by Alice Mariscotti-Wyatt
I consider myself amazingly lucky with my trips to Amsterdam. The first time I went, the trip accidentally coincided with Gay Pride, AND I had accidentally booked an apartment opposite an amazing gay club. And on the most recent one, I planned a cycling trip through the heart of Holland during prime tulip flowering season.
We landed at the Hook of Holland after catching the overnight ferry from the UK, and for the first part of our route we hugged the coastline. The cycle paths were every bit as well laid out as you’d expect and we were quickly pedaling past the town’s canals and greenhouses, into an open coastal landscape of sand dunes and broad beaches. The Netherlands isn’t known for its beaches. But it probably should be.
If only they weren’t so windswept…. They are the sort of beaches that are great for kitesurfers and strandbeests, but a bit of a struggle for cyclists who were expecting an effortless pedal through the famously-flat country.
We stopped as we passed Scheveningen, which is Holland’s most famous beach resort, set on the edge of The Hague. As well as a ferris wheel, sculpture garden and zip line over a pier, Scheveningen is home to some seriously chic seasonal bars that appear on the beach every spring, and are completely dismantled for winter. Our visit was more about warm tea sipped around a fire, but I hope I get to go back on a summer’s day sometime.
Shortly after Noordwijk we turned away from the coast, having made two important realisations. Firstly, there was likely to be less wind and fewer hilly dunes in the interior. And secondly, if we turned inland then we would get to cycle through Keukenhof and areas known for their fields of flowers.
It was a good decision. The sun came out, and we were cycling through colour-blocked fields of vibrant tulips and the sweet scent of hyacinths. It really couldn’t have felt any more stereotypically Dutch.
The only problem was that it doesn’t make for speedy cycling when you need to stop to photograph every new field of flowers. And we couldn’t really justify a stop when we passed Como & Co, a festival-feel bar and restaurant on a lake, which was merrily celebrating beer and tulips. I’ll be back.
From there the landscapes gradually grew more urban, with a brief flurry of excitement as we got to cycle right next to the huge jumbo jets queuing for the runway at Schiphol Airport.
And then, 10 hours after we set off, we ended our journey posing in front of the “IAmsterdam” sign. The only possible end to such a photogenic ride.
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