Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Touring Bicycle Haven with my Dahon Mu 8

At the end of my simulator training sessions in France I treated myself to a tour of Holland by bicycle for a few days. As usual my trusty Dahon Mu 8 was with me. My big bags were left in my friend's apartment. In fact I used his place in Hoofddrop as a base for my tours. Hoofddrop is like PJ and is quite close to Schipol airport. The first day of my tour was a ride from Hoofddrop to Edam. The planned cycling distance was only 50 km but with all the twisting and turning around I did another 10 km extra. I started at about 0930 hrs from Hoofddrop heading towards Schipol airport. I had to go to the airport to reconfirm my flight back home. From Schipol I wandered off to Amstervee and then to Amsterdam. No problem at all..this is not a navigational error but rather a diversion and some extra sight seeing. With the air temperature around 6 degrees it was fun to ride. In Holland, bicycles are the king of the road. Cars were stopping for me everywhere! And Holland has bicycle lanes all over the country. These bicycle lanes are very well marked and has excellent signageThe roads are very well marked so there is no problem going from one point to the next. the Dutch are also very friendly people and they speak English pretty well too so it is difficult to get lost enroute.This picture was taken near the Schipol Airport. I was really suprised that cars and bicycles go under the taxiway. The bridge at the background is where the huge 747s taxi on top.Wild life, esp birds and ducks are everywhere. The Dutch have done well to conserve their wild lifes. These geese just walk up to admire my trusty Dahon. I was having wild thoughts about cooking roast duck or geese for dinner! But not for this trip as I will not be camping. Next trip if I come in summer I will camp and maybe I will have roasted wild duck for dinner!It is lunch time when I arrived Amsterdam central area. To satisfy my hunger I had a hot dog. Expensive.. 5 Euro for a small hot dog.It was very difficult to navigate away from Amsterdam to Edam. My GPS keeps pointing towards a direction that says NO CYCLING / WALKING. Eventually I found out that I have to take a ferry to the other side of the town to head towards Edam. The ferry ride was free and once on the other side of town the ride to Edam was straight forward. Edam is famous for its Edam Cheese buy unfortunately I could not take one of these back on my bike. This village is very scenic and the pace here is typical village standard although Edam is only 30 km from Amsterdam.I had booked myself a room in a B and B in a village called Volendam which is about 2 km from Edam. This B and B is run and owned by John and Henny Kruize. John had been a bus driver but he has done very well with managing his wealth and life and I am totally impressed by his knowledge of things and machines.This is the good breakfast that Henny served me. I had enjoyed it very much. We had meat, cheese, coffee and eggs. A real value for money. I would recommend their place to anyone visiting this part of Holland.After breakfast it was a short ride to visit Monikerdam. This is a small historical village and there are a lot of boats . I spent about and hour admiring the boats.There were some catamarans around too.I past by a floating village. people here stay in houses that were built on top of the water and for them to visit the neighbours means a few strokes of rowing their boat.Of course no report on Holland wold be complete without photos of windmills. These are operational wind mills. Notice the bicycle path by the side.Having a sandwich lunch by a very scenic canal. The food actually taste better here!This is how their fish mongers sell fish. Much better organised than our pasar malams!. Again getting out of Amsterdam for the ride back to Hoofddrop was a pain. I arrived back in Hoofddrop by 1500 hrs after cycling 50 pus kilometers.Here I stayed with an old friend Keith Yim in his apartment.Day 3 was a trip to the North sea resort town called Zandvoort. It is only about 20 km from Hoofddrop so I started a bit later at about 1000hrs. I passed by Hamstede which is a beautiful village. Zandvoort is a touristy place. There are beautiful stores and restaurants here. I was told this place is packed with German tourist during summer. Of course there are abundance of wild ducks here too. Just amazingFor lunch I want to taste the fresh North Sea fish. These fish stores are set on the beach and they serve very fresh sea food at a reasonable price.For 6 Euro I had a piece of cod and some potatoes. The fish was very fresh and tasty.I took the route via Harleam to go back . This route is more "hilly" because the riding is done on top of the sand dunes.

There is a national park but maybe it is winter now as there was nothing much to see. Again I reached Hoofddrop by 1500 hrs.

For the 3 days of touring I did only 160 km which is not really a lot. Holland is such a bicycle friendly country that I would recommend anyone who wants to come to Europe for a bicycle to start in Holland. i hope to get back for some longer distance cycling in the near future.


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