Heather and Gary in Europe - Spring 2014 travel blog

One of the chain ferries that the group had to use on...

Coffee (or hot chocolate with whipped cream) break on our way to...

Heather and Gary at a beach on the North Sea

Heather in the North Sea

In Alkmaar, the home of the Friday cheese market (today is Thursday,...

A cheese shop, 'Tromp', in Alkmaar

Wednesday April 30 -- Wormerveer to Alkmaar

Today, we were up and waiting for breakfast well before 8:00 a.m. We were soon ready for another ride, which today was a trip to the sand dunes and the North Sea. The fun began when we had to crank ourselves across two narrow canals by means of small hand-operated ferries that carried a maximum of 8 bikes per trip.

In total for the day we cycled over 54 kilometres. We were supposed to only cycle 45 but our guide Cees could not find a cafe shop and bathroom around 11:00. We went out of a town and then back in.

Eventually, we found a hotel called Hotel Akersloot where went for coffee and our bathroom stop. We all sat around a large table. Some of us ordered a hot chocolate, that came as do-it-yourself drink: a wooden stir-stick with a large cylinder-shaped piece of chocolate on the end, a glass of steamed milk and a small bowl of whipped cream. It took a while to stir the chocolate into the steamed milk, but after getting the chocolate to dissolve and adding the dollop of cream on the top, it was delicious.

After our coffee break, we cycled towards the dunes, stopping in a forested area for our lunch. We then rode through the dunes and on towards the beach where some of us went for a paddle in the North Sea. To complete the day, we cycling towards another tulip field where we stopped for a few more photographs, before finally cycling back to the Anna Antal which was moored on the Noord Hollands Kanal in Alkmaar.

Back at the boat we showered quickly and went for a walk around town before dinner. We bought a cheese knife and some local cheese from the "Tromp" cheese shop in the old part of town. Then it was back to the boat for a drink before dinner and another great meal. This time, it was tomato soup followed by a beef stew with lots of gravy, mashed potatoes, a salad with lots of fruit and hot red cabbage. For dessert, we had Dutch apple pie with cream.

Most of us went out after dinner for another walk around the town with Cees as a guide. We walked, among other areas, through the local red light district. The Dutch are much more liberal in their lifestyle than we are. Their "coffee shops" in fact are shops where one can buy cannabis over the counter. It is legal here in Holland. If you only want a coffee you go to a cafe, not a coffee shop!

It was another full day and we were both ready to go to sleep around 9:00 p.m.

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