Delft has three large churches in the old centre. Lief wondered why three... The 'Nieuwe Kerk' (New Church) is the most famous for it has "Nearly all the members of the Dutch Royal House are buried in this church. The most famous grave is that of our “Father of the Fatherland”: William of Orange (William the Silent)."
Then there is the 'Oude Kerk' (Old Church), which is also nicknamed 'Tipsy John', for it leans heavily to one side. This church has also famous historical people buried in the crypt, such as the painter Johannes Vermeer
The third church is the Maria van Jesse Church and has two towers, which is unusual for a church.
Lief took his Polaroid out to capture the Nieuwe Kerk:
The photoshoot continued at unique Delft Blue pillars, Lief spotted the exact place where "Ludolph van Ceulen used Archimedes’ methods and extended them, producing a 35 digit approximation of Pi and took 25 years of calculations which were done by hand."
We did visit Delft in 2012 and Lief still has memories of our time there. Of the church on big market, of having hot chocolate at 'Het Konings Huys' and of the house above the candy store with the red front. It's still red, but no candy store unfortunately.
Next up Day 5: Onwards to Rotterdam and Kinderdijk
Upon leaving Noordwijk, we biked past 'Grand Hotel Huis der Duin', where my grandmother loved to sit in the sun and watch the sea, while my grandfather would usually continue to create flower bouquets in his store during the day and join her in the evening.
This morning the bike path led us through sunny hilly dunes to Katwijk, passing wild roses, shrubs and wild flowers. But when one is biking with Lief one does not have time to stop and take pictures (sorry John and Jennifer!). I have to take quick snapshots while biking to keep up with my long legged speedy teenage son...
We biked past a curious looking building, which turned out to be a 'Kalkoven' (lime kiln) built in 1934, apparently the last one in South Holland. The 23 metre high kiln would burn shells at 1100 degrees Celsius to create the lime, which was an ingredient used to create cement. This practice goes back as early as the 13th century.
This day we aimed to be at Leiden around lunchtime, so Lief could go for a haircut. Leiden is a beautiful city and feels very cosy. If I could choose a place to study, I think I would prefer Leiden over Utrecht where I studied well over 25 years ago now, eek! Here are some impressions:
Lief went to a traditional barber, though it turned out a little too short for his liking...
Ok, we'll be honest. The second part of the day was hard and long. We biked along the very long canal 'Vliet', which took us from Leiden south all the way into Delft. It was a beautiful road with old mansions, but we had a strong headwind all the way, making the 22km very long.... Thankfully there was an home made ice cream place along the way to take a break and recharge.
Late afternoon we arrived in Delft. See next post for some impressions from our time there.
Zaandam - Haarlem - Zandvoort - Noortwijk
Today we have a 45km bike ride, which we broke up in three sections. The first part took us 18km from Zaandam to Haarlem. The second part was a short 10km ride from Haarlem to Zandvoort, which took us to the coast. The last part along the coast from Zandvoort to Noordwijk was another 17km.
There was rain in the forecast for the afternoon, which was supposed to start around 3:30pm, so we aimed to be in Noordwijk by then. An early rise, well early for a 15-year old, had us have breakfast by 9am (ha!) and off we went to Haarlem, through fields and little towns, past mansions, estates and beautiful houses. We had stayed in Haarlem during our year long trip in 2012 and Lief still remembered the 'Grote Markt' (Big Market square) with the Saint Bavo cathedral, 'Vleeshal' (meat market) and town hall.
After a short coffee and smoothie break we continued our way to Zandvoort. We wanted to beat the rain and had wanted to have a quick lunch. Unfortunately it took forever for lunch to arrive. But looking at the special Dutch rain weather app we still had an hour before the rain would start, which would be enough to get to Noordwijk if we pushed hard. As we stood at the beach we saw the clouds coming from the south... wondering if we would make it in time.
Pretty quick we had to put our rain coats on. We started to push our bikes harder. Yet we could not beat the quickly approaching rain. This wasn't just your average rain, this came down like buckets of hail, the wind picked up and thunder started. Head down we quickly became soaking wet head to toe, literally.
In the middle of nowhere a collection of stores showed up, with a little shed right at the path. Thankfully the doors were open and we huddled inside for shelter while thunder and rain raged on. Huge puddles accumulated quickly. The rain would not let up, we were getting cold, so we decided to push on. We arrived at our hotel dripping wet; I left quite the puddle of water at the reception desk in Noordwijk...
After showering and some dry clothes, the weather changed miraculously. To our surprise the clouds disappeared completely and the sun came out. All of a sudden we went from a cold and stormy Autumn afternoon to a warm Summer evening...
We strolled along the boulevard to find a place to eat. After checking the many menus along the path, we decided on Nomade Beach House. It turned to be a great choice with delicious fresh food and chill music. My cool dude partner made sure our Cadillac was waiting for us after dinner.
Lief brought his Polaroid camera on the trip. The deserted beach called for some contemplative posing.
Grateful for the unexpected turn in weather, we did get to experience Noordwijk at its very best!
Amsterdam - Monnickendam - Zaandam
Thanks to Gerrit Jan we found out about the 'Knooppunten' system for bikers and hikers. The whole country is full of these 'Knot points', connecting towns together along dedicated bike paths, leading one along the more quiet and scenic routes. It's blowing our minds how many routes one can plan through this country:
For our first true biking day (since yesterday was just arrival in Amsterdam), we decided to make a detour to Monnickendam, instead of heading straight to Zaandam. According to the 'app' it would be 20.3km from the Vondelpark.
We enjoyed biking through the streets of Amsterdam, it took us past the Westerkerk and the Anne Frank House, and to my favourite homemade apple pie place (Tracy, do you recall sitting outside with the boys in 2012?). This time we did not stop but kept going to the ferry, which scooted us across for free to North Amsterdam.
The landscape quickly changed as soon as we were on the other side. We biked for quite a ways along 'Noordhollandsch Kanaal' until a little 'pontje' (ferry) took us across so we could continue to 'Broek in Waterline', where a bight yellow canoe made us feel at home. The town has a beautiful collection of old style Dutch homes. We pushed on until we were in Monnickendam where had a delicious lunch at the "de Waegh". A plein air painter was making progress on the bridge and had quite a few passerby's look over his shoulder.
The afternoon took us from Monnickendam to Zaandam:
We had to take another 'pontje' to get across the canal again and off we were along wide fields and along waters filled with waterlilies.
We arrived in Zaandam and found our funky looking hotel quite easily. It's rather sticking out... If anyone needs a place to stay in Zaandam, we can recommend the unique Inntel Hotel...
According to e-architect.com: "The hotel is unique, familiar yet original and idiosyncratic. It is a design that could be realised only in Zaandam but at the same time transcends and reinvigorates local tradition. It was, moreover, specifically tailored to this site. ‘The Blue House’, inspired by the work Claude Monet painted at Zaandam in 1871, is the ultimate attention-grabber."
The stunning sunset from the Mosterd Room was an additional bonus...
This was a great first biking day! We loved the sights of North Holland, and the weather was so pleasant too.
For previous posts, please scroll down. Next up: Zaandam to Noordwijk...
Lief and I booked a 7 day bike tour with Eigen-wijze Reizen, a Dutch tour company that organizes both biking and hiking holidays for people throughout Europe.
We decided on 'Hollandse Hoogtepunten' which will take us from Amsterdam to Zaandam, Noordwijk, Delft, Rotterdam and Nieuwkoop back to Amsterdam. The company booked the hotels, gave us the routes, organized the bike rentals and even transports our luggage from hotel to hotel!
After watching some of the soccer games at the tournament in Nederhorst den Berg, we took the train and metro to our first hotel of the bike tour. Hotel Atlas is located right next to the Vondelpark and is almost an identical building that I used to work at when I lived in Amsterdam.
Dropping off bags, we quickly headed out for a walk through the park and dinner at super loud 'No Rules' cafe restaurant located below what used to be Vertigo, a popular art film house:
After dinner we went for a stroll through the fancy fashion district and most expensive stores in Amsterdam: the P.C. Hooftstraat. Lief had his eye on a cool black motor. Our walk continued to the Rijksmuseum; Lief was impressed with the size of this museum. Unfortunately it was closed by the time we arrived.
We continued towards the Leidse Plein, passing Paradiso; a famous club where I used to go with friends to dance till late in the night. This evening already had a line up.
Crossing the canals (Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht) we ended up at the flower market (closed at this hour), when it started to rain 'pijpenstelen', which translates something like 'it rains cats and dogs'. Taking shelter in one of the market stalls we decided to head back to the Leidseplein. We warmed ourselves with tea and Dutch apple pie at the beautiful Stadsschouwburg theatre of Amsterdam. It kept raining, so a movie seemed to be the best way to end this full day.
We will actually start biking tomorrow, from Amsterdam, via Monnickendam to Zaandam. Stay tuned for more, and scroll down for previous posts.
Our time with our friends flew by with an evening of 'Suppen' (Stand Up Paddleboard) on the 'Spiegelplas', a visit to Amsterdam and a day at the soccer field of V.V. Nederhorst.
The Spiegelplas is just down the street from where our friends live and after blowing up the 'SUPs' Lief and Judy's daughter Kiki took off on the lake. Judy, Gerrit Jan and I opted for a refreshing swim in the lake after a warm day on the bike to Hilversum and back.
The next day Lief and the two Kiki's went for the afternoon to Amsterdam. First a 40 minute bike ride along the Vecht river from Nederhorst to the train station in Weesp. Like most train stations in Holland, there are multiple racks to store bikes. Here the bike racks have two levels... I'm not sure how people get the heavy bikes on top... we opted for street level.
A 20 minute train ride took us to Amsterdam Central Station, from which we walked along the Damrak to Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum where (Small) Kiki and Lief spent the afternoon. Big Kiki continued along the Nes, the Reguliersdwarsstraat en the Rembrandtplein to the Weteringschans to visit an art supply store to pick up Khadi handmade papers.
To Lief's delight we got to spend a day at the soccer field of the local soccer club, where Eva and Kiki played multiple games in the Youth Soccer Tournament. Ted - Judy's son - was linesman for his sisters game. Judy's husband Gerrit-Jan is the 'voorzitter' (president) of the club. And both Eva, Kiki and Ted are the captains of their teams... So this is an involved soccer family!
Both Lief and I were impressed with the amount of kids playing soccer, and that there are both girls and boys soccer teams, multiple soccer fields and quite the covered seating area for the main field...
Lief is getting a bit nervous, as next weekend he gets to join Ted's team for the adult soccer tournament... More to come on that later.
There are more blogs about our trip to Holland. Scroll down for older posts
As soon as we arrived in Hilversum we hopped on bikes with Judy and her daughter Eva. It was such gorgeous weather and it sure helped us stay awake. We biked along this narrow path along the 'Ankeveense plassen'; it has lakes on either side, see below. It's such a beautiful trail, but when someone comes your way it gets quite narrow!
Today (Thursday June 23) we biked some more. This time we biked back to Hilversum, according to the map it's 13,5 km one way:
Mostly quiet roads led us to Hilversum:
In Hilversum we road our bikes to my Elementary School (Groen van Prinsterer) followed by the house I used to live in.
Lunch we had in the former Cinema, what is now a Food Court style cafe/restaurant called Mout, which reminded us of 'Time Out' in Lisbon!:
And an Ice cream along the road on the way back! Dutch Style:
Lief and I travelled three days to get from Haida Gwaii to Amsterdam (June 20 - 22). Even though it took three days, a canoe, a truck, a ferry, a plane, a skytrain, a car, two more planes and a train to get us there, everything went surprisingly smooth. We arrived at Hilversum train station only two hours beyond schedule, due to a delay in Toronto.
We were grateful it was only a two hour delay in Toronto and that we did not need to see Air Canada customer service... which had a line up of about 100 people! It would have taken hours to get to the front of the line. Toronto airport is indeed very busy and a little chaotic at this time. Big line ups in the food courts as well. We managed to get a bite to eat in and enjoy the Solstice Sunset from Toronto:
I was so happy to see my high school friend Judy welcoming us at the Hilversum train station! A very familiar place to be, as I used to live in Hilversum for 8 years when I was 10 - 18 years. She drove us to her house in Nederhorst den Berg where her family welcomed us. It was so hard to stay awake due to the jet lag... Nine hours difference is a lot, but we managed to stay up till the evening, with a lovely outdoor dinner and games in their backyard.
At the end of June 2022 Lief and Kiki embark on a new bike tour: seven days of biking through Amsterdam, via Zaandam, Noordwijk, The Hague, Delft, Rotterdam to Nieuwkoop and back to Amsterdam.
Japanese Artist Yoko Shimizo captured the Dutch biking experience we're hoping to get this year. Though perhaps a bit of a view through the big bunch of tulips would be good...
I imagine my father biking as a teenager as Lief's age with flowers in front and back of his bike in the same area we will be exploring on our bikes. My father's first job was to deliver flower bouquets created by my grandfather from his flower shop to towns located around Leiden and Alphen aan den Rijn.
Lief and I will be biking through the same country side and will visit the towns surrounding Alphen and Leiden. We will keep a blog to keep you posted if you'd like to follow us along.
Kiki and Lief
June 9 2022
And finally, sadly yet gratefully after spending close to 5.5 months, came the day to say goodbye to beautiful Portugal. Friday July 12, 2020.
We soaked up the last rays of magical light in Lisbon and the boys said goodbye to their beloved Benfica football stadium.
And then, with two bikes packed in two bike boxes, our belongings in our bike bags, backpacks and handbags, documentation for our self-isolation plan approved by the Canadian government, 5 separate flight tickets, antibacterial gels and tissues readily available, passports in hand and masks on: we are ready to go to Lisboa airport and start our three day journey home to Haida Gwaii.
A surreal experience at the Lisboa airport: hardly anyone is there and only a few departing flights that day to other parts in Europe. Odd to see three scheduled flights to Amsterdam among the 12 departing flights this day...
We were so blessed with a very helpful Portuguese attendant, who helped us with filling out forms and - the most miraculous and blessed gift of all - organizing for our luggage (including Bike boxes) to be checked all the way to Vancouver. She said we would not be allowed to fly to Amsterdam, or the next day to Frankfurt, if we could not prove that we would continue to fly on to Canada. She said our luggage tags were the best proof we could have and she worked hard to get us 4 luggage tags for each piece of luggage.
The first flight to Amsterdam was much more filled than we had expected. We thought we would not be sharing our row with anyone else. But Sol and I were placed next to a Portuguese, who upon seeing Sol's Benfica Hoody proudly showed his Benfica shirt he was wearing. Masks on, I guess the airlines don't adhere to the same rules as trains do (where no one could be next to anyone else in the same row).
The flight was uneventful and even arrived early. Check! First flight done, 4 more to go. But first an overnight in Amsterdam. We expected a serious control at Schiphol airport, but aside from a flight attendant asking our plans at the arrival gate of the plane, we could walk out of Schiphol airport without any further stops. Not even to pick up our luggage, as that would be safely stored at the airport, awaiting our next flights.
Despite the lack of people at the Dutch airport, there are still rows and rows of bicycles parked! Oh that filled our hearts to see! Yet, to be real honest there was also a twinge of sadness as we didn't get to enjoy the pleasure of riding our bikes in Holland. But we decided to focus on the gifts, and one of them was the pleasure of briefly seeing my Aunt, who is a bus driver and her schedule happened to include Schiphol Plaza on the day of our arrival. We got to see her for exactly 4.5 minutes, safely distanced two meters away. Oh dear, it filled our hearts full to overflowing to see her smiling face!! Bittersweet to say goodbye and know she would be driving right by our hotel the whole evening long!
Anyways.... we had a good sleep and were well rested for the next epic day. Three flights ahead of us. First an hour to Frankfurt, then 9 hours on to Toronto and another 5 hours on to Vancouver. Pfff.... Miraculously everything went smoothly, flights continued to arrive early, security checks were a breeze, and no stress energy of masses of travellers to deal with... While the airplane to Frankfurt was again to our surprise quite packed, the flight to Canada was spacious. Air Canada provided travelbags with antibacterial gel and water upon entering the plane. Masks continued to be on everywhere.
And then came the hour we arrived at Vancouver Airport. And yet another miracle happened: our luggage, including two bike boxes arrived at the same time as we did!!
And after another restful night, we were ready for the last part of the journey. The part that perhaps had the most hours of research and organization, as there are no Air Canada or Pacific Air flights to Haida Gwaii. Taking a flight to Terrace and then taking the ferry would not have been acceptable as a return plan by the Canadian Government, as it would have meant stops at restaurants, public transit and 7 hours on the ferry. So finally we decided we needed to charter a plane to avoid to have to self isolate for two weeks in Vancouver and then another two weeks upon arrival in Haida Gwaii. We simply did not have the luxury of time anymore. Tracy is expected to start work July 1st.
The friendly and generous people of Cascadia Air decided to help us out in these unique circumstances and offered us a deal that was still manageable within our travel budget. Our two bike boxes were even able to fit, and so after a 50 minute ride to Pitt Meadows airport, we were ready for the last leg. The plane needed to stop in Port Hardy to fuel up, and Lief and Sol made good use of the break, gobbling down their lunch and kicking the soccer ball around! And onward we went until we saw the islands, our islands, islands of the people, Haida Gwaii, home!!!
Ah, the smell of home, the clear, clean, fresh air, the sounds of wind, waves, eagles, ravens, crows welcomed us. As well as our truck loaded with groceries by some amazing caretakers, waiting quietly for us in front of the closed airport. We still had a bit of travel to do to finally get home and before self-isolation on Robertson Island commenced: driving to Aliford Bay ferry landing to head over to Skidegate landing, and a couple canoe trips to bring our bikes, luggage and ourselves home.
We were also welcomed by lush greens, an abundance of flowering kale and daisies in the garden and wild roses growing along the shore. We were also welcomed by fresh greens, more groceries and care packages full of chocolates and other goodies from friends and neighbours.
Upon arrival home there was a flurry of activities to reconnect with our house and land. Sol instantly moved furniture around in his bedroom and declared he wanted to paint his room the very next day! Paint was ordered and delivered to Spruce Point and the very next day he transformed his room to a midnight blue; the changes in his room reflecting the changes he's gone through during the trip. We have all been busy in our own ways to reconnect and are grateful for this quarantine time, giving us time and space to do so without distractions.
We have been very well cared for by our friends and neighbours during this self-isolation time, we are so grateful to all of you!! We only have two more days to go, woohoo! See you on the other side!