A bicycle in Dutch language is known as “Fiets” and a cyclist is referred as a “Fietser”. I can’t describe how beautiful the country of Netherlands is and how deeply cycling is penetrated in the country. No wonder, they have earned a title of “Fiets Paradise” and offer the best cycling experience in the world.
I cycled in the cities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Haarlem, Nijmegen, and Rotterdam and here is a brief description of the same.
Cycling in Amsterdam-Part 1:
I cycled in Amsterdam on 5th June 2023 in the IJ Burg area. I was in the company of my friend Janine Hogendoorn who gave me her spare bicycle to ride. First, we went to a bridge and took a halt to spend a few moments. Next, we took the outer route that moves along the river. It was a short 10km loop since I had to be back at the Amsterdam Central Station to attend a bus tour of windmills and cheese factory.
I could comfortably cycle around and there was no vehicle movement in that area. IJ Burg is a newly developed residential complex and very different from the city centre. The ride ended with a lemonade and a chat with Janine at her house. In the afternoon, I said her goodbye with a promise to meet again.
Cycling in Amsterdam-Part 2:
On 6th June 2023, I had booked a guided bicycle tour with an operator “Yellow Bike Company” in Amsterdam. A day prior I had seen tourists on similar looking yellow bikes passing by. I immediately googled yellow bike company to locate their shop and booked an afternoon 2 hr slot. It was a group tour of about 15 people along with a tour guide. The tour started from the shop, and we stopped near couple of canals to be briefed about its history by the tour guide.
Next, we cycled through the Jordaan district then passed through Vondel Park and reached at the Museumplein or the museum square. Three major museums are located here, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk museum. There is also a concert hall located called “Concertgebouw”. We stopped at the square for photos and explanation by the guide. Finally, we cycled through the underpass of Rijksmuseum to return to the yellow bike store.
Cycling in Utrecht:
I was in Utrecht on the 7th of June 2023 and visited the office of the Dutch cycling embassy (DCE). There I met with Chris Bruntlett, Marketing and Communications Manager at the DCE. We had a chat at his office then took out two bicycles and went for a quick 6km loop. We crossed the underpass of the Utrecht bicycle parking garage at the central station and arrived on the seamless connected cycle lanes of the city.
Utrecht is one of the top cities in the Netherlands when it comes to cycling infrastructure. I witnessed peace and harmony on streets with cyclists passing through in different directions. Chris and I froze the moment with a photograph at a canal and finished the ride.
Cycling in Haarlem:
On 8th June 2023, I met up with my friend Gertjan Hulster, a filmmaker who lives in Haarlem city. He helped me out to rent a bicycle from a shop called “Rent a Bike Haarlem”. We explored the colourful city centre and then went to a river. From there we took a ferry and crossed over. We pedaled through the park and stopped at a cafe for lunch. From there we went to the school to pick up Gertjan’s son. The last halt was at the cycle shop to return the bike. It was a 10km detour on a perfect summer day and I enjoyed exploring the beautiful city of Haarlem.
Cycling in Nijmegen:
I had an appointment with Jos Sluijmans, Director of the International Cargo Bike Festival in Nijmegen on 9th June 2023. We met outside the train station and were looking to hire an OV-Fiets. We were unlucky to find one as not a single bike was available. Jos suggested me to sit inside the box of his cargo bike and that way we should be able to move around. What he suggested was nothing unusual for a Dutch, but something as an outsider I had never done before. Once on the move, I totally enjoyed being a passenger on a cargo bike. It was possible due to the amazing cycling infrastructure that the Dutch have created.
We stopped at the cafe for lunch and then kept exploring the city. Jos took me to an organic food shop and introduced me to his friend. In the evening we visited the oldest bar of Nijmegen and finished the ride with a drink and snacks. I don’t have a track of the kilometres we rode since I didn’t use my Strava app that day.
Cycling in Rotterdam:
I had booked a private cycle tour in Rotterdam on the 11th of June 2023. My tour guide was Sander Ankerman a teacher and a historian. He planned a special tour for me. We rented our bikes from “Rzwaan Bikes Rentals” and pedaled together exploring historic buildings, cube houses, statues, a park, a bridge, and cities prominent landmarks of Rotterdam.
The two of us shared lunch together at a cafe and I thoroughly enjoyed my 3 hours with Sander Ankerman and I am great full to him for his time. We returned the bikes to the shop and hugged each other to celebrate our friendship.
I returned home in Maarssen, Utrecht where I was staying since I had to pack my bags to visit Germany the next morning. More about my Germany trip in the subsequent blogs.
You might also like to read my previous blog: CYCLING IN THE NETHERLANDS
Enjoy the photo album of the Netherlands.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai