Hoorn – a day visit from the Scenic Jasper river cruise

The Hoofdtoren (harbour) - by de:Benutzer:Bleiglass - Wikimedia Commons A gem, every country has them, and Hoorn is one of the Netherlands in the region of Holland. Yes, Holland is a region within the Netherlands although many refer to the whole country as Holland. I should have arrived there on the Scenic Jasper but the lock gates through which we had by necessity to travel were damaged so Scenic transferred me by coach.

Situated on the shores of the North Sea 23 miles north of Amsterdam, Hoorn acquired city status back in 1357. With the population a little under 72,000 made up of over 80 nationalities this city should be on everyone’s ‘To Do’ list. The city began life during what the locals call the ‘Golden Age’ an age when Hoorn was one of 6 bases for the famous Dutch East India Company with its large sailing ships that plied their trade between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies now known as Indonesia.

My arrival on a cold, wet afternoon during what was supposed to be the start of spring felt more like the start of winter. However after being in this beautiful city for only a short time my spirits were lifted. Starting in the main square a walking tour will take you through the cobbled streets past old buildings that have been restored to their former glory. The picturesque harbour, the several museums including the Toy Museum and the Steamtram Hoorn-Medemblik Museum. Hoorn has a tranquil atmosphere that is appealing.

Steamtram Hoorn-Medemblik One of the options offered to me was ‘Clog Painting’ and with the weather as it was I saw this as an opportunity to keep out of the cold and further my education. The Clog or to give it the correct name, Klomp, can be traced back in the Netherlands to the early 1200’s and originally worn by labourers to protect the feet from large and sharp stones in the fields. Sitting at a table with others, aprons, paints, brushes and small unpainted clogs were supplied. Now was the time for me to demonstrate the artistic side of my nature.  An hour later my clog was finished but to my dismay nothing as elaborate or artistic as those about me. However when dried we were allowed to keep them and it now sits proudly on a shelf in my office, reminding me of that experience. However the best was yet to come.

The Oosterkerk - by A.Bakker Wikimedia Commons Exiting by an internal door and transiting a short passage brought us into the Oosterkerk, the second oldest church in Hoorn and a church dedicated to sailors and fishermen. Religious buildings on this site date back to 1453 although the present structure only goes back to 1764. The church was allowed to deteriorate, and in 1973 restoration work began, completed in 1982 when the church was officially reopened by Prince Claus of the Netherlands. The magnificent 1,000 pipe organ is an imposing site, golden pipes encompassed by dark wood make for a sight to remember. The original enclosed wooden winding stair case to the bell tower, beautiful stained glass windows, wooden pulpit with renovated wooden roof, models of ships reminding people of the churches heritage.

The pews have been cleared and replaced with tables and chairs, the tables laid for dinner. Each table is hosted by a volunteer from the community who makes us all feel welcomed and at home. The dinner is a delight, home cooking, vegetable soup, meat, scoops of mixed carrot, onion and potato with ice cream to finish. Washed down with a choice of red/white wine or soft drinks this becomes a meal to remember. We are all enthralled to hear a piece played on the beautiful organ and then sadly time to say goodbye. Time to leave this beautiful setting and return to the ship.

For me this was the highlight of my tours and is now on my ‘to do again’ list and I hope it won’t be too long in coming.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Scenic Tours

You may also find interesting:

•  Amsterdam – a day visit from the Scenic Jasper river cruise

•  River cruising in luxury and style in the Netherlands
•  Bruges – a day visit from the Scenic Jasper river cruise

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Alan Fairfax

Travel writer & cruise journalist

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