Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gouda and the Kinderdijk Ride

On Monday - the last day of a wonderful four day holiday weekend - our four travelers (Pam, Tony, Laura, and I) woke up bright and early to catch the train from Utrecht to Gouda. The bike rental shop in the Gouda train station served as our starting and ending location for a 62 km (38 mi), one day bike ride into the Dutch countryside and through the village of Kinderdijk. Pam and Tony, who had been training for this day, are seen below negotiating one of the many bridges on the ride.

As an aside, because I know you're wondering: yes, Gouda is indeed the home of the famous cheese. Just don't pronounce it Goo-da in front of a Dutch person or they will laugh at you - it's actually pronounced How-da.

The ride featured much of the usual Dutch scenery: long green grass as far as the eye can see, canals everywhere, islands of farmland filled with animals, and trees cut in bizarre ways. The lambs were a treat for Laura yet again, and we also saw many nesting coots and swans.

During our ride, we took two ferries across the Lek River, which were fun (and surprisingly efficient). Here I am with my bike on one of the ferry rides.

Throughout the ride we were treated to the sight of windmills - I believe more than 30 overall - but the main event was the 19 of them situated in a 2 km stretch near the Dutch village of Kinderdijk. This area contains more windmills than any other place in the world, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, and is absolutely magnificent. The windmills - or molen - are from the 18th century and were used for keeping water out of the polders until as recently as 1950. Although not in use today, they're well-maintained and can still be operated.

The end of our ride took us through another extended area of farm land, where we saw a farmer shearing an entire flock of sheep (and the resulting enormous pile of wool). Laura was particularly excited when we came upon a herd of Highland cows because she saw a lot of them last week in their home country of Scotland (Scotland stories coming next week). These are the only ones we have seen here in The Netherlands.

A bike ride in the Kinderdijk area is a must do activity in The Netherlands and we thoroughly enjoyed it. After riding 61 km, though, we were all beat, sore in the rear, and glad to trade our bikes for a train ride from Gouda back to Delft.

Posted by Matt


Anonymous said...

Does everyone over there look this good riding bikes??

Laura Kay said...

Well, I certainly don't look that good riding my bike :)