Oost-Maarland (Eijsden) (NL) - Liège (B)

Last week we discovered a breeding couple, coots, on a boat next to ours. Not surprisingly (it happens regularly) they had chosen a cruiser’s swimming platform for their family-building.

The breeding one -female we guess- did not let herself be distracted by practically anything. Her(?) eggs (let’s call them near-children) appeared to be able to make her resist anything frightening – like us walking by, or taking water, or photographing her. There’s obviously simply one job – and that’s breeding. That one job excludes virtually anything, fear included.

  • One day our neighbour, a well enough animal friendly man, wanted to have a cruise, all the more so because his boat was new to him and some technical jobs had been executed. He’s seen here leaving his mooring spot next to our little ship…

  • …and the breeding coot is still on top of her eggs! See the picture on the left and this detail of it.

Only a few hundred meters away from the marina at Oost-Maarland (Eijsden) one can make walks in what is called the ‘Eijsder Beemden’. Beemd is an old fashioned Dutch word for meadow or pasture. It is a kind of nature reserve with horses and cows on their own – one could say: without the care of a farmer, they provide for their own. The reserve is situated next to the river Maas (Meuse), where the river is in its natural state; the short Canal de Lanaye takes all the through traffic here, uphill into the Canal Albert. The reserve is partly Dutch, partly Belgian. Therefore one encounters old fashioned boundary marks – this one dating from 1843, when the separation of the low countries was just 13 years young.

The reserve in its full glory. Swans on their own island. What more can one say?

Another example of its beautifulness. We had to skip a lot of similar stunning pictures.

And a last one. It was a real joy to walk the ‘Eijsder Beemden’, and the weather was stunning during our entire stay in the extreme south of The Netherlands. Unlike, ahem, Maastricht.

The nature reserve accommodates horses as well, as stated before. Here’s a mare and a male fowl. Don’t they make for an adorable picture?

On Tuesday the 3rd of May our daughter and her two sons, accompanied by their lovely Australian Shepherd (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Shepherd), visited us. The weather being still almost summer-like offered us the opportunity to walk the dog in the ‘Eijsder Beemden’. Everyone unanimously fell (again) in love with it from the first minute.

  • It’s not all ‘dolce far niente’. Sometimes there’s work to be done. Like taking on rusty spots by removing old paint and abrading the paint-less spots…

  • …followed by applying a layer of primer…

  • …and eventually finishing the job by covering the involved spots with the required colour. To tell the truth the entire roof has to be repainted. What we are doing now is valued by our female half as nothing better than ‘keeping up appearances’.

We left Oost-Maarland, after having been there for 6 ultimately tranquil nights, on Saturday the 7th of May at 10:45AM. The border Netherlands/Begium, as well as the river Maas (Meuse) were crossed almost immediately and we entered the short Canal de Lanaye. We reported to Écluse Lanaye (Lanaye Lock) (Ternaaien Sluis) and were told to enter lock number 3. From a distance the huge complex was slightly confusing but now we’ve been there it will be a piece of cake the next time.

According to our documents the difference in height was supposed to be 13,94 meters (46 feet). When approaching the lock we did not believe it. After entering we did. Definitely. For sure. The lock emptied and refilled ever so slowly. When, at long last, the lock had refilled we (the owners of 3 ships) were summoned by the lock-keeper to present the documents related to our ships. Eventually we became the owners of a permit to cruise in Belgium. Wow! It took 57 minutes between entering and leaving the lock, an undisputed record.

Almost 14 meters higher (46 feet) and on the Canal Albert we looked back and admired the Belgians hugely for constructing the canal by, at least here, carving its channel from the rocks – we suppose marl?? It’s called the ‘Doorsteek van Kanne’ (Transfix(?) of Kanne). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Canal.

The Albert Canal was left at Visé (Wezet) by using a descending lock, to follow the river Meuse (Maas) again. When approaching the city of Liège (Luik) one is forced to ascend a lock with the same difference in level as the Visé-one (5,70 meters – 19 feet) because of a weir in the river. If we’d followed the Canal Albert we could have evaded the two locks. However, we prefer the river and leave the canal to the professionals. Here we see the end/start of the Canal Albert and the river -and its weir- to the right. The impressive monument in the centre is the canal’s eponym, being King Albert I (1875 – 1934). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_I_of_Belgium.

Our destination for the day, being Liège (Luik) comes unmistakably in sight. Totally new to us – and that always brings a feeling of excitement. What will it be? How will it be?

We moored at Liège’s marina around 3:45PM, so after 5 hours of activity, 3 locks included. First we turned in front of the marina (the river is not that bad at the moment), after which we reversed back into it. We think we have the best spot available here!

Already visible with the last picture is this striking statue, a nude male in handstand. There are some striking details. We confine ourselves to the frank pigeon that is sitting on the man’s toes.

The view as seen from the front of our ship. Last night the illuminated bridge was pink coloured. Pink! A free view it is, as opposed when being inside the marina. We will be here for at least five nights and do not feel being punished by that.

The marina as seen from where it all ends. Can you see our satisfaction with the mooring spot we’ve got?

To end with this picture shows the opposite bank and its buildings when lighted by the low sun at the end of the afternoon. Next week more about Liège (Luik), we hope. We are now waiting for visitors from overseas, planning to cruise a part of the river upstream with them later this week. Jusqu'à la semaine prochaine! (We’re in a French speaking part of the world again.)