Self-supported bicycle trip in

The Netherlands - 2023


Day 2 - Thursday (Remembrance Day)

Rode 35.6 miles from Schiphol Airport to Scheveningen

Today's theme was tulips

What a perfect day! We had fabulous weather today - sunny and 70 degrees, though a bit cooler at the start of the day. We enjoyed a generous buffet breakfast at the Sheraton and packed a couple of small sandwiches for our lunch from the selections of cheeses, fresh breads and meats. Some places (particularly smaller B&B's) object to their guests doing this or have a small sign saying that they will provide you with a sack lunch (usually for a charge around 10 Euro), but no one at the Sheraton looked askance at our modest raid.

We noticed that the hotel is also hosting a conference, and for just a few seconds we felt sorry for working people. Steve saw a sign identifying the group that was meeting there, and as we piled various cheeses on our plates for breakfast, he informed me that the conference attendees are a group of cardiologists.

We are not early risers by any stretch of the imagination, and we like to enjoy our morning coffee, so it was around 10:30 before we completed all the packing. For this day, we had to stop and think about the packing a bit more than usual because we wanted to be sure to leave several things with the bags that are staying here at the Sheraton, where we'll pick them up again at the end of our trip. That is, it would be a bonehead move to schlep a pedal wrench along with us for a whole week. We had done most of this organizing and sorting the night before, and all that was left to do this morning was to get everything that goes on the bike into the right place.

We paused for a couple of photos outside the hotel and at the start of the trail, made a few adjustments of things on the bike, and then headed off down a bike trail through the city. Thankfully, the Garmin GPS systems we are using (Edge 530) were working properly (for a while - see Day 7), and they were a big help. There are so many other things to watch or to look at - motor traffic, bike traffic, pedestrians, mopeds - and it is a real convenience to simply glance down at the handlebar and get a quick indication of whether or not we're on the right path. And with the plethora of bike trails in this country, there are choices of direction thrown at you more often than you'd think. We managed to get away from Schiphol Airport and several miles down the road before we made a wrong turn, and then it took only a few seconds for the GPS to beep at us and scold us for our driving.

As rode away, we could see plenty of airline traffic from Schiphol, with passenger and cargo jets overhead. At one point, while we were pedaling along a motorway (on a separate dedicated bike lane, of course), we rode under the taxiway for the cargo planes, and a jet with markings of Poland was moving above us.

Within 10 miles or less, we were already in the "Bollenstreek," the bulb district. On all sides of us were vast fields of tulips, daffodils, hiacynths, and other bulb plants. I even saw a field of peonies, clearly a crop in this case since there were rows and rows of plants in about a 3-acre plot. In the tulip fields, some of the flowers are in full bloom, and others are shorn of the blossoms. The tulip industry of the Netherands produces flowers for both the cut-flower industry as well as bulbs, and for the bulb crop, the blossoms are chopped off the plants shortly after they bloom. This allows the plant to put its energy into bulb growth. Later in the year, the bulbs are harvested, much in the same way potatoes are harvested.

At one stretch along our route, we were clearly on a tourist route with lots of other sightseeers on bikes. Some were part of a tour group, others were just pedaling on their own. We saw a two-person electric vehicle which advertised that it was a "GPS audio tour." All of us were admiring the acres and acres of beauty around us.

We paused at a pretty corner near a canal to park our bikes and sit on the grass and eat our lunch. Behind us was (yet another!) field of red tulips in bloom. Their color was practically a day-glo red.

At one point, we stopped for a potty break at a playground. It was actually a combined petting-zoo and childen's playground. (To find the restroom, I had to go through the room with the guinea pigs.) They also had ponies, goats, a yellow lab, pigeon, rabbits, and probably a couple other species I didn't see.

As we approached Katwijk, we were riding along what is known as the Old Rhine River. This is the course of the great river which originates in the Swiss Alps and flows to the North Sea. But changes in the last couple of centuries have diminished its volume, and it is not the major waterway that it once was. Where it empties into the sea at Katwijk once stood an old Roman town (Lugdunum), and the river at that time marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire.

We rolled up to a scroll-like tableau, a memorial to the persons from Katwijk who have lost their lives at sea. Nearby, a half-dozen people sitting on benches enjoyed the warm afternoon sun. We had a view of the beach just to the north, and several people were out there, some in the surf, swimming! It seemed remarkable to us - imagining that the water temperature isn't necessarily ideal for swimming just yet. But for the kids in the water, it must have been okay.

Katwijk is a seaside resort town, known for its many sculptures along the beach and in the town. We stopped at the whimsical "The Herring Eaters", took a photo, then crossed the street to a cafe and sat at a table. Here we enjoyed our daily prescription of coffee, apple cake and whipped cream while soaking in the warm sunny weather. We didn't realize that we had come to the Netherlands to work on our suntan.

After our coffee break, we moved on through Katwijk, stopped at a couple more sculptures - one of a woman sunning herself and another of the Engelandvaarders, a memorial to persons who tried via sea to escape Nazi occupation in WWII but did not make it.

On the outskirts of Katwijk, we veered off onto a trail into the dunes. The dunes along the coast of the Netherlands are a not only a barrier to the fury of the North Sea when it is tempetuous, but they are also a wonderful natural area with trails for pedestrians, cyclists and horses. We rode about 8 miles of paved trails through this area, and we'll be on more trails like this tomorrow.

We emerged from the dunes on the outskirts of Scheveningen, a beach resort town which lies next to the Hague. It was only a short ride to our hotel, where we checked in to the Ramada Inn, unloaded our bikes and took showers. Steve had selected a restaurant on the strand - Steam Scheveningen. It was a short walk from the Ramada to there. We enjoyed a couple of beers with our dinner and relaxed.

A few minutes before 8 pm, a waitress appeared at our table and explained that they would be observing a moment of silence for Remembrance Day at the top of the hour. She invited us to participate by showing respectful silence. It was a busy beach boardwalk (think Coney Island), so it was not a total silence, but many people did stop and observe the moment in memory of the country's losses in WWII. The Dutch suffered considerably during the Nazi occupation of their country, and this day is set aside each year to reflect on those losses and remember those who did not survive. As we sat at our table, I thought especially of women such as Corie ten Boom and Anne Frank as well as the many other innocent persons who made great sacrifices. Their queen, Wilhemina, had fled the country for safety in England, but she was one of the most inspirational leaders of Allied nations. She continued to inspire her countrymen with regular radio broadcasts urging their resistance, and she was more confrontational than some to Hitler's demands. I have read that, at one point, Winston Churchill described her as "the only one of Europe's leaders with balls."

After our dinner, we walked along the boardwalk and down to the beach. The sun had already set, but there were still dozens of people enjoying the mild evening. We took a few photos and then walked back to the hotel.

Tomorrow's ride will take us back into the dunes and along the coast to the Hook of Holland, where we will join the Rijnfietsroute (the Rhine Bicycle Route) and head east toward Rotterdam. The forecast is for slightly cooler weather and afternoon showers.


Our ride started at the Schiphol Airport Sheraton


The start of the bike route - directly in front of the Sheraton


Our route took us under the flight path of planes arriving and leaving Schiphol Airport


Art installation on the route


In the Bollenstreek


Tulip fields at our lunch spot


Many Netherlands people flew a flag at half mast today for Remembrance Day


Reaching the North Sea where the old Rijn River empties into it


At Katwijk - a memorial to the persons from this place who were lost at sea


The Herring Eaters


Coffe break


Sun seekers


The Engelandvaarders - remembering the Dutch who tried to escape the Nazis by sea but did not make it.


In the dunes


A beer with dinner


Here's your Scheveningen sunset.

NEXT - Day 3

Other travels

This page was last edited on 11-Sep-2023

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