How to make a day trip by bike in Amsterdam
Cycling in Amsterdam is an institution
What surprises me in visiting Amsterdam, is that bikes are everywhere!
There are more bicycle lanes than there are streets frequented by cars, which themselves are few in number.
There are gigantic bicycle parking lots, in addition to the barriers on all the bridges that are used to attach them.
As a result, it is the most convenient means of travel. And it is also intended for people passing through like us because there are a large number of rental points.
Many people in Amsterdam ride bicycles with back-pedal brakes, but it is also easy to hire classic bicycles with manual brakes.
As in many cities there are also public self-service bicycles: OV-fiets.
First step: rent a bike in Amsterdam
This Saturday morning we decided to rent bikes to better enjoy the city and cover slightly longer distances than on foot. The rental company “Mac Bike” in Leidseplein (Weteringschans 2) photocopies Angel’s identity card to make up the file. He adjusts the bike saddles and quickly explains how the locks work. A wheel lock whose key stays on it when it is opened, and a chain.
The renter tells us that it is forbidden to park his bike on private gates or in many places indicated by prohibition signs. He recommends that we use bicycle parking lots or bridge barriers. Beware of the impound! As for the payment of the rental, it will be done on our return. We have until 5.45 pm, closing time of the rental shop, so let’s not waste any time!
As I leave the shop, I let Angel pass in front because I’m a little apprehensive when I see the large flow of bikes on this bike path that goes east along the Stadhouderskade. We nevertheless insert ourselves rather easily in the traffic to go towards Vondenpark.
Vondenpark by bike
As I enter, I notice that there is a direction of traffic for the bicycles. It forces us to go on the right. Beautiful trees welcome us on either side of a wide tarred path shared by walkers, joggers and cyclists.
A light breeze makes the last leaves scorched by the fall stir, playing with the soft rays of the late November sun. A few birds fly from branch to branch waiting to leave for the migration to warmer countries.
Unless these species spend the winter in Amsterdam?
The Mystery of the Vondenpark Nest Boxes
In any case, I immediately notice that this park is also their domain since many nesting boxes are installed on the trunks.
Angel then launches a small debate between us to answer the question: “Why do these nesting boxes carry a number? »
My idea is that they can be used by walkers, children, adults, tourists, on foot or by bike to play a big nest box hunt that would allow you to visit every nook and cranny of the park, trying to follow them in order.
Angel, with more practical ideas, thinks that they will be necessary in spring so that the parents of the chicks, find their nest more easily to feed their offspring… I sincerely think that my idea is more plausible, especially since a little further, a bronze finger indicates a direction. Angel doesn’t agree with my idea at all, the finger indicating the direction of the sky… For me, it simply means that by raising our eyes, our thoughts can escape and allow us to better enjoy this recreational walk…
He stops them suddenly, and makes them make a few arm movements. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight… Go! “And all these little people go away laughing. Angel points out to me that the coach counted in English.
Further on, another group is working on his cladding. These sportsmen seem to be having a hard time under the orders of their coach! Fortunately, there are many fountains everywhere.
The ponds of the Vondenpark
On our left, a large lawn that separates us from a beautiful pond, in which large weeping willows admire their pale green hair, comparing it with the brown hairstyle of their neighbours. (Beeches?) Other trees are already completely bare.
I’ve always found it strange, the way trees undress when it gets cold! Here’s a tired one: it’s almost entirely lying down, even pulling its tangle of roots out of the ground.
Our tour of the park is almost complete. We notice, near an exit, a sort of circular grid, on which hang gloves, hats, cuddly toys … It is a “found object” point. What a good idea to import here!
Here we are in the street again… It’s time to refocus, because the traffic of the bicycles obliges a certain prudence.
The Jordaan on a bike? Of course!
We head north, continuing on Stradhouderskade to cross the Singelgracht opposite Leidseplein and then on Marnixtraat towards the Jordaan district.
I don’t know if it does this to you, but these street and canal names are wearing me out! I didn’t try to pronounce them… I just read them…
In short, in a few turns of the pedal, here we are along the channels that cross each other at closer intervals. The cobbled streets, like most streets in Amsterdam, are more peaceful, as there are very few cars on the streets.
The little vibrations while riding on the cobblestones keep all the senses awake… I appreciate the softness of the cold in the absence of wind, the silence barely broken by the pedestrian and cycling traffic.
I admire the imperfect alignments of old traditional houses with gables that lean forward or sideways. Here, the plumb line has no real use!
The instability of the swampy ground is not the only cause: the forward inclination of the houses makes it possible to use the pulleys attached to the tip of their pediment to mount heavy loads or furniture. These buildings made of red brick have many windows, often rounded, aligned with the central axis and fitted with painted wooden shutters. Their style along the tree-lined canals makes this area very picturesque.
There are many art houses, small neighbourhood shops and the famous brown cafes. Be careful, don’t expect to go there for breakfast: they don’t open until 3pm. You can enjoy a beer, a gin or both, often accompanied by a cigarette despite the ban.
Tradition is stronger than legislation! Among them, Café Chris, Bloemstraat 42, has remained the same since 1624. It is also in this district, on the Prisengracht canal, that the house of Anne Franck can be found, near the Westerkerk church, on the banks of the Prisengracht canal.
Jordaan Organic Market
Going north along this canal, you reach the foot of Noorderkerk, where a market is located. Today, Saturday, it’s organic: we tie our bikes to a fence, to go for a walk at the Boerenmarkt (Noordermarkt square). Beautiful stalls of local producers: flowers, fruit and vegetables, mushrooms, large wheels of cheese, breads, pretzels and pastries, delicatessen, specialities and local crafts…
In short, a nice market where you can get a quick lunch or a small snack. Opposite Noordermarkt 43 is Café Winkel 43, famous for its apple pies, the best in Amsterdam. You’ll easily spot it thanks to the gourmet queue in front of it! On the other side of the church, part of the market is reserved for fried food, fleas and some antiques.
We take our bikes back to reach the central station in a quarter of an hour and board one of the free ferries that cross the Ij. You can see the details on the interactive map of Amsterdam.
Leaving Amsterdam by bike to hunt for windmills
As soon as you get off the ferry, a little to the right of the Eye Institute, an information sign shows you a cycle path that runs along Noordholandsch Kanaal.
If we take it we discover the Noordpark. Here we are back to nature. Just 3 km of cycling along this canal, admiring the barge dwellings and beautiful green residential areas, to meet the first windmill, the Krijtmolen d’Admiraal.
So close to the capital of the Netherlands, I’m surprised by this impression of the countryside. With Angel, we tell ourselves that for our next trip to Amsterdam, we’ll look for a room or a studio in this area… Why not even on a barge! From here, it takes less than 30 minutes by bike while walking quietly to reach the city center! And what peace and quiet! If you find a good address before us, we’ll take it!
Unfortunately it’s getting late, so we have to get back. Another time, we’ll choose to do a full day bike ride in that direction. According to the maps along the route, many other mills and tulip fields are within pedal reach if we allow ourselves a few hours ride. If you do, tell us about it!