Biking Waterland. And “The Incident.”

Wherein we leave the velocity ( or Velo-City) of Amsterdam by biking in the countryside.

My first windmill
My first windmill

It took three countries and as many tries before I finally got my farmers market fix. First, enroute to Santiago de Compostela last weekend, we timed our arrival to be there for the last hour of their famed  market Mercado de Abastos, which on Saturdays closed at 2 pm and didn’t reopen till Monday. We also read that Saturday was the happeningest day at Spain’s oldest market and we were driving 120 Km and more the whole way because no one else drives on the fantastic toll roads of Portugal except tourists and truckers.  We would be there by 1 or 1:15 for sure.

And we were….by Portugal time!  Apparently crossing the border to Spain also meant crossing a time zone to 2pm. So, no market for Mimi.

The second attempt was back in Portugal at our Cascais Beach idyll. Walking the town, we happened upon the famous Wednesday market. Unfortunately, we happened on it two hours after it closed!

Our farmer's market picnic fixings. Vermeer would approve.
Our farmer’s market picnic fixings. Vermeer would approve.

Finally, in Amsterdam after a false detour to a flea-bitten flea  market, we made it to the Saturday Noordermarkt.  It is a fantastic little organic farmers market with cheese stands, baked good and lots of fresh fruit and veggies. But first we had to try the Apple Cake at the cafe with the line out the door just outside the market. Best apple cake ever!  Sated and sugared up, we then got serious about buying provisions for Sunday’s bike ride to Broek en Waterland.

For the rest of our Saturday afternoon, there was an incident related to what we have come to call “vacation brain”.  We won’t go into the details but let’s just say we were fleeced in a photo shop and leave it at that. Hereinafter, we shall refer to this as “The Incident.”

It took a few hours of recovery and a comforting Italian dinner to move on. We ended up at an modern Italian bistro that wouldn’t be out of place in the funky, foodie Mission district in SF.  Except perhaps for  their name: Firma Peckelhaaring. And absolutely no pickled herring on the menu!

Sunday morning, we packed up our picnic provisions and headed to the teeming Centraal Station where we rented bikes. We then took the free, two minute ferry ride across to Waterworld, a quiet haven of bike paths along bucolic neighborhoods that were picture perfect in every way. We stopped midpoint at a charming cafe in the middle of nowhere but right on the canal.  For the price of a beer and coke, we got to have a fantastic picnic on a shady terrace by the water.

We then continued riding almost to the outskirts of Monnickendam but stopped because the hour, the distance of 13 km, and the condition of our knees required us to return. The ride back was uneventful and we stopped at the same cafe for water. Finally, 26 km later, we were back on the ferry. On debarking, we resignedly headed for one more encounter at the site of “The Incident” to deal with one more frickin detail that we won’t go into.

Pooped, we walk slowly back to our hotel to clean up, blog and get ready for dinner.

Tomorrow, we go to the Anne Frank House. And to the Van Gogh Museum.

I’m starting to feel the end of our journey nipping at our heels. But let’s not go there yet.


Happy cheese-making cows.
Happy cheese-making cows.
Water channels everywhere in WaterLand
Water channels everywhere in WaterLand


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