Antipole cruises

Peace in the Markermeer

We escaped from the chaos of Sixhaven on Wednesday. The wind was strongish but do-able and we had a lovely run goose-winged with two reefs down out into the Markermeer, and then round the northern tip of Marken and back to the island’s harbour. Here the wind had strengthened to Force 7 and we were head into it in a narrow channel, so some help from the engine was appreciated.

Marken is a gem, and, despite the high season, surprisingly quiet. It dates back to monastic times, but has mainly been a fishing community. We are moored in the little harbour (below left), which is surrounded by wooden houses painted dark green with white stripes between the planks. Many of the houses here are built on stilts to keep them above the floods (below middle), which were a regular occurrence. But since the completion of the Afsluitdijk, this is hopefully a hazard of the past, so the under-part of the houses have been in-filled with storage, utility or workshop space, or sometimes living accommodation.

Marken retains many characteristics of the past, and traditional costume is still worn on high days and holidays. We visited the little museum and were surprised to learn about the intricacies of the costume. As well as gender differences, it is different for each age – baby, infant, child, youngster and adult. And each age has versions for mourning, half-mourning and not-mourning. Even a layette for an expected baby contained mourning, half-mourning and not-mourning clothes, as well as burial clothing in case of need.  We presume that in an island community, just about everybody is related to some bereavement or other, and there must have been strict protocols about how you should be addressed or what you should or should not do. The dress must have codified this and kept all in order. It was, and perhaps still is a traditional society. Ynskje’s Aunt Joke told us of visiting a some years back and finding a leaflet on her car saying You are welcome to visit here – but not on a Sunday.

Car? Yes – Marken is joined to the mainland by a causeway and is no longer technically an island, even if it feels like it.  So visitors roll in by the coach-load during the day, but it remains quiet at the beginning and end of the day.

We were visited here by Yvonne, Frits and Anne, and this time they brought Ynskje’s Aunt Joke with them.  Anne stayed on with us for two days.  On Friday the three of us cycled over the causeway to visit Monnickendam, a very pleasant town, before going on to Edam.  Edam is a delight, full of surprises and relatively quiet.  Apart from the famous cheese market, it has an interesting raised meeting place over what was once a lock.  If I understand it correctly, when the lock was built there was some opposition as it reduced the flow in the canal and led to silting up.  The lock was attacked several times.  The solution was to build a cover over it, which now also forms a kind of raised town square and meeting place, complete with seats.  The photo below left shows the covered lock, the middle one is on the cover and right shows a meeting place – with Anne & Ynskje.  Second row, some views of Edam.

We cycled back along the dyke via Volendam, which is famed as a tourist draw.  We saw nothing but harbour-front tourist shops.  So thick was it with tourists that we were more or less unable to cycle through. So we were very glad to return across the causeway to Marken, where we enjoyed a meal out overlooking the harbour and sea.

We now plan to visit Elburg and Trees & Ton this coming week, so we can be back on the west coast of the Markermeer when Ynskje’s daughter Sarah visits at the beginning of August, as there are better rail connections – see the Cruise Plans section for details.

3 thoughts on “Peace in the Markermeer

  1. Alison

    Great to have news & pictures of the latest part of your trip, also to chat today. Much love to you both, from both of us.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.