|Anyone out there who can identify these purple spherical blooms? If so, please comment.|
When I got to Alkmaar station, I went looking for the standard bike rental/parking facility. It was housed in a temporary building round back. Mag ik een fiets huren? I asked cheerfully of a bespectacled girl at the desk. Yes, but I needed an ID: passport, driver's license, etc, none of which I was holding. Damn. I did of course have my NS rail pass, which features a portrait photo. "They have computers these days," I protested mildly. "Can't you find me on the network?" Nothin' doing. I asked if there was another bike rental outlet nearby. She didn't know. "You live in Alkmaar but don't know?" I asked incredulously. "I don't live in Alkmaar, just work here." Grrr. The surly mechanic said there was one across the railroad bridge, "but they won't let you rent one either without ID."
I ended up renting an OV-Fiets, one of those clunky city bikes offered by NS rail, from the station outlet. Not a pleasurable ride but ok if casually holding handlebars with one hand.
|Alkmaar to Egmond|
That's just a link to the main "road" at point 30, then I head south to 29. The brick lane runs level through more open countryside, piney woods on my right, birds twittering in the trees, rural fields to my left, moving from shade to hot sun, breezy. Here I encounter a trailhead for two walks, both heading east to Heiloo; one bypasses the old abbey of Egmond. This area has long been significant for the water purification function of the dunes.
|'De Bleek' trailhead|
One advantage of renting a bike at the station is I have till 1 am to return it, so I'm in no hurry and am deeply appreciative of the summer evening effect, that lingering dusk, when the light dims slowly till as late as 10 pm. Blonde lasses and ladies on horseback galloping along a trail behind me.
Suddenly, turning toward pt 73/Alkmaar, the trail narrows to a strip through the forest, completely avoiding the road, and the varied birdsong could be a melodious segue in an Antonioni movie. Then, in a clearing, I see a hill like an unexcavated pyramid crowned by a very old tree. Winding wooden staircase to the summit, where there is a rude bench, then another staircase down the other side, to the road. This patch of old woods feels like an estate.
I found the church and felt in a dreamlike state as I cycled behind a teenage girl in rebel clothing--jean jacket and thrift store skirt--singing in counterpoint to the church bells. It's an ancient, sturdily constructed, very large church. I turned left toward the station, rode by a park/canal and saw a shiny doner kebab hut by the entrance. Evening was now setting in but I was hungry and thought, what better spot for dinner? So walked in and ordered a durum doner. The staff, a Dutch teen boy and middle-aged Turkish man, were kind and almost curious. I took my durum, loaded with pieces of hacked-up chicken, onions, tomatoes, to a bench and chomped contentedly and watched the cars go past on the far side of the canal. Few people except the odd dog walker were out this evening and I felt relaxed.