Netherlands = tulips and biking


Before moving to Switzerland I was living in the Netherlands for 1.5 years. It's been almost 2 years since I left and I hadn't been there after that. It was about time to go and meet some friends over there and what is better time to go than the tulip season?

Amsterdam


I landed on Friday around lunch time and went first to Amsterdam. There's a World Press Photo Exhibition held every year at De Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). The photos are really good but also quite disturbing. This year they also provided audio guides with which you could listen to the photographer explaining the story of the photo.

Amsterdam botanical garden

After the exhibition I went to the botanical garden. I actually hadn't been there before. I've been to the botanical gardens in Utrecht, Leiden and Rotterdam and the one in Utrecht is my definite favorite. Amsterdam's botanical garden is very small and very old. It's a nice escape from the masses of tourists but if you are not too much into botany or you plan to visit another botanical garden, you can easily skip it.

Amsterdam botanical garden
In general, Amsterdam is too crowded. Especially the 1 km radius around the main train station. There are too many tourists. I was actually quite happy when I left Amsterdam and headed to the town where I used to live - Amersfoort.

Streets of Amersfoort
Amersfoort is a nice medieval town in the middle of the country that hasn't been discovered by the tourists yet. It's also a birth place of Mondriaan and you can visit Mondriaan museum. Every Saturday there is a nice market on the main square where you can buy cheese (with prices twice lower than in Amsterdam cheese shops), bread, pastries, fish (both fried and fresh).

Amersfoort

I spent my time in Amersfoort meeting friends and strolling along the streets in the old town. There are lots of very good restaurants in Amersfoort and if you like shopping, there are plenty of opportunities for that as well.

So-called wall houses - houses that go along the old city wall
After shopping the cheeses and meeting with friends it was time for the next very Dutch things - biking and tulips. To enjoy them both at the same time I headed to the province called Flevoland where tulips are grown for their bulbs. On my way there I had a short stop in Kampen - a lovely old town. I had only 30 minutes to stroll around but it looked really lovely.

Kampen

Bikers going to church on Sunday morning
IJssel
In Flevoland I stayed in a small town Emmeloord and rented a bike from the hotel. Flevoland is so-called new land. It used to be a sea in the past. If you hope to see old lovely Dutch towns and villages then this is not a place to go. There are couple of exceptions - old villages that are located on the former islands. If you want to see beautiful tulip fields then this is definitely an area to go.

Tulips and bike path
There are several tulip biking routes, some are listed here: Tulpenrouteflevoland. I followed this route. The hotel had also the route maps available. Here are some eye candies:




As I mentioned before, there are some old villages. One of those places is Lemmer. It is a fishermen town with lots of boats, fish shops and gift shops.

Lemmer

Houses of Lememr

Queue to get Dutch version of fish and chips - kibbeling
From Lemmer I biked along the coast to another fishing village Urk. There were some living barricades on the route:


Coastal bike route from Lemmer to Urk
Urk is much newer place than Lemmer. There is a nice small lighthouse and you can see lots of boats but you don't find the shops and restaurants there.

Urk

Urk lighthouse
It is a real pleasure to bike in the Netherlands. The network of bike routs covers the whole country. You don't have to think if you can get somewhere by bike - you most definitely can. The routes are very well signposted. If you don't have a map but you have a general understanding where you want to go, you can really rely on the signposts.

Although I spent in the Netherlands just a long weekend, it was really relaxing time. Definitely one of the best countries where to go biking.

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