When two fantastic things come together you get the Hot Tug! The ultimate – and surprisingly unheard of – canal experience offered in The Netherlands. You might be wondering what exactly is a Hot Tug..a question that is hardly aided by it’s incredibly suggestive name. It is literally a jacuzzi, that is a boat, heated by an on board wood fire place and powered by a small motor that clients steer themselves. If that didn’t sound appealing enough let me just add that this is topped off by a complimentary drink followed by glasses of wine, beers and cocktails!
Having lived in the Netherlands for a while now I was one of those people who in summer would sit by the waters edge watching enviously from the grass as the boats putted past. Someone’s voice would say what we were all thinking “I wish I could be drinking and hanging out on a boat”. We dismissed it wistfully settling instead for an organised canal tour as our only chance to get a view from the canal. As the temperature dropped and leisurely boating became less frequent our inclination understandably dissipated. But when the prospect of driving around in our very own boat, a hot tub boat no less, was suggested to us – Thank you Hayley and Devon – we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity…despite the icy cold temperature of mid November.
We got a few very strange looks from locals as we sat in the hot tub, and drove around a small section of the Rotterdam waterway [avoiding running into commercial container ships at 4th largest port in the world limited where we could navigate the hot tub] but in all honesty this didn’t hamper the experience at all as the actual experience of the Hot Tub is so incredible that you don’t even care where you are driving. The quick dash from the onboard changing room to the tub was a little brisk, with the one out of the hot tub even less desirable, but once in the Hot Tug the air temperature was no longer an issue as we were toasty warm!! For over two hours 7 of us hung out sipping drinks, enjoying the hot water until our toes and fingers went pruney, and watching as the sun went down and Rotterdam lit up.
1. A near death experience passing by a dredging crane, between two boats that weren’t leaving us much room even before the scoop; that showered sand and mud on its way back up, dipped right down into the middle of the canal, cutting off our way forward, potentially either crushing or showering us in mud.
2. The Swimming Zone – Yes we jumped in. It was quick I’m not going to lie, but I can proudly say that I have swum in the canals of The Netherlands. An enormous feat not only of my exchange experience, but my travelling experiences as a whole…Seriously those canals do not look swimmable, and we all dread to think how many submerged bike skeletons lie beneath the opaque water.
In a word it was amazing! No where near enough people know about it, Dutch nationals, tourists and guide books alike, we can just be glad that Hayley was watching the bachelorette during one particular episode. The fact that it isn’t a major tourist attraction makes the Hot Tug all the more special…but this won’t last long as word of mouth and launches in other Dutch cities and European canal cities are up and coming. If someone was to ask me for recommendations of what to do in The Netherlands this would be up the top of the list. I would highly recommend it, literally everything you could want in one unique experience!