BICYCLE DUTCH

All about cycling in the Netherlands

Cycling to the tulips in North-Holland

It’s tulip season in the Netherlands and what better way to enjoy that than by cycling past the splendid colours of the bulb flower fields. Taking in this wonderful sight is a favourite pastime for Dutch people and tourists alike. With the exceptionally good weather over the past Easter long weekend many people joined me in a trip to the tulips.

An elderly Dutch couple enjoying the sights on their e-bikes. Behind them some of the colourful tulip fields.

While there were flowers of all sorts and colours, this is the quintessential deep red Dutch tulip!

It’s one of the perks of living in a small country; every corner of it can be reached in just a few hours. You can then enjoy the sights and be back home in time for dinner. I went to the north of the province of North-Holland, about 70 km north of Amsterdam, to go to the many bulb flower fields around the town of Schagen. This is a familiar part of the country for me. Not only do I have family from my mother’s side in Alkmaar now (I showed you how I cycled to my aunt’s birthday last year), I also have a somewhat macabre connection to Schagen itself. My grandparents and one of their sons used to live in Alkmaar. The crematorium in Schagen is the nearest one to Alkmaar and for all three of them I attended a ceremony here. Fortunately, I was in Schagen on a happier occasion now, but I really only got an OV-Fiets (rental bike) at the station and cycled straight to the colourful countryside.

People cycling on the Westfriese Zeedijk (West-Frisian Sea Dike) past the flower fields. From this tall sea dike, that is a little bit in-land, you have a wonderful view over the flat Dutch countryside. On the horizon the even taller sea dunes protecting these low-lying polders against the North Sea.

“Fresh – Tulips – for sale – 50 metres”. Could this picture be more Dutch?

I have a few connections to that countryside as well, this time via my father’s side of the family. My grandfather was in hiding here in World War II. My grandfather was released from a POW camp north of Berlin, after being made prisoner during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940. When later in the war all Dutch men had to report to the Nazi’s to do forced labour, he refused to do that and found a place with a farmer who grew tulips just north of Schagen. My grandfather spent the final war years here in hiding, doing the tulip grower’s book-keeping. Maybe this family history is why my father was drawn to this area of the country. We spent many holidays here when I was a small child, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was very good to see, about 50 years later, that the road through the dunes to the beach had not changed at all! I even saw an elderly couple pulling a wooden cart with children in it. Just like my mother had done with my sister and me in the cart. Lovely childhood memories!

The road through the dunes to the North Sea beach.

On that same road my mother pulled this cart with my sister and me in it on so many a holiday at the Dutch coast, This picture from circa 1969 shows little me in the middle.

The entrance to the beach at Sint Maartenszee. With ample bicycle parking right where you want it. Cars have to park about 1 kilometre further inland.

This area is still a great place for vacation and recreation. A lot of Germans from the west of Germany come to the beautiful sandy beaches of the North Sea in the Netherlands, because that is nearer than the German beaches of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea all the way up north. The Germans cycle too, but some of them stand out like a sore thumb with their helmets on normal upright bicycles. Some even clearly wobbled while they rode the bike. As a Dutch person you sometimes forget that being able to cycle so well needs skills that you have to develop by riding often. The Dutch people over 70, on their e-bikes, were riding more confident than some of the German teens.

A German family, a bit wobbly on their rental bicycles, but thoroughly enjoying the Dutch countryside, the flowers and the excellent Dutch cycling infrastructure. This coastal area of the Netherlands is very popular with German tourists.

An unmanned tulip stand at the side of the road. You just put your money in a little box and take your bunch of tulips.

My video came out like it was meant to be Holland promotion for the tourist board. Which may be timely since it is the Dutch national holiday this Saturday, but it’s simply hard to make it any other way with all those clichés staring you in the face with every turn you take. All that you see in the video was created by people, including the land itself; from the straight lines of the planted tulip bulbs to the straight polder roads and canals on the former bed of the sea, all of which kept dry and safe with the sea-dikes. Man-made nature in a man-made landscape. Enjoy!

Map of my 34 km impromptu ride from Schagen.

Cycling to the tulips in the north of North-Holland.

 

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8 comments on “Cycling to the tulips in North-Holland

  1. Ashish
    30 April 2019

    Most tourists have no idea that there are major tulip fields in the north. This is the place to see them in all their glory! I did one year and it was an experience I will never forget.

  2. me in Amsterdam
    26 April 2019

    There is a French group from Amsterdam that does this outing every year. A memorable day.
    http://meinamsterdam.nl/la-sortie-tulipes-2011

    I hope they continue…

  3. Clark in Vancouver
    25 April 2019

    Nice, nice.
    It looks like some of the Dutch diaspora has continued the tulip field tradition in the new world.

    Daffs, Roozengaarde, Mt Vernon WA. 3233

    It’s interesting to see fields of tulips with mountains in the background.

  4. Ltk
    25 April 2019

    Most tourists have no idea that there are major tulip fields in the north. This is the place to see them in all their glory! I did one year and it was an experience I will never forget. You can see miles across the flat fields to the sea dike! The only downside: It can be cold this time of year (and until early May). Like the high temperature when I was there was about 7C.

  5. Heidi Downey
    24 April 2019

    Our American family cycled the tulips in 2017 (a somewhat different route, from Haarlem to Katwijk to Leiden?). Loved every second of it. Only a little wobbling. Thank you for posts, which I always enjoy and learn from.

  6. hanneke28
    24 April 2019

    I see you didn’t stop for a short walk at Wildrijk (I think it belongs to Natuurmonumenten, but might be Noordhollands Landschap), to see the bluebell woods – that might be a nice addition for next year.
    It’s a tiny scrap of peaty woods, but a lovely spot, just during bluebell season, before the oak trees are in full leaf and the mosquitoes get to breeding in the peaty water. There are a few benches along the paths to sit and enjoy the sight and scent, while eating your lunch or just for a rest.
    If you bike the narrow Mennonietenbuurt road (watch out for the tractors) between N502 and N9 to Burgervlotbrug you pass the entrance, and can cross at Burgervlotbrug instead of Sint Maartensvlotbug.

  7. Daniel Kunysz
    24 April 2019

    24.04.2019 12:00 AM BICYCLE DUTCH <comment-reply@wordpress.com> napisał(a):

    Bicycle Dutch posted: "It’s tulip season in the Netherlands and what better way to enjoy that than by cycling past the splendid colours of the bulb flower fields. Taking in this wonderful sight is a favourite pastime for Dutch people and tourists alike. With the exceptionally g"

  8. Brad Mazon
    24 April 2019

    Uitstekend! I loved the tour of the tulip fields, and definitely have it on my list to ride along with the wobbly Germans! I lived in Nederland, so I’m not a wobbly American!

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This entry was posted on 24 April 2019 by in Original posts and tagged , , .

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