After our harmonious frolic through a haze of hues we drove dreamily to Haarlem. Our destination was a brewery called Jopen which brews divine beer in a 14th century cathedral. When we arrived the brewery was packed with people both inside and out. They brew a vast range of craft beers that Rob was finding it hard to choose what to try. All we can say is great beer in a very unique setting. Rob also brought a sample pack that he proudly tucked under his arm as we headed out to explore the city.
We walked through the busy town square where cafes and restaurants were over flowing the people enjoying that late setting sun. A carnival was also setting up in the square. Towering over the square was Saint Bavo’s Cathedral.
There was also the old meat hall building and the stunning canal which is so typically Dutch.
Our walk ended a The Amsterdam Poort. This was the gateway to the city.
De Hoge Veluwe National Park
This was an early morning start for us (8:30am) as we had an hour’s drive to get to the privately owned nature park with 5400 hectares of woodland, heathland, grasslands, planted forests and drift sand. It was once a hunting reserve in 1909. It houses a huge range of birds and wild animals like fox, deer and boar.
As the National Park is so vast there an endless supply of free white bikes to ride around the well maintained pathways that lead through the park. We paid 7-50 euros each to get into the park, 6-50 euros for parking at the visitors’ centre (parking is free at the entrance) but we decided as the park was so vast to rent electric bikes for 10-00 euros each so we could cover more of the park. The electric bikes or tandem bikes needed to be booked on line the day before as they can book out.
My challenge once getting my bike was being able to get started as there is only one size and I am so short so trying to get my butt up on the seat, my foot on the pedal and balancing a heavy bike made it tricky. Rob had to hold the bike steady as if I had training wheels on for a fair few times until I got used to a high seat which wouldn’t lower!!!! There are no helmets even for babies in the Netherlands. Babies are aboard parent’s bikes and young children don’t seem to have training wheels – parents just have one arm on their child’s shoulder as the ride abreast. Maybe we need to toughen up in Australia. I had to face my fears and ride a bike I considered to be for a giant.
Once under way the bikes were great you still pedal but there is a little kick of speed which gives you extra speed with no extra effort. What I call dream riding through so many panoramic tranquil landscapes. Wow!!! Is a word we constantly use to describe the Netherlands.
On our ride we spotted a herd of deer grazing in the distant fields. We also stopped for our own packed picnic lunch at a hunting lodge which was built between 1914-1920. It was a real wow factor which stood out over a lake and green field.
We biked 40 kilometres thanks to a little help from our electric bike and our padded bike pants. This beautiful ever changing landscape should be on anyone’s bucket list travelling in the Netherlands.
On our way home we stopped off in the city of Utrecht. Another glorious canal city with a very flash upmarket shopping complex. We grabbed a huge cone of well deserved frites and took a stroll around the streets and through the Cathedral of St. Martin. We headed back via another beautiful canal!