We had an easy 64 km ride today – along beautiful Dutch cycle paths to Amersfoort, and another ten around the town, making it 74 km in all.
We started by crossing the Waal river on a large bridge with an excellent cycle path, just alongside our hotel.
After this we rode along the dike and river for a bit until Oosterhoud. There were lots of morning commuters on bicycles – all traveling quite fast.
We started following the train track at Valburg – for about 20 km. Some parts of this route were proper Dutch standard bicycle path, but there were a couple of sections that were just along the road and not as comfortable when cars came past (the first bit of poor cycle infrastructure for days). We left the train track and crossed the Nederryn river on a ferry, just after Opheusden.
The routes became more scenic after this. There was an interesting marshy nature area just after the ferry.
We hadn’t had breakfast, so we stopped at a bakery in the small town of Achterberg. We had to wait quite a while for the pastries to heat in the oven (they don’t seem to use microwaves here), and watched a steady stream of people coming to buy bread and cakes. A few had young children with them and each child was handed a small “stroopwaffel” at the end of the transaction. We sat and ate our pastries on a bench at the front of the bakery. Our route then took us through Venendaal, where we paused to look at the “De Nieuwe Molen” windmill, which dates from 1911. It still works and grinds grain once a week on Saturdays.
We rode through Scherpenzeel – a lovely little town, I was just sorry we didn’t pause to take any photos. From there we found a good route on the Vallekanaal all the way into Amersfoort.
Amersfoort was delightful – the inner city has been preserved since the middle ages. It is surrounded by canals and walls. We explored and ate a snack at a cafe in the square next to the “Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren” – a very tall gothic church tower that dominates many city vistas.
We stayed at a Mercure hotel, a bit outside of the old city but still quite central. Of course the city has expanded greatly beyond the old city walls and is quite modern. There were a number of big supermarkets all around the hotel, so finding good food was no problem. We were disappointed that the hotel didn’t have a good place to store our bikes overnight. We had to put them in a undercover public bike storage area next to a supermarket. We have found this in a number of places in the Netherlands – the Dutch seem to expect tourists to just leave their bikes outside (no wonder bike theft is so common here).