Timeline: August 9th – 15th
Editors Note: The last paragraph of the last post had a typo. Here is the corrected version:
We love to eat out and yet, that meal in camp, an inexpensive bottle of wine lubricating the gears, evolves from a simple act of preparation into the constant that keeps you grounded. Often its just camp food, sustenance and nothing more; but every once in a while it’s a meal you savor, that elusive combination of time, place, and flavor. It was good to be back to eating in camp, a little touch of home in a far away place.
Invigorated from our Sunday ride into Amsterdam and eager to take advantage of good weather we decided to do a longer ride on Monday, part of a philosophical shift we’d adopted, that is to slow down our pace, back off a bit on sightseeing, and begin to enjoy other activities including more time on the bikes.
We set our sights for the town of Marken, about 20 kilometers away and took off late morning into blustery conditions. We’d checked out some of the bike paths around camp during our ride the week before and following an earlier route hooked up with one of the regional routes that took us north through fields and farmland bordered by a banked dike against the former Zuiderzee.
Did I mention it was blustery? For the ride out the wind was at our backs and we pedaled as if effortlessly, through small villages and then across the causeway that takes you into Marken. We arrived in town and rode through the outskirts, eventually finding a small café where we could take a break and enjoy some coffee and strudel.
Marken is a charming little town; formerly an island surrounded by its namesake, the Markermeer in the larger body of water known as the Zuiderzee. Well known for its characteristic wooden houses, it relies on tourism to survive since the closing off of the Zuiderzee turned it into a fresh water lake, wiping out the fishing industry that previously supported the town.
It is now connected to the mainland by a causeway. Like so many other small towns here in Europe (and in the US for that matter) that rely on tourism, we would see it again a number of times as we continued our journey
We saddled up for the ride back to camp, which was one tick less than brutal given the vicious headwind we now confronted, our friend on the way to Marken, and now a foe to be battled. Riding into a headwind is much like riding up a long steep hill, you have to find a rhythm and take what it will give you.
We made it back to camp, stopping at the mini-market there for a couple of beers (Grolsch) with which to rehydrate, then relaxed for the rest of the afternoon before making a run to Dirk’s for dinner supplies. Another fine meal in camp ensured. Another inexpensive bottle of wine got consumed. We were happy campers.
With a couple of good bike rides under our belts it was time to see some more sights. Given our prior trips to Amsterdam we felt like we’d covered it pretty well; our goal this time around was to take a couple of day trips to other sites in the region. Our first destination was the city of Delft, small and charming and known as the home of the Royal Delft Factory.
About an hour’s drive from camp we made it to the center of town and parked in a pay lot, after having been thoughtfully advised by a older gentleman on a bike that our original parking spot would garner an expensive ticket. One disadvantage to not being able to read the language is that parking signage is a constant mystery.
We walked to the town square, shot some pictures and then stopped in for a snack at Coffee Company, a Starbucks like operation. We ordered a couple of coffees and a Portobello and Cheese Panini, which knocked us out, so much so much so we discussed ways to duplicate it back at camp.
Finished with the snack, we drove over to the Royal Dutch Delftware Manufactory (De Porceleyne Fles). Established in 1653, it is the last of what were many Delftware factories begun there in the 1600’s. This famous porcelain is still hand-painted and the provided tour gives a glimpse at the history of the product, the factory itself, and a first-hand look at how it is produced.
Finished with what was a pretty complete and long tour, and tired from our efforts, we repaired to the quaint café located on the property for yet another round of coffee and their famous apple pie. It was a beautiful looking day out, but a bit cold and so we sat indoors enjoying the pie and recapping what we’d seen on the tour.
The drive back to camp went quickly and we stopped yet again at the Dirk’s market for dinner supplies. Two more relaxing and rewarding days had passed and we were beginning to get used to our adjusted routine, looking forward to yet a few more days as we’d decided to remain in Amsterdam until the end of the week for total stay of eleven nights.
As exciting and fun as travel can be, the chance to spend an extended period of time in one locale, feeling confident about how to get around, leads to a greater appreciation for the place and the people who live there. We were deep into the heart of that groove and looking forward to more.
Fietsroute Netwerk Laag Holland: http://www.laagholland.nl/fietsknooppunt-netwerk
Coffee Company: https://www.coffeecompany.nl/
Royal Delft: http://www.royaldelft.com/index.asp?lang=2