Day 82 – 84 Touring the North of Holland

Sunday, August 2 to Tuesday, August 4

We left Groningen on a quiet Sunday morning, making our way out of town by following the amazing bike routing system of ‘knooppunten’ (node points). It was sunny, quiet and the country side pretty. Still flat, but lots of beautiful farmhouses, country estates and country roads. Roy even found a unique bench for a rest; unfortunately the beer was missing, so we carried on.

Our destination that day was Joure, a town in the province of Friesland and gateway to the Friesian lakes area. Friesland is popular for its lakes and canals and is a boaters mecca. Several times we had to wait for open bridges to let sailboats and yachts go through. This part of the country is littered with small towns and cafes, often right by a canal. Boats pull up and moor right in front of a cafe for a coffee or snack. Very civilized. I do love the wilderness and nature in Canada, but there is something to be said for being able to stop at a cafe and enjoy an ice cream sundae while boating.

Coming to this part of the Netherlands makes me think about my Dad and his side of the family. Both my paternal grandparents are from here. We visited Makkum, where my grandmother was from, and ended the day in Harlingen, a beautiful port town on the Waddenzee, where my grandfather was from. We celebrated Roy’s birthday in Harlingen with a dinner on a patio on the Noorderhaven, right by the canal.

Today we rode the Afsluitdijk–a 30km long dike built around 1932, that closed off what was known as the Zuiderzee (now called the IJsselmeer) from the North sea. I sincerely hoped we wouldn’t have strong headwinds, because 30km is a long way to go! But we were lucky; the winds weren’t strong and for most part the dike sheltered us (the road and bike path run behind the tall part of the dike.) I recalled stories from my Dad about him cycling that same dike as a teenager during the war to visit relatives on the other side. That would have been quite a different experience in those circumstances.

Tonight we’re in the town of Den Helder, my Dad’s birth place. It’s at the very tip of this part Holland and very much a port town. It has a very different, more transcient feel than most towns in Holland. Shipping, oil and the navy seem the main industries. While out for dinner, we overheard several conversations of shipping and oil crew members in English.

Despite its lack of charm, finding accommodation was difficult here. The only room we could find was a room for people with mobility problems or in wheel chairs. Not really a problem I thought, and it isn’t. The room is actually a small suite, which is nice–but with the wide spaces, high beds, lazy-boy electric chairs, and support bars in the bathroom, it does feel a bit weird, especially to Roy who just celebrated a milestone birthday yesterday.

Tomorrow night we are in Den Helder as well, although in a different hotel due to the lack of available accommodation. During the day we’re planning a day trip to the island of Texel, a 20 minute ferry ride from here. Texel is where the my dad’s clan originates, so the plan is to visit ‘new’ relatives. We’ll keep you posted.

Some photos:

15 thoughts on “Day 82 – 84 Touring the North of Holland”

  1. Happy belated birthday Roy!

    I am a friend of Inge’s and have been enjoying your trip updates (usually on a Saturday when I have some time).

    The trip seems a wonderful way to usher in a new era.


  2. Happy birthday Roy.
    hope you had a nice dutch pastry to celebrate it.
    I enjoy reading your blog and looking at the great pictures
    cheers Trudie

  3. Happy Birthday Roy ?????????. Texel is very special to us. If you have time then go to see the slufter vallei. It is a hole in the dunes. They can’t repair it. You can walk from the dunes to the beach and the landscape is Beautiful. Enyoy your stay . Nice pictures ??

  4. Happy birthday Roy and you have had a Sunny day. Enjoy your trip to The Hague. Greetings x

  5. Happy Birthday Roy! Wonderful blog, beautifully photographed and written journey. Much love to you both. Gail

  6. Enjoyed the commentary about the knooppunten fiets pad. Last September I cycled in northern Friesland quite a bit; well, not compared to you two. Schiermonnikoog was especially beautiful.

    Happy Birthday Roy! (We’ve never met, but Inge and I are related.)

  7. Belated birthday wishes to Roy.
    What an amazing three months….so many kilometres, so many climate challenges, so many memories. At least it looks warmer than Scotland.
    Best wishes from us in “cold” Sydney!

  8. Yes, happy milestone birthday, Roy! Inge, it must be so heartwarming to be in the part of the country that represents your family’s heritage. It’s beautiful. It’s nice to see the blue sky and feel the warmth of the boaters. Thanks for the nice commentary.


  9. Who are you calling a ‘late nut’? 🙂 Hebt zeker spellcheck op Nederlands staan?

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