Tag Archives: biking Netherlands

Biking Noorden-Leiden-Gouda, South Holland.

Finishing up our self-guided bike tour in Holland – Days 2-4 turned out to be Days 2-3. The morning of our second day, we woke up in Noorden to a gorgeous blue sky and I thought to myself “Score! This is gonna be a gorgeous ride today!” Lo and behold, within 15 minutes of our ride, the dark, brooding clouds came rolling in and not a speck of blue could be seen in the sky. Then came the rain and wind. We kept on riding for a while hoping that the rain would pass, but it just kept on pouring.

At this point with the rain and wind in our faces, the ride became more of a personal challenge than a leisurely bike ride. To get me through, I played music on my iPhone and sang along while comparing this ride to a leg in a triathlon that I just had to finish. There was no stopping to look at the scenery or take any pictures. It was just go, go, go. At times the rain was light, and at times it was heavy. The swans didn’t seem to mind, as I snapped a quick pic with the iphone.

A few hours into this, in the middle of nowhere, I think I was nearing my breaking point because I muttered out loud, “Oh please Lord, let there be a restaurant where we could stop at soon.” Then a little miracle happened. Less than five minutes of me asking, there was a sign off the side of the road that said “RESTAURANT”. Hallelujah, there IS a GOD! Not only that, but it was a NICE restaurant located on a sunflower farm! They had barely been open for two months, but the food, service and atmosphere at De Dyck was exceptional.

The scene that we were happy to be out of for a while. Man it felt good to be in a warm, dry environment for a while.

We stayed there until the rain let up a bit and then decided to trek on, rain or shine. Unfortunately, there was no shine that day. But we made it to Leiden in a couple of more hours, all soaking wet. It’s a shame that it was still raining in Leiden because I hear it’s a beautiful university city best explored on foot. But there was no way in hell you were gonna get us to walk around in that rain unless it was for food- which we did since we had to grab dinner. Then it was back to Huys Van Leyden, our cute little B&B for the night.

Waking up the next morning and seeing that the weather forecast predicted more rain for the next couple of days, we decided to call Peter (of Tulip Cycling) and tell him that we were going to wimp out of our last day and just bike to Gouda on this third day. We were supposed to bike from Gouda to Utrecht on our fourth and last day, but neither of us wanted to after the craziness we experienced the day before. Thank goodness he was able to rearrange things and pick us up in Gouda on Day 4. So with spirits lifted knowing that this would be our last day of biking in gloomy weather, we took off after breakfast for Gouda (pronounced “How-da”, (not “goo-da”), with a gutteral “h” sound, like you’re about to hack a small loogey.)

Since my butt was sore after two days of biking, I decided to modify the seat a bit to make it a little more comfy. Thank you neck pillow!

Everyone waiting for the drawbridge to lower.

Just happy to be biking in dry weather. Note the flip flops instead of shoes since they were too wet to wear that morning!

This gardener manicuring balls of shrubs definitely warranted a stop.

So did my backpack & shoes falling off the back of my bike and landing near a pile of horse pooh!

We saw this in front of many homes on our ride. After some investigation, we found out it’s a sundial.

After a bridge closed halfway on our ride, we had to find our own way to get to Gouda, but thanks to some signs and nice people, we made it!

We settled into our little hotel and then went to the town square for some Belgian beer. I know, I still couldn’t get enough of that stuff.

In the middle of town square is a damn cool gothic town hall.

Every Thursday morning, there’s a huge cheese market where cheese is traded, with farmers and dealers still haggling over prices. Unfortunately, we missed it, so we did our own little cheesy tour in a local cheese shop.

Wasabi gouda? OK!

Fries with mayo? Um, not so much. We tried it and decided to ask for ketchup instead. Couldn’t handle eating fat with more fat.

The Sint Janskerk is a Gothic church known for its abundance of stained glass windows. They don’t allow photography inside, so only one image of it from the outside.

Inside the cheese museum. We didn’t pay to go through it, but I’m glad to have this image from it.

The next morning, there was a large flea market in the town square. Loved seeing all the unique antiques for sale.

Top left: delftware, the blue and white pottery which the Dutch are famous for. Bottom left: Real used clogs. Far right: Smurfs? I thought the Smurfs were created in the US by Hanna Barbera, but actually, it was created by a Belgian cartoonist named Peyo. No wonder it’s so popular here with Belgium as Holland’s next door neighbor.

These books looked amazing!!!! I wanted to buy one but can’t anything but English (ok, and some Spanish and Vietnamese). So I decided to forever ingrain it in my memory with a picture. =)

In the US, sometimes you’ll see a random tree with a bunch of old shoes dangling all over it. In Gouda, you may see colorful plastic chairs. Why not?

Before we left Gouda, we bought some pastries to go and got the Dutch answer to the American spork. I think they’ve one upped us with this thing:

Even though Drew and I wimped out of our last day of biking, we still thoroughly enjoyed our trip and wouldn’t change a thing…well, if we could, we’d take out a few hours of riding in the rain & wind. But what can you do? It’s Mother Nature and all you can do is go with her. If you’re looking for a little biking adventure when you’re in the Netherlands, do not hesitate to call Tulip Cycling!

Biking South Holland!

The Netherlands is the most bike friendly country I’ve ever visited, and probably THE most bike friendly country in the world. There are more bikes than people in this country, so anyone who drives a car is used to sharing the road with bikers. There are endless miles of paved bike paths and the flat terrain makes biking so easy in this country. So, Drew and I decided to do a four day bike tour through Tulip Cycling. I say “through” and not “with” because what’s great about this company is that you can go on your own. Yup, you tell Peter (one of the friendliest business owners you’ll ever meet) what you want to see and how many days you want to bike for, and he’ll arrange it all for you. Just meet him on Day 1 and he hands over to you a bike, map, and GPS system all programmed with your route. Then you set off on seeing some of the most beautiful parts of this country that you probably wouldn’t see if you drove. Peter books accommodations for you each night and has your luggage transferred & waiting for you at your next hotel. What an awesome way to tour the country!

On Day 1, Drew and I met Peter in Weesp, a small town right outside of Amsterdam. After getting all set up, we took off on our bikes as Peter took off with our luggage to our first destination that night, Noorden. We wanted to see windmills and waterways and Peter did a great job mapping out the most scenic routes for us to explore. We biked anywhere between 22-28 miles each day and since it was all flat, it was actually a lot of fun! (Well, minus that one incredibly windy & rainy day. That was no fun. More on that later.) Starting in Weesp, we got our first dose of waterway and a cute little drawbridge to go with it. Peter never mentioned flowers and lily pads everywhere either, but I’ll take it. This bike trip was off to a beautiful start!

First windmill sighting! We were so excited. It was a Sunday, so folks were taking their boats out to play, along with their bikes.
Waterways galore! With a third of the country below sea level, the Dutch have become masters of water engineering.

Though at first we wished for some sunshine, we were REALLY glad the clouds were out while we biked. Windmill #2! Tons of farm animals along the way: cows, sheep, horses, goats. Anytime I’d stop to take a picture of them, there’d always be at least one that’s gotta mad dog me. (Notice cow in upper right) A whole gang of them this time!
Horses don’t mad dog, they say hi. Isn’t that right Mr. Horsey? =)
This is a country full of cyclists. No wonder the gold medal winner for cycling was a Dutch woman. I was so ecstatic when I got this shot! (Yes, while riding my bike. I became quite adept at riding and snapping photos at the same time.) Cyclists, waterway, windmill. Check, check, check!
We were blessed to be in this country at a time when so many flowers were in bloom. And every home seemed to have a professional gardener or landscape architect living there because they all look like they were on the cover of Sunset magazine at one point.

Someone couldn’t resist…

It rained on and off during our first day, but it was never too bad. Ponchos made everything ok.
As we got into Noorden, the sun came out and the angels sang as we biked past these heavenly homes. We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy!

Or, are we? Our stop for the evening was at the Restaurant-Hotel de Watergeus. LOVED it! The hotel is right on the banks of a huge lake. What an incredible view while we dined outside that evening.
And yes, dinner was delicious.

After dinner, we decided to take the boat out for a little joy ride. Just kidding. Drew just wanted me to pose next to the boat & pretend that it’s mine, but I guess it’s really Albert Adriaan’s!
The view from our balcony.
The best cloud parade I’ve seen in ages! We spent a good part of the evening watching them march on by. It was a beautiful way to end our first day.

Day 2-4 in the next post!