As the watery sun broke through in a watery summer, the Olympics on the telly reminded me of my recent lack of athletic activity. So I set off on the bike to ride a 60km loop from Amsterdam to the beach and back.
It’s a good route, through my perennial favourite town Haarlem, down the leafy streets and past the stately homes of Bloemendaal, then into the Kennemer dunes.
The excellent rolling cycle paths through the dunes offer the only hills anywhere near Amsterdam, so expect them to be very popular with fat old blokes in lycra, like me.
At the merest suspicion of sun, Zandvoort Beach becomes crowded with Dutch families, and also attracts a lot of German tourists. Numerous B&Bs advertise ‘Zimmer Frei’.
The Zandvoortians seem anxious to depict themselves as almost Australian. Why not? They’ve got a beach, haven’t they?
Zandvoort doesn’t look at all like any Australian beach I’m familiar with.
At some of the ones I know and like best, if anyone else comes along while you’re using it, they ask politely whether you’d mind sharing it.
If you politely say, ‘Sorry, we were here first so this beach is taken,’ they move on around the headland to find a more deserted one.
A visit to Zandvoort is more of a social occasion.
At a Dutch beach the water is not really the point. Few people were swimming; many more were doing as I was, strolling along the promenade, looking for food, drink and entertainment.