With an apparently heavy heart Amsterdam bid me a tearful goodbye. READ: it was pissing down rain on my head and chilly ta boot. I made pretty good time out of the city soon the jam packed streets gave way to deserted industrial parks, must be a day off after the King’s Day celebrations yesterday. I think everyone knows of the Dutch love of cycling, turns out those wonderfully wide smooth lanes are not limited to the big city of Amsterdam, they stretch out before me parallel with the road and even I have no trouble staying upright and navigating the miles ahead. (Especially since leaving the clip shoes behind in Mexico!)
Silent industrial parks, and a few Schipol Airport runway airplane overpasses fall behind me giving way to sleepy villages – the houses straddling the ever present maze of canals and more often than not the front yards are bursting with color in the form of bulbs sprouting in the warmth of spring sunshine. I stop here and there for pictures and realize I am NOT making very good time at the same time it occurs to me that there is no need for “good time”. I have my bike, tent and bed as well as a bag of salami, cheese and bread for dinner if need be. The wheel of cheese I picked up while grazing in Amsterdam, did you know that you can actually get LOST in the cobbled streets and alleys just hopping from cheese shop to cheese shop?
About 2 hours into the ride I pull the big green beast (bicycle) into a graveled driveway prompted by a sign that reads “Koffie & Appeltaart €3.50″ YES, please and thank you! (this type of stop is the reason I cant seem to get anywhere, and I don’t even mind) The unassuming shop appears to be a small farm house but inside it’s filled floor to ceiling with antiques and knickknacks. The teenage boy at the counter seems to be thrilled to practice his English on me, perhaps there aren’t that many tourists that venture past old town Amsterdam? Anywhoodles, I know this because after I order and pay, he recounts our whole English conversation to his work mate with a smattering of Dutch here and there. The snack was delicious and provided some energy to get me to the next food stop, good thing I am cycle touring…
The villages continue to slide by, traffic circles are navigated and suddenly there are flower fields EVERYWHERE. Actually, that’s not true I could smell them before I saw them, predominately the hyacinth. The fields of daffodil, tulips, hyacinth and more slide by and the roadside bike lane turns into a country lane meandering through the vibrant flower farms, each field more impressive than the last. I can’t help but stop repeatedly for more photos then an impromptu picnic with my goody bag. While enjoying my lunch I am approached my an older couple in their 70s who are curious about my big green beast, the ridiculous amount of baggage strapped to it and interested to know where I am from, where I am going and if I have accommodation sorted for the evening. Turns out that they are also cycle tourists and have only just returned from a cycle pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. We exchange pleasantries and they offer recommendations for a good dinner and a campground along my path to the sea. Both easy enough to find and after paying my €17.50 my tent is pitched and a chilly night starts to fall around me not that it matters, the sleeping bag is warm and after pedaling all day, I am quickly asleep. Asleep before I have performed any of my housekeeping tasks: planning tomorrow’s ride, reading a few chapters of my book or showering. I suppose that’s the benefit/detriment of traveling alone, there is no one to complain about you stinking up the place.
Sleeping in until 10am was not in the plan nor was the cafe which was an embarrassingly short distance down the road from where I started. While I should have been putting miles behind me, I was instead snuggled in a corner with my notebook, a cappuccino, and a warm croissant with jam and butter writing this blog post. mmmmm… Eventually, it was time to go and the rest of the ride to Den Haag took me first to the seaside then on a gorgeous bike path that wound over and through the dunes, around golf courses, cutting through forests then into the city. Two nights in a hostel here will give me time to do some sightseeing, wash some laundry and of course take som