trivago Experience Academy: Sailing to the Netherlands
On the evening of Wednesday 22nd March, twenty-three (mostly inexperienced) trivago adventurers gathered outside our B1 building, prepared to embark on a 4-day voyage sailing on the Isselmeer and Wadden Sea in the Netherlands. The excitement (and mild fear) was palpable…
With the obligatory group photo taken and bus fully loaded, we headed towards the Dutch border to our floating “hotel”. After a rather too scenic route through the charming town of Enkhuizen (and a few wrong turns and tight corners), we made it aboard the Bontekoe, a beautiful 109 year old sailing boat run by skipper Niels and his deckhands Andreas and Wemke. With cabins allocated, it was all hands on deck to unload, unpack and, despite the late hour, cook dinner. We then proceeded to drink the entire 4 day’s worth of white wine in one night (#lifeattrivago).
Thursday morning was a relaxed introduction into the world of sailing. We woke to blue skies and sunshine peeping through the portholes. The day started with a quick “beginners guide to sailing” and a tour of the top deck. Niels chalked up a diagram of the boat, teaching us about sail positions for different wind directions. Once we knew our Mizzen from our Jib (back and front sails) and how to avoid “deck spaghetti” (loose ropes lying on deck), we were ready.
The plan for the day: Navigate our way through the freshwater Ijsselmeer, to the lock separating the lake from the Wadden Sea and eventually towards the West Frisian islands. The Wadden Sea is a shallow body of water with many exposed sand flats at low tide. Great for seal spotting, but notoriously difficult to sail through. But thanks to our newly acquired sailing skills (and our experienced guides) we reached the island of Terschelling and moored in the harbour for the night. Stepping off the boat onto dry land, we did the one thing you must do when on holiday — find the local pub. The locals didn’t know what hit them when we took over the dancefloor of the island’s finest Disco Café.
In the morning, we had the chance to explore the island beyond just the drinking establishments. We strolled along the vast stretches of sandy beach, across the sand dunes and into the village for traditional Fischbrötchen. By early afternoon, it was time to set sail again.
There was a refreshing sense of freedom in not being restricted to a particular route. When sailing, there always needs to be a level of flexibility and willingness to change plans according to the weather conditions.
“I learned that you can’t influence everything and you shouldn’t try to. We totally relied on the wind…and if there’s not enough wind, you need to aim for a different goal.” Andreas Ibl
Friday night, we had no particular destination so we anchored in the middle of the sea. The waves were calm so the boat didn’t move too much. Upholding the trivago Friday tradition, we played music, drank beer and danced as the sun went down.
On Saturday, the last stop of the trip was Medemblik, a picturesque harbour town in North Holland. There was just enough time for a wander around the town and a Swinckels beer in the sun, before sailing back down to Enkhuizen.
Throughout the entire trip, the weather could not have been better. We had bright blue cloudless skies every day, which made for glorious sunsets and perfect star-gazing conditions in the evenings. When we weren’t busy hoisting the sails, there was plenty of free time to relax, play card games (Wizard and Werewolf featured heavily) and enjoy the stunning views.
“We didn’t have a massive ‘to-see’ list, since being out at the sea was the main goal of the trip. Because of this, I occasionally felt like time was running slow… and this was an extremely relaxing sensation. I don’t remember experiencing that before — that time doesn’t fly when you are having fun.” Emma Falck
Sitting on deck amongst such a wonderfully diverse group of people, gazing out at the horizon, breathing in the fresh sea air — it was impossible not to feel peaceful and reflective. Being on the water was the perfect way to escape the complications of daily life. A chance to disconnect and take time to recharge.
“All you need to think about is getting from A to B. Anything else doesn’t matter. It was a lovely feeling to focus on only that.” Elsbeth Reinke
This was undoubtedly the most international group to ever have sailed on the Bontekoe, with people from 16 countries across 6 continents. We all pulled together as one team to make the trip a success, sharing the sailing, cooking and cleaning duties between us.
“I am further convinced that diversity is something that should be embraced and celebrated rather than something that separates us. I feel lucky to have had this experience to broaden my global perspective.” Aaron Enser.
Back on stable ground, it took a few days for the minor sunburn and the illusions of self-motion to disappear but the sense of tranquility and rejuvenation remained. It was a truly unforgettable experience for everyone on board…