Homeward bound

We started early so we could visit Het Keringhuis, the storm surge barrier protecting Rotterdam, on our way back to the ferry. We wandered through some of Haarlem’s lovely back streets for breakfast in Barista Cafe, which appears to be a Dutch Starbucks but far nicer.

We’d tested out their hot chocolate, yesterday, complete with whipped cream and salted caramel syrup. It was really very tasty!

John continued his healthy breakfast theme of yoghurt and granola. Kim continued her challenge to have cheese with every meal since we came away.

Before checking out John managed to take a photo of the hotel’s best feature, a decorative spiral staircase leading up to a beautiful stained glass dome.

The Netherlands are trying to dissuade the use of motor vehicles and one of the ways is at the expense of parking. We practically had to remortgage to retrieve the Beetle from its underground car park where it had been abandoned since our arrival.

Het Keringhuis is part of Holland’s Delta Works, similar to the Thames Barrier but a very different design. Consisting of two massive gates which fill with water, they swing into position to protect low lying land from seasonal storm surges which have the potential to devastate communities while keeping the busy port of Rotterdam safe and operational. Did you know that Holland’s lowest lying town is almost 7m below sea level?

That’s all from us, we’re on the ferry home and hope you’ve enjoyed our ramblings

Our last afternoon in Haarlem..

This afternoon, we headed for culture and the Teylers Museum. The collection was started in the late 18th century by Pieter Teyler. In his will, he left his fortune, and collection, to a foundation created to promote arts, science and theology. The museum is the first in Holland and is still housed on its original site. It’s an eclectic mix of fossils, art, books and scientific instruments,

Our next stop was Haarlem’s De Adriaan windmill. The original windmill dated back to 1779, burned down in 1932 and was rebuilt on the original site in 2002. It didn’t seem right to come all the way here and not have a photo of a windmill!

We couldn’t find any mice with clogs on so perhaps they only live in windmills in old Amsterdam. We should have checked yesterday….

John’s ideal morning….

We started with breakfast in Bar Wolkers, a straightforward cafe with freshly prepared food and friendly staff.

This mornings challenge was to cycle to the coast at Zandvoort. Our route took us out along the canals of Haarlem and through the wooded suburbs into Zandvoort. We passed some amazing properties.

We finally found the coast and it’s typical North Sea.

We’d earned a break, and a cuppa, and headed for Bernie’s Restaurant in Zandvoort’s racing circuit. John was last here, racing, about 500 years ago…..

The BMW Experience is doing track and drifting training, Motown is playing in the restaurant and we’re out of the drizzle. John is a happy bunny!

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?

An Evening in Haarlem

We’re staying in the Amrâth Grand Frans Hal’s which doesn’t have parking. The cost of parking the Beetle is dearer than Luton Airport or even eating out in Reykjavik ….we didn’t think it was possible!

Haarlem is looking pretty in the dark and it would be lovely to see it dressed up for Christmas.

Anyway, we had a lovely meal at Cafe Collette and here’s a picture of the birthday boy to prove it..

John’s highlight of the evening, however, was the restaurant’s urinal, complete with built in iPad for entertainment. I’m sure there’s a pun to be made there. I was too scared to see what was on offer in the Ladies.

John’s Birthday adventure

John has everything he could possibly need, if you exclude our unreasonably small garage from his wish list. He has chosen a trip to The Netherlands for his birthday.

Last night, the Beetle was packed with the Bromptons and we set off for the overnight sailing from Harwich.

We docked at 8am and set off for our first stop, Afsluitdijk Dam. It is a 20 mile dam, constructed between 1927 and 1932, that connects the North Holland Province to Friesland Province.

It dams the North Sea inlet and has created a fresh water lake. It has two claims to fame. The first is that it was the initial demonstration site for the 130kph speed limit in The Netherlands. The second is that, in May 1940,it was the site of the Battle of the Afsliutsdijk. This was one of the few successful defences of the Western Front and was held until Dutch forced surrendered later that month.

Our route back to Haarlem, where we’re staying, took us on a round trip across the Houtribdijk and into Edam for a late lunch. Edam is a maze of little streets and canals. Kim is rather taken with it and will be checking out property prices later. John has noted that none of the houses Kim likes have garages….

We stopped off at a cheese shop and a quick lesson in the difference between local, farm produced Edam and that made in a factory for export.

Guess which one tastes the best? Later in the week we’re planning on cycling from Amsterdam to Edam so that we can sample the local beer at 8.4%.

We’ve covered about 200 miles today so we’re aiming for a quiet evening in Haarlem which might be a challenge. Our hotel is right by a very large church, which might be a cathedral, which plays a tune every 15 minuted….