We sailed through the night and by dawn we were in the Netherlands. Again, the Amakristina made a special stop for us in Utrecht so we could ride into Amsterdam. The ride took us along canals lined by boats and barges as well as immaculately kept up homes and gardens. We road most of the way to lunch with a small group with Ine leading the way. She is a Backroads guide on a busman’s holiday (with Phil and Anne and Harvey and Elaine unable to come on the trip at he last minute, Backroads opened it up for a guide trip). It was wonderful having her with us, between her great personality and riding ability, the miles flew by. Being a beautiful Sunday morning, cyclists were out in force and we passed many cycling teams out on training rides. The roads were in excellent shape, some were normal roads, some bike paths (that were extremely tight especially when people were coming the opposite direction, sometimes 2 abreast, sometimes walking, sometimes even on tricycles). Many of the country roads along the canals were a single lane for cars with 3-foot bike lanes on either side. Cars coming in opposite directions had to use the bike lane which made for some interesting encounters.
|Ferry across the canal|
Halfway to Amsterdam, we stopped at Muiderslot Castle to tour the castle and eat lunch. The castle was built in1285 by Count Floris V and was part of the defense line around Amsterdam. It sits near what used to be the Zuiderzee (“South Sea” in Netherlands that was closed off from the North Sea and mostly reclaimed after completion of an enormous dam in the early 20thCentury). Because of its proximity to Amsterdam, the day of the week (Sunday), and the beautiful weather, it was jam-packed. We toured the castle briefly after lunch. More time and less crowds would have been nice, but we were able to get a flavor of it.
|View from Muiderslot Castle of the remnants of the Zuiderzee|
The remainder of the ride involved a lot of city riding into the heart of Amsterdam. The bike trail approaching the city was fairly wide, had dedicated bridges, and was easy to negotiate, but in Amsterdam, it was a bit of a free-for-all. Amsterdam has more bicycles than people (a statistic much like Vermont’s cow population) with the most recent estimate at 880,000
2-wheelers (not to mention unicycles and trikes!).
|Main train station|
The train station bike parking is amazing, there was a sign for 2,200 parking spaces, but with double decker parking, and illegal bike parking, my guess is a lot higher.
|Double-decker bike parking|
Our ride to the Amakristina took us right past the main train station where the crowds of people wheeling suitcases and cyclists created a sea of obstacles to our forward movement. We were riding with Annika (from Belgium) and watched her negotiate the crush of humanity like a local (which she was). We tried to stay with her, but our tandem was not made for quick tight turns (think semi) and she was quickly out of sight. Rick was able to keep up with her, and we were quickly alone amongst thousands of commuters. Fortunately, from here, when we could see over the heads of the Dutch (who are all 7 ft. tall), we could spot the port where the river cruise boats were docked. The last ½ mile probably took 20 minutes.
Since this was our final ride of the trip, we wanted to say our goodbyes to the crew, Jeremy, Nüsa, Marc, Shane and Steffi. Hopefully, we will see them again on another trip somewhere in the world.
|Jeri, Ine and Annika (the Belgians)|
|Suzy awaiting Richie's return from the war|
|Jeri and Jeremy|
|Marc and Shane|
|Nüsa and Marc|
|Jeri and Shane|
Before dinner, we had a private boat tour of Amsterdam (of course, with drinks). Jeri and I had a similar tour with Toby and Marty and Dave and Molly when we were here last time. Amsterdam has to be seen by both foot and by water to be appreciated properly. It is a beautiful city.
|Jeri, Robyn, and Randy|
|NH crew plus Marin (on right)|
|Overflow bike parking on a fixed barge|
|Walking back from the boat trip|
Then one more dinner and breakfast aboard and our trip home tomorrow morning.
The next morning, we said goodbye to some new-found friends, Scott and Marina from Alabama, Randy and Robyn from San Diego with vows to keep in touch and hopefully, visit. The rest of the NH group, Rick and Harriet, Rich and Suzy, Ben and Denise, Don and Sue, and Neal and Laura were all staying in Amsterdam for a few days. We are hoping that the weather holds for them.
Jeri and I took a 10-minute walk to the train station and easily negotiated the ticket kiosk and track determination for our train to Schiphol Airport. Piece of cake compared to our experience a few years ago with Toby and Marty. Amazing what a chip and PIN will do!
One addendum, the diet plan for jet-lag seems to work. Neither Jeri nor I have had a bit of jet-lag after any of the flights over the past 3 weeks between Tahiti, Switzerland, Amsterdam, and Boston. A little hard to stay asleep (nothing that a little Ambien won’t help), but no foggy feeling, headaches etc. We are going to stick with it.