By the Amstel River. ‘Amster-dam’ = ‘Dam on the Amstel’, remember?
We’ve just arrived back in Holland, the breeze is gentle and the rain won’t be with us for two more days. So what better way to fight the jetlag than a ride through the Dutch countryside?
One of the most hit-on posts on this blog is my brief list of Holland’s Prettiest Villages. I decided I’d see how many of them I could manage to ride around in a day. My route took me through Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, Abcoude, Weesp, Naarden, Muiden and back to Amsterdam. A respectable 72kms, plus a few where I forgot to switch the computer back on.
If that seems a bit energetic for Day 1 in the saddle, let me confess up front that Mevrouw T kindly offered me use of her electric bike. I know, that’s cheating, but we thought the beast should be tested again, before we take it farther afield.
It was indeed a lovely ride, and the bike’s electric booster left me energy over for photography. Continue reading
Yes, I know. These are grey geese, not ducks.
Mevrouw T has been doing a short architecture course, and knows a lot about W.M. Dudok, the Dutch architect whose masterpieces are on display in Hilversum, the prosperous ‘Media Town’ which produces most of the Dutch radio and television.
It’s an easy ride from Amsterdam, when the wind is at your back. Continue reading
The house on the River Gein, painted by Mondrian
I don’t expect to win any photography prizes for this shot, but I am very interested in the subject.
Piet Mondriaan - Huis aan het Gein
Before he started painting his famous coloured squares, and before he changed the spelling of his name to ‘Mondrian’, Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan and a group of his friends spent time working by the lovely River Gein, just outside Amsterdam, between the villages of Abcoude and Weesp, painting windmills and also a particular house.
It happens to be on one of my favourite bike rides, and I was delighted to learn from Yvonne Louis’s book A Brush With Mondrian that the house is still there.
I commend the book, the Gein and the bike ride to you and I was delighted to find the house there too.
Yesterday’s meeting in Utrecht was postponed by an hour. Good. That gave me time to ride there on the bike from Amsterdam. It’s 54km according to my cycling guidebook, but the guidebook didn’t count on roadworks forcing detours around Abcoude and Breukelen. Nor did it warn that the wind would be blowing straight into my face when I headed south along the Amsterdam Rhine Canal.
Gein River by Abcoude
It was sometimes hard work, but the ride has a lot going for it. The path along the winding Gein River between the villages of Abcoude and Weesp is one of the prettiest in Holland.
By the Amsterdam Rhine Canal
The Amsterdam Rhine Canal carries enough interesting heavy barges to keep a rider’s mind off his legs, some of the time at least. But during an hour of riding into the wind on a dead straight track, broken only by the cycle path corrugations caused by poplar tree roots, the novelty wears off towards the end.
It was nice to see Breukelen. It’s fairly well known that New York was once called “New Amsterdam”, Harlem was once “Haarlem”, but perhaps less well known that the Bowery comes from the Dutch for farm – “boerderij” – and Brooklyn was “Breukelen”, named after this unpretentious little village a few kilometres north west of Utrecht. There’s not much there now – a couple of churches and a pleasant canal, but it does have a “Breukelen Bridge”.
Ride time to the centre of Utrecht 3hours 30 minutes, including leg stretching, backside massaging, photo taking stops.
You can take a bike on a Dutch train outside peak hours – all day ticket for anywhere in the country costs 6 euros. Honour had been satisfied, so that’s what I did to get home.