As we prepare to pedal our bicycles out of the lovely Dutch countryside and into Germany tomorrow, we find ourselves reflecting on our last two weeks, and feel the strong desire to share some of the sights and sounds with all of you.
A storm passes over the countryside.
The Dutch have implemented sensible, functional and complete cycling infrastructure not only in cities, but also on virtually every road throughout the countryside. The level of safety cycling here is substantially higher than anywhere we've cycled in the U.S., including bike capitols like Minneapolis, MN and Portland, OR. The intersections are well signed, often with lights specifically for cyclists, and a huge network of signed cycling routes covers the country like a spiderweb. Additionally, the whole country is extremely flat, making pedaling here as peaceful and carefree as long distance riding can be.
People of all ages ride bicycles as their mode of transportation, and even young children take cycling holidays with their parents.
Even the mail arrives by bicycle in the Netherlands!
Camping is an economical choice for tourists visiting Amsterdam, which meant camping in the area looked like this.
Paul's bike also wound up in a canal in Amsterdam, which you can read all about in the post below. He recovered it and we still left Amsterdam on time and in good spirits.
LF 1, one of many mapped and signed long-distance bike routes in the country, took us north from Amsterdam along the coast and through some lovely sand dunes.
Paul, characteristically happy and all the more so since his bicycle is recovered and running smoothly.
Narrow roads with reddish cycling lanes are a very common site in rural areas here in Holland.
Playing a cool game, Carcassonne, with our warm showers hosts. Always great to spend time with local cyclists!
Harrie, a local, and our generous host, demonstrates the use of a popular condiment for bread here in Holland: chocolate sprinkles. (More below...)
Apparently Dutch people never leave their homeland without their Hagelslag (literal translation: hail-punch, actual meaning: sprinkles, available in a variety flavours, here shown in Chocolate) and Pindakaas (peanut butter, which to our horror is fabled to be less available in greater Europe than we'd ever dared to imagine.)
Sheep in awe.
Rooftops throughout the Dutch countryside are thatched with reeds, which apparently have a very high insulation value, but in the event of a fire, they burn very rapidly.
The whole country is covered with a maze of man-made canals, which you may remember from earlier. The canals are used for water management and transportation. They also provide water for livestock and we think it's likely that they're used for irrigation as well.
Views of small town Holland.