Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Netherlands: Zuid-Kennemerland hiking and Haarlem biking

This is Part 2 of 2 of my mini-mini-travelogue from Europe last month.  Check out the link to Part 1 of my story.

Stories and photos from other recent overseas trips and hiking/mountain climbing adventures are on the way!

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

From my new Instagram page: Bicycling from Haarlem to Zuid-Kennemerland, the nature reserve suggested by my Twitter friends Martijn and Antonette from we12travel travel/outdoor adventure blog.

The title of last month's on-location post (drafted on the plane ride over the ocean and uploaded in the  Amsterdam airport), The Netherlands: Bicycling to Haarlem, was a bit off the mark.  Turns out that "Bicycling FROM Haarlem" would've been more accurate.  Chalk that up to optimism and an unrealistically ambitious itinerary.

The bicycle rental didn't actually happen until Haarlem, where I began my ride.  This was because back in Amsterdam, a couple of delays had forced me to tweak my plans to maximize my daylight.  And nothing would deter me from bicycling to my destination: Nationaal Park de Zuid-Kennemerland.

To make up for lost time, I hopped a train from Amsterdam to Haarlem instead.  This quick European daytrip would be over before I knew it.

Jetlagged train ride from Amsterdam to Haarlem (I changed my mind after telling a friend I wouldn't share this photo-- You know who you are!)

Haarlem train station, inside and out

It didn't take long to spot a bicycle rental shop near the Haarlem train station.  Friendly owner Mustafo only spoke about 20 words of English, but he helpfully walked me through the quirks of his of his prized storefront model.

Mustafo draws up the paperwork

Navigating my bicycle across town to check in at the hostel was pretty easy once I got my bearings.  Learning to keep that fixed gear bike stable while balancing a luggage bag on my back... well, that wasn't exactly among my most graceful moments.

A new set of wheels

Two-wheeled rush hour traffic in Haarlem

The Gravestenbrug over the River Spaarne

The Corrie ten Boom Museum

Vine video of the Gravestenbrug:  Snipe the "unmute" button above to hear the sound of those church bells ringing out over the River Spaarne

The clean and stylish Local Botique Hostel was still, for a few more hours, a ghost town when I rode up and parked my bicycle.  There was already a full house booked for that night, but I had checked in too early in the day to round up new friends (my typical routine when I arrive at an overseas hostel) for the day's adventure.

The Local Botique Hostel-  Love the friendly staff!

After dropping off my bag in my dorm room, I climbed back onto my bicycle for the ride out of town.  Some residential navigation was necessary to locate the highway.  Curse those confusing roundabouts!

Once on the highway, the route to Nationaal Park de Zuid-Kennemerland was an easy ride.  And as Anto had told me the day before, the park itself was wonderful.  The wild animals were out playing, though I missed the "Scottish cattle with the big horns" that she said I should've been watching out for.

From my new Instagram:
A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

Alarmingly, time quickly got away from me.  I'd been frequently hopping off my bicycle to hike trails that were too rough for my tires.  All of that extra hiking time added up, and I found myself at the far end of Kennemerland park with less than an hour before the bike rental shop closed.

I raced down the highway, back to Haarlem, and returned my rental bicycle just as Mustafo was closing up shop at the dinner hour.  We bid each other "vaarwel" as I walked outside to continue my sightseeing on foot.

Later that evening, I met some friends who were in town at Tapas Bar El Pincho to wind down for the day.  The staff was kind enough to let us enjoy their cushy, open-air patio seating until long after the sun went down.


The following morning's sunrise was beautiful as I checked out of the Local Boutique Hostel.  I took time to enjoy the quiet walk back to the Haarlem train station.  For once, there would be no rushing to catch my mid-morning plane back to the States.

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

Back at the Amsterdam airport, a single Business Elite seat remained open for the flight home to Portland.  I was flying standby.  Despite a couple of extraordinary circumstances that should've sent me to the back of the plane (but hopefully not stranded in Europe), I was awarded that seat up front.

Variations of "You're extremely lucky" were echoed by several of the flight attendants and one of the gate agents as I was assigned my seat.

Alternately, the head purser serving my side of the cabin walked past my seat and whispered, "It's a miracle,"

I prefer to think that it was the latter.

Beginning next weekend on Garth's Blog...

Recent hikes in the U.S. and abroad...

Visiting family and climbing in Bend this weekend...

...And last month's climbs on Mount Hood!


Antonette Spaan said...

Such cool pictures and a real shame we couldn't meet ... hopefully you'll make it over to Holland sometime soon again so I can show you some other nice places we have. No mountains or volcanoes, but still ...

Garth Hamilton said...

Thanks Anto, and I certainly will return! Even though family/work/ministry/outdoor leadership life has reduced my overseas travels to only once every few months, I still make weekend trips to the Netherlands at least 2-3 times a year. You should definitely show me some of Holland's gems sometime!