Saturday, December 31, 2016
I'm at a gateway to the Dwingelderveld National Park, fietspad crossroads in the park's northwest corner, about 2.5 km from the village of Dwingeloo. It's very peaceful, just the oaks and some lower trees and the lazy cheeping of birds. Morning overcast but it is now clearing and looks to be quite warm with just a slight breeze. But as I sit here at this knooppunt I notice a fair amount of activity, mostly elderly couples with matched bikes, including some e-bikes. It's Friday.
I visited this national park last summer to get a taste of it for the guide--but now I'll make it the main course. At that time I enthused about the beauty of the area and its many lakes.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
"I'll make you a good breakfast," Ron had told me. But it was not good: a few slices of bread, pre-sliced cheese, some kind of poultry cold cut which I declined, weak coffee with powdered milk, the obligatory hard-boiled egg in a cup, and a little cup of yogurt with a cloying pink flavoring. But at least he sat down and chatted with me.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
The train's destination is Groningen (I'll get off at Assen). On the way east it cuts through the flat sheep-grazed expanse of Flevoland, then Zwolle, hub of Overijssel province, then north.
Het Fochtelooërveen (you try to pronounce it) appears as a purple expanse on the map: 'what remains of an immense high turf area. The breadth and unspoiled character of the area are impressive, unique for the Netherlands and Western Europe,' says my cycle route guidebook. Unique? Turf fields seem to be a standard feature of the Dutch landscape. 'Traces of prehistoric settlement.' As in other peat mining areas, the cutters removed all of it before long and had to seek other livelihoods. Now they're irrigating the zone so the peat will grow back, supposedly to restore it to its former ecosystem, and some birds (cranes, 'snake eagles') have returned.
Monday, December 26, 2016
|Scheveningen then ...|
The cloudscape of South Holland is depicted in great detail. Here I'll cede to the descriptive powers of Russell Shorto: "tunnels and chasms and cathedrals and phantasmagoria of clouds, mounting the heights or furiously crosshatched by the force of an impending storm." Actually he was describing the skies of North Holland but you get the idea. Later that day I watched such an impending storm, then got drenched by it.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
In April I was assigned to write an article about the Den Haag coast, so I went there to gather material, cycled around and scribbled. What follows are my notes and photos from that expedition. The article is here.
Today I would just like to cycle round the dunes north of Scheveningen, get a taste before bothering with water sports, seaside restaurants and so on. It's a stretch of the LF1 that I've yet to traverse.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
The last bit of research to be done was the city of Utrecht. I wanted to add a section on the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the protected forest zone 'extending 50km east of Utrecht city between the towns of Zeist and Rhenen, with at least seven medieval castles.' The 23,000 hectare forest is the second largest in the Netherlands, with its southern half devoted to a national park.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Another hot day and I'm riding to Hindelopen, old harbor on the IJsselmeer, my final destination for guidebook research.
West of Sneek it's just fields of cows--the black ones with the white band in the middle--swamp and reeds. Due to a detour I somehow missed the quaint old village of Ijlst--once the center of the shipbuilding timber trade, as noted in Sneek's Shipping Museum.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
|Snits (aka Sneek)|
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
-> 12 (LF-22b)
A perfect early summer day with the usual tableau of meadows and black and white cows, big fluffy clouds floating in a blue sky. I've just left the 'burbs of Kampen behind and I'm heading along a dike northward, a journey of some 40km ahead to Ossenzijl at the top of Weerribben National Park.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
A few days in Amsterdam and now back on the road. Now in the town of Tubbergen, gateway to the Twente region, which Maarten from Nijmegen and Koen from Eindhoven insist is a great environment for cycling. Having dinner at a notably good value eetcafe, De Burgermeister. Also my Vrienden op de Fiets pad is outstanding: I've got a veritable apartment on the Bosweg, about 1.5km west of the center. So it appears Phase 3 is off to a good start.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Saturday, July 2, 2016
|Kamp Westerbork as they saw it|
Friday, July 1, 2016
|Wonder boy of Assen|
Thursday, June 16, 2016
|Hunebed D17 at Rolde|
Today it's all about hunebedden, 52 of which stand in Drenthe (two more in Groningen). They are the remains of 5000-year-old dolmens, or burial tombs. At the Hunebed Center, a museum dedicated to the ancient monuments, I learned that they were built at the dawn of the Neolithic era and first excavated in the 19th century. It is believed that the granite boulders used for these dolmens arrived with the glaciers from Scandinavia during the Ice Age.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Harlingen, Friesland. At the home of Elizabeth & Jan Minemma, breakfast is an exercise in minimalism, almost as it would be served on a ship--well, they do live in a shipyard, the one house amid warehouse, and their neighbors live on boats moored in the adjacent canal.
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Friday, April 1, 2016
16 -> 48
Love this stretch east of Nijmegen. You're riding along a dike (with other cyclists, the occasional auto) between the swampy banks of the Waal river and meadows and pastures. A great birding zone with islands in the swamps for nesting. To the north is a renowned nature walk, the N-70.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Miniature carnival ride at Markiezenhof palace, Bergen op Zoom.
Train to Bergen op Zoom. It is practically empty. How can they make any money on it? Pulling into Rosendaal. The day is gorgeous.
This is the beginning of my research for a guidebook on the Netherlands. I've got my bike along, though I won't be riding all the time. I'll use the bike to a) get to places that trains don't go, and b) to try out promising fietstochts (cycle tours) in the vicinity of towns.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
1 -> 2
Almere, Dutch planned community par excellence. The usual shopping plaza outside station. I ride through parks, a skateboard park, suburban blocks. Almere is a workaday place. Many blacks and Asians, not unlike De Bijlmer. It's a mere half hour by train to Amsterdam, closer than my childhood neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, is to Manhattan.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
I am working on a new northerly route, one which should surely earn a place in my series of local cycling circuits. It centers around my fascination with the Oranje Sluis, an almost unknown link between Oost (East) and Noord (North), yet a convenient one, as it feeds right into Schellingwoude, the picturesque old fishing village at the southeast corner of Noord. I figured out how to approach it from the south.