Saturday, September 1, 2018
I had another really nice day biking through the Netherlands today. The route was 83km (52 miles), from Gouda to Breda, in the south of the country. The scenery was great, though it’s hard for it compete with yesterday’s trip through the “Groene Hart” (Green Heart) of the country. My favorites along the way were Kinderdijk (lots of windmills) and the city of Dordrecht.
The hotel had a hearty breakfast downstairs, after which point I checked out and got on my bike to leave Gouda. After a short time – maybe 10 minutes or so, I was effectively in the countryside. Everything was very green. It looked like an especially pleasant place for the cows:
Temperatures were again pleasantly cool, maybe mid-to-high 60’s Fahrenheit. The bike route alternated between being a normal bike path, going through towns, and going onto low-traffic country roads with tractors and such. I like how the paths were oftentimes surrounded with trees and canals:
After an hour and a half of biking and a short ferry hop across a river, I arrived at Kinderdijk, which is a famous site of 19 windmills from the 1700’s. I parked the bike to have closer look, and I enjoyed the ambiance of riding on the path along the long line of these windmills.
After biking for another 45 minutes or so, there was another ferry across a river, and then I approached the city of Dordrecht. It seemed to be a nice [river] harbor front city, with decent-sized downtown and market area. When I arrived, there appeared to be a charity swim fundraiser going on, where people were swimming in the river going into town.
It was 11:30, and I was starting to feel hungry, so when I saw a bakery on the way, I decided to stop. After picking out a small pizza, I kept riding through town, on the lookout for other places to stop. I found the main downtown/market area, and I walked my bike for a while through there. There was a Saturday market in that area, with various local foods and flowers for sale:
From a stand near there, I bought myself a “stroopwafel” – essentially two thin waffles with some caramel-like sauce in between. I’d had some packaged stroofwafels before on a previous trip, but they are much better when fresh.
Otherwise, Dordrecht seemed to be a pleasant city, with various canals and harbor areas. I wasn’t there for super long, but I’m glad that I was able to stop.
After Dordrecht, the landscape turned more agricultural again. Overall, I think the first half of the day was better, but there were definitely some nice scenes along the way:
And finally, I made it to Breda! It was about 2:30pm when I arrived at the hotel – I intentionally tried to stop a bit more than yesterday. Fortunately, my suitcase was already delivered. After checking in, I got some water, had a hot shower and hand-washed my bike clothes.
Breda itself seemed to be a nice enough city, with a large vibrant outdoor shopping area and restaurants. After washing up, I took a walk through the main area, and I visited the “Great Church” near the center as well as seeing the outside of the Breda Castle. Lots of people were out and about the main part of the city.
The bike tour person warned us that on some of the stretches it might be harder to find bakeries/shops open in the villages on the way. Since tomorrow is Sunday (where more things seem to close in Europe), I decided to buy a few chocolate bars in town for the bike bag as insurance, to avoid the being without any food.
On that note, when booking the tour, I decided to try the “half-board” option, where dinner is pre-paid for at [most of] the hotels, albeit often a “chef’s choice.” This is something I’ve mostly only really heard of being a normal thing in Europe. I’m not great at picking restaurants and expected to be tired at the end of the days, so I thought I’d choose that option, since otherwise, I’d probably alternate un-creatively between burgers and pizza. This has been a pleasant surprise. For the last 3 nights that I’ve had this so far, the food quality has been very high, with reasonably elaborate 3 course meals every night – for instance here’s my starter course from last night:
Jennifer has been jealous of the food. We’ll see how the rest of these meals go, but it’s off to a good start. In the meantime, trying to rest for tomorrow’s ride.