Since my move to the Netherlands in 2007 the Noord River has been an anchor for me in my new home. It is a river of major transport to the sea but even more important to me is that is the place where my hubby’s parents live in an apartment overlooking this busy river.
In my early days of visiting my husbands parents it was a joy to look out over the river and see the different kinds of boats passing by. Cargo going up and down the river either heading towards inland of The Netherlands or further inland into Germany. The daily river traffic also heads in the opposite direction towards the port of Rotterdam and sometimes out to sea. The constant activity is wonderful to watch with my husband’s family. I started to learn more Dutch as each ship fact was related to me in both English and Dutch by my hubby and his family.
My husband’s father worked in the years after WWII in the harbors of Rotterdam as an accountant for a shipping company. A busy place and time as the European countries rebuilt after the war. The port was always full with an international cargo coming and going on ships. Hard working people who made water logistics their life. My father-in-law then in later years became a shipping company owner. Each of his three son’s were told to work at the ship yards in the summer in order to learn how to work. They were put to work stripping down the huge ships to bare iron, and repainting them working along side Dutch and many foreign workers who made Rotterdam their home. The hard work that all three of his son’s experienced shaped them into the compassionate industrious people they are still to this day, each of them still appreciates the hard work it takes to keep the Dutch shipping industry going.
After my father- in- law retired he purchased a wonderful apartment overlooking the river. Each day he looked out the window and commented on the ships that were up and down the river. It brought him great joy to share what he knew with me and with the other family members when we came to visit.
It always seemed to amaze him how much of the traffic was the Rhine River cruise boats filled with tourist traffic heading up or down the river. More and more of those boats came past each year.
“Wave at your countrymen.” he would always comment to me with a smile.
How lucky I always felt when he made that comment to me, I knew I had a view that those tourists on the boat would die to experience. The view of the city of Dordrecht and the passing ships on the river is a million dollar constantly changing view.
Some of them are regular ships that pass on the river channel have strange names like Barcelona, Aquarius, and others more common and simple like Ann or Sunshine.
My father-in-law passed away in April after a year long illness. The last few times he was able to visit the apartment overlooking the river he barely realized it was his home of over 20 years. But, on one such occasion he mentioned what a nice vacation house it was. He was right!
It always feels like vacation when we visit, looking off the balcony towards the river and watching the ship activity pass on by to some unknown destination. It is still a grounding force in the family although it feels a bit empty since he is not there to fill the space with his shipping facts and daily ship sightings.