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Wind in my hair, sun on my shoulders, cows looking at me from the other side of the canal, the smell of grass and cute little villages in the distance. I could only ask myself: why I don’t do this more often? 

Last weekend I took my city bike on a trip to the countryside. The plan was to go to Broek in Waterland and come back to Amsterdam. But once I got there, I felt I was just starting, so I decided to cycle three more kilometres to Monnickendam. Both villages are part of the Waterland region, in the North Holland province. This is a very pretty area on the shore of Markermeer encompassing nine charming villages, which are all worth a day-trip from Amsterdam. It’s easy to get there by bus, but also by bike, because the distances are not long. 

Dutch countryside

I crave for nature lately, for simpler and less crowded scenery. That’s how a bike trip came to mind. I wanted to cycle through the flat green fields, to see cows and birds, enjoy the silence. The route was straight forward: I started my trip by taking the ferry from Central Station to Amsterdam Noord, then crossed this neighbourhood and kept heading north. It was 10 a.m. when I left Amsterdam, the day was sunny and the sky dark blue, the air still fresh and the temperature perfect. The only thing I didn’t like was the wind, because I had to cycle against it on my way there. But hey, we’re in Holland! Of course there’s gonna be wind! I wasn’t in a rush anyway and being outdoors filled me with energy. Once in Broek in Waterland, I parked the bike and wandered through the village, admiring the charming houses and canals, taking pictures. It was still early and I felt I could cycle forever, so it seemed natural to continue the bike trip to the next village.

As a fun fact, I find the name of the place hilarious, because the word “broek” translates in Dutch as “pants”, so it amuses me to think of it as “Pants in Waterland”. That’s not the actual translation of the name: “broek” also means “swamp”, which makes more sense and it’s probably what people had in mind when they named the village. I would like to think there is a hint of Dutch humour in naming this village, though.

I continued my bike trip, heading towards Monnickendam, arriving there in no time, after stopping once to take pictures of the cute cows grazing on the fields. This part of the trip wasn’t silent — the road from Broek to Monnickendam runs parallel to the highway, so there are cars passing by. However, once in the village, I could enjoy the Sunday atmosphere. Streets were almost empty, the sun was already burning hot by then and all the people were gathered around the marina, preparing their boats for a ride. Monnickendam is a beautiful little town, with old houses, cobbled streets, canals covered with water lilies and a lovely marina. I had a delicious lunch at the biological café Da Piera, then an ice cream while strolling close to the water. After that I had another walk in the village and started the trip back at around 3 p.m.

I am very proud of myself for having cycled that long: 34 km in total! While walking in Monnickendam, feeling the muscle pain already, I was thinking I might not be able to cycle all the way back — but I did — and it was still very enjoyable, maybe even more because I didn’t cycle against the wind this time. Now I am thinking about the next bike trip I can do from Amsterdam, if you have any suggestions for me, let me know!

 

2 Comments

  1. This looks so calming and relaxing. Seems like it’s from another world. How is the heat there? In Rotterdam, it’s pretty bad as far as I know. I hope it stays that way until September when I come there. I can’t believe cycling there it’s so easy and undisturbed. It’s such a great difference from Romania. Do you ever miss the nature that you had here? The hills and mountains? I feel like besides family, it will be the thing I’ll miss the most.

    • The heat calmed down a bit now. I doubt it will stay like this until September, it’s already very unusual for a Dutch summer 🙂 I miss the Romanian mountains. But I didn’t have much time for nature visits when living and working in Bucharest. In comparison, in the Netherlands, like-work balance is much better and I have more time. It’s also much easier to get to a national park – everything can be reached in maximum two hours by train. I can take the bike in the train or I can just bike from the city and in no time I am in a beautiful village.

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