Another nice day today in Amsterdam and what could be better than exploring the wetlands North of Amsterdam called Waterland by canoe. The broader area was similar to my bike trip to Monnikendam last week (see here), but gives yet another perspective from the canals. It was fun, super beautiful and entertaining … and a good test for my Elbe canoe trip in summer.
Our tour took me, the lovely guide Majel (http://www.wetlandssafari.nl) and a couple from Stuttgart around the village of Watergang. In total 6,4km at a leisurely c4-5km/h excluding our picnic lunch half way. Given their was zero current (also not much wind), this means I can expect to do 7-10km/h on the Elbe this summer. Great news.
Waterland is just North of Amsterdam
6,4km canoe tour
We encountered loads of wobbly ground (see video) that goes a long way to explain why houses in the village are constructed lightweight & in Amsterdam are built on trees (first clay level is 30m down), meat-eating plants, loads of birds (especially the Godwit bird who calls this place home for parts of the year), saw plants whose white core was used for oil lamps in the olden days, polder windmills that help manage the drainage of the fields and loads more insights provided by Majel. Really interesting amidst really Dutch countryside away from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam.
But now, enjoy the pictures. It was really a trip worthwhile.
Not long ago I received an email from Martin. He is Dutch and originally from Rotterdam, but has lived in Amsterdam since 2002 (the same year I moved to London). Ever since Lhoste, he follows my blog and used the opportunity, now that I am in Amsterdam, to get in touch. We spent a fun day cycling (fietstocht in dutch) in the pretty landscape and villages north of Amsterdam all the way to Monnickendam. Thanks for a great day!
Our route – 49km through the countryside north of Amsterdam: Martin picked a route that he knows well leading us from the NSDM ship yard to Monnickendam and back on the dike along the Markermeer and back to Amsterdam. I had never been on the northern side of Amsterdam. The city operates free ferries over the Ij river from where you get a different angle on the city. There are also quite some off the beaten track sights as the former shipyard was transformed into a vibrant space.
Faralda Crane Hotel: Ever felt like you need to sleep in an old crane some 20-30m above ground? Well, there you go. If you feel like, you can even do a bungee jump.
De Ceuvel: De Ceuvel is a sustainably planned workplace for creative and social enterprises attracting entrepreneurs and artists alike (many having been involved in the project). It opened in 2014 after the former shipyard ceased operations in 2000. Built on heavily polluted land, it is now not only a cool place to get together, but is also host for phyto-remediating plants that clean the soil.
When cycling on this side of the city, you also see loads of the traditional wooden houses (nowadays in high demand with EUR1m a piece price tags) and you will see far less tourists than in the center … even though the area has now made into guidebooks.
From there we continued to a large lock and then straight into the nature where you leave the municipality of Amsterdam into the Waterland municipality (how fitting!). When you ride past the fields, you will notice that they are all individually drained to manage water levels, usually with a small canal around the field. Dropping ground levels resulting from overbuilding are a challenge though. We passed many cute villages before our lunch break in Monnickendam, but my personal highlight was our stop at a dairy farm that operates a fresh milk machine (90c / liter).
Monnickendam is a small town with 10k inhabitants that used to be an important port city with a weigh house for trading purposes. Nowadays it has a very laid back atmosphere and is also home to artists. Martin told me a bit more about his life over the sandwiches he had prepared for us and I could share a little more about mine.
Well rested we began our journey back following the dike and facing a decent amount of headwind. Makes you work as if you cycle uphill even though the route is completely flat (we had less than 100m total ascent over the entire 49km). Back in the city, we first stopped for another meal at a bistro for friet zuurvlees. It’s basically fries with beef stew. Now I can quote this and bitterballen as my insights into the Dutch cuisine! Tasty as well. Lunch was a moment to also speak some Dutch with Martin (we mostly conversed in German during our trip).
To flush it all down, Martin took me to one of his favorite cafe’s (Distilleerderij ‘t Nieuwe Diep) on this fine day and really turned out to be an oasis. Located on the shores of a lake in the middle of a park. Their specialty is all sorts of Jenevers & gins in a charming atmosphere and with a good amount of humor from the owner. Stand prepared to take the first sip of your gin right at the counter – he fills them to the absolute maximum.
We said good-bye near Amsterdam centraal and headed to the center to meet Johan – a former sellside competitor now at UBS under my old Morgan Stanley research management … and of course we ended up having a few more drinks while Roma played Liverpool. Great day. Dankjewel Martin (especially for all the insights … could only feature a fraction of your extensive knowledge here).