Thursday May 1 -- Alkmaar to Purmerend
Today it was raining when we woke and the rain continued through breakfast, but cleared by the time we were on the bikes at 9:15.
Our day was supposed to be a 35 kilometre ride but we knew it would turn out to be longer when Cees started off by taking us on a full 3 kilometre circle in the town -- he was lost! When Cees finally sorted out a route and despite a few mis-turns, we did have a good day. No ferry crossings but rather a day of riding high along dykes through the polder landscape of Beemster and Purmer.
The Beemster Polder, dating from the early 17th century is a good example of reclaimed land. The well ordered landscape of fields, roads, canals, dykes and settlements laid out in accordance with classical and renaissance planning principles is still well preserved today.
We cycled through small villages. Two, in particular, were Graft and De Rijp, both of which enjoyed great prosperity in the 17th century as fishing and whaling settlements. Along the way we stopped for coffee at a modern sculpture museum in the countryside. Most of the sculptures were created by Nic Jonk, who died a few years ago and is buried in the nearby village in a small churchyard that we visited.
We had lunch at De Rijp where we sat on a restaurant patio and ate our sandwiches, and ordered another hot chocolate which is fast becoming the drink of choice on this bicycle tour. Although the day was again cool, it did not rain and the sun once again made a late appearance towards the end of the afternoon.
For dinner Annamiek and Silke had prepared an Italian meal including Caprese salad (tomato and mozzarella cheese), a lasagne made with salmon and spinach and a very tasty tiramisu for dessert. After dinner, we went for brief walk around the old part of Purmerend (the town where we were docked) but it was nothing special compared with other towns that we have visited.