The ‘Low’ Lands and ‘Highs’ of Amsterdam

The wind was blowing a hooley as we headed north on the second leg of our trip, our Dutch neighbour ‘Max’ said it would not be too windy to take the coastal route, I think the Dutch must be more hardened to the wind judging by the colour of The Boss’ knuckles holding onto the steering wheel. After passing through the 4 mile long Western Scheldt Tunnel (€7.45 for car/caravan) we stopped for our dinner by the waters edge at Neeltje Jans.

The motorways of Rotterdam gave The Boss brain ache whilst battling the traffic, the wind and foreign language directions. Not that he moans, or I couldn’t hear him as I dozed. Off the motorway and almost instantly onto single track roads through sleepy villages. Not too sleepy though, oncoming traffic slowed our journey down to almost a crawling standstill. Sat Nav turns us left and right and then straight ahead, I’m sure she’s lost. 

Koole Kampeerhoeve  is a sharp left turn in what appears to be a small town of quite pretty houses. First impressions of the site, not as impressed initially as I was at the last site. This site is more of a CL but houses more than 5 ‘vans. Very open aspect with the biggest skies you can imagine. The view through the rectangle window is vast giving way to beautiful sunsets and for those who know me, I got the biggest sky imaginable, I love a big sky. 

Off to the local supermarket for a few bits, the cashier took one look at our plastic and rapidly shook his head as though it were explosive. Coppering up for a bottle of wine, is just what we hadn’t planned on doing. 

After a good nights sleep we went in search of a cash machine and a Lidl in the next town, Woerden. Had a laugh later when one of our Jellybeans was surprised they had a Lidl in Europe. A lovely, traffic free ride on the tandem took us 10 miles to Uithoorn, a purpose to this trip, visiting old friends and neighbours, who moved back here 2 years ago. Fantastic catch up, great chat and lovely food provided by Marcel, Sam and their now grown up daughter, Melissa. A plan was hatched to ride into Amsterdam the next day, Marcel generously offered to drive us back to caravan, nice chap, so we could leave tandem with them overnight to make the ride shorter from their house.

Now Sunday, with forecast for rain on Monday, The Boss decided we had a busy day. Keukenhof Tulip Gardens was a ‘must see’ attraction and we would drive there before doing the tandem ride to Amsterdam later. Ambitious plan. One hour sat on the approach to Keukenhof while a road bridge lifted up and down every time a boat came near didn’t help much. Keukenhof was beautiful in the sunshine but was unbelievably busy, after only two hours our crowd claustrophobia had us heading for the car park.

Car swapped for Tandem and we are again riding along dedicated cycle lanes into the heart of Amsterdam, the contrast to riding in UK is immense, big tick to Dutch planning. Amsterdam centre is unsurprisingly busy, we have ridden in London and Paris also, so find the navigation and slow pace bike balance OK. If you rode in with children it would perhaps be wise to lock up the bikes and walk the manic central areas. We stop for a beer, The Boss picks an empty bar, Why?, the coffee shop next door looks far more popular. We are served quickly so I don’t complain. ‘Smokeys’ next door is definitely ‘smokin’ and we are soon passively enjoying the atmosphere and feeling just a little more ‘happy’ than expected. Oh yes, we are in Amsterdam, silly us.

A lazy day followed the busy day. After 25 miles in the saddle yesterday my derrière is a little tender, we really should use the bike more often, those Brooks saddles are so hard on the unaccustomed backside. Butties, northerners remember, made on bakery fresh nutty bread. I hate homemade butties but these were delicious. Relaxing reading a book, we even sat out in the late afternoon with a beer and Dutch appetisers, with a glass of Amstel, thanks Sam. 

As we planned tomorrow’s drive to Germany a Heron flew past bringing the day to a close.

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