The Netherlands has been one of our FAVORITE countries that we have visited! It wasn’t necessarily the landscapes, although we did very much enjoy riding over flatlands, along the coast, and past old-fashioned windmills. It wasn’t even the cycle paths, although those were plenteous and for the most part easy to navigate (we barely used our map at all!). No, our favorite part of the Netherlands was the people!
We started our time in Holland right by crossing the border from Germany near the town of Winterswijk, home of our cycling friend Louis. We met Louis on three separate occasions in Bolivia and Peru. We stayed at the same hostel in Lima for a few days and got to hang out for a bit there. Louis, like so many other cyclists we met in South America, is now back at home (planning his next trip!) and was more than happy to show us generous hospitality.
From Louis’ place we rode on to Amsterdam, where we met up with yet more cyclists that we met in South America. Joost and Michiel are two guys who rode their bikes all the way from Alaska to Argentina–the whole Pan-American Highway. Their cause, Cycle for Water, raised enough money to fund several water projects. And their work is ongoing! Check out their site to learn more about it: cycleforwater.com. Joost was kind enough to put us up at his apartment for a few days (a HUGE help in Amsterdam!), and Michiel came over just to cook us dinner one night. We had a blast and were so grateful that these two guys, who we met for such a short time (maybe 20 minutes!) in southern Chile, were willing to make our Amsterdam experience the best.
From Amsterdam we rode on to The Hague, which is the actual seat of government for the Netherlands. But we were most looking forward to our visit with “Travelling Two.” Friedel and Andrew Grant did a three-year round-the-world cycling trip from 2006-2009. As we began the early stages of planning and thinking about our World Tour, we discovered their web site, which turned out to be a tremendous resource of information and advice. We even did a Skype call with them before we left to ask some of our more specific questions. After their big trip, they moved to Holland, so we planned early in our European venture to make a stop in The Hague to visit them. And what a treat it was! We chatted and shared cycling stories, and they took us out for traditional Dutch apple tart on the beach on our way out of town.
Yes, we saw some beautiful sights in Holland, but altogether, we enjoyed the people the most! The longer we travel, the more we believe that the people we meet are the best part of our experiences.