It is officially spring and the weather is wonderful: 60s (15-20 Celsius), sunny, breezy. Cue in the rural music. I'm sitting underneath the A9 highway and a yacht just cruised by, some seniors hanging on the deck. Don't know why I haven't come this way yet: the Stammerdijk, a ribbon of a road toward Driemond which forms the north bank of the Weespertrekvaart canal, skirting the Diemerbos nature reserve.
|Bicycle bridge over the Stammerdijk toward Diemerbos, a few blocks from my home in southeast Amsterdam.|
(I should point out that the notion of Holland being a cycling society is a myth. Cycling is at least an option here but like everywhere else, cars rule. It is fantastic that such an extensive cycling network exists but sometimes--in Zuid-Oost for example--I feel as if I'm one of a handful using it.)
I have no particular plan other than to head for Driemond, ride down the east side of the Rijnkanaal to Nigtevecht, then take that little ferry across the Vecht if possible. Then follow the Vecht past a couple of forts and return via Weesp. It's just supposed to be a short jaunt but I have no desire to return home now.
|Community gardens, Driemond.|
|Across the Rijnkanaal (ANWB map)|
The day is turning into a stunner. Sitting on the edge of a big pasture, the spire of Weesp to the north. Behind me up a rise is the broad Rijnkanaal lined on either side by endless rows of poplars. Along this side of the canal is a road with fairly steady traffic. By the gate to the pasture, a brick frame entryway is the only part that remains of a farm house.
|Below the Rijnkanaal. The bridge in the distance crosses it to Driemond.|
In a short while I reached Nigtevecht. (Coming into the village a sign pointed right to Loenen.) I kept going straight to the ferry landing. I had been here before--last year--but by that time of day the ferry had stopped running. The little ferry arrived and I got on it with some elderly couples (perhaps some would already consider me "elderly") and a young man with a kid in the rear seat. A stocky boy in a polo shirt conveyed us across the Vecht, chatting with passenger. The crossing too approximately one minute.
Ferry cross the Vecht.
Reaching Nederhorst, I turn right toward Ankeween (after stopping for ice cream on the main street):
I reach point 1, where one can turn right down the Vecht toward Vreeland or continue toward pt 39. The Vecht is here a broad waterway plied by boats, yachts and green-capped ducks. Comfortable middle-class community.
|Taking this whole summer weather thing seriously.|
Assuming this path I'm now on is the Googpad, along the south end of the Blijkpolderplas reservoir toward 39 ... it certainly is the highlight of this trip so far. Totally rural: the strip of concrete winds through semi-forest, trees bearing berries, a pasture at right, creek on the left, chirping birds, butterflies. Quite a few cyclists out on this fabulous day.
I reach knoppunt 39. There's a wooden bridge over the creek toward Ankeveen (point 38). Someone here is selling gerookte paling (smoked eel). I stop in for one--4 euros for 1 eel. The bald vendor catches them in this dammed section of the creek. He gives me a napkin so I can eat it on the way.
|Gerookte paling: smoked eel.|
This point where I'm halted is impossibly serene considering how little effort it took me to get out here. A murky creek with lily pads skirts the trail to the right; on the left the plas opens up. I chomp the gerookte paling. It is outstanding though a bit fatty. I think how good it would be chased by a shot of mezcal.
|Around the Spiegelplas.|
The circuit of the Spiegelplas reservoir was lovely. Then I picked up the Vecht again, going up to point 46, houseboats along the opposite bank. Waited at a drawbridge, then crossed over the Vecht, then followed a highway, the Gooilandseweg, which skirts Weesp to the south.
Back at Driemond. A fat driver in an SUV just made a silly face at me. I guess I must make a comical sight. Over the Brug Driemond there is a grassy patch with benches. The bridge raises to let a yacht through, the Egalantier, then the Dik, upon whose deck sits a complacent passenger with snacks and wine.