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Gouda, Leiden and Rotterdam,
Windmills of Kinderdijk and tulips around Lisse

18-20 April 2014

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On Easter Friday we drove to South Holland. Due to traffic jams around Arnheim we needed a little longer than expected for the 250 kilometres. The weather was pretty good with some sunshine. But around lunchtime clouds came up and we had a few showers. At 2 p.m. we reached our destination Noordwijkerhout at the Dutch coast. Here we took to our bikes to cycle the Duin- en Bollenstreek (dunes and flower route). We passed through the village centre and then cycled along several beautiful tulip fields in full bloom. We also passed by the famous Keukenhof but didn't visit it, then we rode along a lake and had Appelgebak (apple cake) and coffee at a café. Finally we took to the cycle paths through the dunes and did a short walk to the beach. After 23 kilometres we were back at our car. It was 5 p.m. All in all we were fortunate with the weather. After a first shower the sun came out and the tulip fields looked just lovely in all their glory. When we were at the beach, the dark clouds were back and stayed with us for the rest of the evening. It was fairly cold, around 13 °C.

After another 30 kilometres by car we reached the Campanile Hotel at Gouda that we had booked for two nights. As we did not feel like cycling the few kilometres to the town centre we had dinner at the hotel. The dish of the day was Kip Lousiana (chicken with bacon) with Pommes duchesse and a side salad for 13 euros. The hotel is right by the motorway but when the doors and windows are closed you don't hear the traffic. We picked the hotel because it had a good price at 59 euros per night (excluding breakfast) and because it had a parking area where we could leave our car with the bike rack. They also had a shed for the bikes.

Saturday morning was cold and gray. At 9 a.m. we started at the hotel and cycled to Gouda's historic market square where we had breakfast at a café. Then we followed the Ijssel river to Ouderkerk and from Krimpen we took the ferry across the Lek (0.75 euros each) to Kinderdijk. The 19 windmills of Kinderdijk were erected in the 18th century to pump out the excess water from the land that's below sea level and are now a Unesco World Heritage site. From here there's a foot and cycle path along the windmills to Ablasserdam. By now the sun had came out and sun the sky was a clear blue. We had 16 °C. 

From Ablasserdam we took a boat (Waterbus) to Rotterdam. We just missed one so we had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. It cost 6 euros per person with the bikes. Another 30 minutes later we reached the magnificent Erasmus bridge that was completed in 1996. It was 2 p.m. We took to our bikes again and explored the centre of Rotterdam including historic Delfshaven where we had a fish roll as a snack.

Then it was back all the way through the centre of Rotterdam and then along canals and lakes back to Gouda. We passed by idyllic houses and a few more windmills and we had coffee and cake at a café along the road. We had to fight against a strong wind for the final part of route. Then we explored Gouda in the sunshine and bought something to eat at a supermarket as we were not hungry enough for dinner at a restaurant. After 78.5 kilometres we were back at our hotel. It was 7:30 p.m.

Easter Sunday we had breakfast at our room. 11 euros were a bit much for breakfast at the hotel. Then we checked out and drove 30 kilometres by car to the historic university town Leiden, Rembrandt's birthplace. On the way we passed by some more windmills.

In Leiden we found a free parking area a little outside of the centre. It was just a five minutes ride on our bikes to the historic centre. On Sunday morning it was not busy yet but Leiden is pretty big so it was great to get around quickly by bike. 

In total we had covered 9 kilometres. We had a quick lunch at a café before getting back to our car after two hours. It was 12 p.m. Then we drove back to Germany. As the weather was still great we made another stop just after Venlo and cycled 19 kilometres around the Krickenbeck Lakes. In Kaldenkirchen we had a big ice cream with fresh strawberries. It was 22 °C. We got back home at 5 p.m. 


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