Day 1….Ouddorp to Willemstad (56 km)

Some  scurrying about the apartment this morning, a clear blue sky and a heavy dew on the bike seats, we finally had it all together and said goodbye to Ouddorp.  With not much wind to start, we made good time to Herkingen, on a route we had ridden on before.  At one of the junctions we met a fellow who rides his bike 40 -60 km a day and is 80 years old (also happened to have been a physiotherapist before he retired… Hey Moose and Greg there’s hope for you yet!)

Here is our picnic spot for the day in Zuidzijde a refuge from the wind!

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Then I spotted this funky bus

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Riding into Willemstad was unbelievably picturesque.  Another town surrounded by a moat and ramparts

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To find our hotel we stopped at the VVV (tourist info) on the way into town and picked up a map and got directions to the restaurant where we had to pick up our key.   The Hotel Willemstad was just across the street.

image imageA beautiful room overlooking the main cobbled street with big opening windows…there was even a small fridge in which we could store all our picnic items! And a safe place to store our bicycles!  The owner, Brian, and his wife were very accommodating and helpful.  We found a very interesting restaurant…Indonesian/Carribean Fusion!!!!!  The owner was born in The Netherlands, but grew up in Surinam (formerly Dutch New Guinea?), his mother being Indonesian and father from Surinam.  The food was really good….we tried a few different dishes, coconut curry soup, duck, beef and salmon.

After a moonlight walk around the harbour and town we discovered the fabulously comfortable bed back at our hotel….good night!

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Packing and Planning and a BIG THANK YOU!

Tomorrow we will be leaving this cozy nest and heading east for the unknown in Willemstad!  We have booked a room in a small family run pension and we will be riding using the Knooppunten Fiets Netwerk.  The only ‘maps’ we have are on the iPads which will not be connected to the ‘net so we will have to take photos of the route and store in our photo album in order to refer to the junction point numbers along the way.  Sometimes there are maps at the junctions, but not always.  It is only 52 kms but naturally the wind has shifted and is now coming from the East and is predicted to be blowing up to 20 km/hr. tomorrow, but it is going to be sunny and 17C!!!

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Our Fietsknoopunten Route
Our Fietsknoopunten Route

We both want to send out a very big thank you to our friends Toni and Lisa and their family for allowing us to stay in such comfortable accommodation and providing us with so much support in this journey.  It would have been so much more difficult without them!  We will also be shedding a few more clothes, etc here, as Toni and Lisa will be picking them up and keeping them for us in Gladbeck! We will be ending our Bicycling adventure at their house in Germany for a few nights before carrying on to Chapter 4(?).  So stay tuned…..

I’m off to pack my panniers…

Full Moon Ride

A short ride today with a picnic at the Ouddorp Haven.

One of the few dangers ( other than riding too fast in the rain) along the fietspads is this innocent looking plant….Stinging Nettle!!!!

Do not stray off the trail or you might bump into this nasty plant!
Do not stray off the trail or you might bump into this nasty plant!
The 27 th seat adjustment and 4 th saddle!
The 27 th seat adjustment and 4 th saddle!
Out to the beach
Out to the beach
A giant jelly fish
A giant jelly fish

After dinner tonight we rode to the beach by the full moon and then a beautiful moonlit walk to end another gorgeous day!

Favorite Places

Today we awoke to a bluebird sky and a gorgeous day!  I thought I would see what it’s like to ride with my full panniers, so I packed all my clothes including shoes, rain gear, and toiletries that I am taking on “The Big Ride”.  I found I even had space for our usual picnic lunch!

Off we went to one of my favorite havens…Hellevoetsluis.  It was easy going with the wind, and no worries about getting lost since we had been there before.  There were not many riders on the Fietspads…we notice the fiets traffic to be considerably busier on the weekends, especially with large groups of road/racers who can really come up behind you quickly.  I am very happy that The Gazelle has  rear view mirror which is very handy in these situations.  I can also keep track of my cycling buddy!  image

We stopped at the Dry Dock Museum…

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Between 1798 and 1822 the dry dock, including the pump house, was built in two phases to the design, and under the passionate direction of Jan Blanken Janz. (1755-1838).The building of the dry dock was part of a grand project for the modernisation of the naval base of Hellevoetsluis and was in it?s time a work of highly advanced technology. The dock is closed off from the harbour by a ship?s door (bateau-porte) and consists of 2 consecutive docking chambers which can be separated by lock doors. The aqueduct, 320 meters long, runs all the way round the dock and serves as a water reservoir. The pump building has been restored to its original state.

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Mark decided that he needed one more tube of paint, so we made a short detour to the Art Shop,

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then it was time to look for a picnic spot.  Found one in the sunshine and watched some guys fishing across the canal as well as the sailboats heading out to enjoy a lovely breeze on the Haringvliet.

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After lunch we found our way back inside the fortified town via riding on top of the ramparts….very fun!

We stopped at the main square to listen again to gorgeous sound of the chimes….yes, they even played the “Drunken Sailor” again! And to relax in the warm sun on a comfy cushioned bench to sip a koffie with the Admiraal!  On our way back home we would be heading into the wind, but not a very strong one!

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A funky decorated car we passed by.
A funky decorated car we passed by.

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The long and winding road home....
The long and winding road home….

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No shortage of vegetables!

Riding through the farms and fields of South Holland, one realizes the importance of the small (and some large) family farms.  And none so apparent as now during the harvest time.  The other day I found a few potatoes lying by the roadside…of course, we had passed many fields of fields of potatoes at varying stages of development including just harvested.  There always seemed to be some left behind in the fields.  The fields of onions were enjoyably pungent to ride past, especially when they were being scooped up by the tractors.  The purple brussel sprouts were a gorgeous contrast to the green grass.  Rutabagas and radishes are other  big crops.  Pumpkins, squash and gourds which are very popular for outdoor garden decor are everywhere.

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My new pet gourd
My new pet gourd

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We pass many home veggie stands with a small box for change. I have bought cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beets, apples, onions and eggs as we pass by on our bicycles, sometimes miles from the nearest town.  In the towns almost every house has a small veggie garden plot…some in their front yard.  Here in Ouddorp I have also seen a large “community garden”  where folks who may live in an apartment can grow flowers and veggies.

I bought this head of butter lettuce for €.79

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Time for another big salad!

A walk on the beach.

One of our favourite things to do, other than bicycling, is beach walking.  The beaches here on the North Sea Coast of South Holland are unbelievably wide…at low tide you could probably walk a kilometer in some places to reach the waterline.  This guy decided it might be faster to ride out….

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And they are long too…there really is nothing but beach and dunes as far as the eye can see in both directions.

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In the picture on the right above, you just barely see the stacks from the port of Rotterdam (also called Europort), the largest port in Europe. From 1962 until 2002 it was the world’s busiest port, now overtaken first by Singapore and then Shanghai. Covering 105 square kilometres (41 sq mi), the port of Rotterdam now stretches over a distance of 40 kilometres (25 mi). It consists of the city centre’s historic harbor area, including Delfshaven; the Maashaven/Rijnhaven/Feijenoord complex; the harbours around Nieuw-Mathenesse; Waalhaven; Vondelingenplaat; Eemhaven; Botlek; Europoort, situated along the Calandkanaal, Nieuwe Waterweg and Scheur (the latter two being continuations of the Nieuwe Maas); and the reclaimed Maasvlakte area, which projects into the North Sea.  Rotterdam consists of five distinct port areas and three distribution parks that facilitate the needs of a hinterland with 40,000,000 consumers.  (from Wikipedia)  and they are reclaiming more land to expand it even further!

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Meanwhile back on the beach, we collect a few shells of the millions broken and strewn everywhere, especially huge numbers of razor clam shells.  Looking deeper into this phenomenon, I find out that they are an introduced species and are doing quite well here in the North Sea….
The DFA razor clam fishery takes place in the south-western and northern coastal waters of The Netherlands. There are 8 licences for the fishery on razor clams (Ensis directus), 4 of which are in use. The vessels catch approximately 3,700 metric tonnes fresh weight. This is 46 per cent of the 2012 total allowable national catch (8,000mt). Dutch razor clams are mainly sold to the Spanish and Italian markets.

One of the places where you can find razor clams in FAO fishing area 27 is at the coasts of the North Sea. Since this is close to the Netherlands we are able to catch most of our razor clams ourselves. After we have caught them we depurate them. This means that they are kept in clean and salt water to spit out the sand. In this way you will not have sand between your teeth when you eat the razor clams. After the razor clams are depurated we freeze them to keep them fresh. As a supplier we sell our razor clams with their shell.

Razor clams have an unique texture and flavour. Their texture is quite similar to the texture of a squid and their flavour is very sweet. However, you should not cook them for too long since they will taste very tough if you do. Razor clams are quite low in calories since one hundred grams of them only contain about 92 calories. But this depends on the way in which you prepare them of course. Razor clams are a good source of proteins and they contain several B vitamins. They also contain some omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart since they help preventing heart diseases.

It sounds like I should put them on my “new foods to try” list!

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Cheesie Bits

There is simply too much cheese to choose from!!!!!  The cheese vendors at the markets are always busy, perhaps because they always have lots of samples out front!  We have mostly been eating a Gouda type with cumin seeds, and I found a very good goat ‘gouda’ at the local supermarket which is white.   They do not add any colouring to the cheese here, the difference in the colors of goat and cow cheese is due to the fact that the cows produce carotene when they eat and digest the grass whereas the goats do not!

Holland’s history of cheese making extends back to the time of Julius Caesar. Indeed, it seems the number of dairy animals in Holland may rival the number of tulip bulbs in the fields. The Dutch have integrated flowers and various types of cheese into their lives, entwining them with festivals all year round. Cheese making and cheese carrying guilds have had a solid spot in Dutch life and the Dutch economy for centuries.  Here is a Dutch cheese primer….

The ages:  New > matured for 4 weeks
Semi-matured > matured for 8 weeks
Matured > matured for 4 months
Extra matured > matured for 7 months
Fully mature cheese > matured for 10 months
Very aged > matured for 1 year or longer
Types of cheese:

Gouda cheese …The Netherlands’ most famous and important type of cheese. It has a round and flat form, and weighs about 12 kilos.
Edam cheese …The well-known spherical cheese, weighing 1.7 kilos.
Abroad, this cheese is known for its red wrapper.

Leiden cheese …..Cumin cheese; also referred to as “pitjeskaas” for its
added cumin seed.
Dutch cheese with holes …..Flattened oval cheese with a round top, usually of the
Maaslander or Leerdammer brand. The holes are caused by bacteria in the cheese.
Frisian clove cheese ….Firmly pressed cheese made of skimmed milk with cumin
and cloves.
Herb cheese ……Cheese with non-traditional herbs such as mustard, onion,
parsley, basil, nettle, or pepper.
Goat’s and sheep’s cheese …..Spicy, white cheese of goat’s or sheep’s milk
Smoked cheese …..Often in a sausage-like form with a brown rind. Currently,
smoke flavouring is added to the dairy, but it used to be actually smoked.
Cheese spread
A spreadable type of cheese as a result of the adding of
butterfat, which is available in various variations and flavours.
The melted product is heated, after which it has long storage life.
Hard and soft cheese
Most types of cheese in the Netherlands come within the
category of “hard cheese” or “sliceable cheese”. This is
connected to the water content in cheese, and its duration
to mature. Hard cheese, Emmenthal from Switzerland or
Parmesan from Italy, is extremely difficult to slice and
consists of 56% water maximum as a result of the long
maturation. Gouda and Edam are “sliceable cheeses” and
contain about 54 to 63% of water. Soft cheese has matured
a short period of time and is creamy. It consists of more
than 67% water; examples are Camembert and Brie.
Every town has a Market Day, and every Market has at least one cheese booth.  The cheese booths always have samples for tasting…it’s a great way to try the different locally made cheese.

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