Friday, January 5, 2018

Cycling Europe 2017 Day 8: Rotterdam To Amsterdam - Kinderdijk Windmills & Gouda Cheese

                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Europe 2017 Day 8: Rotterdam To Amsterdam - Of Windmills & Cheese
United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands & Germany : Day 8 - Monday, 4th September - Rotterdam to Amsterdam
This is part of cycling tour of Western Europe, covering from Rotterdam to Amsterdam:
Cycling Distance - 93.33 km.     Level: Hard.
Cycling Time : 9:15 am to 7:30 pm.
Time Taken : 10hrs 15mins (inclusive of long stops at Kinderdijk & Gouda, stops for lunch, tea, rests and many, many photo opps).

This is page 7 of a 13-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D7 Rotterdam      |     Go to Other Days    |    Go to D9&10  Amsterdam 2 >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
        On the Continental Europe, vehicles are left-hand drive, so cycle on the right. And do remember the traffic directions at road crossing. Also note that often cycling lanes run next to pedestrian lanes at town and city areas, at crossings there are separate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, so stick to the correct lane.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    The route is flat but quite long and is hardly shaded so do cover up or apply sun block lotion.
    For planning cycling routes in Europe, Cycle Travel which has a very user-friendly cycle travel trip planner, routes using this planner can be saved and also converted to GPX format for use in GPS devices.  

3. Weather
    The weather for fairly cool average of 19°C with a high of 24°CNight temperature at Amsterdam averaged 15°C. Wind speed was moderate, averaging 21 kph with gusts up to 35 kph. Fortunately there were overcast skies to afford us some shade.
    It is always prudent to check the weather for the next day so as to know what to expect and be prepared for it. Useful weather forecast sites are BBC WeatherAccuWeather and Weather Spark.

4. Places of Interest
- Rotterdam's Willemsbrug Bridge (GPS: 51.91715, 4.49566).
- Kinderdijk UNESCO windmills (GPS: 51.87961, 4.64443).
- Gouda Old Stadhuys (Stadhuis van Gouda) (GPS: 52.01167, 4.7105).
- Sint Janskerk (John the Baptist) church in Gouda (GPS: 52.01075, 4.71181).
- Amsterdam's Windmill De Riekermolen (GPS: 52.32405, 4.8937).

5. Food
Breakfast: inclusive at hotel.
Morning Tea: Fruit bread at Hollandse IJssel riverside near Gouderak. Bread brought from Albert Heijn supermarket the previous evening.
Lunch: Ala carte meals at Gewoon Gouds (Just Gouda) restaurant (GPS: 52.32405, 4.8937) in Gouda.

6. Accommodations
    We stayed at the Amsterdam Stayokay Zeeburg (GPS: 52.36525, 4.9355). We had pre-booked online a 5-Pax Family Room @ €109 per night with an en-suite bathroomAs it was unclear whether the hostel allowed foldies into the premises, we initially folded and bagged our bikes before taking them in.

7. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
    We got pre-paid SIM cards from UK mobile provider Three under the All-in-One #15 deal for only £15/= from one of their outlets in Bristol (GPS: 51.45735, -2.59074). This plan lasts for 30 days and allows for 5GB Data, 3,000 minutes of call time & 3,000 text messages within the system. More importantly it has their "Feel At Home" which allow the phone's data, call and messaging allowance to be used in sixty countires (mostly European and also Singapore) without any extra charges!

8. Communicating with Locals
    In the Netherlands, almost all the locals can speak English.
    When communicating with locals is a problem, this could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule.

9. Navigation
    As Bill had pre-planned the route and had loaded the GPX route file onto his Garmin GPS unit. I was the assistant navigator and had loaded the route maps onto my unit too.

10. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.


Yesterday was a successful ride day; my leg was much better and I completed the 110 km. route without hopping onto a tram or bus 👍. Bil's coaching on maintaining our momentum with only short rests in between was helpful towards this achievement.
Today, will be an interesting day as we will head towards a couple on Netherlands favorite destinations - one of windmills and another of cheese!


Cycling route: Rotterdam>Kinderdijk>Gouderak>Gouda>Zwammerdam>Zevenhoven>Uithoorn>Amsterdam.
The route is slightly away from the coast and will lead to an UNESCO Heritage Site and also a town renown for cheese. It passes through farmlands; and nearer the towns and cities through beautiful residential areas sitting on canals.

Rotterdam, although inland, is the busiest port in the Europe and the fourth busiest in the world in terms of cargo tonnage handled. It lies on the Nieuwe Maas river, making the river very busy with traffic and as such ferry crossings are minimum and there are several bridges spanning over the river. On the way out of the city, we stopped at one of the more recognisable ones - the Willemsbrug Bridge. It is a double masted cable-stay bridge. It's red masts makes it quite conspicuous; one of the mast is not red for the moment as it is undergoing maintenance.

There are bicycles lanes all around the cities so we hardly rode onto the roads. Somewhere along the way, we got a bit misdirected and had to take our bikes down some steps. Fortunately these came with narrow ramps for us to push our bikes down, and soon we were on the outskirts of the city, cycling along the rural areas.

The sky was a bit overcast, but it seemed to be touched by the hand of God as a swath of rays shone along some layered cloud that looked like waves up in the sky.

Here we are, getting ready to board a ferry to cross the Lek River. On this side is Krimpen aan de Lek and our hearts are thumping in excitement to get across. See, on the other side is Kinderdijk where there is a UNESCO Heritage site of windmills. For me, my heart is partly thumping away as there was this cute, but very tall girl (see above photo) on a big motorcycle who chatted with me. She's on a solo bike trip coming over from Germany. Suddenly I felt very short and my bike rather puny, but all is good as she was very warm and friendly, wishing us safe journey and vice versa.

A bit of fun photography when we reached the other side. Just after the ferry terminal and before the entrance to the park is this huge yellow clog barrow. It's in front of a souvenir shop that also have bike rentals for those who want to cycle at the windmill park.

A cycling path runs through and around Kinderdijk, so entry for cyclists is free as those paths are part of the cycling network. Soon we were cycling in awe looking at the windmills all around us. There are only nineteen of them, but seeing even than number clustered together is a rarity in these modern days as technology as come out with electric pumps and giant wind turbines which have taken over their roles.
Like little kids reliving fairy tales we pedaled on stopping ever so often to admire them up close and also to take photos, like the following:

It's so beautiful here: a row of windmills sitting gracefully along a wider canal. They sit on polders - lowland that has been reclaimed.

Windmills reflected on a calm irrigation canal.

There's even an unique looking boxy windmill that swivels on a horizontal axis.
They windmills have been well restored and maintained, but only a few of them are working. They were used to pump water for irrigation and to control flooding; but these days diesel pumps have taken over the job.

My bike, Goofy, joins in the scene and reminds be of Don Quixote; but it's just me and my iron-horse instead of a real horse, and no charging at the beautiful windmills!

After leaving the windmills, the area we cycled through were flat lowlands with many canals. The Dutch know how to live it here; there houses, with gardens of colorful flowers, blend into the greenery of the waterways.

See what I mean: houses serenely reflected on the calm waters of the canals.

There were many farmlands and pastures too. Graceful white swans swam around, and in the fields were these prized, rare white and brown spotted sheep.

1:00pm - Time for a rest stop and we were getting a tad hungry too. At an open spot on the outskirts Gouderak we stopped for a slightly longer rest and for a quick bite too. It was just a simple meal of fruit bread, but eating there at the Hollandse IJssel riverside made it a great meal as we had a front seat view of boats passing by. We were not the only ones having meals on the go, later a plumber's van stopped by and the driver got out for a snack also; we acknowledged each other friendly nods and smiles.

1:50 pm - At Gouda it was a longer stop at the town square, to admire the older buildings here, especially the landmark Gouda Old Stadhuys (Stadhuis van Gouda). This grand old town hall, with multi turreted front spires, was completed in 1459. Major renovations were carried out between 1946 to 1952 when the old wooden foundations were also replace.

Nearby is the Sint Janskerk (John the Baptist) church in Gouda. It is not noticeable from afar as it is located in narrow alleys. But step in and one is awed by the beautiful glass mosaic window - not to missed this one.

Gouda is renown for Gouda Cheese, a mild, yellow cheese which is renown worldwide for its caramel sweetness and slight crunchiness from cheese crystalsThe cheese is named after the city, not because it is produced in the city, but because it has historically been traded here. In the Middle Ages, Dutch cities could obtain certain feudal rights which gave them primacy or a total monopoly on certain goods. Within the County of Holland, the city acquired market rights on cheese, the sole right to have a market in which the county's farmers could sell their cheese. All the cheeses would be taken to the market square in Gouda to be sold.
The timing of our visit was a bit out as we missed the traditional Gouda's cheese market which takes place every Thursday morning from 10:00am to 12.30pm, during the period from 6 April to 31 August. As in past times, the farmers from the surrounding farms will come display their cheese for sale and this market and seal their bargains for the best cheeses with a clapping of hands. There were several shops selling cheeses but we noticed that the pricing was touristy.
Short of getting the cheese, we did they next best thing - have a late lunch of dishes cooked from the fame cheese at the Gewoon Gouds (Just Gouda) restaurant.

School's out and Dutch children were frolicking on their bicycles on their way home. Cycling seems to be such a natural part of their life.

We were awoken form our revelry of the rustic atmosphere, at a crossing a inter-city train came whooshing by ...

... and at a narrow road huge tractors came by tugging along containers. Fortunaltely for us, there were lay-bys; best to stop and let those giants pass by first.

Our route were mostly on cycling lanes, and as we neared Amsterdam - the cycling capital of the world, these lanes became much wider to cater to the higher cyclists volume in the city.

A quick stop at the Windmill De Riekermolen, one of the few windmills that can still be seen in Amsterdam.

7:30pm : After a long and interesting day we arrive at our stay, the Amsterdam Stayokay Zeeburg. It's a place that's more frequented by a younger crowd, but we older ones were open-minded and fit in quite well. Dinner and beers were at the in-house cafeteria, mingling with the young ones.

(That's "Cheers!" in Dutch)

(For more photos of the Day 8, Click Here)
This is page 7 of a 13-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D7 Rotterdam      |     Go to Other Days   |    Go to D9&10  Amsterdam 2 > 

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