Ok, we cheated and caught the bus back, it was wet!

Marken was very pretty in the rain, it would have been glorious in the sunshine.

We headed back to the bus stop via the wooden shoe factory.

The persistent drizzle had turned into a downpour by the time we reached Amsterdam. We had a plan…. we’d take the bikes to meet their relatives at Brompton Junction. The shop opened in April and John was keen to visit. Apparently, one Brompton is not enough particularly if there’s a lightweight titanium frame on offer. Our bikes were welcomed in with open arms, despite dripping water on the stylish wooden floor, and we were warmed up with tea and coffee. An added bonus was the offer to carry out a recall on Kim’s bike – that’s saved a trip into Hitchin when we get back.

By the time we left, we’d dried out and daylight was fading fast. We decided we needed to see ‘the prettiest street in Amsterdam’.

Next stop a coffee shop, while we decided whether we’d head back to Haarlem or send Kim into the red light district. As we debated, we noticed there was something wrong with the houses opposite….

We cycled past the long queues of people waiting to get into Anne Frank’s house. Our final stop was De Wallen, the medieval city centre, which is crossed by canals, little bridges and narrow alleyways and a real contrast to all the lovely villages and towns we have seen in the last couple of days. The red light district, which is a large part De Wallen, felt sordid and unpleasant which was a shame because the city is so pretty……. and flat which is a huge bonus for a lazy cyclist.

Our final challenge of the day was returning to Haarlem on a rush hour train. We survived and Kim decided Thameslink trains were probably nicer. Who’d have thought that?

Haarlem to Marken by Bike…

Obviously not all the way by bike! We started out, before breakfast (!!), with a short train ride into Amsterdam Centraal and the free passenger ferry across to Buiksloterweg.

There was no way Kim was going any further without food and caffeine so we headed for the nearest cafe and a very welcome breakfast. There were only two choices on offer, luckily they suited both of us!

According to the Cycleways App, we had 13 miles to go to he little island of Marken. Our highest elevation would be 30 feet but at least half of our route would be up to 20 feet below sea level!

Negotiating our way out of Amsterdam was interesting, stopping every few minutes to work out where we were and retrace our steps, tempers were fraying and we’d only managed a mile.

We persevered and found ourselves on quiet roads or dedicated cycle routes through the villages of Waterland. Kim now wants to live in Zunderdorp, where all the little houses have water at the bottom of their gardens, or Broek in Waterland, where the bridges across the canals are raised to let the boats through.

We stopped for lunch at Taverne De Oude Visscher in Marken and the rain started, so we stayed and had a local beer before deciding whether to be brave and cycle back or catch the bus. What do you think we did?