No camping this time!
I wimped out.
The forecast predicted rain overnight so I left the tent at home, forcing myself to either find a hotel/hostel or to take the train back home. Or I could be unshy and try my Vriend op de Fiets network...
And so, a hotel it was.
I'm going to be a terrible bicycle tourist...
Anyways, I started out from Leiden in the late morning and decided to see how far I could go toward my end destination of Texel (The Texelse Brouwerij to be exact).
I choose the first routes along the coast from Noordwijk to Zandvoort up to the Ijsmuiden ferry. It was gorgeous! And hilly! Beware, the Netherlands is not so flat on the coastline...
Eventually, the path ran through the Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland, a large national park that has lovely tall pine trees that scent the air for many kilometers.
After the park, there were many fields of horses and a straight shot to Isjmuiden.
At Ijsmuiden, I took the free 5 minute ferry ride across to Beverwijk.
The ferry also carried a semi-tractor and an assortment of cyclists, from racers to day trippers as seen above.
From the landing in Beverwijk, I avoided the coast noting that it appeared "industrial" according to my accumulated experience from the Antwerp to Bergen Op Zoom trip.
The non-coastal route took another hour or so through some very pretty villages.
Eventually, I made it to my first goal, Alkmaar and Het Nationaal Biermuseum.
What a beautiful city!
I visited the Biermuseum, which was nice but a bit of a disappointment. It's very small. That's the main problem. Too small. Not enough beer paraphanalia and too many strange tableaus.
Luckily, (or by design) the pub downstairs is part of the ABT organisation so I was able to get the bier of the month, from Vicaris. (This month, June, the bier is from De Dochter van de Korenaar, yum!)
After a late afternoon lunch, I decided to try another 20K up to Schagen. Why not? It was only another 20K... totaling about 95K for the day. The last 5K were rather difficult, I have to admit.
The next morning, it did rain until about 10am. A very kind woman at the hotel checked the buienradar for me so I could know when it would stop- so I left after 10am and continued up to Den Helder. It was still cloudy and windy so I chose to take the straightest route, not the path by the coast. This meant about 15K of boring riding next to the Great North Holland Canal and the highway.
I was happy to find this one omleiding, to break up the monotony.
In Den Helder, I caught the first available ferry to the island of Texel. They leave every hour, cost about 5 euros and take 25 minutes each way. There's plenty of space for pedestrians, cars, cyclists, motorcyclists and lazy seagulls.
This was my first time on Texel and I was very impressed with how serene it seemed. The sheep were mostly asleep, (a few in the picture below were snacking on hay) the clouds were fluffy and drifting, and the traffic was RV after RV.
I made it to the brouwerij very easily and enjoyed a bier, petted a sheep and took the tour.
I do plan to go back to visit the Ecomare, plus I want to ride a bridge across the Ijsselmeer.
And next time I will take the tent.