Sunday, August 29, 2010

I am not a witch!

But I am a wimp.

Yesterday, despite a rainy forecast, I decided to finally ride out to Oudewater and visit the Heksenwaag, for my certificate of non-witch status. It seems like an essential thing to do while living here. Now I have an answer for accusations of spell casting, sorcery and talking to cats.

I am not a witch.
 (Actual weight is redacted. I tried to get the certificate without being weighed at all, but they refused! Be warned, their century old reputation for integrity remains well deserved.)

Oudewater is not on a train line so public transportation options for getting there are limited. There is a bus from Gouda, Woerden is also nearby.
Or, cycling there from Leiden is just under 25 miles, and weather-willing, a nice ride along the Oude Rijn river.

I followed the route we took to Utrecht last month until the town of NieuwerBrug, where I turned south, away from the river, and followed the bicycle street signs the rest of the way.

Yes, signs for cyclists! I love this place.

The rain started about 5 minutes after I left my apartment and ended just as I was getting to Leiden city limits.
From that point on it was rolling clouds, sleeping ducks, the wind at my back and a clear road with very few fellow cyclists.

On a tangent, I had to google "Why do ducks sleep so much?" when I got home. Also, "How do ducks wake up so quickly?"

The sides of the bike paths were littered with hundreds of sleeping ducks all afternoon. Perplexing.
Molting is the answer, I believe, to the first question. Second, something about sleeping with only a half a brain. 

Anyways, more photos.

Here's the Oudewater city hall. They are setting up for a youth bicycle race on the street in front.

Photography is not allowed in the Heksenwaag!

 After being weighed, I had a nice snack and prepared to ride back. I planned to get to Gouda and then perhaps take a route through Zoetermeer, past the awesome goat farm (that I've been to 4 times now) to Zoeterwoude and then home. On the way to Gouda, I passed through Hekendorp, which I excitedly and mistakenly thought translated to Witches City. Heken, Heksen. It is almost the same!

At which point, the combination of wind (no longer at my back) directly in my face and tired muscles from practicing riding without hands (I'm getting better at it!) came to haunt me like a sleeping spell cast by an amateur witch...

So I wimped out.

I continued to the Gouda train station where I took the train to Leiden. Overall, the ride was just under 35 miles! I made a little map below. A full circle would be about 50 miles, a good day trip.

Wimp, not witch.


  1. The Oude Rijn route is really quite nice for various reasons. It's gorgeous at times, especially in summer, and it's a really good - quiet and fast - ride. Certain stretches (like Zwammerdam - Bodegraven on the north side and Bodegraven - Woerden on the south side) offer cyclists a choice between the cycle path and the main roadway, instead of forcing them to use the cycle path. Parts of the route even have cycle lane markings as well as a cycle path.

    Towards Utrecht (Vleuten/Leidsche Rijn) the Oude Rijn route connects seamlessly to the recently traffic-calmed Rijksstraatweg, so you can ride all the way to Utrecht with minimal interference from motor traffic.

  2. And in some sort of Olde English too! I hate to see what the Dutch text would be.

    BTW, you don't feel nervous when cycling about in the deepest part of Holland, some 20 feet below sea level?

  3. I must try to qualify for the certificate too!
    I was once called 'a young witch' when I vehemently contradicted a catty woman's statement. The only consolation I got from the appellation she so unkindly bestowed up me was the word 'young'. :D heeeheee

  4. Oooops ...'up' should read 'upon'. Sorry! :p

  5. Congratulations on not being a witch! It's good to know we can trust you to not turn us into newts.

    I'm going to be in Amsterdam in two days and I'm so excited to see the Netherlands for the first time in person!

  6. As a side note, I wonder if you can cast spells through the internet... :)