Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On a Bike in Kinderdijk - Part II

Yesterday I posted about the destination, and today I would like to recount the fun we had getting there!  My husband, two kids and I traveled to the gorgeous countryside of Kinderdijk in The Netherlands last summer by bicycle from Rotterdam.  We had taken a practice ride a few days before, around Gouda, just to see how we liked the Dutch rental bikes and also to test our comprehension of the extensive Dutch network of fietspaden (bicycle paths).  Our circumspection wasn’t necessary, however, because there’s not much Holland does better than cycling.  Their rental bikes are modern and new, and the cycleways are numbered and mapped and physically separated from vehicle traffic with their own traffic lights and directional signs.

So the morning of our day trip to Kinderdijk I packed lunch, some snacks, and our rain jackets, and we hopped on the train from Delft, where we were staying, to Rotterdam.  That very comfortable ride cost only 6.10€ per person.  Just behind Rotterdam Central Station is a bike rental shop, and here we were outfitted with our 18-gear bikes by very friendly clerks who adjusted the seats and handlebars to our liking, all the while speaking perfect English, of course.  The bikes were 7€ per person for the whole day.  

Resourceful hubby had already mapped out the entire route on one of Holland's many bike route planning websites.  He had gone over it beforehand with the kids to engage their sense of authority (and to enlist their keen observation skills in case he messed up, no doubt.)  And then we were off.

Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam
I have to admit, getting through the busy city streets of Rotterdam was perhaps the only time I was slightly nervous about my children on their bikes, but as soon as we crossed the Erasmus Bridge over the New Meuse River, the bike path completely diverted from the road and I altogether relaxed.  The riding was effortless - Holland is so flat that practically the only time there's any climb at all is going across an overpass.

There was one brief cloudburst in the morning, but we just pulled over and waited it out:

Continuing on, eventually we came to the village of Slikkerveer, where we boarded a ferry with our bikes:  

A quick jaunt across the river Noord and the first stop was Kinderdijk, where we disembarked.  A minute or two more on our bicycles and we found ourselves on the beautiful two mile stretch of levy with the largest concentration of old windmills in The Netherlands.

The Kodak moments in this town are endless.  We had crisp blue skies, billowy white clouds, and four cameras.  Not a single one of the 19 windmills went unphotographed.  One of the mills is open to tourists every day in the summer months, and we ventured inside.  The mechanics and inner workings are fascinating (and worth photographing, too!)

Fortunately my pre-trip research had advised me that there are no restaurants or snack vendors in Kinderdijk, so we had come prepared with our packed lunch of sandwiches, fruit, and stroopwafels.  What a memorable picnic it was:

By late afternoon, it was time to head back.  We didn't return the way we came.  We rode south, along the Noord River a little over two miles, to the town of Alblasserdam.  There at the wharf we boarded the waterbus with our bicycles.  Waterbus Route 1 travels every half hour from Dordrecht to Rotterdam and vice versa, with several stops along the way.  The ride is only 2.50€ for adults and 1.50€ for children.  The waterbus can carry about 130 passengers and 60 bicycles.

After a scenic and restful river ride we came ashore again in Rotterdam, where our tired legs managed to pedal us back to the station bicycle shop to return our rentals.  And that was the end of a very inexpensive, physically active, wonderfully memorable family day!


  1. I really enjoy reading your blog. I leave in Europe (in France, close to Paris), but there are so many nice places to visit in Europe, getting such article is really helpfull to plan future trips with kids.

    Looks like you all really enjoyed it! I definitively need to plan such visit with my kids (when they'll be a bit older), for a future trip to the Netherlands.
    Thanks Sonja for sharing this!

  2. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Camille! I really appreciate it!

  3. great description on how make a trip not just a trip, but an experience!

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