We all did our own thing today. Some were busy visiting museums, like the Van Gogh , the Rijks museum and the Anne Frank house. Some chose to take a canal cruise to learn more about the city’s history and architecture. Amsterdam is a bustling city that attracts 300,000 visitors each weekend.
In the morning part of our group visited the Porcelijne Fles to see the making of the Delft blue pottery and to make some purchases.Later we set of on our last day of cycling back to our hotel by the airport.
We stayed in Gouda for a while for the cheese market . Thousands of people gather in the town square to watch the re-enactment of the farmers bringing their farm made cheese (mostly in 25 pound rounds) to be purchased by local merchants. Plus there are lots of vendors selling fruits & vegetables, clothing, souvenirs and snack foods. After lunch we took a short ride to Delft. There in the new church is the grave of Prince Willem of Orange, known for starting the reformation in Holland as it was then known, to break away from the Catholic church and to change the royal home and the old country over to Protestantism. To this date the country is pretty well split by Protestants above the Rhine river and Catholics below. In the 15th century Delft was a powerful city and Holland was a powerful nation. It was then attacked by Prince Phillip of Spain who wanted some of those riches. The village of Phillipine that I grew up in was vested by the Spaniards in 1505 and named after him. Delft was also the birth place of Johannes Vermeer, a famous Dutch painter. And it’s known for the very famous Delft Blue pottery.
Another exciting day on the horizon; a visit to Kinderdijk where at total of 19 windmills are close to each other and on to Gouda known for it’s cheese. The last 2 times I visited Kinderdijk it was raining very hard, but this time we have had beautiful, sunny days. We spent a while here to soak up all the beauty and to take lots of pictures. From here we took a picturesque ride along the Ijssel river into Gouda.
On our boat ride we learned that the village started by digging out the peat soil to burn in their homes hundreds of years ago. Afterwards we took a quick lunch for our trip to Harderwijk. We traced some of the route from yesterday and again crossed by ferry on our way to Kampen. From there we went back in the polder and below sea level. We split the group to give everyone a chance to stretch their legs and we would all meat at the hotel. My brother in law and his girl friend were meeting us there and joined us for dinner at a Tappas restaurant. A lot of food and drink made for a great evening.
With some road searching on our phones and Garmins, we managed to get underway. The first part of our trip we were cycling below sea level on the reclaimed “polders” on the bottom of the Ijselmeer. We traveled by Dronten and into Kampen where we entered the old land. By ferry we got to our destination of Giethoorn, the Venice of The Netherlands. People can only get to their houses by boat. We arrived in time to watch the World Cup final on a big screen in a sports bar. Most of the people wanted Croatia to win but France was too good. The next morning we took a boat ride through the village.
Due to an adjustment mistake today’s ride went from 50 to 70 miles, which broke some people’s record for the day. Initially we were to stay in Enkhuizen, but they didn’t have a hotel big enough for all 18 of us. So I went across the dike to Lelystad but forgot to add the extra 20 miles. It all worked out since Cheryl came back for the people that had enough at 50. We managed to get 4 people and bikes loaded with some extra luggage.It made for a tight fit, but smiley faces . Along the way we had stopped for lunch in Volendam, where we could enjoy some poffertjes. It was a special day since my best friend from growing up joined us on the ride and stayed with us for over half of the trip. Two more good friends from Philippine and their spouses joined us in Lelystad for dinner along with another of Cheryl’s host families. It was a full night of updating and reminiscing.
Our first day of biking was very busy in a touristy way. We started very early with a visit to the flower auction in Aalsmeer , the biggest flower auction in the world in one of the biggest buildings in the world. Millions of flowers are auctioned off on a daily basis and shipped all over the world. The efficiency of the workers was a pleasure to witness. From there we had a visit with family members of Cheryl’s first host family on her IFEY visit to The Netherlands. They took us on a beautiful boat ride around their property. After a cup of coffee with a stroopwafel we went on to the center of Aalsmeer to visit the windmill in town, which they had just opened for us and the gentlemen were enjoying giving us all the details about the mill. And we were still not done. After a quick lunch we cycled a few miles to the Maria Clara farm were we witnessed the making of wooden shoes and cheese. We finished our day with our ride through Amsterdam by way of the 1932 Olympic Stadium.