Friday May 2 -- Purmerend to Amsterdam
Today was the final cycling day of the Super Tulip Bike Barge Tour.
After the routine of breakfast and making our own lunch we were on our way. Again, the weather was bitterly cold (not just chilly) and the cycling was made a bit uncomfortable by the strong winds that blew constantly. Nevertheless, the group headed out in good spirits.
We left the town of Purmerend where we had moored for the night and cycled east towards the towns of Edam and Volendam. We expected that the tour route would take us into Edam as the name of the town and its cheese are well known to most of us, however, we skirted Edam and rode towards the coast and into Volendam. We followed the bicycle paths along the dykes at the coast edge. At times the path was below the dyke and at times it was right on the top of it. The winds were fierce at times and the cycling was quite hard.
We stopped in Volendam for a short while and wandered around a cheese shop which, although inactive when we visited, is also a cheese making establishment. We sampled several different types of cheese and then walked to a cafe for a drink of hot chocolate and a break from the cold.
Our next stop along the coastal cycling path was at a cheese making farm (cow, sheep and goat cheeses) and farm shop near Katwoude where we had a brief explanation of the cheese making process and then went into the shop. Everybody in the group bought some cheese. Our choices was a medium and an old goat cheese.
We next headed to Monnickendam where Cees our guide found a bar that allowed us to sit and eat our packed lunch out of the wind as long as we purchased a drink (another hot chocolate!). Monnickendam was very similar to Volendam, and very much a tourist centre. After leaving the town, we followed the coastal paths all the way back to Amsterdam. By this time the wind was behind us, so we were being blown back to the barge!
We crossed the river in Amsterdam by ferry from the north arriving near the Central Station. The system of walk-on walk-off ferries is very efficient and is also free public transit. Five minutes later, we were at Oosterdok and our barge the Anna Antal. The ride for the day was planned as 35 kilometres, but turned out to be just under 50.
Our last dinner cooked onboard was an Indonesian buffet. Annamiek briefly explained the history of the Dutch East India Company in Indonesia and the long standing tradition of Indonesian cuisine in Holland. As with all of the dinners on board this week, this last meal was great. After dinner, we joined several others for a walk around Amsterdam guided by Cees. We walked for an hour or more looking at buildings and learning a little more history of the city.