|Ice-skaters on the Thornbecke canal in Zwolle last Saturday during the First Zwolse Grachtentocht.|
The period of true winter weather we had during the last couple of weeks seems now to be over and with it, the ice-skating fever seems to have subsided, too.
I have lived in the Netherlands for almost 9 years now and I have seen hard-ish winters (nothing really too extreme) and mild winters; gentle snowfall and a blizzard or two with lots of snow falling in a very short time. I've also seen the Dutch landscape getting totally covered in white and nature going very still under the ice, as if every single creature out there in the open was going to sleep, waiting for the spring to come back alive.
|Ice skaters in the main canal around the historic city centre in Zwolle.|
Only a few days ago we were all holding our breath in front of the tv every time the word Elfstedentocht was mentioned by the newsreaders. A couple of posts ago I explained how excited everyone was about the possibility of finally seeing a new edition of this Eleven Cities Marathon after 15 years of Elfstedentocht withdrawal, for the race has not been held since 1997 due to the lack of good quality ice to make the event possible.
Unfortunately, by the end of last week the committee in charge of inspecting the ice conditions up in Friesland had decided that it would not be possible to host the marathon this year and everyone was really very disappointed.
|Another shot taken during the Zwolse Grachtentocht last Saturday.|
But it seems that despite the general disappointment, people across the Netherlands, Dutch and non-Dutch, were determined not to let all that beautiful ice go to waste.Whole families were out there riding on sleds or skating on the frozen canals. Despite the cold, young people were hanging out and having fun on the ice and little kids wrapped up in warm clothes were there too, learning how to stand upright on their brand new skates. Experienced skaters were seen showing off and also first-timers, safely leaning on the back of a chair to keep their balance, carefully taking their first turns on the icy tracks.
Over the weekend there were many tochten (marathons) across the country. Amsterdam had its Keizersgracht tocht; up north in Friesland people were skating on the waterways along the Elfstedentocht route in the places where the ice was in perfect condition. In the beautiful town of Giethoorn the 14th Hollands Venetiëtocht was held; the first edition of this marathon in this century.
|A young girl learning to skate on ice with the help of a chair.|
|It was probably this dad's turn to look after the baby but he could not stay away from all that lovely ice.|
In Zwolle, we had the Eerste Zwolsegrachten tocht (first marathon of the canals in Zwolle) last Saturday. In just a couple of days, a number of entrepreneurs from the catering sector came up with the idea of organising our own tocht along the Zwolse canals. The idea was received with great enthusiasm by thousands of Zwollenaren (people of Zwolle) and 1500 participated in the marathon, making it a big success and of course, heel erg gezellig! (a lot of fun)
|A view over the city canal in Zwolle during the Zwolse grachtentocht|