In Holland they have a curious tradition. In June when a student school ends the studies, they put a flag out of the house with the backpack on top of it.
The Netherlands is a very particular place where to live, in the good and in the bad; one of the amazing possibility is that having a bike make you able to go wherever you want. There are biking paths basically everywhere, even along the highways.
In this post I would like to talk about a very nice excursion of circa 50/60 Km I did last month: Den Haag, Hoek van Holland, Delft, because I think is an amazing trip to do in a sunny day during the weekend.
The journey starts in Den Haag (A/H), more precisely in Scheveningen, and continue following the coast in direction South-East; until the land ends you reach Hoek van Holland (B), a beach city situated at the end of the canal connecting the North sea to Rotterdam’s harbour (considered one of the biggest in the world). In fact it looks like a river but looking the shapes of the shores around it looks artificial.
The way to H. van Holland is composed by different shorts paths and pass toward different landscapes: forest, grass, dune, with few climbs and declines that makes it a bit wilder (do not expect the same ‘definition’ you might have experienced in other countries, but is really beautiful). Quite a lot of people ride on that path with any kind of bikes, from traditional oma-fiets to racing ones, anyway the road is quite big and there is room for everybody.
While arrived in Hoek van Holland, the sun was shining in the sky (a beautiful blue sky), and was the official beginning of the summer/beach season. All bars were opened, in disco-mode since 2 o’clock in the afternoon, tons and tons of people already there in the morning, as much walking from the city, coming to the beach. Was really crowded. There was an open market and was almost impossible to walk through there.
In Holland that’s normal. Whenever the sun show up, people will show up outside as well. Streets, bars, everywhere you can enjoy it will be crowded. Other populations, living in countries with the same weather, wouldn’t do the same. It’s quite impressive.
The trip continues in direction South, following the canal of Rotterdam’s harbour, toward an industrial area, impressive to see windmils, warehouses and crumbling old buildings, sometimes a huge boat was passing through the canal. The path was surrounded by concrete and cement, not really beautiful and honestly neither good smelling, probably quite polluted compared with the rest of the country.
While traveling in direction South you might find different path possibilities, two of them were to bike until Maasluis or turn before in direction North-East. While the wind was blowing from North-East, and the expectation were quite tiring, the decision was to short the return and turn in direction of De Leer before Maasluis, and then proceed on the way to Delft.
De Leer is a normal dutch city, in my opinion doesn’t have anything particular, just a church that was not really straight anymore (a dutch torre di Pisa).
After De Leer there is a biking path, passing in the countryside, between greenhouses, fields, bridges on canals. The area is quite wild (for what can be considered wild in The Netherlands ;)) and peaceful, I wish all the biking path would have been done like that one.
Once arrived in Delft, direction Rijswik and then Den Haag. Google maps said even more than 55 Km, and after that you might notice that your bottom would have a shape complementary to the seat.
Anyway amazing trip!
This post is the first of a series where I will describe and comment the lifestyle, the culture up here in The Netherlands.
Now is the right moment to start writing.
Why now and not anytime before?
Living¹ in a foreign country is always harder than living in your own country. The whole period is composed by alternate phases: positive and negative. In the initial phase the enthusiasm, the discover of “the new” (place, culture) can be fascinating and show everything in a positive and amazing way. Afterwards is coming an opposite phase, where you don’t feel at home, you don’t feel accepted and you miss your own country, sometimes after bad days or bad experiences.
These phases are like sinusoidal, with a parabolic semi-circle up and down; while at the beginning the parabolic is higher and long in time; with years it becomes lower and stabilize in a way that the average point is located above or below the zero, depending of your feeling about the country.
Right now I feel I can write good, bad and funny things about The Netherlands with a decent fair point of view. I cannot assure to make everybody happy but as always I won’t mind to change or adjust my ideas ;)
¹ excluding Erasmus
In The Netherlands, the European rule to use only IBAN for all bank transfer is not applied, yet.
The problem come when you don’t have a national bank account and you need to pay a bill or someone. Usually they provide you only the account number and 90% of the cases without the possibility to ask for the IBAN.
Fortunately exist a IBAN calculator here, which provide you the automatic calculation of IBAN and BIC.