Cycling up an enormous ramp onto the back of an enormous ferry in the dark of the night alongside rumbling trucks and overloaded cars is one of the most exciting ways to leave a country that I have ever experienced.
With no set plan we had eagerly cycled onto an oversized ferry in Harwich searching for adventure. We would return to the UK in a few days time.
The boyfriend, a good friend of ours – called Frank and myself were cruising across the darkness of the ocean to the flat lands of the Netherlands. Our cosy cabin provided us with comfort and a good night’s sleep while our bicycles rested up in the cargo hold.
The Netherlands is one of the best countries to cycle in as cycle paths are well sign posted and they are everywhere! We had no map to help direct us just Frank acting as our trusty tour guide. Having Dutch parents and a fond memory of touring the Netherlands as a child, Frank was eager to share his knowledge of places that might be worth cycling to….
The glowing sun warmed our arrival into the Hook of Holland. Wrapped up warm we joined all the noisy vehicles down in the cargo hold. It was a thrilling highlight speeding down the ramp and off the Ferry along to passport control. Like excited children in a playground the three of us quickly found a cycle path that took us via the wind-swept coast guiding us in the direction of the city of Den Hague.
The sparse coastline was deserted. All the beach houses were locked up, only a random swimmer was spotted enjoying the early morning quietness. The cycle path turned slightly away from the coast and we soon found ourselves cycling between hundreds upon hundreds of glass-houses twinkling under the morning sunlight.
It didn’t take us long to get to the Hague and the morning was spent cycling around the streets checking out the Hofvijver and the buildings of the Dutch parliament. Frank excitedly suggested a side trip to a tourist attraction called Madurodam.
Madurodam is a miniature dutch town laid out on a very large-scale! We happily explored a replicated version of everything dutch in miniature…
The amount of detail was definitely captivating on the eye! This place of all-things-small easily turned the Boyfriend and Frank into young boys again and the hours slipped through our fingers like sand.
Back on our bicycles following the cycle signs we headed towards the windy beach of Scheveningen. It was built up with empty eateries, seaside kitsch and grimy looking accommodation. We kept on pedalling as the dull clouds moved in.
Like an old mans beard the wild coastline entangled itself around us. It undulated in parts and we loved the crisp cool sea breeze hitting our skin as we hugged the edge of the land with our bike wheels. Our pedals spun our chains through sleepy places with the names of De Zilk, Lisse and Noordwijk. As sleepy as they were, these places offered us the chance to snack as their colourful seaside caravans offered us tasty local treats.
The coastline continue to appear grey with foaming waves being caught by occasional kite surfers. Discovering open areas of tarmac allowed us to become cycling ballerinas. We joyfully pedalled in figure eights and circles weaving in and out of each others bicycles while the sea breeze battled to ruin our perfect dance.
Competitively, we raced up and over mounds of sand dunes and finally cycled inland to find ourselves in among rows of colourful flowers. The charming medieval city of Haarlem lay before us for the night. Where tomorrow would take us was just going to have to wait!