Monday, May 25, 2015

For the birds

After our day in the big city yesterday, we felt the need to get back on the bikes today, so we decided to head out to the Waterland region north of Amsterdam. First, we had to get over the canal opposite Amsterdam Central Station, which we did by taking a very frequent, and frequented, ferrry which offers a very impressive view of the train station from the back. 

Then we followed the coastline through a bunch of fishing villages, each more picturesque than the last. Good weather has been a theme on this trip (touch wood); the winds were light today, and the temperature cool but comfortable. It made for some lovely photo ops. 

Cycling along the dikes, we encountered quite a few birders, and it was easy to see why. If we had been birding in earnest, it would have been a great day, I'm sure. As it was, we saw a number of lovely birds, such as Red-crested Pochards and Tufted Ducks (both lifers... not that we keep a list anymore), and what we think were Black-tailed Godwits. We also saw Northern Lapwings (which we've seen throughout the trip), oystercatchers, scaups, Great Crested Grebes, various geese, terns, some very tame herons, not to mention coots, moorhens, swans, numerous gull species, pheasants and other unidentified game birds. This evening, back in town, we even saw some Ring-necked Parakeets. 

We eventually made our way to Marken which is connected to the mainland by a long causeway. A deightful little fishing village that we could have spent more time in; alas, the ferry was about to leave, so we hopped on it and sailed over to the much more touristy (and less interesting, IMO) town of Volendam. The  ferry was cute and the 20-minute trip was a welcome break. And if you can believe it, the Love Boat theme was playing over the speakers. 

Much of this trip was along dikes, and whether you're riding along the top of them or below them, you really get a sense of how much of Holland is below sea level. You  probably can't reallly tell from this picture, but the water on the left (the sea) is at least 2 metres higher than the water on the right. 

All in all, a really lovey day. The whole trip was 60 km, which, without paniers weighing us down and no real wind to fight, seemed like a fairly easy ride. Tomorrow is another city day, and the Rijksmuseum. 

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