A bike tour through the Netherlands

From 05th. to 20th. July 2010 we cycled through the Netherlands.

We had exceptionally good weather. (25 ºC to 39 ºC) On day 8 a violent thunderstorm, which doesn't occur every year, forced us to search for a shelter half an hour. Even fire brigade, Police and ambulance were mobilized. Trees were uprooted and in the neighbouring village, caravans were literally whirled through the air and landed in a pond.

Something about the foundation "
Vrienden op de Fiets". (Friends of Bicycles)
It is a foundation with the scope to give cyclists and walkers an accommodation. As a member (annual fee 7) you get a booklet with addresses of 3900 private accommodations, spread over the whole country. The overnight stay with breakfast costs varies, but maximum 18.50 and 0.50 extra for electric bikes.

Our bike tour begins in Amsterdam and ends in Oss. The intention was, to cycle around the Netherlands. Unfortunately we had to stop the tour in Oss because of illness in the family.

Behind the station in Amsterdam lies the river Ij. It connects the Ijmeer with Ijmuiden on the North Sea. A branch is called 'de Zaan' An area with a lot of water. There are a lot of canals, bridges and lakes.

One of the many locks


05th. July, 2010. Amsterdam - Alkmaar (Zaandam, Zaanse Schans, de Rijp, Alkmaar.)
Km. 61.05
Time 3:24

At about 10 a.m. we arrive the train station in Amsterdam with the City Night Line from Zürich. We leave the station at the backside and are at the right starting point for our destination, Alkmaar, via the Zaan.
After 15 km along canals and rivers, over bridges and locks we are in Zaandam.
The way is well signposted and we are almost completely separated on cycle paths from traffic.

The temperature of 26 º C can not be the reason for closing. It must have been the football match.

Water World 'de Zaan



Before you can build something, big concrete post must be rammed in the soft ground otherwise the building will look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Our tires could use a bit more air; therefore we look for a cycle shop. The first has a small note on the door with a very logical explanation why the store is closed; you can see that the football fever for the world championship is everywhere.
We slept well in the train last night, but now it's time for a good breakfast.
De Zaanse Schans is an area in Holland for tourists, with typical green "Noordholland" houses and mills. Wood saw mills, (Amsterdam needed a lot of wood to build houses) oil mills, mustard and paint mills. Along the river Zaan we arrive at the Rijp and Graft, two pretty villages. This year we have decided to cycle maximum three to five hours, to have more time for rest and sightseeing.
Towards the evening we arrive in Alkmaar. I turn on my Navigator and type in the address of our hostess for tonight. The female voice of the navigator tells me exactly how we have to cycle through the city and suddenly she says in 100 meters on the right side of the road is your goal. She knows exactly!!

de Zaanstreek

de Zaanse Schans

Green is typical for North-Holland

Zaanse Schans

City Hall of de Rijp and

It is not the "stadhuis (town hall) of Amsterdam", but from de Rijp built at the same time as in Amsterdam

neighboring Graft


Scales house in Alkmaar

06th. July, 2010. Alkmaar - Medemblik (Rustenburg, Avenhorn, Hoorn, Enkhuizen, Andijk, Medemblik.)
Km. 76.64 = total 137.69
Time 4:13 = total ---7:39

It is warm again, so that jacket gets into the luggage bag

The then "Gasthuis' (Hospital) from 1563

Typical North-Holland Idyll

At that time the main church, now Department Store

Beautiful gabled roof

Square with a statue by the son of the town Jan Pieterszoon Coen

Channels are sometimes good indicators to find the way. We cycle along the canal from the north to the centre of the city and from there on; we follow the signs to Hoorn. On a dike and with backwind, we reach a nice speed and are in Hoorn already at 11 a.m.
Hoorn is an old city at the Ijselmeer. At the magnificent facades one sees that Hoorn was an important city during the 16th and 17th Century (the golden age of Holland).
The "Gasthuis (in the old days a hospital) with its beautiful facade is actually build in 1563 and is located in the centre. We walk along the "Grote Kerk (big church) which was sold and is now a department store. I see a poster at the entrance of the church of a shoe shop from Charles Vögele Switzerland.

At the marketplace in Hoorn we see this beautiful house, with many skylights

We leave through this gate in Hoorn


This house is leaning to the right and forward

On the market place, where once executions took place, stands a statue of Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1587-1629). It is a son of the city, who ruled the Dutch colonies with firmer hand. The southernmost tip of South America is called Cape Horn. Another son of the city (the discovery voyager W.C. Schouten) has found this passage.

On the dike at Andijk

The endgame is approaching

I estimate the height of the dike about 8 meters. Not necessary to be mowed

We want to go on the dike along the Ijselmeer to Enkhuizen a similar town as Hoorn which flourished in the golden century.
The dike is increased and strengthened at the moment like many other vulnerable parts on dikes in the Netherlands. Holland takes global warming with the expected rise of the oceans very seriously. We are diverted, and get on the dike just before Andijk.
In Andijk the road bends to north-west, i.e. headwind, and so our power supported bikes are really helpful.

Harbour in Enkhuizen

The port in Medemblik. The town received city rights already in 1289

Town hall Medemblik

Bonifatius church

07th July, 2010. Medemblik - Franeker (Den Oever, Zurich, Harlingen, Franeker.)
Km. 74.21= total 211.90
Time 3:36= total -11:15

Upright posture, in his hand a shopping bag that is the way a Dutchman uses his bike. Note the cycle lanes

Den Oever, the last town in the province North Holland

The dark spots on the picture is dry-laid land

A view of the enclosure dam to the west

The builder of the enclosure dam (Afsluitdijk) Dr.Lely

and to the east

With changing clouds but mostly sunny weather we cycle to Den Oever, the beginning of the Afsluitdijk. The dike, approximately 30 km. as straight as a die, connects the provinces North Holland and Friesland with each other. This changed the former Zuiderzee, salt water, into the Ijselmeer, now fresh water.
We are happy with the tail wind and have pity with the oncoming cyclists We switch the electrical support off, (it only supports up to 25 km./h) without great effort we reach 25-30 km./h.
After 6 km, we get to
Dr.Lely monument, the builder of this gigantic work.
A pedestrian bridge crosses the road and leads to the observation tower with views to both sides. Den Oever is clearly visible but Friesland lies beyond the horizon.
The restaurant is almost a small museum with many photos; they show how, at that time, the Dutch build this dike.

The first town in Friesland

Harlingen at the mud-flats

The first village in Friesland is called Zurich (without vowel mutation), but it sounds the same as in Switzerland with umlaut.
In Harlingen we have lunch break, a pretty little town with a port, numerous canals and narrow streets.
Franeker, is our destination for today, where we arrive early because we want to visit the Museum of
Eise Eisinga.
Eise Eisinga has been an amateur astronomer who built a planetarium in his spare time, which still works today. It is the oldest operating planetarium in the world. (Completed 1781) Due to varying temperature conditions it has to be adjusted once a year.

Town hall Franeker

Canal in Harlingen

Planetarium in Franeker

"Koorndragershuisje" (grainhaus). It is on a canal, accessible for all ships.

Franeker is criss-crossed by canals

At the top is our accommodation room. It is decorated with an example of a Dutch tale

08th July, 2010. Franeker - Dokkum (Leeuwarden, Wyns, Budaard, Dokkum.)
Km. -53.12 = total 265.02
Time 3: 20 = total -14.35

"de Waag" in Leeuwarden

The leaning tower of Oldehove

de Grote Kerk


Organ of the "Grote Kerk"


The Bed and Breakfast was once again superb. In many cases, there is a guestbook. Our hostess takes a few photos to stick them into the book.
Again we have tailwind and instantly we arrive in Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland.
Not only Pisa has a leaning tower. Also the "Oldehove" tower in Leeuwarden is at least as lopsided as the one in Italy. Once the builders wanted to correct it and now it stands there like a curved sausage. Due to danger of collapse they have left out the spire.
A little further is "de Grote Kerk", whose origins date back to the 13th Century. The "Orange Poortje", is an entrance accessible only to the Frisian town holder. They are the direct ancestors of the present Royal Family.
In addition, there is another entrance, "het Brood Poortje". Through this passage the priests came to the poor and hungry to distribute bread after the ceremony.

Overland to Dokkum

Farmhouse in Friesland


City Hall in Dokkum. It just holds a wedding.

The town of Dokkum with many canals


Martinschurch 15 century


Through the country we get to Dokkum our destination. In this town there is also much to see like the Martinus church from the 15th Century. When we enter the church the organ is playing.
A missionary from South England,
St. Boniface, was killed here in Dokkum in the year 755. Therefore; you find his name in various places in Friesland.

Centre of Dokkum

de Waag, 1598

House of our Hostess

09th July, 2010 Dokkum - Groningen (Anjum, Lauwersoog, Winsum, Groningen.)
Km. 70.05 total = 335.07
Time 4:16 total = -18:51


Old Mill and modern greenhouses

Lauwer Sea, highway, bike trail and dike, from left to right

The wind has turned slightly but with electric assistance it is not at all a problem.
Via Anjum we come to Lauwerzee (Lauwer Sea). In 1969 the Lauwerszee was separated by a dike from the Waddenzee. The three Clevering locks manage to level the water. This occurs at low tide.

Coffee break

R.J. Clevering sluice gate

In Lauwersoog we make coffee break. A poster promises for fresh coffee and cakes, unfortunately the coffee machine is broken. But there are other restaurants.
Along the sea we come to the little village Ulrum. We are surprised by a beautiful old church. The doors are open and we go inside. We learn that in 1834
Hendrik de Cock, the then minister of Ulrum separated from the Evangelical Church (Hervormde) founded the Gereformeerde (Calvinists) Church. The separation of the two Protestant churches in the Netherlands, the Hervormde and Gereformeerde found here in Ulrum its origin.
After lunch break in Winsum we cycle to the capital city of the province Groningen, former a hanseatic city (1282-1669). Our navigation device brings us reliably to the main attractions in the city and towards the evening to our hosts of "Vrienden op de Fiets.

Lush meadows Lauwersmeer

Dutch Idyll


Ulrum: Here took the separation place


These are just the stable and barn, the house is on the other side of the road

Martini church in Groningen


The Aa church in Groningen

10th July, 2010. Groningen - Borger (Zuidlaardermeer, Gieten, Gasselterveld in Hondsrug, borger)
Km. 65.85 total =400.92
Time 3:49 total = 22:40

River with aquatic plant

An unusual house

Farmhouse in Groningen

Grain windmill

Typical signpost for cyclists

Forest in the "Hondsrug"

Our hostess makes a few photos to glue them into the guestbook.
The travel guide recommends visiting the Wall House too, which is located south of Groningen. I type the address in the navigator, and we cycle across the city to the right place. After a while the voice says, in 100 meters to the right, your goal is on the left side. It is fantastic this new technology.
In my opinion the Wall House is a bit strange. A concrete wall separates two buildings. Architecture enthusiastic from all countries pilgrim to this place. For us it is anyway on our way.
Much better is the ride through the south of Groningen along a small sea, rivers overgrown with water plants, through woods and all on bike paths.
Via Zuidlaardermeer, Annen and Eext, we get into the "Hondsrug. We have chosen this route because the Hondsrug is covered by megalithic monuments (dolmen) scattered over a beautiful landscape. "
Hunebedden" are prehistoric tombs of huge rocks, about 5000 years old. They are the oldest traces of human settlement in the Netherlands.

Dolmen in Drente

Largest dolmen of the Netherlands in Borger

On many kilometre bike paths through the Hondsrug we come into the capital of the dolmen, Borger. In the museum we are told by means of a film why such giant boulders landed here. They were pushed up by the advancing glaciers of the Ice Age from Scandinavia.
Near the museum is the biggest dolmen.
Our hostess is in Maastricht in a concert with the violinist from Maastricht André Rieu. The host, an avid cyclist takes his wife honoured. After dinner he invites us to a cup of coffee.

Dolmen in the province Drente

Picnic time

11th July, 2010. Borger - Almelo (Emmen, Coevorden, Hardenberg, Almelo.)
Km. 94.00 = total 494.92
Time 5:12 = total -27:52

Far and wide no car in sight

The east part of the Netherlands is marked by country life

The first 20 km we cycle through a forest. The bike trails are littered with leaves and twigs which the storm has blown from the trees last night. I didn't notice the storm last night. After such a warm day like yesterday with more than 35ºC, it was expected to happen.
In Emmen, we look at the direction indicator and have some trouble to find out how it should go further. A cyclist sees as far as our problem is and offers to cycle together until we are back on our track.
The villages are deserted I can't say whether it's due to the heat or that it is Sunday. Overland we meet many cyclists brave enough to face the Mediterranean temperatures.
Tonight is the final of the Football World Cup, Spain - Holland. I encourage my hosts by saying that the Swiss have beaten the Spanish, so the Dutchmen can do it too. We have a TV in our room and I watch the game towards the end of the second half. It is a surprise to me that the Spanish score the only goal in the last few minutes.

Red signs for cyclists

blue ones for cars

Even roundabouts have their own bike paths

A new farm with thatched roof

That is permitted in Holland

A church for many religions

12th July, 2010. Almelo - Zelhem near Doetichem. (Delden, Haaksbergen, Eibergen, Lichtenvoorde, Varseveld, Doetichem. Zelhem)
Km. 87.05 = total 581.92
Time 5:02 = total -32:54

Through many forests and far away from traffic we arrive in Haaksbergen. It's Monday morning and most shops are closed. We are looking for is an open bakery to have one or two cups of coffee. Luckily there is one.
At noon we are in Eibergen, where we have relatives we have seen them the last time about 50 years ago. The information office is already closed, so we speak to a young woman. She knows our family and leads us towards uncle Karel. When we introduce he recognize even our first names and we are welcomed.
It is again very hot. The thermometer shows 39 º on the bike computer. Of course it is exposed to the sun, but we are exposed to the sun too.
As we head towards Lichtervoorde the sky darken noticeably. Maybe we can reach the town or a restaurant to seek refuge, but we can't. We are lucky that a bus stop is put in the right way to protected us, because the gusts are so strong that the rain comes down almost horizontally. A maximum of half an hour passes before we can proceed without rain clothes.
Suddenly, we see and hear the sirens of fire-fighters, police and ambulance vehicles. So the storm must have been even worse than we anticipated.
A big tree lies on the bike trail. It's been torn out along with the roots and we must find a way through it.
At half past seven, we arrive at our host and are invited with a cup of tea. It is a nice thing with "Vrienden op de Fiets".

Result of strong wind

There is no need for Vuvusela any moor

13th. July, 2010. Zelhem - Barneveld (Doesburg, Dieren, Loenen, Hoenderloo Otterloo, Barneveld.)
Km. 75.69 = total 657.61
Time 4:11 = total -37:05

In addition to any Auto-road is also a bike trail



Doesburg former brewery

Our hostess (now 82) has previously managed a restaurant, the breakfast table is beautifully decorated.
The first place is called Doesburg, an ancient town at the river Ijsel.
While I take a photo of an old house with a beautiful facade, a passerby said, that in this house beer was brewed in old times, it is now a restaurant.
Via Eerbeek we go to Loenen, the gateway to the

In Doesburg we cross the Ijsel

Even in small villages are bike trails

Barneveld is the country part of the "brown chicken. And indeed, as we enter Barneveld, we can already see the first chicken farm. Of course, the chickens are brown.
In the evening we are invited by our hosts for a cup of coffee in the beautiful garden. We talk about all sort of things and of course, about chickens. Take a look out of the window my host says! Vis a Vis, I see the Museum of chickens.


This saves the town money with

one - man work

Pay attention to the cycle tracks on the pictures. Only that way one can understand that the Dutchman doesn't like wearing a helmet. Sometimes you see cyclist or children with a helmet, but very rarely adults. The cyclist is almost not in contact with the motorized traffic. I say "almost", because there are sometimes situations where you have to do with the cars, especially in the city.

14th July, 2010 Barneveld - Oss (Ede,Wageningen, Andelst, Ochten, Land van Maas en Waal, Oss.)
Km. 83.03 = total 740.64
Time 4:44 = total -41:49

Sayings found on the stairway of a department store - restaurant. The mother says, let's go eat a muffin,

Today we have to cross three rivers, the Neder-Rhine, (picture) the Waal and the Meuse.

then you can go to the WC

The South of Holland has instead water, grain mills


It is again nice bike-weather, almost a bit too warm but the wind makes it bearable.
In Wageningen (Agricultural University), we cross the first of the three rivers for today, the Lower Rhine. Not even 10 km south we come to the Waal. The bridge is closed for bicycles. We cycle along the river for about 15 km on the dike to the next bridge in Echteld. This is the first opportunityto get in the "
Land van Maas en Waal". The ferry at Ochten is out of order.
In Nieuwe Schans we make a coffee break, and wait for the ferry which takes us to the next Province, North Braband. Today Oss is our goal. This time not at "Vrienden op de Fiets", but to our sister Marianne. She lives here and would like to accompany us for a few days on bike tour.

On this bridge (A50 or E31) cycling is not permitted

so we cycle along "de Waal" to the next bridge

On the dike and

over the next bridge we come

into the land of Maas and Waal

15th July, 2010. Day of rest in Oss

Our sister must work in the morning. We meet in the afternoon and will make a trip to the local area.
We make up for sightseeing to the centre and as agreed meet Marianne at 13:00 at Walplein.
We're going to Ravenstein and spend the afternoon in this old town which is worth seeing.

Walplein in the centre of Oss

The town of Ravenstein has a nice market square and a 30 meters grain mill, the largest in North Brabant. She is still into use and grind only environmentally planted corn

The town of Ravenstein is located on the Meuse, and of course, has a small port.

16th July, 2010. Oss - Venray (Grave, Cuijk, Boxmeer, Overloon, Venray.)
Km. 73.97 = total 814.61
Time -4:17 = total -46:06

It Promises to be a beautiful day with temperatures above 30 ºC.
For Marianne, who will be with us a few days it is a new experience for several days on the road with a bike.
After cycling 30 km through forests (Marianne knows all the secret paths of course) we have in Cuijk the first breather.
Via Boxmeer and Overloon we cycle in the direction of Venray.
We cross a field of roses, and chat a bit with the gardener. The roses are dug from the ground with soil, purified from the earth and so packed for export to Scandinavia.
We cycle through the little city of Venray. It is bustling with activity. People are busy to establish a stage for a concert this evening.
We are warmly welcomed by our hosts. They show us the rooms and give us the keys. They have already dressed up festively. The host cleans his saxophone to a high gloss and after they are gone fore the festival

And off we go

A colorful rose field for export

The bike paths are well separated from the main roads, which make cycling pleasant

Even new houses have thatched roofs

If you haven't seen each other for a long time there is much to tell

in the garden of our hosts

17th July, 2010. Venray - Geleen (Tienraij, Venlo, Roermand, Echt, Geleen.)
Km. 93.97 = total 908.58
Time 5:11 = total -51:17

Until Venlo we cycle almost exclusively through the forest. We enjoy the shade of the trees, because the temperature is already 30ºC in the shadow, not exactly typical Dutch weather.
When we want to leave the restaurant in Venlo after a breather, it's raining. We take a second cup and after half an hour, the rain is over.
Although the temperature has gone back to 22 degrees, you can feel the moisture in the air.
Initially, it is still a bit cloudy but later on quite sunny.
We ride our bikes on the bike paths along the main route to Geleen, where we arrive at 17:30.
From Mr. and Mrs. Roverts we are greeted with a cup of tea.
Mr. Roverts introduce us the "Knooppunt" (junction) system for cycling.
I have heard about it but did not know exactly how it works.
Tomorrow we will cycle on the Belgium side to Maastricht and on the Dutch side back to Geleen with this system. Mr. Roverts will write down the numbers that we have to go along. In case of security I will take my maps with me.

This type of handlebar I saw often. Sometimes it is even aligned vertically and that is a mystery to me. Perhaps it is a device for an "air bag". >

<An empty cargo ship on the Meuse

18th. July, 2010. Geleen - Maastricht - Geleen (at the Belgian side to Maastricht and on the Dutch side back)
Km. 63.60 = total 972.18
Time 4:19 = total --55.36

With the ferry to Belgium

Telescope as in a submarine

Here we are at a numbering crossroads

Maas canal

and his natural course

Pause for a drink

Mr.Roverts wrote the numbers of all intersections down that we need.
To ride in the wild on so many bike paths as possible is the goal of the system.
There are maps with a list of all the numbers in Holland and Belgium, to get in all bookstores and ANWB = AA or RAC.
At home, you can write down all the numbers of a desired route, e.g. Maastricht to Amsterdam. So you can let your map at home and be sure you get the best routes.
How it works? You can see an
example of the region of Arnhem.

Even here on the Maas, are houseboats

A son of the city Maastricht

A ferry takes us across the Meuse to Belgium. For goods traffic people dug channels a long time ago. Now the channel is flowing parallel to the original riverbed which we follow until Maastricht

To explore the oldest city in the Netherlands, Maastricht, it takes much longer than an afternoon. Reason enough to come again another year.
The most famous place is the Vrijthof. There is a giant podium with several hundred chairs on the marketplace. At the moment André Rieu gives here his concerts.

It is Sunday morning with little traffic but the terraces are busy all right

Part of the city wall and city park ^

<The oldest gate in the Netherlands "de Helpoort" 1229

In the evening we sit together with Mr. and Ms. Roverts. They are also passionate cyclist, so many good tips are exchanged, e.g. that as a beginner, usually you take too much baggage with you and every year surplus material remain at home, etc. etc.

Seen in the center of the city

This mill was first mentioned in 11th century

To read, click on the image

Onze Lieve Vrauwebaseliek

No parking for bikes, I never have seen such a board

St. Servaasbaseliek

St. Servaasbridge over the Maas

Castle Meerssenhoven

Cargo ship on the Meuse

On the evening with family Roverts

In addition to the junktion system, there are signs for longer routes. Here an example, Maastricht - Arnhem

19th July, 2010. Geleen - Valkenswaard (Maaseik, Thorn, Weert, Valkenswaard.)
Km. 88.94 total =1061.12
Time 5:05 total = --60:41

Cycling through Belgium to the north. Belgium also has a province Limburg

And so it works, this is junction 26. If you want to go to 46 cycle straight forwards. To 45 turn right

Church of Ophoven with exhibition

luxuriant growth

We are approaching the white town

We liked the junction system so well that we also use it today. Mr. Roverts has written the numbers for today that lie on our route.
On the Belgian side, we cycle north via Maaseik and come back to Holland at Thorn.
Thorn is known in Holland as "the white town." Almost all the houses here are painted white, almost like the houses in Andalusia.
In Weert, we have lunch break and take a look at this city. It is a centre city for this area. The nearest large town is in a distance of 25 km. the "City of Phillips" Eindhoven.
The junction system takes us as far away from traffic as possible and overland to our destination, Valkenswaard.
After a whole day cycling a hot shower feels good.
The hostess gives us the key with some instructions for tomorrow, as she has to live early.

Thorn the white town. I know of no other village with so many white painted houses in the Netherlands

Blikvanger (Blik = can) you see it everywhere to protect the road of trash

St.Barbara, patron saint of miners. In the past there were many coalmines in Limburg

Mighty tower in Weert

The next morning I get bad news from home, my wife is not doing well.
Instead via Zeeland direction Amsterdam, we go to the station in Eindhoven (12Km.) and I have luck to get a ticket to Zurich. The train leaves from Utrecht tonight at 7p.m. We cycle to the house of Marianne in Oss. (ca.45 Km.) She will bring me to the station in Utrecht by car. At 10:00 o'clock tomorrow morning I will be at home in Bremgarten. I couldn't get a ticket for the bike. My other sister will bring the bike the 25th of July, the scheduled return journey. I will pick up my sister with the bikes in Zurich.

A small chapel

Almost no traffic

The landscape changes a bit

in this part of Brabant

Through the gate at the mill the grain is brought in