Spring of 2018 saw us embark on a 10 day bike ride through the Netherlands with a couple of days staying in central Germany as we drove through. Another great adventure and a tick off the bucket list.
Timing was excellent as the tulip fields were in full bloom. The photos below show the beautifully designed and manicured flower beds from the wonderful Keukenhof Gardens just south west of Amsterdam. (over 7 million bulbs of all kinds were in bloom including: tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, cannas, calla lilies and others) (https://keukenhof.nl/en/footer/about-keukenhof/) Both the gardens and the fields were breathtaking. As an interesting side note, all of the farm fields of tulips you see are only cultivated for the bulbs not for the flowers. After they bloom the flowers are excised and the stem and leaves are left so the bulbs fatten up over the summer and are harvested in the early fall.
The Netherlands is totally flat with canals crisscrossing the country everywhere - you are never out of sight of water no matter where you may be in this true 'low-country' with dikes everywhere controlling the water; most of the country lies below sea level. We even rode across the 32 km dike called Afsluitdijk between North Holland and Friesland. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afsluitdijk) Weather was what we would call northern Europe spring with temperatures averaging a cool 15c (59f). We were hit for some time with ferocious winds of about 60km an hour and driving cold rain. As we had booked a series of B&B's and small hotels we simply had to put on the wet weather gear, put our heads down and pedal through no matter what the weather threw at us. (puts a bit more hair on your chest)
There were many lovely, historic villages all along the way and it would be difficult to focus on them all. Highlights were the town of Hoorn (http://www.netherlands-tourism.com/hoorn/), Giethoorn - the Venice of the North - a village with only canals, no roads - a fairytale spot (http://www.youramazingplaces.com/19-amazing-pictures-of-giethoorn-village-without-roads/)
The people in the Netherlands were very friendly, talkative and 99% speak terrific English which was very helpful at times. We even met a man who must have been in his 80's one day while we were really lost. He spoke English and recounted that he fulfilled his life's dream which was to run in the New York Marathon when he was in his 70's. We were also introduced to a bit of the local foods. Standouts were 'Mustard Soup' and 'Kwarktaart' (a delicious cake)
Other interesting takeaways were the enormous number of people using bicycles for their everyday life. The towns like Haarlem and others were crammed with bicyclists & bike racks everywhere as evidenced by one of the photos below that shows that almost every bike has some type of basket on front from home-made to store bought. In addition there are 'kid carriers' of all types, one photo is below. They have ones that are open as shown plus others cabriolet style, beautiful hand crafted wooden ones - tandems etc.
Windmills? Many from grand old dames to small ones pumping in the fields.
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