Our new recruit Belinda spent a week riding through Holland. Here's her story of the best things to see by bike.
Windmills. Canals. Flowers. Clogs…. What’s not to love about the Netherlands?!
When in Rome do as the Romans do, so when in the Netherlands it only seemed natural to travel as the locals do – on a bike. With most attractions being outdoor seeing them through a window did not sound tempting.
The first day took me on a leisurely ride from Amsterdam through woodlands, gardens and sand dunes in Kennemerland to Haarlem, with plenty of opportunities to take in the scenery and see my first glimpse of tulip fields!
Haarlem is a small city, full of hidden courtyards, cobbled side streets and traditional terraced buildings. I recommend a visit to Grote Markt (a market square) where I sat and ‘people watched’ in Brinkmann’s cafe. Within the square is Grote Kerk, a cathedral dating back to the fourteenth century - the city is everything you imagine the Netherlands to be and the hotel was in ideal location.
The ride from Haarlem to Leiden was without doubt the highlight of my trip, as took me through the spectacular flower regions. As it was early May the bulbs were out in full force, embracing the spring and the array of colours from daffodils, tulips and hyacinths did not disappoint. The cycling is flat, allowing the spectacular beauty to be absorbed – no picture can do the views justice. I decided to make the most of the ride, so went off route to see as many fields as possible. This made the journey take the whole day – but it was entirely worth it.
Next it was time for me to cycle from Leiden to the picturesque city of Delft. As this was the shortest journey, I pedalled at a more leisurely pace allowing for maximum relaxation, stopping off to take photos of the windmills and lakes I passed. Delft is most famous for its signature blue and white painted pottery (we’re still in the Netherlands, not Greece!). The next morning I visited Vermeer Centrum, an art gallery.
I arrived in Gouda on a Thursday, in time for the essential cheese market! Held outside the Town Hall the fancy dress gives a feel for the Dutch culture. After a night in a hotel and filling breakfast, it was unfortunately time to cycle back to Amsterdam, although luckily, I still had the longest journey to go – down the Amstel river a perfect way to end an unforgettable trip.