Tag Archives: Weesp

AMSTERDAM TO NAARDEN – a fine spring cycle

By the Amstel River. 'Amster-dam' = 'Dam on the Amstel', remember?

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

17 Comments

Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling, Holland

LOST IN NAVIGATION – a Dutch-style family ride

'No, Mum, we came down this road here, so we're looking for number 27'. Andrew wisely leaves the decision making to the girls.

Finding your way around Holland by bike is a no-brainer…um…except in Amsterdam South East.

A foolishly trusting Australian family, seduced by my personal charm, smart new bike with GPS computer and my apparently effortless command of the Dutch language, followed me into Amsterdam’s suburbs. Getting out of them was rather more difficult. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling, Holland

SATURDAY PHOTO #12 – Mondrian’s House on the Gein

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.

10 Comments

Filed under Art

HOLLAND’S PRETTIEST VILLAGES – my top 5

The Netherlands is nearly the most densely populated country on the planet, but its cities are small. Visitors are surprised to find that Amsterdam has less than 800,000 residents. The Dutch population (16.5million) is dotted across the country in hundreds of small towns and villages. Most have green space all around them, water close by, and relatively prosperous residents who can restore old houses, employ good architects and develop attractive gardens. Consequently rural Holland is one of the prettiest places on earth.

So here are my top five, in no particular order:

Spaarndam

This tiny village is set on the Spaarne River, in the farmland and forest between Amsterdam and Haarlem. Cafe Spaarndam dates from 1571. The village is also notable for the two late 19th century forts, and a statue of the mythical boy with his finger in a mythical dyke.

Muiden

Muiden is made special by having a busy lock, a mooring for tall sailing ships, and Muiderslot, a restored castle on the waterfront. At Muiden a cyclist can sit by the lock with a beer or a coffee and admire the work others have done on their expensive hobby boats.

Broek in Waterland

In the middle of the most appealling (and most popular) riding area out of Amsterdam, Broek in Waterland has little wooden houses in lush gardens, and a church tower peeping up above the lake. A close call between this village and neighbour Zuiderwoude for inclusion in the list, but Broek has better cafes.

Weesp

Weesp was razed to the ground in the 16th century by troops from Gelderland. You didn’t know Gelderland had a marauding army? Neither did I, till the information board in Weesp told me. Now Gelderland is a pleasant Dutch province surrounding the town of Arnhem. Weesp recovered from the setback, and now has a couple of church towers, a row of old windmills, a fort, and of course, cafes by the water.

Edam

Thanks to a certain well-known cheese, Edam is the most visited village on my list. It booms in summer when buses churn out tourists to see Cheese Market: The Show on Wednesdays at lunch time. But any other time it’s quiet and well-supplied with preserved buildings.

NOTE: My rule for this short list – a village had to be in Holland. ‘Holland’ is commonly used to mean ‘The Netherlands’ but officially ‘Holland’ refers to two provinces containing Amsterdam (‘Noord Holland’) and The Hague (‘Zuid Holland’). I limited myself even more than that – my favourite villages had to be reachable within a hour’s bike riding from central Amsterdam, so all are in Noord (North) Holland.

There are plenty of other candidates I could have included (Marken, Durgerdam, Baambrugge, Naarden, Abcoude…). I’d like to hear your suggestions. I’m always looking for an excuse to get on the bike for an hour.

47 Comments

Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling, Holland

GIRO D’ITALIA’S WEIRD ROUTE – Amsterdam to Utrecht

Be careful on these narrow Dutch bridges, Cadel. There could be another bike coming the other way. Walking across is safer.

Dear Cadel Evans,

Hello again from your Netherlands-based Australian cycling consultant. I’ve checked out the route they’ve given you on this Giro Day 2 between Amsterdam to Utrecht, and it’s ridiculous! They’re sending you a very long way around. 209 kilometres?? What are they thinking of??!! I rode down to Utrecht a few weeks ago and it was only a touch over 50km!

That’s what you get for having boys from out of town doing the planning. Those Italians may know Tuscany or Sardinia like the backs of their hands, but send them to Holland and they haven’t got a clue. Any Amsterdammer could have told them there’s a nice flat cycleway with only a few tree roots alongside the Rhine Canal that takes you straight to Utrecht. A few times you have to pick up your bike and lift it over a footbridge, but that shouldn’t be any problem to people like you who have really light bikes. It’s much shorter and quicker than the crazy route they’ve set you guys.

Anyway, I hope you’ll be able to appreciate a bit of nice Dutch countryside and pretty villages. I rode out there and took the camera so I could show you what to expect.

You'll see a lot of landscape like this.


You’ll start off at Amsterdam’s Museumplein again. It could be a bit messy there because the Dutch garbagemen are on strike for a week and the big crowd from Saturday probably won’t take all their litter home with them. Speaking of which, would you tell the other riders not to throw their empty drink bottles away like they usually do when they’ve finished with them, because nobody will be cleaning them up till next Thursday at the earliest.

From the Museumplein you head out through Diemen (a bit boring) and on to Weesp.This is a very pretty town with a market, but it’s only on Wednesdays so unfortunately you’ll miss it. Probably the organisers give you free lunch on a big important ride like the Giro, but if they don’t you’ll find Weesp has a few nice cafes by the water. They’ll be busy because of all the crowds there to see the Giro, but if you say you’re famous and doing the race yourself they should find you a table and serve you fairly quickly. The coffee isn’t nearly as good as in Adelaide, Wollongong or Milan, though.

This is a bridge in Weesp. It's also fairly narrow, so take it easy and remember to ride on the right side of the road, like they do in Belgium.

After Weesp you pass close to Hilversum, the town where most Dutch television studios are based. Expect lots of ‘personalities’ jumping in front of you with cameras and trying to interview you. Ignore them. TV people always think the world revolves around them, but they don’t realise how much more important we cyclists are.

Next the route winds down to Utrecht, past lots of cows and canals. It misses Utrecht the first time, then wiggles around all over the town trying to find the Centrum, or town centre. We shouldn’t blame the organisers for that. I got lost in Utrecht myself. By Sunday I hope they’ll have put up signs with arrows pointing to the finish so you should find it okay, even if you’re out in front of the race and can’t just follow the other riders.

Utrecht is a university town so there are nice things to do there. There’s a Kathmandu store there too, so if you need any outdoor gear, a Goretex jacket or a tent to save on hotel costs, that’s the place to be. It’s been really cold here in Holland, Cadel, so you may need a fleece jacket.

If you’re at a loose end after the race, there are two interesting museums in Utrecht – the Aboriginal Art Museum (tell them you’re an Aussie and they’ll be all over you) and a museum of mechanical music which has entertaining music boxes and street organs.

Good luck, Cadel – it’s a long day’s ride but a good one.

Your cycling friend, Richard.

PS. Tomorrow I’ll try the third of the Dutch Giro legs – Amsterdam to Middelburg in Zeeland, through the tulip fields of Lisse. Then on Saturday I’ll be by the roadside watching out for you.

4 Comments

Filed under Cycling, Holland, Sport