Windmills, waders and wild roosters

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A boat/bike cruise is a perfect way to explore the charming towns as well as the serene farmlands and woodlands of the Netherlands. A week aboard the boat provided us with well-marked bike routes, interesting harbor visits and some delicious cuisine to savor along the way. Cruising through the lush countryside and through charming villages was a bonus to spending the day on our bikes. We had the option of a guided tour with our knowledgeable guide Piet, or to venture off on our own with a well-marked map and a “See you back at the boat!” We decided to play it by ear and do a little of both. The Dutch bike network uses a point-to-point system (Knooppunt) which is much easier to follow than a traditional “route names.”

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And if “knooppunt” isn’t a funny enough word for you, try “wild rooster.” Occasionally we came across warning signs on the path and wondered if we needed to be worried about some kind of feral chicken hiding in the woods ready to pounce on unsuspecting two wheelers. Turns out that “wild rooster” (pronounced “vild roaster”) is actually a grill (roaster) in the road to prevent animals from crossing over. Better known as “cattle guards.”

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The Dutch have a saying…”In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth except in the Netherlands where God created the waters and the Dutch created the land.” And in many cases, the innovative engineering of containing and relocating water substantiates this claim. Extensive agricultural land and in some cases entire cities have been built on land created by a sophisticated network of dikes. So, one of our journeys included riding a few kilometers on what used to be the bottom of the sea as recent as the 1970’s and is now fertile farmland and young forest.

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Biking at the bottom of the sea

The days on the trail were spent ticking off the kilometers over meadows and through forests between one charming village after another.

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Hattem

Just when I thought I found the best photo, something around the next corner would surprise me and make me smile.

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At the end of one particular long day of biking, we pulled into a sweet fishing village with a history of devastation from the huge flood of 1916.   Now a distant memory, the village stands as a reminder of the resilience and stamina of the Dutch. On this late August day the harbor and the cobbled streets were a happy rendition of peaceful serenity. A small group of us walked along the water’s edge marveling at the colors and designs of the old fishing boats. We finished off the day sharing stories over a few good Dutch beers at a sidewalk café that was bathed in the glow of the late afternoon sun.

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Spakenburg

 

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