Vijfhuizen – Alkmaar, 44km (24.3.24)

Pleasant start of the day at Robin and Jill’s, even went for a walk with the dogs. They found this interesting water fowl.

We kept watching the weather and forecast to find the best gap to set off, in the end we realised this was futile. Robin came with us the first 15km to the ferry across the Noordzeekanaal, very nice bike ride along the Spaarne, and great cafe for chips. Even saw some oystercatchers on the way.

Got chatting to some cyclists on the ferry across, they were quite impressed we were on bike tour in this weather. Asked about our further route, only to tell us the Afsluitdijk is closed to cyclists, and has been for years! I had not even considered that a possibility, I have to admit. As we already had our accommodation in Alkmaar booked and were looking forward to seeing the town, we continued North for the time being.

The weather got worse,we cycled against winds of 75km/h in our lowest gears. The countryside, windmills, etc. were beautiful nevertheless, but I could not easily take pictures, as my bike would fall over. We saw lapwings, herons, lots of different kinds of geese, all, because there were no other people cycling. Sometimes the rain was so hard in our faces, that we could not tell, whether it was hail or not. Phil thinks that it always rains in Holland.

The houses, and especially farmhouses, are shaped differently here from South Holland, very much more square.

Cafes seem to be at ferry crossings, so that was our next resting point. There the owner was surprised to see cyclists in this weather and confirmed the Afsluitdijk was closed to cyclists. He suggested to go across from Enkhuizen to Lelystad. I looked at ferries across the Ijsselmeer as options, but they only run in summer.

Alkmaar is definitely worth a visit! Beautiful old town. We are staying in the Grand Hotel, the former post office, with a wonderful older ensemble of buildings hosting a cafe/restaurant right next to us.

The bikes are in a free public guarded underground garage.

The famous cheese market only starts at Easter, the beer museum is closed, but the town itself is beautiful! Although it is Sunday some shops are open and I managed to get my first drop.

Again we were hit by quite a few showers while looking around, but the Dutch have found solutions for this.

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