Friday, July 20, 2012

Netherlands July 20

We kind of zoomed out of Haarlem, with a brief visit to the central square, which of course was beautiful. The sign shows that there is no entry, but just below is the note "except bicycles". Most roads closed or one way for vehicles are accessible to bikes.
Our first experience in train riding came and will be reproduced 2 more times today. It would have taken me about an hour the first time to do what Sara did in 5 minutes, looking at the schedule and getting tickets for our bikes and persons.
The bike tickets are good for the whole day, but the person tickets are station to station.
In Alkmaar, the cheese market was pretty much as I had expected it to be after reading about it online; very touristy.  However it was still interesting and something I had wanted to see. The museum had a movie about the history of cheese making, which was the best part.  It was cool to see how the process had morphed over time, but at the same time had strong similarities from long ago.
Sara is right, the sandwiches in Holland are really good overall.  The combinations are truly consistently good and mostly unique.
Many windmills still exist outside of the town and the path wound between them.
Took another train to the ferry.  On the platform were an amazing diversity of flowers for sale.
We got to Enkuizen and made the ferry with 20 minutes to spare, which would have been totally consumed (plus more possibly) if not for Sara locating the ferry and how to get tickets so quickly. On the ferry, all bikes are corralled up and secured with a single rope.
 I removed my trailer and moved it into a different space. The whole journey was about 50 minutes.  Terns drafted off the wake, possibly to catch fish churned up by the boat. The harbor was filled with more masts than I have ever seen in one place and huge sailing vessels came and went. In addition were tiny lateen sail boats for nubes.

In Stavoren, where the ferry landed, they were having a fishing festival, with an open market.
 The fleet was decked out in colorful pennants. There were loads of metal two masted sailing boats. Riding along the coast, we joined flocks of sheep vying for the path.  Unlike geese, however, sheep get out of the way and are not belligerent.
 At each new pasture, we opened a gate, scooched through and moved on.
The gates were built on an angle, so gravity would automatically close them. On our left always was the ZeiderZee, though most of the time there was a dike between us and the water. We passed a small flat bottomed boat, which was being used to harvest grass for the thatched roofs we have seen. The grass grows along the waterways near the dike.
At Hinderloopen we got to the tiny station and got train tickets 10 minutes before the train showed. The newest train yet, it is possible to roll right up to the platform and right onto the train; no steps. There is bike parking at all train stations. The racks hold each front tire and alternate one high, one on the ground, so you can put many bikes close together without the handlebars interfering with each other.
At the end of the day we arrived in Meppel quite late, but Sara had contacted the campground and had directions, so it was a matter of just getting there from the train station. It was around 9:15 when we got in. The campground is right next to a bunch of kilns, which have been repurposed as a restaurant.

No comments: