Day 10, 14 Sep, Amsterdam to Delft, a captivating ride.

Amsterdam is a city that’s worth exploring for a few days, but I didn’t have a few days. By the looks of it, I could only enjoy the city for a day and I’d have to get a move on if I was to keep my schedule. I’d realized that the itinerary I had so cleverly planned was actually more feasible if done over at least 5 weeks.

The sun was shining bright and early, but the wind was gusty and cold

My friend came back to visit again, this time even more brazen than before.

So did the one-legged mallard

To Delft it was then. I was looking forward to it, too, as I would be staying with Martha’s friend from my hometown – Bee Suan, and her German husband Sebastian. Martha had so kindly arranged this special stop for me and it meant a nice break from camping as well.

The day before, I had asked and, according to the guy in the campsite’s bikeshop as an indication, Den Haag (or The Hague in English, which was very near to Delft) was only was about 50km or so from Amsterdam.

Camp Zeeburg is so big they even have their own bike rental shop

50kms or so sounded like a ride in the park, especially with the weather forecast to be sunny (the weather forecasts here are very accurate). This morning, after packing up, I realised my rear tyre needed a little more air but I had already packed the pump and it was too inconvenient to dig through the pannier, so I headed for the bikeshop again. It was another guy who was manning the counter and as I asked to borrow the pump, I told him about my plan for the day and asked him what the best route was to get to Delft.

He was a nice friendly guy (all the Dutch people I met seem to be friendly) and suggested I follow the scenic Amstel river route for part of the way. He even showed me the best way out of the city and with that, I was ready for a great ride….. for about 3kms anyway.

A bewildering array of signposts to keep one on one's toes

As is typical of Dutch fietstraats, or cycling paths, they were all numbered and all you had to do was simply follow the direction to the number coming up next on your planned route. Easy for them, with cycling maps. I didn’t have any, as I just couldn’t find a shop which sold one.

But soon, an elderly gentleman came up to me and asked if I needed help (actually, if you acted forlorn and lost long enough, somebody will eventually come and help you).

‘Ok, first you go straight until you come to a canal. Then you turn right until a traffic light and then you go across to the other side and you follow that road until you come to some new buildings, then you turn right because there are roadworks there and you have to go that direction anyway…etc etc…’

Ok, bye-bye, thank you very much and off I went. Naturally, by the time I reached the first turn after the canal, I was lost again. It never crossed their Dutch minds that a Malaysian from some tropical country which had no cycle paths would be able to remember their ‘easy’ directions. And so it went on like this throughout the day. It was like a treasure hunt.

Automatic train crossing

This lady didn't look like an invalid to me...so was the dog; the anti-thesis of a typical cycle-loving Dutch

Dutch cycle paths are indisputably the best in the world.

and safest, too.

I estimated there were a couple of thousand bikes here at this train station

Even policemen got into the act of helping me get back on the trail

When I finally got out of the messy roads leading out of the city, I suddenly found myself on the Ouderkerk on the Amstel route. As amazing as the fact that I actually found it, the change in scenery was what made me gasp with surprise. It was beautiful, and it made getting lost so worth it.

As I wound my way along the Amstel, it became one of those moments that only a cycle tourer can explain — the sheer delight at the spectacle that kept unfolding with every pedal stroke; always surprising, taking your breath away every now and then and, as a bonus, clear blue skies and the wind behind your back — this was what we lived for as a cyclo-tourist.

The Ouderkerk on the Amstel route, very scenic and very popular with recreational cyclists

I came across numerous windmills today

The sky was clear and blue, the scenery perfect, the road smooth and flat, and the wind was behind me ... bliss

Soon, the Amstel and I had to part ways and I was back to treasure hunting. But, I wasn’t worried at all. You see, instead of a cycling map which I couldn’t find, I had gotten myself a driving map. This gave me an idea of where I was at all times, and in the Netherlands, civilization is never more than 20 minutes away. So, all I had to do was adopt a different strategy – when asking for help, tell them my final destination, then whip out my roadmap and ask them which was the next nearest town I should head for … and so on and so on.

2 friendly ladies who helped me with directions

This lady took me by surprise when she stopped me just as I was crossing this bridge ... just to talk to me and asked where I came from and all that. It was so charming. I love the Dutch. They are so friendly and they make you feel so at home in their country.

This particular spot was so captivating that I just had to stop and soak it all in. I had my lunch break here as well, but sitting still meant being exposed to the cold wind so after a while I hit the road with the wind behind me once again.

Every small town I passed was charming

You couldn't ask for better, or safer, roads to cycle on in Netherlands. The red sections are strictly for bicycles. Cars passing by would always be civil and careful. Such is the culture in Netherlands.

Whenever you see the sign 'Te Koop', it meant 'for sale', In this case, fruits and vegetables from an unmanned roadside stall. Just pick, pay and be on your way.

Dutch homes by the canals are the nicest.

The Amsterdam/Delft route is a favourite among fast bikers in training.

You can even park a big boat in your backyard

For wet fun in the sun, nothing beats these home-made slides and spring-boards.

At one junction, I asked for directions from a helpful Volvo showroom salesperson ...

Then I asked to use the toilet and he even asked me to park my bike inside while I was at it. He also asked if he could offer me a drink. seeing as I looked a bit tired.

More idyllic scenes continued to enthrall me as I rode along.

A working windmill that's inhabited by the farmer and his family ... notice the curtains.

That's 'Ha zers wow der dop'....not easy to roll off the tongue. Very near to Delft now.

A hexagonal thatched roof house just before Delft

It worked like a dream. Trouble was, I was now only halfway through and the trip-meter had only clocked about 50kms. Oh well… onwards to Delft. I had confidently told Bee Suan that I should arrive by lunchtime but now if I was lucky, it’d be dinnertime instead.

I was right. Rolling into Delft, I located her waypoint on my Garmin (that was all I had) and rode towards her home. I had gotten her GPS coordinates by pinpointing her address on Googlemap and then, by clicking on ‘get directions’ it would display part of the results in coordinates. I would then copy those coordinates and created a waypoint in Mapsource, then upload it to the GPS unit. Pretty neat, Googlemap is, and very, very accurate.

Arriving at the town square of Delft. The town's church is just behind me.

And so at around 6.30pm, I rolled into a very narrow street called Smitsteeg, found the number of her home and rang the doorbell…. with my camera ready to record the moment when Bee Suan opened the door so I could share it immediately with Martha and my wife Lilian 🙂

Narrow Smitsteeg, where Bee Suan lived

Sebastian and Bee Suan welcoming me to their charming home.

The hunt was over for today and I was looking forward to a dinner of Hungarian Goulash that Bee Suan had told me she was preparing for dinner. It was absolutely delectable, especially when paired with a bottle of excellent Spanish red and the company of my gracious hosts. What better way than this to end a day of hard riding?

Theirs was a warm and cosy home, one that made visitors feel so welcome and relaxed.

Bee Suan preparing dinner

Authentic Hungarian Goulash, cooked with authentic Hungarian ingredients.

My gracious hosts, Sebastian and Bee Suan.

Tomorrow: Exploring Delft

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Distance today:: 89km

Distance to date:: 541km

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2 thoughts on “Day 10, 14 Sep, Amsterdam to Delft, a captivating ride.

  1. yup Netherlands is truly a very very beautiful place, all the more so if you’re a cyclist, I’m sure you saw lots of people cycling to work in a full 3 piece suit.. was there in summer, stayed with a friend in Rotterdam, just as beautiful and made a day trip to Amsterdam and another day we visited Dan Haag…Lorraine and I had quite an adventure getting lost trying to look for the International courts. Your pics bring back alot of memories. and yes all the people you meet there are very friendly and helpful.

  2. wow, you said the scenery was beautiful, and these pictures certainly say it all! very beautiful! Me and Lilian will be there soon! 🙂

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