12 September 2010

Castle Hunting: Slot Loevestein

We left Rotterdam early on a grim, foggy day to make the journey out to Slot Loevestein, a fourteenth century castle that seemed fun and remote. It was chilly, but not cold - the weather alternated between a light drizzle and a steady rain. We were in good spirits, though, and we felt very adventurous.
We took the train out to Gorinchem, via Dordrecht, which was a pretty little town on the Waal river. It was empty when we showed up, at about nine in the morning. A boy we met on the train was very surprised that we were going to Gorinchem - "What are you doing, coming from New York to Gorinchem? But there is nothing in Gorinchem!" - but we found it very charming. We walked through the village and out to the harbor. We waited for about half an hour for the ferry upriver.
This stretch of the Waal (below where the Maas joins it) is the busiest waterway in Europe, according to one of the men who worked on the ferry. There were lots of cargo ships - container ships going up to Germany from the North Sea and coal barges coming back down towards Rotterdam. We passed a number of pretty villages - above is Woudrichem, a small, fortified town where the ferry made a stop.
Woudrichem harbor, with about a dozen boats.
We had a little lunch, which we'd packed that morning. We had found this great, brown, hearty bread and made some terrific sandwiches. Rebecca's been really into the rivierkreeftjes, or crayfish, which are widely available at supermarkets around Holland.
Rivierkreeftjes sandwich, with apple, onion and lettuce. Great castle hunting food.
This is Slot Loevestein, which really was worth the trip. It's in the fork between the Waal and Maas rivers, which gives it a very important defensive position. It's also on a little rise (this is Holland, so we're talking fifteen feet - a mountain!), so it was safe from the strategic flooding the Dutch used against invading forces.
There are two moats. There was a flock of sheep inside the outer wall and moat, and we were free to walk around - mostly alone - and take some pictures. Later on, a wedding party showed up to take pictures of the Bride and Groom. We headed back on the ferry just as it really began to pour, and made it home to Rotterdam in time for supper.

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