main square (Alter Markt) where there was some kind of gathering. We soon realised that it was actually a union demonstration.

The Alter Markt

Minutes later we were at the entrance to the cathedral – the tallest twin-spired church in the world and the second tallest church in Europe. Unlike the rest of the city it was fortunately spared from major damage during the bombing raids despite suffering 14 hits.

An aerial photo from World War II showing the terrible obliteration of Cologne

Viewed from the outside, it looks as though the Cathedral needs a darned good clean. It’s once beautiful, translucent, exterior is now streaked with black. Apparently this is caused by the sandstone reacting with sulphuric acid which is contained in polluted rain. I’m not sure if this discolouration can be treated or if it is permanent but it is such a shame that it has happened.

The once beautiful, translucent, exterior of the Cathedral is now streaked with black.
The black streaks are caused by acid rain

When we entered the Cathedral our eyes were immediately drawn upwards towards the phenomenally high vaulted ceiling. As I gazed up above I had a dizzying touch of vertigo – that cathedral ceiling really is immensely tall!

Our eyes were immediately drawn upwards- Cologne Cathedral is immensely tall

One of the treasures of the cathedral is the high altar, which was installed in 1322. This dramatic and eye catching piece is constructed from black marble, with a solid slab 4.6 metres (15 feet) long forming the top. The front and sides are overlaid with white marble niches into which figures are set.

The black marble high altar

Behind the altar is the most celebrated work of art in the cathedral – a massive golden shrine. Created towards the end of the 12th Century, it is traditionally believed to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men.

The golden shrine is traditionally believed to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men

There were many sculptures and other treasures and of course some stunning stained glass windows that were dismantled before aerial bombing began and then reassembled after the war.

One of the tombs to be found in the Cathedral
Looking upwards again
There were some stunning stained
glass windows
The stained glass had incredibly rich colours
The Cathedral had gorgeous mosaic floors

After visiting the Cathedral we were thinking of visiting the Museum Ludwig – apparently an excellent modern art museum – but we still had a couple of items to buy at a supermarket and a long hike back so we decided to give it a miss.

The Old Bastion – empty now and looking fir a new purpose
An early clutch of babies for
these Egyptian Geese
Now we know where the term “goose stepping” came from!

Our trip to the supermarket took us through a pretty park and past some interesting sights including an old city gate complete with portcullis.

One of the old city gates
The gate even had a portcullis!

Back at the van we settled in for the evening with a glass of wine and an easy to make pasta.

A beautiful sight on the way to the supermarket

It felt so great to be on the road again and we were really looking forward to all the new places and experiences that were in store for us.

Cooking has to be simple on the camper van due to lack of space

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

2 thoughts on “Close call with resident’s card, The Netherlands and on the road again”

  1. Dot l have started reading Richard Fidler,s book on the history of Constantinople now instanbul reminds me of the song it’s lnstanbul not Constantinople by the we may be kings hope the modern day Kings enjoyed the city


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