On the ski hills, on the bike trails, and thru life in general

Leiden – Delft Loop

My intent in writing this blog was to give family and friends a bit of an insight to my experiences while on my latest cycling trip. Circumstances, as noted in my first entry, were that I did not have the inclination, nor sometimes the ability (no internet), to keep it updated every day. Normally, I would make a few notes on what happened during the day – where we lunched, what we saw, etc – on my phone or even make a voice recording or two. I also tracked all the rides on my Garmin 305 and took a lot of pictures, which were great for jogging my memory. But jogging my memory only works for as long as I can remember stuff:/ And this ride was the only one that I neglected to make any notes on. So, armed (and alarmed) with a steadily rusting memory, here goes:

June 11 – Wednesday.  This day was to be our final, and longest, bike ride of our time with Ad. Blessed with another blue sky and warm temperatures, we again struck out from our hotel in Leiden, this time heading to Delft. Once out of the city, it was another relaxing ride on well maintained bike paths beside canals and pastures, cattle and sheep, and by acres of greenhouses. Maintaining an easy cruising speed of 16-18 kph for about 25 kilometres, we stopped for a mid-morning beer/coffee at a conveniently located café with a lovely patio. We were greeted by a pet peacock in the parking lot who seemed none too happy to see us, as it squawked and took flight into a neighbour’s yard. The café staff, if 1 person can be called a staff, was happy to have the business though.

Passing by small canals suitable for pleasure boats. With bikes tied on the back!

Passing by small canals suitable for pleasure boats. With bikes tied on the back!

The typically beautiful separated bike trails on the way to Delft.

The typically beautiful separated bike trails on the way to Delft, alongside pastures and farm fields.

Sometimes trails and pastures became one and the same.

Sometimes trails and pastures became one and the same.

Wooly, but cute, moving obstacles.

Wooly, but cute, moving obstacles.

Greenhouses - acres and acres of them...

Greenhouses – acres and acres of them…

And more acres and acres. They went on forever on this trail.

And more acres and acres. They went on forever on this trail.

Spooked up a peacock when we went to a cafe. Hopefully not too traumatized.

Spooked up a peacock when we went to a cafe. Didn’t know they could fly that well.

90-minites into our ride, time for our first beer, or second coffee.

90-minites into our ride, time for our first beer, or second coffee.

Once on the trail again, the ride continued through woods, over pretty little bridges, and beside more pastures and canals, until we reached Delft around noon. As with all the other towns and cities over here, the market square is the focal point of tourist activity. Bounded on one end by the New Church (completed in 1498, 200 years after the Old Church), on the other by the city hall, and on the sides by restaurants and stores, the Delft market was a scenic and, surprisingly, quiet place to relax and have some lunch. Ad gave us 2 hours to sightsee so the group split up according to their priorities – some to eat right away (it was noon, after all), some to check out the New Church, and others to window shop. A few of us headed over to the visitor center for maps and on the way passed a bike store, just a block off the square! Unlike most of the other bike stores we went to, this one was fully supplied with an assortment of clothing – including some nice looking jerseys. So, with one more jersey added to my expanding international collection – 3 from France (2 years ago), 2 from Holland – we went off to check out the New Church.

The church is the burial place of the princes of Orange, as well as more recent Dutch royalty. The public can’t visit the royal crypt but the monument to William of Orange, assassinated in Delft in 1584, is quite prominent. Also in the church are many posters describing the history of the House of Orange and the political intrigue of the times. It was like reading Game of Thrones, but more bloody! Consider the Wikipedia entry for William of Orange, and how his assassin was dealt with:

“He was tortured before his trial on 13 July, where he was sentenced to be brutally – even by the standards of that time – killed. The magistrates decreed that the right hand of Gérard should be burned off with a red-hot iron, that his flesh should be torn from his bones with pincers in six different places, that he should be quartered and disembowelled alive, that his heart should be torn from his bosom and flung in his face, and that, finally, his head should be cut off.”

The New Church in Delft. New because the Old Church, a few blocks away, is 200 years older :/

The New Church in Delft. New because the Old Church, a few blocks away, is 200 years older:/

Organ in the New Church. Typically huge.

Organ in the New Church. Typically huge.

Monument crypt of William of Orange in the New Church.

Monument crypt of William of Orange in the New Church.

Delft city hall, at the other end of the markt square from the church.

Delft city hall, at the other end of the markt square from the church.

I would have liked to spend more time in the church, climb the bell tower, and visit the Old Church just a few blocks away but time was running short and we still had to have lunch. Among the many restaurants on the square, we found one that had delicious bagel sandwiches and fruit smoothies – quite a change from our usual beer lunch!

Delft town square reflected in a cheese store window (thanks Donna/Darryl).

Delft town square reflected in a cheese store window (thanks Donna).

We could have spent more time in Delft, since there was a lot more to see, but Ad was due to leave for his home in North Holland in the evening. It was at least a 3-hour trip by train and bike, and we wanted to have supper with him so we got back on the bikes shortly after 2 pm. The trip back to Leiden was, again, on beautiful scenic trails and was a joy. Two hours later, we arrived at the rental shop, turned our bikes in, and walked the kilometre back to the hotel.

A more rustic trail on the way back to Leiden.

A more rustic trail on the way back to Leiden.

Mike on his single-speed.

Mike on his single-speed (thanks Darryl).

Still passing windmills. Such a scenic route.

Still passing windmills. Such a scenic route.

Chaos reigned at the bike rental shop. An American girls field hockey team was returning theirs at the same time to a thoroughly disorganized clerk.

Chaos reigned at the bike rental shop. An American girls field hockey team was returning theirs at the same time to a thoroughly disorganized clerk.

After a nice supper at El Gaucho, an Argentinean restaurant in Leiden that we had eaten at a few days before, we bade goodbye to Ad. The next 4 days would be bicycle-free (almost).

After our bike/barge week, I was asked which day was my favourite. I couldn’t pick out one at the time but, after the Delft trip, I’d have to say that it was this day. Why, I’m not sure, but the combination of perfect weather, cloudless sky, scenic trails, more time on the bike, fewer stops, and Delft itself all contributed. I found it to be the most relaxing and enjoyable day of the 10 days that we rode. A perfect end to a wonderful bike trip!

Route link: Leiden to Delft loop

Rode 60 km

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