Tag Archives: Waterland

DRAMA IN DUTCH SKIES – and a photo tip…

Basiliek van de H. Nicolaas and Amsterdam Centraal Station...a trick shot (see below).

Basiliek van de H. Nicolaas and Amsterdam Centraal Station…a trick shot (see below).


My brother-in-law Jacob Oldenburger always claims the Dutch skies are the most beautiful in Europe. He’s cycled many a kilometre and he ought to know.

You’d think sky was sky and light was light wherever you went, but on a windy autumn day as Mevrouw T and I rode over the flat landscape of Waterland, north of Amsterdam, it was the clouds that caught our attention.

I only took a few shots, then converted them to black and white and did a little experimenting… Continue reading

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FIVE DUTCH VILLAGES – a day’s cycling from Amsterdam

Markermeer - they don't call it 'Waterland' for nothing.

Markermeer – they don’t call it ‘Waterland’ for nothing.

A sunny day, a gentle breeze, a work deadline met, bike chain oiled and legs in need of a stretch. Time to do one of my favourite loop rides from Amsterdam, out into Waterland, aiming to visit five of Holland’s most picturesque villages.

Two of the most visited posts on this blog are about Waterland and Dutch villages, so there’s another excuse to put the two together in one pretty, watery ride and have a story to tell at the end of it.
Continue reading

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MARKENMEER – a 170km cycling loop from Amsterdam

The road north out of Amsterdam



I set myself another cycling project this week – to ride around the Zuider Zee. 170km is further than I want to ride in a day, and a force 4 gale coming up from the south-west makes riding by the water tough at times.

Fortunately there are stations nicely spaced along the route, and trains with compartments for bikes shuttle back to Amsterdam a couple of times an hour. I can take it one day at a time. Continue reading

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MARKEN, HOLLAND – riding the wind

‘The weather’s good,’ says my Dutch friend and cycling guide Hans, ‘Let’s ride to Marken’. It is a perfect day for getting on the bike – cool and sunny, unusual for Holland. There are just a couple of small problems.

‘Bit windy,’ I suggest.

‘Gentle north-easter,’ says Hans. ‘We can ride straight into it to start with, then it will blow us home.’

‘Okay, fine.  Marken.’

From Amsterdam, that means heading north into Waterland. The little ferry that chugs across from Amsterdam Centraal is free, and packed with cyclists. Two minutes later we’re on the other side, heading up the path beside the waterway.

‘This canal goes all the way to Den Helder,’ says Hans, ’75km.’

The gentle north-easter is picking up a bit. I’m trying to keep my breathing regular. ‘Oh,’ I say.

‘Marken’s closer than that,’ says Hans.

‘Good.’

‘Stop for koffie on the way?’

‘Very good.’

It’s lovely countryside, green fields criss-crossed by canals, with pretty villages like Holysloot and Broek in Waterland. I find plenty of excuses to prise my tender non-Dutch backside off the saddle to take photos of the baby lambs, the baby hares, the baby ducks…

Ransdorp

But while we pedal, I mainly concentrate on riding right on Hans’ rear wheel to get some shelter from the north-easterly gale that’s  suddenly sprung up, coming exactly from the Marken direction.  Hans’s bike is old, but it looks lighter than mine, with thinner, faster tyres, and Hans has thinner, faster legs pushing the pedals around.

Koffie break town - Monnickendam

We do stop for koffie in Monnickendam. ‘Koffie’  is a popular drink at cafes in Holland, but should not be confused with ‘coffee’, as we Australians know it, let alone with ‘caffe’ as the real stuff is made in Italy. Most Dutch cafes haven’t come close to getting it right, though I have found one exception – I had a perfectly acceptable cappuccino in Den Haag this week. ‘We’ve all done the barista course,’ the waitress told me, and it showed. Cafe Zebedeus – it deserves a mention.

But I digress. Monnickendam has other things going for it – lots of pleasant places to sit by an attractive little harbour.

Then we climb on the bikes and up on to the dyke, where a north easterly tornado is doing its best to stop us reaching Marken. But heads down, tails up and working together we cross the few kilometres of causeway now connecting the island of Marken to the mainland.

Traditional Marken resident

Marken is touristy, that’s for sure, but it can’t be blamed for that. Paris is allowed to be touristy, and even Venice and Amsterdam can get away with it. If you go there you don’t expect to be the only visitors, rubbing shoulders with colourful locals who treat you as one of the family as they  go about their colourful traditional business.

Marken used to have a colourful tradition. It was settled by colourful 13th century monks, then by fishing families who wore traditional costumes and spoke a dialect barely comprehensible to mainlanders.  But when the massive ‘Afsluit’ dyke to the north closed off the Zuiderzee, that was pretty much the end of fishing as the Markeners had known it.  And there’s not as much call for monks as there was in the 13th century.  So what else could Marken turn to but tourism? The colourful costumes are now on display in the little museum, while the Markeners themselves run cafes and souvenir shops.

Every building must be painted green and white, it seems. Put them all together and you have a tourist magnet.

‘Koffie by the harbour, Richard?’

‘Excellent idea.’

Koffie has the same effect on the bladder as coffee. The urinals in the toilets in Cafe Marken must have been installed by the world’s tallest plumbers. I regard myself as about average height, but the little basins are nearly level with my navel. They should supply boxes for non-giants to stand on.

Marken waterfront - note the intrepid cyclist in foreground

But relieved of liquid ballast, the ride home is a breeze. There is no wind at all, or so it feels, but when we take our feet off the pedals we’re still magically rolling along the dyke at about 30kph. Uitdam, Holysloot and Ransdorp flash by and we’re soon back at the ferry again, looking over to Amsterdam’s Centraal Station.

‘Want to do it again, Richard?’ says Hans.

‘Um, now?’

‘How about next week? We could see which way the wind’s blowing, take the bikes on the train, ride back with the wind behind us.’

‘Sure. Absolutely. Beauty.’

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