Trip Highlights: Netherlands
Out flat land tour began in the bustling city of Amsterdam, where bicycles rule. Bike trails and paths abound, as do bike parking lots with thousands of bikes that all look similar. We wondered how anyone could find their own. It is safe to say we saw way more bikes than cars, and we knew instantly that this was our kind of place!
Our first day began with a visit to the infamous Afsluitdijk, which holds back massive bodies of water on either side, allowing for the “reclaimed land” beneath us. Later that day, we landed in the most adorable little town of Makkum with bridges that raised and lowered allowing boats to pass through on their way to and from the canals.
“Quaint” was a word we used often to describe the scenery, the towns, and especially the houses with their fine, hand-crafted facades. Each town was built around small canals with wooden bridges and windmills in every color, size and shape imaginable. The small town of Giethoorn was truly enchanting. As no motorized vehicles were allowed, everything was accessible only by boat. Instead of streets lined with parked cars, there were canals lined with water taxis and private boats. Most of the houses had a thick thatched roof with beautifully landscaped yards with flowers in full bloom.
We ended our cycling tour in the National Park de Hoge Veluwe. With its varied landscape of small lakes, forested areas and sand dunes, this massive park is a perfect setting for a myriad of outdoor activities. Some in our group decided to park their bikes for the day and explore the terrain on foot.
One day we took a sailing trip on a praam. Once used as a cargo ship, it now serves as a charter tour boat. We visited the medieval Muiderslot Castle with a working moat and the fortified town of Naarden—it felt like we were in the middle of a fairytale.
The food was both delicious and abundant. In the smaller towns, the food was prepared in the German style, while in Amsterdam we tasted a lot of Indonesian influence. True to almost all European countries, the breads and pastries were always fresh and delightful. And, we greatly appreciated that many of the menu’s offered English translation.
All in all, we found the people of The Netherlands to be quite friendly and welcoming. When the days were sunny, it was glorious. However, we did experience several rainy days on this trip. Fortunately we planned ahead and packed accordingly, and didn’t let a little rain stop us from enjoying this amazingly beautiful country. We’re looking forward to our next visit.