“I beg your pardon?”
“That’s a hundred and twenty euros, please”, the lovely lady at the reception responded politely.
Catherine stared at me and I stared back at her. Then all of a sudden, we burst into laughter.
“Is everything all right?”, the lady asked.
“Yes, of course, would you mind if we pay in cash?”, I asked, but what I really wanted to say was, would you mind if we didn’t pay at all? I mean come on, seems a bit overrated for a three day breakfast, which honestly was overabundant, but we didn’t make the most of it, since I only had some coffee and Catherine did not eat that much at all.
Read the previous part of our trip here
We sorted ourselves out payed for our stay and walked out the door after sincerely thanking our host. It was our fault that although we had pre payed for our accommodation we excluded breakfast and upon arrival we had unwisely asked for it without checking the price.
Still, we could not allow such misadventures to harm our trip. Besides, we were about to visit one of the most picturesque places in Europe. Giethoorn stands for goat’s horn and it’s a magical small village filled with canals, Netherlands’s own little Venice, where there are no cars and peace and quiet reign supreme.
The town gained popularity after the movie Fanfare, was shot there. It is highly pedestrianized and a grand canal along with several smaller ones endow the place its distinct beauty. We had to travel to Steenwijk through Zwolle by train and then catch a bus. Luckily the Dutch have developed a very sophisticated online system for finding train rides (check Nederlandse spoortwegen and 9292), but we had a bit of a trouble since most automatic ticket vendors were only accepting coins, and – take it from the ones who have tried it, collecting about forty euros in coins is not an easy task, let alone carrying it).
The train ride offered great viewings of the Dutch countryside, but that beauty was nothing compared to the beauty our eyes were about to feast upon once in our destination. Once in Steenwijk we caught a local bus to get to our lodging, Bed and Breakfast Duvenvoorde. The place seemed a bit like home, we were greeted by the owners who were kind enough to saw us a bit around and rent us a couple of bikes. Now, it would be inappropriate to visit the country and skip on bike riding, wouldn’t it be?
After a fun bike ride all the way from our accommodation to the magnificent small town we dismounted and sought to do some exploration of the petite center of the place. That didn’t take long since it’s a tiny village, but what the place lacks in size, replenishes in sight.
You can enjoy these views by taking a ride on a boat, or even better rent one small electric motored boat and roam the canals on your own, we did! First of all though we decided to have a bite since it was already noon and the bike ride contributed to us feeling starved. So, we decided to have a small snack at the most famous spot of the area, Grand cafe Fanfare, which is named after the film and is actually one of the places where the Bert Haanstra’s comedy was shot.
The place is filled with posters murals and statuettes related to the film. It’s the most popular place in the area and with good reason, since the food and service are excellent and the prices were affordable. We enjoyed our cold beers and some bitterballen and after some much necessary rest from the bike ride we decided to walk around the place for a while and return to the cafe at a later time.
We also made a small stop for some coffee and an apple pie at a small cafe near the village’s entrance and we regrettably gave the waiter a rather hard time when we asked him if he could throw some ice cubes on a cappuccino. Well, we have to say that this happens at least once in every trip, us trying to enjoy a fredo cappuccino wherever we are, trying to instruct any unlucky waiter or bartender that comes our way.
After this refreshing break, we decided that it was about time to rent a boat and float over the canals. In all honesty, that remains one of our best experiences even to this day. The sun was graciously brightening the sky and the charming thatched – roof houses were surrounded by light, water and vegetation. Truly, a sight to have your eyes feast upon. We encountered a couple of ducks on our way and I have to say I adore those birds so much, that I keep shooting photos of them like a madman when I see them. We passed under a couple of wooden bridges, following the map we were given upon renting our boat. The route was extremely easy to follow since there were many signs along the way that guided to the proper direction. So, no need to be an expert navigator in order to find your way through the canals. Handling the boat is effortless a task as well. A wheel to guide left or right and a handle to accelerate forward or move backwards.
We were simply trying to take in all the beauty we were faced with, the place is quite frankly enchanting. Since it was high noon, we were lucky enough to enjoy it without the nuisance of crowds clomping through the tiny village and the canals. The harmonious serenity of the place was being briefly interrupted by our cheerful laughter, but most of the time we were overwhelmed by the images we were relishing.
Stormed by nature’s elegance we ended our drift of the narrow canals that crown the place and we opted to pay another visit to the Grand cafe Fanfare. There, we enjoyed a small snack and some beer and we even had a chance to meet the manager, who politely sat at our table and shared with us some info about the village, even describing its beauty in wintertime. After a final stroll we returned to our bikes and started the ride back to our lodging. We would gladly spent more time at Giethoorn, but our journey was nearing its end and tomorrow we had to catch a train back to Amsterdam and then a bus to Bruge.